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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 naïve 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.