Ethics teaching and research are core to my work — teaching, researching, designing curricula, and editing. Here’s a two-day snippet of activities….
Yesterday, I attended a work session for the EthiCo project, led by TU Dublin but working in collaboration with many other technological universities. We’re considering multi-dimensional understandings of ethics. And, our group is developing tools for teaching students about ethics and teachers about how to incorporate ethics (social and environmental justice) into their classrooms. TU Dublin’s Professor Noel Fitzpatrick is leading the effort.
Just before we met, my WhatsApp thread was alive as my colleagues and I determined the theme of our upcoming Dublin Maker (July 23) booth: Reboot Arcade. Short description: Games of all sorts and art installations relating to rebooting civilization in our own unique way.
We’ll inspire those who visit our booth to envision the world we’d create if we were doing things from scratch. I’ll contribute an activity for our booth at Dublin Maker about circular economy and regenerative design.
Throughout the day, I also wrote and uploaded feedback to my BIM students in the Research Methods module.
And, did quite a bit of editing on a manuscript with Inês Direito and Bill Williams using the Hero’s Journey framework. Here’s snapshot of my screen with a graphic I’ve made for that paper:
Today started with a conference of the members of the European University of Technology (EUt+). I presented ideas as part of the morning’s panel on the role of Education in the EUt+. I talked about the importance of ethics in technical education. It’s strange but exciting to be in a room with over 100 educators discussing topics passionately in person once again!
After the panel, I chatted with colleagues over coffee, and later followed up with many via email about how they can connect to SEFI and SEFI’s Ethics working group, and also the upcoming Project Approaches in Engineering Education (PAEE) conference where I’ll be delivering a keynote.
I really enjoyed hearing the speakers launch the conference (the secretary of the initiative, TU Dublin’s president, and the TU Dublin point person for the EUt+). Hearing them, I got a better idea of what’s in store for us as we join together as one big university offering more transferability of our students and of ideas and among our teachers. We’re building the future and creating our new reality.
But I couldn’t stay long. I hurried home to meet online with the editorial team for a new Handbook on Engineering Ethics Education. I zipped off emails to invite lead authors for Theme 4, on ethics accreditation.
I’ve got to get back to work now, but I’ll paste the handbook outline below, so you can see what kinds of things we’re exploring.
Outline for the Handbook on EEE
Theme 1: Foundations of engineering ethics education
Chapter 1.1: The purpose(s) of engineering ethics education
Chapter 1.2: How engineering ethics education makes use of normative ethical theories
Chapter 1.3: The individual and the collective in engineering ethics education
Chapter 1.4: Codes and professional organizations in engineering ethics education
Chapter 1.5: Reason and emotion play in engineering ethics education
Theme 2: Interdisciplinary contributions to engineering ethics education
Chapter 2.1: Philosophical and religious foundations in global perspective
Chapter 2.2: Sociological, Postcolonial and Critical Theory foundations
Reflecting professionally on my past four years, REEN is a definite bright spot.
I’m delighted with what we have accomplished since 2018 when I joined the Governing Body of the Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN), and since I took on the role of Chair for 2020 and 2021. I got to put many of the theories to work that I learned in my PhD in Higher Education Administration (Policy, Planning and Leadership).
We aim to host REES in geographically diverse regions, and we see this Symposium as a way of introducing new areas and communities to EER. I helped recruit and select the hosts and locations for REES 2021 in Perth Australia, and REES 2023 in Hubli, India. REES has been/will be held in:
I’m delighted to notice that REES has now been held on every (inhabited) continent!
We recognize that attending REES in person involves global travel and is thus prohibitively expensive for many — as well as taxing on the environment — and we seek to make it more accessible, inclusive, and environmentally sustainable. So, the organizing team has developed multiple avenues for online participation.
We built on this success with virtual events in the design of the upcoming REES in Perth, which has a global “relay” type structure. Events will happen face-to-face in Perth but will include paper presentations in a hybrid format (with face to face + online participation). Each research paper will be discussed three times:
first in the afternoon in Perth (hybrid)
second online at a time comfortable for the Middle East westward across Europe and Africa and across the Americas, and
third at a report back to the Perth group the next morning.
We have a host of facilitators enlisted to carry the dialogue across the time zones during REES 2021, to support continuity. We will use collaborative tools (e.g., Padlet, Miro, Jamboards, or similar) to record and add ideas at each stage of the global relay. I’ll be facilitating two of these relay sessions, scheduling and helping the facilitation leaders prepare, and moderating the online keynote sessions. Our keynote speakers have agreed to deliver their talks twice: once to people in time zones near Perth (hybrid format), and again to the other side of the world (online only).
REEN will provide awards for the REES Best Paper and best student paper (the Duncan Frazier Award), and a sub-committee of REEN Board members is now in the process of selecting winners for 2021.
During my term as Chair, the REEN Board has developed a practice of building capacity among board members and empowering each other so that there is continuity in transition and handover over responsibilities among Board members.
In the past two years, we have expanded our Board to provide a better representation of non-Anglo regions; the prior naming and allocation of representatives previously privileged the USA and Australia, but it now provides two representatives per continent with some sub-divisions specified to ensure geographical diversity (here’s an example call for applicants). We’ll modify further soon, to make the Middle East and Russia two separate regions.
We have innovated and grown. In the past two years, we have developed many new policies and procedures (such as for recruiting candidates and conducting elections) and programs (e.g., virtual Meet Ups, hybrid conference formats, capacity-building groups, and a capacity-building workshop series that we’ll soon pilot test).
We established a new transition period, to bring the incoming Chair on board 6-12 months prior to taking the full role of Chair, and the outgoing Chair to transition out gradually over 6-12 months to provide advice and support to the incoming Chair.
We also established a new rotation cycle for elections that helps stabilize membership so that we have a consistent level of turnover each year. Our new practices for recruiting and selecting Board members provide a common and transparent approach across regions that will help REEN fill its needs for diverse skills, interests, and expereince. We developed a more balanced approach that allows seasoned and emerging researchers alike a chance to serve.
As we are a larger group, we have not had trouble recruiting people to take on new roles or expand our repertoire of offerings. These were problems encountered in the past, when sitting Chairs couldn’t find replacements, for example. In the past three years, we have had extensive competition for the Board positions we have advertised, typically with 6-10 people running for each open position.
To help ensure engagement among Board members and address a few cases of under-performance, I implemented an annual benchmarking activity wherein Board members submit a written reflection at the start of each year, summarizing what they contributed the prior year, and setting forth goals and aspirations they have for the coming year. This approach has been successful in helping build a sense of ownership and accountability. It helps us identify and build momentum around shared goals. Thankfully, it also gave individuals who were not contributing very much a chance to see that for themselves and modify their behaviour by either stepping up their efforts, better stating what they intended to contribute so they could deliver, or stepping down to allow others a chance to serve and lead.
As REEN itself does not have a bank account, we have successfully controlled costs. We moved our website to a less expensive/nearly free provider, and we upgraded the content. During my time on REEN, we have added a page on EER journals, and our team continues to cultivate and refine this list, trying to provide trustworthy and consistent information to authors to aid their selection of publication venues and help them avoid predatory publishers. We still have the annual cost of the website domain, and I’ll try to find a sponsor for that as I don’t like that obligation passing from Chair to Chair as we’ve been doing.
Over the past 24 months, we produced a special focus journal issue on ethics in engineering, published in hard copy in May 2021 via the Australasian Journal of Engineering Education. I was the Editor, supported by the Editor-in-Chief Sally Male, and Associate Editors from REEN Teresa Hattigh, Andrea Mazzurco, and Valquíria Villas-Boas.
A full list of past REEN publications is available on our website and this list is being expanded this very week to include updated content and a new page of domain-specific journals as well.
The special focus issue of the Australasian Journal of Engineering Education (that I mentioned above) adds to the global body of literature on engineering ethics education. The introduction by the guest editor Shannon Chance presents the nine manuscripts and explains ties across them. Overall, the set covers ethical decision-making models and pedagogical techniques, philosophical aspects of ethics in engineering practice and education, ethics in accreditation, and the role of extra-curricular activities and gaming platforms in students’ ethical development. The set has been released digitally and will soon be published in hard copy as well. Many of the articles are open access, and a link to each is provided below.
In the special issue, authors Gwynne-Evans, Junaid and Chetty argue for a repositioning of ethics at the heart of engineering graduate attributes. Martin, Conlon and Bowe examine how “cases” (or detailed examples) are used in the teaching of engineering ethics; these authors argue for the development of immersive scenarios and active stakeholder engagement, as well for the development of local repositories and metrics of effectiveness. Stransky, Bodnar, Anastasio and Burkey explore the power of immersive environments that encourage authentic, high-level engagement by students. Sivaraman proposes a 4-tier rubric for evaluating engineering students’ ethical decision-making skills in the context of hypothetical scenarios. Lawlor offers a dissenting perspective to the teaching of engineering ethics through case studies and he recommends mirroring practices used in the education of philosophers—reading, lectures, discussion, and assessment—so that students are equipped to think critically about the profession. Hess, Miller, Higbee, Fore and Wallace explore empathy and ethical becoming, with the aim of helping Biomedical students recognize issues in practice environments. Frigo, Marthaler, Albers, Ott and Hillerbrand bring to the forefront the role of phronesis and virtues in engineering education. Advocating an authentic approach to teaching ethics, Polmear, Chau and Simmons highlight the role that informal, out-of-class, or extra-curricular activities play in the students’ ethical development. Finally, Chance, Lawlor, Direito and Mitchell assess the ramifications of traditional approaches to teaching ethics by asking civil engineers how they had learned about ethics and find that lessons of codes and professional practice were likely present in their engineering courses but completely unmemorable.
As REEN wants to help more regions build skills in EER and a sense of community working together, our Board members launched, in late 2019, a group we are now calling the “Engineering Education Research Network – Africa”. This group shares resources and ideas via WhatsApp and meet online to share similarly. Our Board has been working diligently to develop a series of workshops to introduce this community to EER and examples of how to do EER. We will run this workshop series in January-February 2022. I’ll meet with the group (online) later in November to launch that workshop initiative and encourage people to sign up.
Board members are hoping to extend these support activities into additional regions, eventually providing video recordings translated into local languages to help people learn EER. Our long-range plan for these EERN communities includes Latin America, the Middle East, and China.
In the role of Chair, I also developed a new logo with input from all Board members:
Our little Board is small but mighty. My wholehearted thanks go to the current Board members who made possible all the accomplishments I outlined above:
I collected interviews for this project with civil engineers recruited by Engineers Without Borders UK (EWB-UK). Dr Inês Direito helped with interviews and data analysis and Professor John Mitchell helped us with editing.
I haven’t been blogging much during the pandemic, as I spend far too many hours sitting in front of a computer monitor for things that must be done. Hours for hobbies like blogging just weren’t available – my eyes and thighs couldn’t take more. Moreover, since I posted advice and examples of Marie Curie final reports and applications there has been a deluge of visitors to those pages and posting more would cause those visitors confusion.
But, the traffic slowed down this year after the 2021 deadline for applications. You can see the cliff edge, where traffic dropped off, in the image to the left, below. These web materials were heavily visited in 2020 as well as 2021, as shown to the right, and I anticipate MSCA applicants will return for the 2022 application cycle.
In any case, I’m delighted with having over nine thousand visitors this year!
Most visitors came from my home (USA) and host (Ireland and the UK) countries, but I also reached people far away!
It’s time to update you! And, as I’m currently preparing to put my best foot forward in a local interview, it’s also a good time to reflect on what I’ve accomplished in the past four years:
Marie Curie Research Fellow and Visiting Professor at UCL
Programme Chair for the TU Dublin’s BSc (Honours) in BIM (Digital Construction)
Governing Body member and Chair of the Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN)
Guest editor for three special focus journal issues
Journal Associate Editor, Editorial Board member, and mentor for new reviewers
Author of multiple publications, having collected data for additional new publications as well
International speaker and workshop coordinator
Licensed Architect with up to date CPD
Supervisor and mentor for emerging researchers, appointed Senior Fellow of the (UK) Higher Education Academy
Blogger sharing examples to build human capacity in research and research-informed teaching
Manager of a portfolio of funded projects
In this post, I’ll tell you a bit about the first two items. Hopefully, I can detail other items in subsequent posts — so examples are fresh in my mind come interview time!
After successfully completing a two-year Marie Cure individual fellowship at UCL, I returned to Dublin, but I have kept my networks and collaborative activities at UCL going strong. The fellowship opened so many new doors for me — it exposed a new world of opportunities. My host institution, a global powerhouse in research and in engineering education as well as architecture education, provided an ideal place to grow new knowledge and skills. The fellowship’s generous training/travel budget, plus the exciting assignments UCL sent me on (e.g., leading two Master Classes in South Africa), helped extend my network into many new regions. Even today, nearly two years after leaving the UCL campus, I work daily with my UCL colleagues. As Visiting Professor, I attend online lectures and research sessions, provide leadership on research and gender issues, and engage in collaborative projects. Today, UCL Consultants pays half my salary, straight to TU Dublin, to provide me time to develop curricular materials for a brand-new degree programme in Architectural Engineering. This curriculum development work has been challenging, but also incredibly interesting and rewarding.
Just a month after returning to Dublin and just a month before the pandemic came crashing in, I accepted the role of Programme Chair for TU Dublin’s BSc (Honours) in BIM (Digital Construction) and launched that programme. I had an amazing Dean, but the two layers of supervisors between the Dean and me (as Programme Chair) were vacant for over half a year and so I learned quite a range of new skills. As my new line manager pointed out to me yesterday, I left my own personal stamp on the programme as it developed. Thankfully, he described this as a positive! Developing the structure and content of the “Research Methods” and “Work-Based Learning” modules for this BSc has been particularly rewarding. The “Honours” part of the programme name indicates that the students must complete a research thesis to graduate, and we’ve done an impressive job guiding the students to topics where doing research will benefit them, their careers, and the organizations where they work. We graduated our first cohort and have a second nearing completion. The tough part of this role, for me, is keeping up with technologies and standards that evolve so fast.
In upcoming posts, I look forward to reflecting on REEN, journal, and mentoring work. But for now, I’d better get back to my “To Do” list!
Would you like four years of PhD tuition/registration fees, with a €18,500 annual stipend and annual project budget of €2,600? The goal is to research STEM education and earn a PhD at Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin), in Ireland’s capital city. Applicants for this project are required to complete an Expression of Interest and email it to both firstname.lastname@example.org AND email@example.com. The application deadline is October 14, 2021.
Specifically, TU Dublin’s Research Scholarship Programme 2021 awarded me funding to hire a PhD researcher/student to study the topic of “Supporting Diversity in STEM by Enhancing Problem-Based Learning (PBL) Practices”. EU and non-EU citizens are welcome to apply, but those coming from outside the EU will need to obtain proper visas to study and work in Ireland. Registration Fees/Tuition each year would cost €4,500 (EU full-time) or €9,000 (non-EU full-time) but are completely covered, meaning that this grant is worth €102,400-€120,400. The stipend and project costs “will be paid annually, based upon successful completion of the annual assessment by the student”.
Applicants must have obtained a minimum of a 2.1 honours degree (level 8), or equivalent, in a relevant (e.g, STEM or social science) subject. A Master’s degree and/or some prior experience in qualitative or quantitative research is desirable but not essential. The ideal candidate will be highly self-motivated, with keen interest in STEM education and theories on learning and teaching and the ability to work both independently and collaboratively. We welcome applications from candidates from diverse backgrounds and from anywhere in the world. Applicants must meet the minimum English language requirements. Non-Irish can convert thier qualifications using an online conversion calculator (e.g., the US equivalent would be a four-year bachelor’s with B+ or better GPA).
What are we studying?
Our Research Question is:What challenges do women face with collaborative, peer-to-peer and Problem Based Learning while studying engineering and other STEM courses at university, and how do they deal with these challenges?
Why are we doing this?
Across engineering in Ireland, skills shortages represent “a major concern” and “barrier” to growth, and “the continuing gender gap requires greater attention and action”[i].Addressing shortfalls and increasing diversity requires shifting the culture of science, technology, engineering, and maths (STEM) and STEM learning – it must start with understanding the experiences of the students who enrol in STEM.
The proposed mixed methods study involves phenomenological analysis of 71 existing interview transcripts, complemented by a quantitative survey of STEM students to identify patterns across TU Dublin. These longitudinal data provide a unique window into students’ experience of engineering and the active, inquiry-driven, Problem-Based Learning (PBL) used at TU Dublin.
I’ll be the lead supervisor for this PhD researcher, and the advisory supervisor will be Professor Brian Bowe. I’ve provided the Detailed Project Description in the body of this post. A brief description of the project that is being advertised by the University is provided here:
The full proposal that I submitted for funding (linked below) provides details about both of the supervisors, about strategic alignment with organizational and governmental goals, and how this project will enhance research capacity. I’ve also provided a few details at the bottom of the post about terms of funding. Many thanks to the people who gave input and advice on my application: Brian Bowe, Oluwasegun Seriki, Clare Eriksson, Marek Rebow and a consultant Marek secured.
In 2020, Irish firms aimed to hire 5,152 engineers but 91% of engineering leaders listed skills shortages as “a major concern” and “barrier” to growth (Engineers Ireland, 2020). In Ireland today, more students are choosing STEM studies at second level, but many don’t continue into STEM higher education and “the continuing gender gap requires greater attention and action – in Ireland and internationally” (Engineers Ireland, 2020).
‘Pipeline’ or ‘conversion’ rates – persistence to graduation and into STEM careers of students who do enrol – are an issue. Globally, half of all students starting in engineering exit the major within a year[i] and in Ireland “drop-out rates in some third-level STEM courses [are] hitting 80%”[ii]. Moreover, most who graduate in engineering are male; in Ireland, men account for over 80% of all graduates in engineering, manufacturing and construction[iii]. Today’s culture of engineering study and work is largely shaped by males, and this may discourage some prospective applicants from joining the field.
Prior research suggests experiential, Problem-Based Learning (PBL) increases student engagement and helps address reasons women avoid STEM subjects[iv], [v], [vi]. Yet, task allocation and peer evaluation in teams continue to reflect gender bias, even when students do not recognize inequity[vii], [viii]. Time and project management, group coordination, and communications often fall to women – and often go unrecognized[ix]. Such dynamics can influence students’ perception of how they fit, if they belong, and whether they should stay in engineering. Engineering culture is often described as “chilly” to those who don’t fit the engineering stereotype[x]. Women who experience an unwelcoming environment have shown less commitment to stay in STEM programs than those who feel accepted[xi]. Although women who enter STEM courses are typically high achievers with strong self-conﬁdence, their experiences can cause signiﬁcant drops in their conﬁdence levels, especially in their ﬁrst two years[xii]. A US study found female participants felt dismissed, ignored, and unacknowledged when working in small groups of men in both work and academic settings[xiii]. Profanity, semi-sexual double entendre, and violent metaphors used by male faculty and students in engineering classrooms, although typically not intended to offend, contribute to a chilly climate[xiv].
PBL, which inherently involves group work, is promoted at TU Dublin by the Learning, Teaching and Technology Centre (LTTC), and so it is important to assess how well the pedagogy is working here. This study will investigate women’s experiences with PBL and other forms of collaborative peer-to-peer learning in engineering at TU Dublin, compare and contrast this with experiences of women from other engineering schools in Europe, and assess how the PBL experience changed over time for the Dublin-based women. This will be assessed via qualitative, phenomenological analysis of existing interview data. Findings will be extended via a survey of women in STEM at TU Dublin.
Addressing shortfalls and increasing diversity requires shifting the culture of STEM and STEM learning – it must start with understanding the experiences of STEM students. The First Time Supervisor (FTS applicant) has amassed a valuable, longitudinal dataset to help answer the research question: What challenges do women face with collaborative, peer-to-peer and Problem Based Learning while studying engineering and other STEM courses at university, and how do they deal with these challenges?
Phenomenological interviews collected 2015-2019 via the applicant’s two MSCA fellowships[xv], [xvi], provide insight regarding the experiences of diverse female students (see Figure 1).
Methodologies. The proposed two-part mixed-methods study involves qualitative and quantitative components. Ethics clearance will be sought for each phase, as the second phase will be built upon findings of the first.
In the first phase, extensive qualitative, phenomenological analysis of 71 existing interview transcripts will be conducted to assess how women have experienced PBL and other forms of collaborative learning (e.g., studying with peers in- and outside class) at TU Dublin across their four years of engineering studies and in other institutions in Portugal and Poland. The TU Dublin sample studied using formal PBL methods as part of their B.Eng. degree programs, starting from day one of their course – they include 24 of the 26 women on the inaugural cohort of TU Dublin’s common core engineering programme. These students completed their course in 2019 when the final set of interviews were conducted — analysis of these data is urgently needed. Additional interview data, collected in Poland and Portugal, provide a counterpoint to help assess the degree to which findings are localized to TU Dublin, versus representative of women’s experiences in PBL and collaborative learning more broadly. Phenomenology helps researchers investigate structures of consciousness and explore how specific phenomena are experienced from the first-person point of view. Van Manen’s interpretive, hermeneutic method will be used for analyzing interview data.[xvii] TU Dublin has expertise in this: Brian Bowe and Rob Howard have supervised theses using phenomenological methods[xviii], [xix], [xx] as well as closely related phenomenographical methods[xxi], [xxii], [xxiii]. As 33 prior doctoral theses using phenomenology in EER had sample sizes of 7-28 participants, this is an ambitious study, feasible explicitly because the qualitative data have already been collected and checked for accuracy.[xxiv]
In the second phase, a widescale survey will be conducted with women studying on four or more STEM courses that involve PBL across TU Dublin to assess the degree to which the qualitative findings hold true more broadly. Survey questions will be based on analysis from the phenomenological phase and piloted before use. Preliminary analyses conducted by the applicant indicate that many women in the engineering sample at TU Dublin had to adjust to working on teams with male students for the first time, as they came from single-sex schools. Many felt they had less preparation to start engineering than their male counterparts because their secondary schools provided limited access to physics and other engineering-related courses. The survey will provide a broader, and more current, perspective on these topics, to see if these barriers were experienced by many women in STEM at TU Dublin and assess what this might imply for Irish education policy. Specific sources of stress will be distilled from the interviews, and the follow-up survey will help assess how widespread these challenges have been. Thus, the follow-up survey will allow the PhD researcher to confirm and extend findings of the phenomenological phase.
Objectives of the studyare to:
Distil lessons from interviews and surveys to improve attraction, delivery, and retention in engineering and STEM education and employment
Assess the degree to which PBL pedagogies support women in engineering
Describe how women experience PBL in engineering at TU Dublin
Identify positive and negative aspects of the PBL experience
Make full use of the existing longitudinal interview data via in-depth analysis
Extend the value and generalizability of the findings via a quantitative survey
Assess data for gender, ethnic, and intersectional dimensions
Workplan (Figure 2). Upon arrival, the PhD researcher will be provided longitudinal data and guided in career planning, literature review, and target methodologies (Year 1) as a foundation for phenomenological analysis (Y2) and collection and analysis of survey data to achieve generalizability (Y3). The researcher will take part in the Graduate Research School’s structured PhD programme, annual Doctoral Symposia provided by the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI), summer schools of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AAEE) or similar, and online workshops organized by the Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN) and other leading organizations for engineering education research (EER). The research will be disseminated via SEFI, regional symposia, and either the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) or REEN’s Symposium (REES) and journal articles, submitted to the European Journal of Engineering Education (EJEE) and Journal of Engineering Education (JEE).
Feasibility, limitations and risks. The level of funding available, the existence of an extensive dataset, high-quality mentoring from the FTS applicant[xxv], [xxvi], [xxvii], and the supervising team’s track records help ensure this project can be completed on time[xxviii]. The sample size, considered large for qualitative research, will facilitate transferability but not generalizability; to address this limitation we propose rigorous methodologies and inclusion of a survey. Possible risksinclude a low return of surveys (however, ample qualitative data exist to make completion of a thesis viable) and Brian Bowe’s timetable (however, Rob Howard represents a viable backup). A primary risk is that the interview data will grow stale if they are not analyzed soon.
Originality. A longitudinal dataset of this depth is extremely rare in EER, and it presents unique opportunities. Using phenomenology is an innovative approach to study this topic[xxix] and having an extensive pre-existing dataset will allow time to extend qualitative findings via a wide-scale survey. Prior work of similar nature is US-based and quantitative in nature [iv], [xxx], tracking what happens (e.g., patterns of enrolment and retention), but failing to identify what keeps them engaged in the field or compels them to leave. The stressors they face and the why behind departures remains unclear so a deeper, more qualitative, study is needed. In early interviews, TU Dublin students reported some unique factors – a high proportion of single-sex schools, difficulty registering for physics in some schools – that warrant follow-up[xxxi], [xxxii].
[iii] Turcinovic, P. (2013). EU knowledge triangle: ‘Renaissance or ocean of papers?’ Donald School Journal of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology, 7(3), 272-277.
[iv] Boedeker, P., Nite, S., Capraro, R. M., & Capraro, M. M. (2015, October). Women in STEM: The impact of STEM PBL implementation on performance, attrition, and course choice of women. In 2015 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) (pp. 1-8). IEEE.
[v] Marra, R.M., Rodgers, K.A., Shen, D., & Bogue, B. (2012). Leaving engineering: A multi-year single institution study. Journal of Engineering Education, 101(1), 6-27.
[vi] Kokkelenberg, E.C., & Sinha, E. (2010). Who succeeds in STEM studies? An analysis of Binghamton University undergraduate students. Economics Of Education Review, 29(6), 935-946.
[vii] Fowler, R. R., & Su, M. P. (2018). Gendered risks of team-based learning: A model of inequitable task allocation in Project-Based Learning. IEEE Transactions on Education, 61(4), 312-318.
[viii] Hirshfield, L. J. (2018). Equal but not equitable: Self-reported data obscures gendered differences in project teams. IEEE Transactions on Education, 61(4), 305-311.
[ix] Neumann, M. D., Lathem, S. A., & Fitzgerald-Riker, M. (2016). Resisting cultural expectations: Women remaining as civil and environment engineering majors. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 22(2).
[x] Wyer, M., (2003). Intending to stay: Images of scientists, attitudes toward women, and gender as inﬂuences on persistence among science and engineering majors, J. Women Min. Sci. Eng., (9),1, 1716.
[xi] Wyer, M., (2003). Intending to stay: Images of scientists, attitudes toward women, and gender as inﬂuences on persistence among science and engineering majors, J. Women Min. Sci. Eng., (9), 1, 1716.
[xii] Brainard, S.G. and Carlin, L., (1998). A six-year longitudinal study of undergraduate women in engineering and science, J. Eng. Educ, (87),4, 369 – 375
[xiii] Wilkins-Yel, K. G., Simpson, A., & Sparks, P. D. (2019). Persisting despite the odds: Resilience and coping among women in engineering. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 25(4).
[xiv] Tonso, K. (1996). “The Impact of Cultural Norms on Women,” Journal of Engineering Education, (85), 3, 217–225.
[xvii] van Manen, M., Researching lived experience1997, Ontario, Canada: The Althouse Press.
[xviii] Chari, D. (2014). What is nanoscience?‘-A hermeneutic phenomenological study of nanoscience researchers’ experiences.
[xix] Sloan, A. (2015) A Phenomenological Study of Computer Science Lecturers: Lived Experiences of Curriculum Design, Doctoral Thesis, Technological University Dublin. doi:10.21427/D7QC75
[xx] Bates, E. (2011). How do Apprentice Painters and Decorators on the Irish Standards Based Apprenticeship Experience their Learning? Dissertation. Technological University Dublin.
[xxi] Beagon, U. (2021) A Phenomenographic Study of Academics Teaching on Engineering Programmes in Ireland: Conceptions of Professional Skills and Approaches to Teaching Professional Skills, Doctoral Thesis, TU Dublin, 2021, DOI:10.21427/K4MD-2571
[xxii] Irving, P. (2010). A Phenomenographic Study of Introductory Physics Students: Approaches to their Learning and Perceptions of their Learning Environment in a Physics Problem-Based Learning Environment. Doctoral Thesis.Technological University Dublin. doi:10.21427/D7K888
[xxiii] Walsh, Laura. (2009). A phenomenographic study of introductory physics students: approaches to problem solving and conceptualisation of knowledge. Technological University Dublin. doi:10.21427/D73598
[xxx] LaForce, M., Noble, E., & Blackwell, C. (2017). Problem-based learning (PBL) and student interest in STEM careers: The roles of motivation and ability beliefs. Education Sciences, 7(4), 92.
[xxxi] CHANCE, S. M., Bowe, B. & Duffy, G. (2016). Policy Implications of Irish Women’s Experiences in STEM Education. Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) conference in Columbus, Ohio.
[xxxii] CHANCE, S. M., Eddy, P., & Bowe, B. (2016). Implications for education policy: A comparative study of women’s experiences in engineering and physics education in Ireland and Poland. Joint conference of Irish Social Sciences Platform (ISSP) and National Economic and Social Council (NESC) in Dublin.
Some of the pertinent details from the TU Dublin Research Scholarship Programme 2021 handbook are:
Each award will provide a scholarship to support a full-time graduate research student and include a stipend of €18,500 and €2,600 for project costs. Funding is available for supervision of full-time students up to a maximum of 4 years for PhD students … and will be paid annually, based upon successful completion of the annual assessment by the student.
15. Non-EEA students must comply with all immigration regulations as determined by the Department of Justice and Law Reform.
16. Research students in receipt of funding must engage full-time in research. Although teaching, and other work, is considered a valuable experience, it should not exceed a total of 4 hours per week.
19. Expenses may include: • project materials and consumables; • project equipment; • software and hardware critical for the proposed research; • a maximum limit of €1,000 for computers or laptops applies unless required for high- performance computing and all must be in line with TU Dublin IT procurement policy; • pay-as-you-go access to national research infrastructures; • archival research costs; • reasonable and vouched travel (use of own car without prior approval of the Head of the Graduate Research School and first class or business travel will not be considered) • reasonable and vouched hotel costs • reasonable and vouched subsistence (all subsistence must be vouched and per diems will not be considered.) Subsistence claims cannot exceed and must be in line with Government rates. • registration costs for conferences/workshops/meetings directly related to the award; • normal (not emergency/express) visa costs for travel to conferences/research events; • skills training directly related to the objective(s) of the award; • publishing and write-up costs, excluding proof-reading costs; ανd • reasonable travel and refreshment costs for subjects and volunteers in studies
The publication process is often slow and suspense-ridden. I submitted the first draft of this paper at the start of March 2020, and now, just 15.75 months later, we’re nearly in print! The first step is digital release, and paper copies will come later.
Chance, S., R. Lawlor, I. Direito, and J. Mitchell. 2021. “Above and Beyond: Ethics and Responsibility in Civil Engineering.” Australasian Journal of Engineering Education. [Taylor & Francis Online]
University College London paid the Open Access publication free, so that you can download and read this article for FREE, without any special library access. My co-authors and I started this project at the request of Engineers without Borders UK, as the organization’s CEO, Katie Cresswell-Maynard, wanted to assess engineers’ perceptions and experiences related to “global responsibility”.
We prepared this specific report in response to a call for papers on ethics in engineering education and practice. To support the study of ethics, extracted data from our interviews that had to do with the topic, and studied it for patterns. As such, we’ve called this an exploratory study, on a topic where little prior research has been done.
Here’s the abstract:
This exploratory study investigates how nine London-based civil engineers have enacted ‘global responsibility’ and how their efforts involve ethics and professionalism. The study assesses moral philosophies related to ethics, as well as professional engineering bodies’ visions, accreditation standards, and requirements for continuing professional development. Regarding ethics, the study questions where the line falls between what an engineer ‘must do’ and what ‘would be good to do’. Although the term ethics did not spring to mind when participants were asked about making decisions related to global responsibility, participants’ concern for protecting the environment and making life better for people did, nonetheless, demonstrate clear ethical concern. Participants found means and mandates for protecting the health and safety of construction workers to be clearer than those for protecting society and the natural environment. Specific paths for reporting observed ethical infringements were not always clear. As such, analyses suggest that today’s shared sense of professional duty and obligation may be too limited to achieve goals set by engineering professional bodies and the United Nations. Moreover, although professional and educational accreditation standards have traditionally embedded ethics within sustainability, interviews indicate sustainability is a construct embedded within ethics.
I want to wholeheartedly thank the research participants and the co-authors who stuck by my side and helped see this project to fruition. It was great to have an ethicist on board in authoring this paper, Dr. Rob Lawlor. It has been a joy to work with him, and with Dr. Inês Direito and Professor John Mitchell, throughout this project. We also enjoyed a helpful and astute advisory panel comprised of Professor Nick Tyler, Jon Pritchard, Dr. Rob Lawlor, and Katie Cresswell-Maynard. The study was supported financially by a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions fellowship from the European Union (H2020-MSCA-IF-2016, Project 747069, DesignEng), with additional support provided to Engineers without Borders UK by the Royal Academy of Engineers.
I am very proud of a manuscript that was released digitally by Taylor and Francis publishers this week, authored by Dr. Mathana Amaris Fiona Sivaraman. I served as the Editor for this manuscript, as it is part of a set that will be published in hard copy in May in The Australasian Journal of Engineering Education (AJEE). The set comprises a special focus issue on ethics in engineering education and practice. It’s an output of the global Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN.co) that I Chair.
“Ethical decision-making (EDM) is an important element in the engineering profession. This paper explores the use of an ethical decision-making model (EDMM) as a tool for analysing and assessing the ethical reasoning skills of student engineers and their ability to apply the rationale of EDM process for ethical vignettes. The tool, distilled from several existing EDMMs, was tested against interview data collected from 12 graduating students at one private university in Malaysia. The students were asked to examine two ethical vignettes of varying scenarios and difficulty levels. This was followed by a semi-structured, face-to-face interview (corresponding to the first four steps of EDMM) to gauge their ethical reasoning behind their decision for each vignette. Their verbal responses were analysed and categorised into a four-tier rubric developed in accordance with the four steps of EDMM. Findings revealed that generally, students were able to identify the underlying issue (step 1) and the affected parties and the consequences (step 2), but they did not give much thought to potential course of action (step 3) or to testing available options (step 4). Levels of development of ethical reasoning provided by students varied between the first and second vignette. Findings suggest that the EDMM holds promise as a way to better understand and diagnose students’ readiness to face ethical challenges in their profession.”
I worked really, really hard to support Fiona as she’s an early career scholar — a “Baby Doc” like Diana — and fairly new to publishing in academic journals.
I was delighted to receive this thank you note over the weekend, from Fiona.
She said I was welcome to publish it in a blog, so here you go! It’s rare to have an author who had to work so very hard thank me for the effort. Dr. Robin Fowler was another person who sent thanks, and I cherish both their comments. The editorial Fiona linked below is really quite interesting to read as well!
Dear Professor Shannon Chance,
I want to take this opportunity to thank you personally for all that you have done for me in the past 1 year (though I am a complete stranger to you).
In my little experience of publishing a few indexed journal articles since 2014, I have come across very few editors who were helpful, and more so many unpleasant experiences with editors who hold on to the manuscript for over a year without any feedback or status update leaving you in agony waiting for a response. The response matters a lot to junior researchers like me, who need to show publication input to sustain in academia.
Of all the editors I have worked with so far within my limited correspondences with them as an author, I remember the late Emeritus Professor Ray Spier (Editor of Science and Engineering Ethics Journal) left a lasting impact on me. Prof Ray personally found time not only to reply to newcomers like me (I was still doing my PhD then), but also provided suggestions for the final revision of my manuscripts.
And, you are phenomenal. I have never come across an Editor who works closely with the author, who replies to the author’s emails and who cares so much for the final output. Even during my PhD, I did not have the comfort of experiencing such care and supervision, and yet again I had to work on my own without a Principal Investigator during my postdoctoral fellowship. That is why I am really touched by your care and mentoring. This paper would not have been possible without your guidance and personal attention. Thank you so much.
The other day, I was going through your blog. I wonder how you find time to multi-task on so many things, and also find time to reply to ‘small fry’ like me. You are doing such amazing, wonderful stuff as a global leader in Engineering Education Research, STEM education, Ethics and Sustainability, Gender Inclusion and Diversity etc.
Once I land into my new job this year (I pray it will be sooner), then perhaps I can find ways to connect with you in terms of future work.
I have taken note of your contact details undersigned in your email. Do allow me to WhatsApp you on special festive occasions (i.e. Christmas).
So, I’m not going to lie: 2021 has been incredibly difficult for me. We’ve been on lockdown since before New Years Day here in Ireland. We are homebound and limited to a 5km travel radius from home for essential shopping and exercise (in the cold, wet weather and very short winter days). Moreover, we started the year by burying my partner Aongus’ father.
It’s been work, work, work and nearly no play. Staring at the screen has been taking its toll. Experiencing eye strain, I’ve not had the wherewithal to blog since that requires additional screen time over and above work. Sometimes it feels like I’m marking time, standing in place and making no progress forward.
But then someone asked for info that put some things back into perspective.
You may not know, but even though I am teaching Engineering and Digital Construction at TU Dublin right now, I am still actively engaged in research on engineering education. I’m part of two research centers–one here in Dublin (CREATE) and another in the UK (UCL’s Centre for Engineering Education).
The UCL Centre Coordinator, Paula Broome, is preparing the CEE’s annual report for 2020. She asked me to send a synopsis of my activities in Engineering Education Research. I dashed off the draft below for her to integrate into the report.
Writing this up took time (we’re on Spring Break here, but I can’t seem to get away from the computer). Nevertheless, it made me feel a bit better about forging ahead through 2020. And since it’s Spring Break, I can feel okay taking time away from work to blog!
Two items don’t show upon the list below that actually took a great deal of time in 2020. Hopefully, soon, I’ll be able to list two new journal articles with 2021 publication dates.
I could also have added that my blog made a difference to researchers in 2020. One thanked me on Facebook a couple days ago for providing resources that helped her win her own Marie Curie Research Fellowship in 2020. IrelandByChance.com had a record number of visitors in 2020, totalling 12,265 and beating my previous high of 12,141 visitors in 2013.
The most visited pages all involved the example Marie Curie materials I posted.
UCL CEE 2020 activities of Shannon Chance
Topic: implementing PBL pedagogies
CEE works to help engineering educators learn and implement active learning pedagogies, like problem-based learning. Shannon Chance published the following book chapter on PBL:
In addition, this CEE-supported project was presented at a conference on PBL:
Mora, C. E., CHANCE, S. M., Direito, I., Morera-Bello, M. D., Hernández-Zamora, L., & Williams, B. (2020). INGENIA, a novel program Impacting Sustainable Development Goals locally through students’ actions. The International Research Symposium on Problem Based Learning (IRSPBL 2020) in Aalborg, Denmark.
Topic: diversity and inclusion
We believe in creating diverse and inclusive learning environments where all members feel welcome and supported—where they can be their true selves and realize their full potential. Inês Direito leads the SEFI working group on Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, and CEE’s Shannon Chance, Fiona Turscott, and Sophia Economides are frequent contributors to the group. Our team’s work includes a longitudinal, phenomenological study on Middle Eastern women’s experiences studying engineering abroad in Ireland, led by Shannon Chance, published the following Peer-Reviewed Conference Paper:
CHANCE, S. M., & Williams, B. (2020, May). Here you have to be mixing: Collaborative learning on an engineering program in Ireland as experienced by a group of Middle Eastern young women. EDUCON2020 – IEEE Global Engineering Education Conference in Porto, Portugal.https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/9125207
Shannon was also invited to present the work in Malaysia:
CHANCE, S., & Williams, B. (2020). Middle Eastern women’s experiences of collaborative learning in engineering in Ireland. Plenary forum Women in Engineering at the Regional Centre for Engineering Education conference (RCEE 2020) on “Engineering Education Leadership in an Uncertain World” at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia.
This Peer-Reviewed Conference Paper about Portuguese students’ experiences with Brexit also reflects our concern for Diversity and Inclusion:
Direito, I., CHANCE, S. M., & Williams, B. (2020). Exploring the impact of Brexit on UK’s engineering education sector from the perspective of European students. European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI 2020) conference in Twente, Netherlands.
Topic: ethics and sustainability
We are looking for ways to integrate the Sustainable Development Goals into our work and to infuse environmental sustainability, social justice, and ethics into our teaching and research. To understand these values are being enacted in London, our team has been conducting an exploratory study regarding UK civil engineers’ understandings and practices related to Global Responsibility (the topic of two articles we have under review with journals right now). Shannon Chance was invited to deliver a keynote speech on sustainability at a conference in China:
CHANCE, S., (2020). Equipping STEM graduates for global challenges via design thinking. Keynote speech for Chinese Society for Engineering Education’s 15th International Symposium on Science and Education Development Strategy on “Innovation of Engineering Education System under Global Challenges” held in Hangzhou, China 10-11 December 2020.
CEE members published the following Peer-Reviewed Conference Papers on sustainability in 2020:
CHANCE, S. M., Direito, I., & Mitchell, J. (2020). Challenges to global responsibility faced by London-based early-career civil engineers. European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI 2020) conference in Twente, Netherlands.
CHANCE, S. M., Direito, I., & Mitchell, J. (accepted in 2020, although the conference has been postponed until 2021). To what degree do graduate civil engineers working in London enact Global Responsibility and support UN Sustainable Development Goals? Engineering Education for Sustainable Development (EESD2020) conference in Cork, Ireland.
This paper, mentioned above under PBL, also focuses on sustainability:
Mora, C. E., CHANCE, S. M., Direito, I., Morera-Bello, M. D., Hernández-Zamora, L., & Williams, B. (2020). INGENIA, a novel program Impacting Sustainable Development Goals locally through students’ actions. The International Research Symposium on Problem Based Learning (IRSPBL 2020) in Aalborg, Denmark.
And finally, this workshop session intergated on sustainability:
CHANCE, S. M., & Villas Boa, V. (2020). Can we make future conferences greener and more equitable by providing online participation options? Breakout session of the Big EER Meet Up (online via UCL, April 2020).
Topic: Research Methods
CEE seeks to build research skills both across the members of CEE and more broadly. Shannon Chance build skill in teaching research methods by teaching a 5 ECTS module on the topic at TU Dublin in 2020. CEE members also provided the following workshops on research methods:
CHANCE, S., Direito, I., & Malik, M. (2020). An introduction to literature reviews in Engineering Education. Workshop for the Indo Universal Collaboration for Engineering Education (IUCEE). 22 November 2020.
Direito, I., CHANCE, S., & Malik, M. (2020). An introduction to systematic literature reviews and meta-analyses in Engineering Education. Workshop at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) 2020 annual conference in Twente, Netherlands.
Edström, K.,Benson, L.,Mitchell, J., Bernhard, J., van den Bogaard, M., Case, J.; CHANCE, S., & Finelli, C. (2020). Best practices for reviewing manuscripts in engineering education research journals. Workshop at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) 2020 annual conference in Twente, Netherlands.
Topic: global leadership in engineering education research (EER)
CEE provides leadership at the highest levels in engineering education—including both engineering education program development and engineering education research.
In April 2020, the CEE team organized and hosted the Big Engineering Education Research (EER) Meet Up, with 350 attendees worldwide. We followed this up in June 2020 with a second Meet Up for International Women in Engineering Day, that had 90 attendees. These were our primary activities for helping build academics’ capacity to conduct EER. At the start of 2020, Shannon Chance presented outcomes of the Marie Curie Research Fellowship she completed at UCL:
CHANCE, S. M. (2020). Becoming Civil: Outcomes of a Marie Curie Fellowship with CEGE and CEE. Lunch seminar for UCL’s Centre for Engineering Education in London.
Shannon Chance serves as the Chair of the global Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN). The term of Chair runs for the calendar years 2020 and 2021. As the head of the Governing Board of REEN, she has succeeded in diversifying and expanding the board to better represent the globe, helped organize REEN support for the CEE MeetUps at the outset of the pandemic, led the upgrade of the website for usability and economic sustainability, moved toward more transparent policies and procedures, and helped keep REEN operations on track.
To help grow a strong research community, we also supervise and mentor emerging researchers. In 202,0 Shannon continued to serve as a PhD supervisor and visiting processor at London South Bank University (LSBU). She has also been is highly active in UCL’s CEE and TU Dublin’s CREATE research group, helping aid communication between these two EER centers. In 2020, Shannon also reviewed conference paper submissions for the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) and EDUCON conferences.
Topic: global leadership in EER publishing
CEE work involves serving as top editors of the IEEE Transactions on Education, where John Mitchell is Editor-in-Chief and Shannon Chance is an Associate Editor. John and Shannon are also active contributors to the Engineering Education Research (EER) editors’ roundtables that assembles online and at the world’s top EER conferences and is creating resources to support authors and reviewers. John and Shannon are also both on the editorial board of the European Journal of Engineering Education (EJEE).
Shannon is currently the primary editor for a special focus issue on ethics in engineering education and practice, to be published in May 2021 by REEN’s Research in Engineering Education Symposium and the Australasian Journal of Engineering Education. In 2020, Shannon also served as a peer reviewer for all of the following journals:
Shannon also served as an advisor for the recent publication of a children’s book “The Architecture Scribble Book” by Usborne Publishing Ltd.(2020). This built on past success with titled “The Engineering Scribble Book” by Usborne Publishing Ltd.(2018) which she also consulted on. Shannon also hosts the educational blog IrelandByChance.com.
CHANCE, S. (2012-present). Ireland by Chance: Research Adventures in Ireland and the UK. http://www.IrelandByChance.com showcasing research and fellowship activities.
Our team communicated and promoted research we have done via public channels:
CHANCE, S., Williams, B., & Direito, I. (2020). Tackling gender inclusion of Middle East students in engineering education with Project Based Learning. SEFI Newsletter.
Members of the CEE stay on top of their professional credentials. In 2020, Shannon Chance refreshed her Architectural Registration (license to practice) in the Commonwealth of Virginia, USA and maintained the National Council Record she holds with the USA’s National Council of Architectural Registration Boards which enables her to gain reciprocity in any of the United States. Shannon also gained a new credential, a Postgraduate Certificate in Building Information Modeling, at the February 2020 graduation ceremony at Technological University Dublin.
Topic: curriculum development
The CEE is currently developing new engineering curricula for Newgiza University in Cairo, Egypt. Emanuela Tilley, Al Mosart Hassan, and Shannon Chance comprise the core team developing the new curriculum in Architectural Engineering.
Topic: leadership in educational evaluation
In a similar vein to developing curricula, CEE also supports Quality Assurance and Accreditation processes. In 2020, Shannon Chance served on a review panel for a Substantive Change application submitted by the University of Puerto Rico to the USA’s National Architectural Accreditation Board (NAAB). Shannon also served as an external evaluator for applications submitted to Fulbright Ireland. In 2020, Shannon was also active in Quality Assurance at TU Dublin (Ireland), where as part of her role as Programme Chair for the BSc (Hons) in BIM (Digital Construction) she chaired the Programme Committee and served on the Extended School Executive Committee.
My colleague here at TU Dublin, Dr. Gavin Duffy, is organizing a special focus issue on topics near and dear to my heart: sustainability, diversity, and STEM.
Please see their call for submissions, which I have pasted below.
We are happy to announce the possibility to contribute to a Special Issue “Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in STEM for a Sustainable Future”, edited by Sustainability, an open access journal by MDPI. There is evidence that many key performance indicators of academic and non-academic organizations related to the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields are strongly determined by the diversity of the workforce in these organisations. This points to a need to ensure that increasing diversity becomes a key goal for both STEM educators and STEM industry. Evidence suggests that the number of women resigning from technological job positions remains unacceptably high. For example, in western countries, only 20% or less of graduating engineers are female, and often fewer than 10% are part of the engineering workforce. To increase diversity, equality, and inclusion in STEM education, many different approaches can be implemented at different levels and to different target groups. This Special Issue aims to address research mainly related to:
Theoretical insight into the reasons for this imbalance;
Empirical evidence, experimental approaches, and best practices of recruitment and retention in STEM education;
Ideas and policy to support gender balance careers in a STEM context.
Anita Tabacco, Politecnico di Torino (firstname.lastname@example.org) Gavin Duffy, Technological University Dublin (email@example.com) Alicia García-Holgado, University of Salamanca (firstname.lastname@example.org) Rachel Riedner, The George Washington University (email@example.com)
Very soon I’ll get to call my colleague Dr. Martin, instead of ‘just’ Diana. Today, she submitted the “minor corrections” requested by external examiners on her doctoral thesis during her viva.
We have different ways of speaking about all this in the States. We’d say she needed to make some minor amendments to the text following her dissertation defense. Actually, back home, as everyone makes minor adjustments after their defense, these aren’t usually considered “corrections”. They are considered fully normal!
Some days I feel like an international thesaurus, since so many terms vary from the US, to Ireland, and again to the UK. Divided by a common language, we often say over here.
In Europe, the rules and expectations for punctuation are even different than in the States! I’m constantly walking (writing on?) a tightrope. Consider that English is my first (and pretty much only) language, and that Diana has been writing, studying, and conducting empirical research in a non-native language. It makes her accomplishments all the more impressive.
So, the deadline for Diana’s changes popped up, seemingly out of nowhere… and she delivered! I just received an email saying she’d gotten it all submitted, along with this screenshot:
I can’t really say how much it means to be mentioned in Diana’s thesis. It deeply touched me and let me know that all the hours of interaction mattered to both of us. I’m quite often the “unofficial” mentor but the lack of formal status doesn’t stop me from giving my all at it. In this case, her lead supervisor did ask me to serve as mentor when she joined our institution.
This type of work often goes undocumented, and we know it disproportionately falls to women and early career academics, who are expected to be good supports for others — empathetic and able to share freely. Too often, this expectation holds those unacknowledged mentors back from tasks that get higher recognition in institutions. Being the liaison to a student group can take a lot of time, with little to no formal reward in, for example, tenure and promotion deliberations (the US way of putting it). For me, I am glad to be at a point in life where I don’t worry too much about accolades — I’ve already earned tenure, currently hold a permanent position, and was made Full Professor back in 2014 — and I feel enabled to allocate my time to things I value.
I spend a great deal of time on diversity and inclusion, ethics, and sustainability — and on supporting early career researchers and entry-level teaching staff whenever I can. When I don’t hear from my informal mentees (Inês, Lelanie, Carlos, Canaria, and Diana) or my formal supervisee (Thomas), my week is half as alive.
Mentoring a fun and very important role, and I think we should have more mentorship programs. There is a new term emerging around the world for “promoters”, and this term is starting to grow on me. It is, in fact, what I do.
Diana’s message also evoked memory this image, which I recently shared on Facebook:
I follow that advice with my mentees and supervisees, and I think it makes a world of difference.
The superstars in my own life (my own lead PhD supervisor, Prof/Dr Pamela Eddy, for one) have given this type of support to me. Indeed, Pam should have been listed as my #1 supervisor, though something slipped through the cracks.
Overall, positive attitude is important.
It’s infectious in the best of ways.
Expressing gratitude and thanks is good for everyone’s soul.
And yes, it’s also important to remain critical and reflective, and to stick up for yourself and others who are not getting the credit deserved. You’ll see this is why I pay attention to the order authors are listed on the projects where I’m involved: the final listing should accurately reflect the actual proportion of effort each person has contributed. I don’t take kindly to those with established reputations taking advantage and listing themselves ahead of those who actually delivered. Regarding such, I frequently take a stand. I see an instance where I will need to take such a stand looming on the horizon. Although I dread conflict, I know I’ll have to stand up for the emerging scholars who actually delivered, and to make sure they are not listed below any individual who left us hanging. I find it’s easier to stick up for others getting their due share of recognition than when it’s just for myself, and that I grow clearer on all this over time.
So, back to Diana’s thesis.
It looks like I need to upload the text to iPad or Kindle soon.
My friend, the late Wayne Ringer, felt compelled to read my entire dissertation when he was mentioned on my acknowledgements page. Him reading it was completely unexpected as he was a lawyer, not a higher education or green building guru who would benefit from the material. Nevertheless, he said if you’re acknowledged in a work, you should naturally read it. He and his daughter, Morgan, also attended my PhD graduation from William and Mary back in 2010. Boy, do I miss them.
So, my reading plan is clear. I’d better hit this new book of Dr. Martin’s, as soon as it’s off the presses!
Today, Diana is already shaping the agenda for research and practice in engineering ethics, not just following the crowd. And she’s headed to a new institution, to do a postdoc on ethics in engineering. She’s blazing new trails!
This level of leadership is impressive for what we in the USA would call a “baby doc”, a newly minted PhD!