Collaborative research: Developing a conceptual model of professional agency towards change in engineering education

Courtney June Faber, Walter C. Lee, Alexandra Coso Strong, Cheryl A. Bodnar, Courtney S. Smith-Orr, Erin McCave

    Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

    1 Scopus citations


    The purpose of this executive summary is to detail some of the methods used to develop a conceptual model of professional agency towards change in engineering education. This work was completed as part of a project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) titled, Collaborative Research: Supporting Agency Among Early Career Engineering Education Faculty in Diverse Institutional Contexts. In particular, the project focuses on exploring the experiences of six early career engineering education faculty as they attempt to impact the engineering education experiences of students locally and more broadly. The overarching question guiding this project is: How do institutional, individual, and disciplinary field and societal features influence early career engineering education faculty's agency to impact engineering education in their particular positions? To address this question across our different contexts, we developed a research design that implemented collaborative inquiry and collaborative autoethnography methods to examine each member of the research teams' own experiences over a period of three years. Due to the complexity of the phenomenon, more common approaches to qualitative research (e.g., interviews, surveys, etc.) were unlikely to illuminate the manifestation of agency, which requires capturing the nuances associated with one's day-to-day experiences. Thus, we integrated collaborative inquiry and collaborative autoethnography as a means for building our model. Autoethnography is a research approach that critically examines personal experience to explore a cultural phenomenon. When multiple researchers collectively examine their personal experiences, the approach becomes collaborative autoethnography. Collaborative inquiry, in contrast to collaborative autoethnography, is a research approach where people pair reflection on practice with action through multiple cycles of reflection, collective sense-making, and action. The combination of these methodologies allowed us to deeply and systematically explore our own experiences, allowing us to develop a model of professional agency towards change in engineering education through collaborative sense-making. Throughout this process, data collection included (1) written reflections, (2) weekly meetings, and (3) framework activities. Previous works have described the design and analysis of the written reflections [1], [2] and the weekly meetings [3]. The rest of this paper will focus on the framework activities.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Article number460
    JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
    StatePublished - Jun 22 2020
    Event2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2020 - Virtual, Online
    Duration: Jun 22 2020Jun 26 2020

    All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

    • General Engineering


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