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Enhancing Campus Collaborations Through Design Research in Engineering Education Reform

TitleEnhancing Campus Collaborations Through Design Research in Engineering Education Reform
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2004
AuthorsThompson, T., L. Flick, E. Gummer, and T. S. Fiez
Conference NameProceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition
Date Published06/2004

Successful collaborations are important to implementation of systemic reforms in undergraduate engineering education. Evidence for this exists with the formation of national coalitions of engineering programs and campus collaborations between professionals in engineering and education. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Oregon State University has worked in collaboration with university science education researchers to implement large-scale curriculum reform based on a platform for learning. This collaboration between engineers and educators has been enhanced through the use of an emerging educational research paradigm called design research. Design research uses a team to manage a series of iterative cycles of educational design, implementation, and evaluation. Each cycle provides the empirical evidence needed to improve instruction, and refine educational theory. Data is gathered within the context of an authentic complex educational setting enhancing its explanatory power over data gathered through more traditional methods of educational research and evaluation. Educational design research has proven to be particularly effective at OSU since it provides a common point of reference for discussions about education between engineers and education researchers. This paper summarizes the design research process as it is used at OSU to reform engineering education. The paper points out the parallels between this method of educational research and engineering design that have enhanced this campus collaboration. Design research and the specific illustrations of its use in engineering education reform at OSU provide additional tools for reforming higher education and, in particular, engineering programs at other universities.