NSF Workshop: Building Research Capacity in Engineering Education Through a RIEF Virtual Community of Practice

Project’s NSF Page


Julie P. Martin, Ph.D. - EETI Director and Professor of Engineering Education

Grant Details

Funder: Division of Engineering Education and Centers, National Science Foundation
Amount: $173,358.00
Award number: 2129308
Start and End date: April 2023 – March 2025


This project will expand capacity for engineering education research by facilitating a virtual community for engineering faculty and students who are learning educational research methods for the first time. In doing so, the project will ultimately support the adoption of research-based practices in the classroom and inform advising, programming, and policies. Sustained engagement of engineering faculty in educational research will create synergies between engineering education research and engineering education practice. In particular, the project will perpetuate a series of virtual workshops, publish downloadable information sheets, and create short videos for novice engineering education researchers. The workshops will facilitate a collaborative community of new educational researchers and experienced mentors that will help them integrate into the educational research community. The knowledge and connections the novice researchers gain will positively influence their success applying for future engineering projects funded by the NSF. Outcomes of the project include 1) publicly available, archived resources about research in engineering education, (2) a community of practice that supports the success of new engineering education researchers, and (3) an understanding of how the community created by the project influences novice researchers? engagement in the larger research community and how mentors help them build networks and knowledge for such research.

The virtual workshop series will provide training, structured support, and a virtual community of practice for NSF Research Initiation in Engineering Formation program awardees to promote their sustained engagement in engineering education research through the development of research-related social capital, which enhances the flow of information, develops desirable credentials, and reinforces research identity. The team will use social network analysis and surveys throughout the two-year project to study how interactions (1) among Research Initiation in Engineering Formation program mentees and mentors and (2) between mentees and established members of the engineering education research community influence the development of research-related social capital. The workshops will support the success of funded Research Initiation in Engineering Formation projects, helping program participants fully integrate into the engineering education research community during and beyond their grant cycle. It will minimize duplication of efforts by providing mentors with access to resources, an external support structure for mentees to learn about common research practices, and a community of other research mentors. The project will build participants? professional networks by increasing availability and accessibility of past and present program mentees and mentors, engineering education research content experts, people in leadership positions in the field, potential future collaborators, and others. It will accelerate participants? development of both strong and weak ties and facilitate their purposive use of those embedded resources to help program mentees accomplish their engineering education research goals during the two-year Research Initiation in Engineering Formation grant cycle and beyond. The project will study the impact of participation in a community of practice in developing engineering faculty in engineering education research as well as identify how program mentors effectively build mentee social capital. The work will benefit any novice engineering education researchers by creating and curating additional public resources. In addition, the project will build research capacity for current and future Research Initiation in Engineering Formation projects as well as other NSF programs.

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