Engineering Education Research: Discipline, Community, or Field?

TitleEngineering Education Research: Discipline, Community, or Field?
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsJesiek, B. K., L. K. Newswander, and M. Borrego
Secondary TitleJournal of Engineering Education
Keywordsdiscipline, engineering education research, goals, identity

Engineering education research has experienced a notable scale-up in recent years through the development of departments and degree programs, high-profile publication outlets, research agendas, and meetings. We begin by reviewing these developments, contextualizing them historically, and clarifying some relevant terminology. We then use observational data collected at the 2007 inaugural International Conference on Research in Engineering Education (ICREE) to examine how engineering education is variously conceptualized as a discipline, community of practice, and/or field. We also examine how ICREE participants engaged with questions about the infrastructure and major goals of engineering education research. Our data reveals both an overall lack of clarity and continued sense of ambiguity about the identity and status of engineering education research. We conclude by recommending that participants and stakeholders work to clarify the goals and objectives of engineering education research, especially to inform the continued development of the field’s identity and supporting infrastructures.