Nicola Sochacka, Ph.D.

EETI Associate Director for Research Initiation and Enablement

Research Interests: Complex systems, Qualitative research methods, Empathy in engineering

Dr. Nicola Sochacka is a research scientist and EETI’s Associate Director for Research Initiation and Enablement. Her research program is underpinned by a deep appreciation for diverse perspectives. She works closely with faculty and students to design qualitative studies that embody a focus on in-process research ethics and bridging the research to practice gap. Her current interests include scaling her and her colleagues’ pedagogical developments on fostering empathy in engineering to other instructional settings; increasing the capacity of technical engineering faculty to conduct engineering education research; and piloting a novel methodology called SenseMaker® to investigate and improve the experience of studying engineering at UGA.



Select Publications

Morelock, J., Sochacka, N., & Walther, J. (2021). Building Communities of Engineering Faculty, Staff, and Students Engaged in Educational Research: The Approach of UGA’s Engineering Education Transformations Institute. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 20, 131-138

Sochacka, N. W., Youngblood, K. M., Walther, J., & Miller, S. E. (2020). A qualitative study of how mental models impact engineering students’ engagement with empathic communication exercises. Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, 1-12. doi:10.1080/22054952.2020.1832726

Sochacka, N. W., Delaine, D., Shepard, T., & Walther, J. (in press). Empathy Instruction through the Propagation Paradigm: A synthesis of developer and adopter accounts. Advances in Engineering Education.

Morelock, J. R., Sochacka, N. W., Lewis, R. S., Walther, J., Culloty, C. M., Hopkins, J. S., Vedanarayanan, S., Ofunne, C. K. (2020). Using a Novel Research Methodology to Study and Respond to Faculty and Student Experiences with COVID-19 in Real Time. Advances in Engineering Education, 8(4), 1–14. Retrieved from 19 Issue/Text/AEE-COVID-19-Morelock.pdf

Sochacka, N. W., Walther, J., Morelock, J. R., Hunsu, N. J., & Carnell, P. H. (2020). Cultivating a culture of scholarly teaching and learning in a college of engineering: An ecological design approach. Australasian Journal of Engineering Education, 25(2), 165-176. doi:10.1080/22054952.2020.1864087

Huff, J. L., Walther, J., Sochacka, N. W., Sharbine, M. B., & Kamanda, H. (2020). Coupling Methodological Commitments to Make Sense of Socio-Psychological Experience. Studies in Engineering Education, 1(2), 1. doi:10.21061/see.29

Kamanda, H., Walther, J., Wilson, D., Brewer, M., Sochacka, N., & Huff, J. (2020). The Role of Expectations in the Educational Experience and Professional Socialization of Engineering Students. Journal of Higher Education

Huff, J., Shanachilubwa, K., Sochacka, N., Walther, J., & Okai, B. (2020). Unpacking professional shame: Patterns of White male engineering students living in and out of threats to their identities. Journal of Engineering Education

Sochacka, N., Culloty, C., Hopkins, J., Harrell, J., & Walther, J. (2020). Using SenseMaker® to Examine Student Experiences in Engineering: A Discussion of the Affordances and Limitations of this Novel Research Approach. In 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access Proceedings. ASEE Conferences. doi:10.18260/1-2--35471

Walther, J., Brewer, M. A., Sochacka, N. W., & Miller, S. E. (2020). Empathy and engineering formation. Journal of Engineering Education, 109(1), 11-33. doi:10.1002/jee.20301

Morelock, J. R., & Walther, J., & Sochacka, N. W. (2019, June), Academic Change from Theory to Practice: Examples from an Engineering Faculty Development Institution. Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida.

Sochacka, N. W., Walther, J., & Pawley, A. L. (2018). Ethical Validation: Reframing Research Ethics in Engineering Education Research to Improve Research Quality. Journal of Engineering Education, 107(3), 362-379. doi: doi:10.1002/jee.20222

Walther, J., Miller, S. E., & Sochacka, N. W. (2017). A model of empathy in engineering as a core skill, practice orientation, and professional way of being. Journal of Engineering Education, 106(1), 123-148.

Sochacka, N. W., Guyotte, K. W., & Walther, J. (2016). Learning together: A collaborative autoethnographic exploration of STEAM (STEM + the arts) education. Journal of Engineering Education, 105(1), 15-42. doi: 10.1002/jee.20112

Brewer, M. A., Sochacka, N. W., Walther, J. (2015). Into the pipeline: A freshman student’s experiences of stories ‘told’ about engineering. Proceedings of the 2015 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Annual Conference and Exposition, Seattle, WA.

Guyotte, K., Sochacka, N. W., Costantino, T., Kellam, N. N., & Walther, J. (2015). Collaborative creativity in steam: Narratives of art education students’ experiences in transdisciplinary spaces. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 16(15).

Guyotte, K., Sochacka, N. W., Costantino, T., Walther, J., & Kellam, N. N. (2014). Steam as social practice: Cultivating creativity in transdisciplinary spaces. Art Education, 67(6), 12-19.

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