Learning about engineering education research: What conceptual difficulties still exist for a new generation of scholars?



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Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.


In 2007, Borrego published her groundbreaking work 'Conceptual difficulties experienced by trained engineers learning educational research methods'[1] that described five conceptual difficulties engineering faculty encountered as they began to learn about rigorous research in engineering education. Since Borrego's research was published the engineering education departments have been formed and a new generation of engineering education researchers has emerged. These researchers must tackle the same paradigm shift that faced the engineering faculty in Borrego's study. The research question that guided this study was: 'What conceptual hurdles still exist for the new generation of engineering education researchers?' PhD students in Engineering Education were asked to reflect on their conceptual difficulties during the first semester of their PhD courses and write an end-of-semester reflective paper that summarizes their cognitive journey. The summative reflections were coded using Borrego's conceptual hurdles as a framework. The results of the present study can inform those entering the engineering education research community by highlighting areas that remain problematic and offer strategies that emerging scholars have used to make sense of educational theories and methods. © 2015 IEEE.


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