Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Capacity of researcher (1.4)

In this post, I share the subsection 1.4 on “Capacity of the researcher to reach and re-enforce a position of professional maturity in research” of an MSCA Individual Fellowship proposal submitted in 2015. In this section I include the CV, to show how I tailored it to support the application. I’ve had a non-standard career path, with engineering education research (EER) being something I’ve tried mastering late in my academic career, so I used the CV to show what I am doing, why, and how it builds on my past experience. I aimed to show how things about my record that might first appear to be weaknesses can also be framed as strengths.

I also needed to provide very clear justification for receiving a second MSCA IF. I had to show it would be a good investment.

The full suite of posts on this topic includes:
Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4
Notes on using tables
• Impact Section 2.1, 2.2
Implementation Section 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4
Ethics Section
Final Report from 2016 submission

1     EXCELLENCE

1.4  Capacity of researcher to reach and re-enforce a position of professional maturity in research (see CV)

Since completing a PhD in Higher Education (with an honors designation and her School’s Award of Excellence), Dr. Chance has transitioned her career focus from teaching to research, and been selected as:

  • Fulbright Core Scholar to Ireland in Engineering Education (2012-13)
  • Scholar in Residence for the University of Oregon’s Study Abroad program in Rome (2013)
  • Fulbright Inter-Country Lecturer to both Portugal and Belgium (2013)
  • Marie Curie International Incoming Fellow to Ireland (2014-16) where she learned phenomenological methods.

Dr. Chance has a long history teaching architecture and supervising Master’s thesis students (at Hampton University). She has evaluated architecture programs at the highest levels (having served on seven teams of the US National Architectural Accrediting Board, and having chaired a team in 2015). She coordinated university accreditation activities at Hampton U. She has taught educational planning (at William and Mary) and Problem-Based Learning and design projects in engineering (at DIT). She has developed curricula (for Hampton and DIT). A focus on diversity and inclusion has always formed a part of her research efforts, dating back to her first conference paper in 2000. Over time, Dr. Chance has demonstrated scholarly productivity through completion of: 37 peer-reviewed conference papers, eight peer reviewed journal articles, seven book chapters, two thesis design projects, a PhD dissertation, and an edited volume. She has delivered 87 academic lectures in Europe, USA, and Asia. For all research and grant-funded projects, Dr. Chance pursued projects that she conceived. All research lines—including her PhD research—were separate from her advisors. This attests to Dr. Chance’s capacity for independent thinking/research. Google Scholar now lists her h-index at 4 [note: I’m happy to report it’s now at 7, but I wish I could get it to climb faster], above the average among full professors in social science (3.67), political science (3.43), and law (2.83), according to the London School of Economics. Her work has been cited in over 36 publications (excluding self-citations). She is now requesting approvals from publishers to upload more of her articles on freely accessible sites so as to extend the reach of her work. Her citation index is on an upward swing.

Dr. Chance’s foundation in phenomenology and statistics give her a strong base for EF research to be conducted. Due to the novel hybrid topic and innovative approach she is proposing to use in future work, Routledge publishers recently asked her to submit a book proposal on epistemology and design thinking. She was interested in—and has committed to—the book idea. However, if she secures EU funding, she would prefer to opt for the UCL Press instead of a profit-driven publisher. UCL Press (see Capacities Chart) will ensure the content is as openly accessible as possible, as per EU policy. Over time, Dr. Chance has steadily accrued skills that will enable her to conduct pioneering and truly groundbreaking research and spearhead the development of a seminal new book.

The value of Europe’s IIF investment will be hugely increased if the IIF study is followed up by an EF that brings the discipline to a whole new level. The innovative, pioneering, and ground-breaking findings from the IIF can be harnessed and brought to use in the EF study, creating the potential to revolutionize teaching methods and to fast track a new generation of creative and challenging engineers. It is imperative that immediate action is taken to address the dangerous shortfall of engineers that precipitates the EU’s low number of patent filings and top tech companies, and lagging industry R&D. We must protect and enhance the EU’s reputation for producing quality goods. Whereas the IIF focused on bringing skills from the USA, developing curricula and phenomenological research skills, the EF will focus on: 1) achieving more powerful, substantial and tangible findings (by enhancing phenomenology with quantitative data), 2) disseminating the findings globally, and 3) equipping Dr. Chance with the necessary skills to manage complex large-scale research projects and teams. The EF study will be conducted in a completely new arena of the discipline; one that will have tangible and far-reaching effects on the teaching of engineering in Europe. The most common route for European researchers to develop these skills is through taking an intermediate step between the IIF and an ERC Starter Grant via a nationally funded project. However, due to the fixed-term of the MSCA contract, Dr. Chance is not yet eligible for all of Ireland’s grant programs. Yet she is firmly committed to life and citizenship here, and to basing all her future research operations in the EU. The proposed EF work is significantly different from the IIF in scale, complexity, and range of exploitation activities. It also includes extensive training in research management that only a world-class research institution like UCL can provide. UCL is truly unique in that it has achieved success in engineering diversity and retention. This work is of such a standard that is has been recognized by MIT4. This new educational methodology needs further study, development, and promotion. The EF will equip Dr. Chance to establish an independent research team at DIT leading the new research strand on epistemology and design thinking. 

Attached CV

4          CV OF THE EXPERIENCED RESEARCHER

In this portion of the 2015 proposal, I started by listing my degrees, earned in the USA. I provided reviewers with the text below to put things in context before listing my Employment History (Research Positions, Teaching Positions, Professional Practice), Professional Registrations, sentences on Invited Lectures, Supervising Activities, Organization of Conferences, and lists of Professional Memberships, Special Recognition, Grant-Funded Projects, and Publications.

I’ll provide an example of the list of Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles at the end here, as I inserted info to help them assess my reach and impact.

Note that in the text below, I highlighted specific qualities asked for in the guidelines: Independent Thinking, Leadership Skills, and Results of some past projects. It’s important to use the specified words as it makes evaluators’ work easier. They are very busy people and you want to make it easy for them to find evidence to base their scores upon.

Dr. Chance is uniquely qualified for this interdisciplinary study. In the last two decades, working in the USA, she taught in two different institutions—one with a special focus on diversity and the other a research-intensive institution. Educational research is her second career. Her focus on research began with PhD studies (2006-10), her introduction to the field of engineering education research as a Fulbright Fellow (2012-3), and development of phenomenological research skills at DIT (2014-now). Results are now beginning to accrue from Dr. Chance’s current Marie Curie research studies. Preliminary results have revealed a promising new stream for investigation—overlaps of design thinking and epistemological development. As a result of the IIF, Dr. Chance is on track to produce at least: 3 journal articles, a book proposal, a book chapter, 10 conference papers, and 6 grant applications (with 3 of them funded to date at €2-10k). She benefited tremendously from IIF supervisor Prof. Brian Bowe’s phenomenological expertise, EER connections, and work chairing the 2015 Research on Engineering Education Symposium (REES). Through ongoing career planning and networking, Dr. Chance identified further training needs and career development opportunities. She discovered a number of surprising findings and developed an innovative stream of research for detailed study and development into a book. As an IIF, she gained acceptance in EER and has made the successful transition into a new research career. She identified sources of funding that she can target in the future; DIT has agreed to host her should she get future funding in place. As a result of participating in a 2015 EER conference and working group, Dr. Chance secured an exciting opportunity to join UCL, a world-class research institution. After the conference, she attended CEE’s launch and organized meetings for CREATE and CEE to come together to share ideas. So, as a direct result of successes in the first phase at DIT, she was presented with the opportunity to help plug DIT into a much bigger community—most notably the embryonic UK and Ireland Network on Engineering Education to be launched 6 November 2015. By making such connections, Dr. Chance realized she needed to develop a set of specific skills in order to get to where she aims to be in five years [note: they want to see your trajectory and goals, but I feel these were a bit too lofty], having: secured an ERC grant [note: this was an admirable goal, and MSCA fellows win these awards at higher rates than non-fellows, but it’s still out of my reach–I’m focusing now on strengthening my publication record to get here], published a widely respected book [note: I broaden this option in the final proposal to book or special focus issue–I delivered two of special focus issues during the fellowship], and be leading an independent research team [note: I’m doing this one to some degree now, but my collaborators aren’t on my campus]. She is on track to apply for ERC funding and this fellowship at UCL will help her achieve these aims by providing strategic management and research skills and giving her time to recruit new members to her research team and secure ERC funding (or help them secure MSCA IF funding) for future training at DIT. A potential candidate is [name removed], an engineer from Spain who is interested in earning a PhD in EER who Dr. Chance has been mentoring informally.

Table 7: Match between the project objectives and Dr. Chance’s profile

Independent Thinking. Dr. Chance has authored 5 opinion/editorial columns, expressing her independent views on: (1) Architectural registration and its diversity vortex published by Crit Magazine; (2&3) HU: Forerunner in architectural diversity and HU to host national diversity conference published regionally by American Institute of Architects; (4) Architect—Visionary or order filler?, published by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development; and (5) Green aesthetic: Seeing beauty in clotheslines and weeds in Virginia’s Daily Press.

Leadership Skills. Dr. Chance chaired the 20th National Conference on the Beginning Design Student and serves on the organization’s steering committee. She has headed Construction Administration for a $7 million library and managed grants from the US Department of Education ($75k) and the ROTCH Foundation ($20k). She has planned and managed 10 study-abroad programs (6 to Europe, 4 to Africa) and secured ongoing support from charitable foundations. She has received formal leadership training (through both the 4-H youth organization and William and Mary university). She provided leadership to the City of Portsmouth (Virginia) as a Commissioner of Architectural Review (2002-5), also serving as Vice- (2004) and Acting-Chair (2005). Within the Port Norfolk Civic League (1999-2009) she served as President, Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, and Stabilization Chair. As a member of the international Congress on the New Urbanism, she served as Accessibility Taskforce Chair (2006-10), Session Organizer (2006-10), and Panelist (2009, 2010), advocating for accessibility and universal design.

Results of 3 Major Projects

Results of dissertation research (using quantitative methods). Dr. Chance’s dissertation investigated the use of the LEED® Green Building Rating system by higher education institutions (HEIs). It tracked implementation of LEED® over time and helped assess the degree to which HEIs have been meeting the program’s stated goals, particularly in the areas most critical for environmental sustainability. Dr. Chance used MANOVA and multiple regression analyses to identify Energy and Atmosphere as the most important category in predicting overall ratings achieved by HEIs—indicating that this category, which is expensive to achieve but is most important for controlling climate change, also carries incentive because it most influences ratings. The study contributed new understanding of both the organizational learning that has resulted from refining LEED and how such rating systems can be used to generate and apply new knowledge. Dr. Chance presented the study to NASA scientists at Langley Air Force Base. The project resulted in several publications—including an article in Planning for Higher Education that garnered 800+ downloads the first week it was posted on the Society for College and University Planning’s (SCUP’s) Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). The original work received the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the International Society for Educational Planning (ISEP) in 2010.

Results of PBL research (using qualitative, phenomenological methods). During her nine-month Fulbright fellowship, Dr. Chance developed a range of foundational skills in qualitative research: conducting semi-structured interviews; identifying invariant meaning units; and developing descriptions to capture the essence of specific phenomena. Prior to arriving in Ireland, Dr. Chance had only basic coursework in qualitative research methods, and no experience with phenomenological research. She knew CREATE had expertise in phenomenology and also provided highly valuable examples of organizational learning. As a Fulbright she collaborated with colleagues from CREATE to research what motivated engineering educators to change the way they teach. During data analysis, Dr. Chance distilled a model for creating change in engineering education that is transferable and can help others facilitate change. Findings of the study have been published in two conference papers and a book chapter to date.

Results of identity research (using mixed-methods approaches). As a Fulbright fellow, Dr. Chance spearheaded quantitative components of an exploratory, mixed-methods study conducted with Drs. Mike Murphy and Eddie Conlon. She drew from past experience, using new skills in combination with existing skills, to develop survey instruments, analyze data using t-Tests and Chi-Squared procedures, and describe the sense of identity reflected by DIT engineering and technology students. Results indicated that, when choosing engineering, design and other hands-on aspects of education had been important considerations for many DIT students. These design and hands-on aspects appeared to be even more important to (the small sample of) women than to men in their degree choice. The resulting book chapter was recently published by Springer, ensuring dissemination to a wide audience.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles                     

CHANCE, S.M., Mitchell, J., & Duffy, G. (in press). Using architecture design studio pedagogies to enhance engineering education. International Journal of Engineering Education. h5-index 16. SJR h-index 30.

CHANCE, S.M., & Bowe, B. (in process). Phenomenological study of how women experience collaborative learning in engineering education.

CHANCE, S.M., Duffy, G. & Bowe, B. (in process). Understanding lectures’ experiences of group learning in engineering.

CHANCE, S.M. (Nov. 2012). Planning for environmental sustainability: Learning from LEED and the USGBC. Planning for Higher Education, 41(1). h5-index 9. Cited by 1.

Seymour, M.W., & CHANCE, S.M. (2010). Assessment Formats. International Journal of Learning, 17(10), 137-154. h5-index 5. SJR h-index 6.

CHANCE, S.M. (2010). Strategic by design: Iterative approaches to educational planning. Planning for Higher Education, 38(2), 40-54. h5-index 9. Cited by 10.

CHANCE, S.M., & Williams, B. (2009). Assessing university strategic plans: A tool for consideration. Educational Planning: The Journal of the International Society for Educational Planning, 18(1), 38-54. Indexed in the H. W. Wilson Education Index. Cited by 14.

Fisler, J., Agati, H.A., CHANCE, S.M., Donahue, G.A., Eickhoff, E.J., Hack, A.E., Gastler, S.E.K., Lowder, J.C., & Foubert, J.D. (2009). Keeping (or losing) the faith: Reflections on spiritual struggles and their resolution by college seniors. College Student Affairs Journal, 27(2), 257-274. Cited by 5.

CHANCE, S. M. (2008). Proposal for using a studio format to enhance institutional advancement. International Journal of Educational Advancement, 8(3/4), 111-125. SJR h-index 4. Cited by 1.

CHANCE, S.M. (2004). Architectural registration and its diversity vortex. Crit: Journal of the American Institute of Architecture Students, 58, 36-40.

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