19 September 2008

About us...

We conduct research on engineering practice:

  1. Cross-disciplinary practice -- ways of thinking, acting, and being
  2. Design practice -- design knowledge and how people engage in and learn design
  3. Everyday engineering practice -- engineering epistemologies at home, in school, at work
  4. Education practice -- translational engineering education research (e.g., teaching and learning communities, instructional resources, transforming research methods into pedagogical methods)
  5. Building research capacity -- designing and implementing programs in engineering education research as well as research on becoming a cross-disciplinary engineering education researcher (see cross-disciplinary practice)

Each of these have implications regarding transforming and diversifying engineering education!

Our Research Group

Shanna Daly

[under construction]

Tiago Forin

[under construction]

Shawn Jordan

[under construction]

13 September 2008

Cross-disciplinary thinking and practice

Cross-disciplinarity involves working at the interface between disciplines or perspectives. This research seeks to investigate cross-disciplinary ways of thinking, being, acting, and experiencing. A central goal is to understand cross-disciplinary learning and approaches to cross-disciplinary teaching.

Engineering Epistemology - Everyday Engineering Practice

A focus on engineering epistemologies is a focus on understanding the nature of engineering thinking and knowing as well as the practice of engineering and the preparation of engineers for practice. This research involves deep explorations into the nature of engineering which includes the practice of engineering, the preparation of engineers for practice, and the influences regarding choices to pursue engineering as a professional career. Central methodologies are the use of photo elicitation techniques and critical incident interview technques to elicit conceptions of engineering.

There are 2 projects in this research area.
Epistemologies of Engineering Practice. This is a study into the conceptions of practicing engineers and engineering students by asking participants to take pictures that represent "engineering" and then reflect on the meanings of the pictures through a critical incident interview. The research questions include: what images or ideas are assoicated with engineering practice and why? How do conceptions of engineering relate to authentic engineering practice or developing an engineering identity?

Stepping Stones. This is a year long guided research experience with engineering educators in Sweden to study conceptions of engineering from a Swedish perspective. An additional goal is to build capacity in engineering education research. Robin Adams and Sally Fincher (U. of Kent) lead this project with researchers from Uppsala University.

Design Practice

Design is central to engineering (as well as other professional endeavors). This research seeks to investigate design knowledge and learning trajectories with an ultimate goal of informing design education.

We are working on 2 projects:

Cognitive processes of iteration in engineering design. This research builds on a cognitive model of iteration in engineering design to investigate how engineers approach design problems. Earlier research illustrated design as an iterative and transformative process of revisiting and resolving aspects of a design task (e.g., gathering and filtering problem information, monitoring progress and understanding, and revising possible solutions). Current research seeks to characterize iterative behavior across levels of experience and performance as a means for exploring features of design learning. Robin Adams, Shawn Jordan, and Shanna Daly are lead researchers on this project.

Problem prototyping. This research seeks to characterize how engineers formulate design problems – with a particular focus on eliciting the underlying schema behind problem formulation strategies. The idea of “problem prototyping” parallels a process of prototyping potential design solutions, in which prototypes are used as a strategy to better understand the nature of the design problem.

Publications

Peer-reviewed journals and book chapters:
  • Adams, R.S., Mann, L., Jordan, S. & Daly, S. (2007). ”Exploring the boundaries: language, roles, and structures in cross-disciplinary design teams.” Proceedings of the 7th Annual Design Thinking Research Symposium, London.
  • Cardella, M.E., Atman, C.J., Turns, J., and R. S. Adams (2007). “Students with Differing Design Processes as Freshmen: Case Studies on Change.” International Journal of Engineering Education, Special Issue on the Harvey Mudd VI Design Education Workshop.
  • Atman, C.J., Yasuhara, K., Adams, R.S., Barker, T., Turns, J., and E. Rhone (2007). “Breadth in Problem Scoping: A Comparison of Freshman and Senior Engineering Students.” International Journal of Engineering Education, Special Issue on the Harvey Mudd VI Design Education Workshop.
  • Atman, C.J., Adams, R.S., Mosborg, S., Cardella, M. E., Turns, J. and J. Saleem (2007). “Engineering Design Processes: A Comparison of Students and Expert Practitioners.” Journal of Engineering Education, 96(4).
  • Hjmarlson, M., M. Cardella & R. Adams (2006). “Uncertainty in design.” In R. Lesh, E. Hamilton, and J. Kaput (Eds), Models & Modeling as Foundations for the Future in Mathematics. Erlbaum: New York.
  • Turns, J., R. S. Adams, J. Martin, M. Cardella, S. Mosborg & C. J. Atman (2006). “Tackling the Research-to-Practice Challenge in Engineering Design Education: Insights from a User-Centered Design Perspective,” International Journal of Engineering Education (invited paper).
  • Cardella, M. E., C. J. Atman and R. S. Adams (2006). “Mapping between design activities and external representations for engineering student designers”, Design Studies, 27(1), pp. 5-24.
  • The Steering Committee for the National Engineering Education Research Colloquies (SCNEERC) (2006). “Special Report: The Research Agenda for the New Discipline of Engineering Education.” Journal of Engineering Education, October, pp. 259-261.
  • The Steering Committee for the National Engineering Education Research Colloquies (SCNEERC) (2006). “Special Report: The National Engineering Education Research Colloquies.” Journal of Engineering Education, October, pp. 257-258.
  • Atman, C.J., M.E. Cardella, J. Turns & R. Adams (2005). “Comparing freshman and senior engineering design processes: an in-depth follow-up study.” Design Studies, 26(4), pp. 324-357.
  • Turns, J., C.J. Atman, R.S. Adams & T. Barker (2005). “Research on Engineering Student Knowing: Trends and Opportunities”, Journal of Engineering Education, Special Issue, 94(1), pp. 27-40.
  • Turns, J., R. S. Adams, A. Linse & C. J. Atman (2003). “Bridging from Research to Teaching in Undergraduate Engineering Design Education.” International Journal of Engineering Education, 20(3), pp. 379-390.
  • Adams, R. S., J. Turns and C. J. Atman (2003). “Educating effective engineering designers: The role of reflective practice”. Design Studies, Special Issue on Designing in Context, 24(3), pp. 275-294. (Received the best paper award for 2003)
  • Adams, R. S., C. J. Atman, R. Nakamura, G. Kalonji and D. Denton (2001). “Assessment of an international freshmen research and design experience: A triangulation study”, International Journal of Engineering Education, Special Issue on Assessment, Vol 18 (2).
  • Turns, J., C. J. Atman and R. Adams (2000). “Concept maps for Engineering Education: A cognitively motivated tool supporting varied assessment functions,” IEEE Transactions, Special Issue on Assessment, 43(2), pp. 164-173.
  • Safoutin, M., C. J. Atman, R. Adams, T. R. Shuman, J. Kramlich, and J. Fridley (2000). “A design attribute framework for course planning and learning assessment,” IEEE Transactions, Special Issue on Assessment, May.

Peer-reviewed conference publications:

  • Allendorfer, C., Adams, R.S., and L. Fleming (2008). “Becoming and Engineering Education Researcher: Finding Pathways toward Interdisciplinarity.” Submitted to the Annual Global Engineering Education Conference, Cape Town.
  • Adams, R.S., Mann, L., N. Beltz and D. Wilson (2008). “Supporting cross-disciplinary competencies: Using research in practice.” Submitted to the Annual Global Engineering Education Conference, Cape Town.
  • Pears, A., Fincher, A., Adams, R. and M. Daniels (2008). “Stepping Stones: Capacity Building in Engineering Education.” Proceedings of the Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, Saratoga, October.
  • Jordan, S. and R. Adams (2008). “…A Good Imagination and a Pile of Junk.” Proceedings of the Annual ASEE Conference, Pittsburgh.
  • Daly, S. and R. Adams (2008). “Can Design be a Common Ground between Disciplines?” Proceedings of the Annual ASEE Conference, Pittsburgh.
  • Adams, R., Fleming, L., and K. Smith (2007). “Becoming an Engineering Education Researcher: Intersections, Extensions, and Lessons Learned among Three Researchers’ Stories.” Proceedings of the International Conference on Research in Engineering Education (ICREE), Honolulu, HI.
  • Allendoerfer, C., Bates, R., High, K.A., Meadows, L., Masters, K., Stwalley, C., and Adams, R.S. (2007). Communities of practice in engineering education: How do we investigate diversity and global engineering? Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference, October 2007, Milwaukee, WI.
  • Oware, E., Diefes-Dux, H., and R. Adams (2007). “Photo-elicitation as a Research Method for Investigating Conceptions of Engineering.” Proceedings of the SEFI Conference, Turkey.
  • Adams, R., Allendoerfer, C., Rhoulac Smith, T., Socha, D., Williams, D., and Yasuhara, K. (2007). Storytelling in engineering education. In Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, June 2007, Honolulu, HI.
  • Allendoerfer, C., Bates, R., Hernandez, J., Jones, S. and Adams, R.S. (2007). Diversity in engineering education research: Insights from three study designs. In Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference, June 2007, Honolulu, HI.
  • Atman, C.J., Rhone, E. Adams, R.S., Turns, J., Barker, T. & Yasuhara, K. (2007). “Breadth in Problem-Scoping: A Comparison Freshman and Senior Engineering Students.” Proceedings of the Harvey Mudd Design Conference, Claremont.
  • Cardella, M.E., Atman, C.J., Turns, J. & Adams, R.S. (2007). ”Students with Differing Design Processes as Freshmen: Case Studies on Change.” Proceedings of the Harvey Mudd Design Conference, Claremont.
  • Allendoerfer, C. R. Adams, P. Bell, L. Fleming, and L.Leifer (2007). “Becoming an Engineering Education Researcher: Finding Pathways toward Interdisciplinarity.” Accepted for publication for the Annual American Educational Research Association Conference, Chicago.
  • Adams, R.S., C. Allendoerfer, P. Bell, H. Chen, L. Fleming, L. Leifer, B. Maring and D. Williams (2006). “A Model for Building and Sustaining a Community of Engineering Education Research Scholars.” Proceedings of the Annual American Society for Engineering Education Conference, Chicago.
  • Diefes-Dux, H., R. Adams, M. Cox, and D. Follman (2006). “Community Building and Identity Development Through Graduate Coursework in Engineering Education.” Proceedings of the Annual American Society for Engineering Education Conference, Chicago.
  • Turns, J., R. S. Adams, J. Martin, M. Cardella, S. Mosborg & C. J. Atman (2005). “Tackling the Research-to-Practice Challenge in Engineering Design Education: Insights from a User-Centered Design Perspective.” Proceedings of the Harvey Mudd Design Workshop V – Learning and Engineering Design, Claremont, May.
  • Mosborg, S., R. Adams, R. Kim, C. J. Atman, J. Turns & M. Cardella (2005). “Conceptions of the Engineering Design Process: An Expert Study of Advanced Practicing Professionals.” Proceedings of the Annual American Society of Engineering Education Conference, Portland, June.
  • Adams, R. & T. Cummings-Bond (2004). “Career Trajectories in Engineering Education.” Proceedings of the Annual American Society of Engineering Education Conference, Salt Lake City, June.
  • Sheppard, S., C. J. Atman, R. Stevens, L. Fleming, R. Streveler, R. Adams & T. Barker (2004). “Studying the Engineering Student Experience: Design of a Longitudinal Study.” Proceedings of the Annual American Society of Engineering Education Conference, Salt Lake City, June.
  • Adams, R., J. Turns & C. J. Atman (2003). “What could design learning look like?” Proceedings of the annual Design Thinking Research Symposium VI, November, Sydney.
  • Atman, C. J., J. Turns, M. E. Cardella & R. Adams (2003). “The Design Processes of Engineering Educators: Thick Descriptions and Potential Implications.” Proceedings of the annual Design Thinking Research Symposium VI, November, Sydney.
  • Turns, J., R. S. Adams, A. Linse & C. J. Atman (2003). “Bridging from Research to Teaching in Undergraduate Engineering Design Education.” Proceedings of the Mudd Design Workshop IV, July, Pomona.
  • Davis, D., M. Trevisan, D. McLean, P. Daniels, K. Gentili, C. Atman, R. Adams, S. Beyerlein & J. McCauley (2003). “A Model for Transferable Integrated Design Engineering Education.” Proceedings of the World Federation Engineering Organization, June, Nashville.
  • Rhone, E., R. Adams, J. Turns & C. J. Atman (2003). “Assessing IE Students’ Preparedness for Practice: Do They Think Broadly?” Proceedings of the annual Industrial Engineering Research Conference, May, Portland.
  • Turns, J., M. Valeriano & R. S. Adams (2003). “Websites for engineering educators: A benchmark study to identify best practices.” Proceedings of the annual Frontiers in Education Conference, November, Denver, S1A6-S1A11.
  • Adams, R. S. (2002). “Understanding design iteration: Representations from an empirical study.” In D. Durling & J. Shackleton (Eds), Common Ground: Proceedings of the Design Research Society International Conference at Brunel University (pp. 1151-1161). Staffordshire University Press: UK.
  • Turns, J., C. J. Atman, M. Cardella and R. Adams (2002). “Do we see within-subject change? Four cases of engineering student design processes.” In D. Durling & J. Shackleton (Eds), Common Ground: Proceedings of the Design Research Society International Conference at Brunel University (pp. 1151-1161). Staffordshire University Press: UK.
  • Linse, A. R., D. D. Denton, R. Adams (2002). “Making assessment projects sustainable: Using mid-term class interviews to gather student feedback in an international research and design course,” Proceedings of the Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, November, Boston.
  • Adams, R. S., P. Punnakanta, C. J. Atman and C. D. Lewis (2002). "Comparing design team self-reports with actual performance: Cross-validating assessment instruments," Proceedings of the Annual American Society of Engineering Education Conference, June, Montreal, Canada
  • Cardella, M. E., C. J. Atman, R. S. Adams and J. Turns (2002). "Engineering student design processes: Looking at evaluation practices across problems," Proceedings of the Annual American Society of Engineering Education Conference, June, Montreal, Canada
  • Martin, J., R. Adams and J. Turns (2002). “Who listens to whom? A citation analysis of recent papers on engineering design education,” Proceedings of the Annual American Society of Engineering Education Conference, June, Montreal, Canada, pp. 1737-1745.
  • Turns, J., R. S. Adams and C. J. Atman (2002). “Moving from research to practice in undergraduate engineering design education,” Proceedings of the International Conference for the Learning Sciences, October, Seattle, pp. 592-593.
  • Nelson, K. E., R. S. Adams, M. E. Lidstrom, J. Bonadio, D. A. Stahl and C. J. Atman (2002). “Teaching Biology From an Engineering Perspective: Developing a New Course that Integrates Biology Into Undergraduate Engineering Education,” Proceedings of the Annual American Society of Engineering Education Conference, June, Montreal, Canada.
  • Tanimoto, S., R. Adams, C. Atman, E. Hunt, W. Winn (2002). “Unobtrusive assessment in online learning: Methodology and tool,” Proceedings of the International Conference for the Learning Sciences, October, Seattle.
  • Adams, R. S., J. Turns and C. J. Atman (2001). “Educating effective engineering designers: The role of reflective practice,” Proceedings of the Fifth Annual Design Thinking Research Symposium (DTRS), December, Delft, Netherlands.
  • Adams, R. and C. J. Atman (2000). “Characterizing engineering student design processes: An illustration of iteration,” Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the American Society of Engineering Education, June, St. Louis.
  • Atman, C.J., Adams, R. & Turns, J. (2000). “Using multiple methods to evaluate a freshmen design course,” Proceedings of the Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, October, Kansas City, pp. S1A6-S1A13.
  • Adams, R. and C. J. Atman (1999). “Cognitive processes in iterative design behavior,” Proceedings of the Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, November, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
  • Calalang, R., R. Adams and J. Fridley (1997). "Meeting Washington State educational goals: University of Washington’s ECSEL Design Too Workshop,” Proceedings of the Annual Frontiers in Education Conference, November, Pittsburgh.

Getting Involved

I am always keeping an eye out for new students who are enthusiastic, inquisitive, and motivated -- and of course, interested in participating in this work.

If you are interested in applying to our program - follow this link.

My current funding includes:
  • National Science Foundation CAREER grant: Intentional serendipity, cognitive flexibility, and fluid identities: Cross-disciplinary ways of thinking, acting, and being in engineering
    Engineering is inherently cross-disciplinary – as a profession and as an activity that involves identifying and solving complex problems that require managing trade-offs between human, social, cultural, and technical issues. Reports on the future path of engineering education emphasize the importance of preparing engineers to think and work across perspectives which may also enhance diversity and inclusiveness in engineering. There is surprisingly little empirical research on the nature and development of cross-disciplinary ways of thinking, acting, and being in engineering that may guide the success of efforts to provide cross-disciplinary education at the K-12, undergraduate, and graduate levels as well as early training programs in industry. This proposal seeks to address these issues by advancing a scholarship of cross-disciplinary teaching and learning by (1) investigating the nature and development of cross-disciplinary ways of thinking, acting, and being in engineering contexts in relation to disciplinary practice over time and (2) creating an Interdisciplinary Commons to facilitate a scholarship of cross-disciplinary teaching and learning.
  • Internal funds - Design knowing and learning: I have a large database of 19 engineering practitioners (ME, EE, CivE, IE, Systems, MSE) working on a complex design problem (a playground design). The database includes background information, survey information on what participant’s find important about design, a debrief interview on the nature of design, a document that represents their conception of design, and a talk aloud protocol of actually designing a playground. While a number of analyses have been conducted with this dataset, there are opportunities for many more. I am particularly interested in following up a study that looked at how students iterate when they design as well delving into conceptions of design.
  • Purdue internal research grant - Everyday epistemologies of engineering: Investigating beliefs about engineering may 1) provide implications regarding who enters and stays in engineering, 2) clarify critical connections between engineering practice and how we prepare engineers for the profession, 3) illuminate potential na├»ve conceptions of engineering, and 4) provide a framework for constructing curriculum and pedagogy that better aligns with current and future needs as described in such reports as The Engineer of 2020 (Committee on the Engineer of 2020, 2004, 2005). The purpose of this study is to take an epistemological perspective regarding beliefs about engineering and engineering problem solving. Our research method involves photo elicitation, a qualitative inquiry approach, as a way to elicit conceptions of engineering (what they do and don’t associate with engineering and why). We are also interested in exploring how discussions about the nature of engineering (via photographs in a focus group setting) can be used as instructional tools in educational settings to help students articulate their beliefs, discuss them with their peers, and support the formation of an engineering identity.

Learning

Currently I teach:

Education Practice - Linking Research and Education

This research area is more an underlying philosophy than a specific set of projects. This work seeks to facilitate links between research on engineering learning and teaching practice, as well as research on design and design practice. Past projects have included “Research-to-Practice” Workshops, design expertise “continuums” (tools that allow educators to visualize growth toward design expertise as a means for addressing teaching and/or learning challenges), and developing resources for educators (based on research characterizing the instructional challenges of engineering educators).

One project was led by Jennifer Turns and her research group at the University of Washington. They developed a research informed web site called “NEXT: Narratives supporting EXcellent Teaching” - to help engineering educators resolve their teaching challenges. This particular project was funded by the National Science Foundation (Engineering Education Programs).

Engagement

Local projects:

National projects:
  • Institute for Scholarship on Engineering Education (ISEE)
  • Center for the Advancement for Engineering Education CAEE

International projects:

Community

Blogs, Listserves, and Dialogue Spaces:

Conferences:

Journals:

Table of Content alerts:

New!

[Under construction]

Education Practice - Building Capacity in Engineering Education Research

As an emerging profession, there is a central need to increase the community of engineering education scholars. The Building Capacity research area is involved with understanding, designing, and implementing learning experiences to increase the number of engineering education researchers. Research associated with these projects is connected with the Interdisciplinary and Epistemologies research areas.

Past projects:
Institute for Scholarship on Engineering Education (ISEE) – a collaboration primarily with Howard University, Stanford University, and the University of Washington. ISEE is a year long intensive research experience for engineering faculty and graduate students as part of the NSF funded Center for the Advancement for Engineering Education (CAEE). The goals are to (1) cultivate a diverse community of engineering education researchers who can think and work across disciplines with the ultimate aim of making scholarly contributions to engineering education research and impacting the engineering student experience and (2) formulate principles and models for advancing this scholarship community.

Stepping Stones Workshop – a collaboration with Sally Fincher (University of Kent), Mats Daniels (Uppsala University), and Arnold Pears (Uppsala University). Stepping Stones is based on the “Bootstrapping in Computer Science Education” project with a particular focus on developing engineering education within Sweden. In June 2006 faculty and graduate students from Swedish universities began a year long investigation into conceptions of engineering from a Swedish perspective. The workshop cycle will end in June 2007 and will focus on sharing and analyzing the data, as well as dissemination of the research.

Robin Adams

Robin S. Adams is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She also led the Institute for Scholarship on Engineering Education (ISEE) as part of the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education (CAEE). Prior to joining the faculty at Purdue, Dr. Adams was the Assistant Director for Research at the Center for Engineering Learning and Teaching (CELT) and worked with the Engineering Coalition of Schools for Excellence in Engineering Education (ECSEL) in a variety of roles (curriculum design, interdisciplinary program development (engineering and education), program evaluation, and assessment of student learning). She was also a Sr. Design Engineer in the semiconductor packaging industry and helped develop new uses of thin film technology. Dr. Adams received her PhD in Education, Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Washington, an MS in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Washington, and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Dr. Adams' research is concentrated on understanding design cognition and learning (particularly iterative cycles in design), cross-disciplinary inquiry, building capacity in engineering education research, and strategies for connecting research and practice. Dr. Adams participates in many professional organizations including the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), the American Educational Research Association (AERA), the International Society of the Learning Sciences (ISLS), the Design Research Society (DRS), the Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE), and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

Graduate Committees:

  • 2006 - Tamara Moore, PhD (Member)
  • 2008 - Shanna Daly, PhD (Co-chair with George Bodner)
  • 2008 - Euridice Oware, PhD (Member)
  • Shawn Jordan, PhC (Chair)
  • Carla Zoltowski, PhC (Member)
  • Tiago Forin (Chair)