Focus on Student Development

Our new special focus journal is out!

This is a major part of my Marie Curie fellowship, because I wanted (a) to learn more about publishing and (b) build the knowledge base regarding “student development” in engineering.

I’m particularly interested in identity development and epistemic cognition (how students think about knowing and what knowledge is). I am myself working on a major research project exploring these epistemic topics, but with this journal issue I helped provide other people who are working on similar topics a place to publish their work.

It’s a really nice set of papers–three on identity and five on epistemology, with an introductory statement up front which I wrote with the people I brought on board as guest editors. The editorial team spent the past 18 months on this project–getting authors invited, articles competatively selected then carefully reviewed and enhanced.

You may remember that we issued a call for papers about 18 months ago. We managed to keep the whole project on track schedule-wise and the final printed version came out in August 2019, a full four months before I’d promised the funders I’d deliver it!!!!! How often will I get to say something like that!? Delighted to have the chance now.

Here’s the introductory statement:

Practical Epistemic Cognition in a Design Project—Engineering Students Developing Epistemic Fluency

Jonte Bernhard Anna-Karin Carstensen Jacob Davidsen Thomas Ryberg

Teacher Learner, Learner Teacher: Parallels and Dissonance in an Interdisciplinary Design Education Minor

Desen S. Ozkan Lisa D. Mcnair Diana Bairaktarova

Here’s an official overview of the issue:

“This Special Issue of the IEEE Transactions on Education focuses on using enquiry-based design projects to spur engineering students’ development, so as to increase understanding and application of the relevant theories, foster higher rates of student development and achieve this in healthy and productive ways.

Each of the eight papers in this Special Issue focuses on a specific aspect, presenting an empirical research study on either epistemological or identity development among engineering students. Five of the papers are on epistemological development or ‘epistemic cognition,’ and three on identity development. The overall set of resources is presented so engineering educators can gain familiarity with existing theories on how students change and grow over their university years, and can consider the findings of empirical studies and what these might imply for their own teaching and for their students’ learning.”

If you’ve got a manuscript you’d like to publish with this journal, you can find links on the website of the IEEE Education Society Or, feel free to drop me a line at <irelandbychance dot com> to ask advice–I’m an Associate Editor of this journal.

Testing Theory in Practice

Yesterday I got to share some of my Fulbright research as part of the weekly lecture series hosted by the Hampton University Department of Architecture.  It was a great way to catch up with the advanced students and introduce myself to the first year group.

The students were highly attentive, very receptive to learning about epistemology and cognitive development theories, and interested in hearing about how I am using  data from student blogs  to test existing theories.

The faculty seemed genuinely interested, too.  At the end, though, there was no time for the faculty to ask questions… the students had so many questions that I finally had to cut things short and send them off to their studio classes.

At the start of the lecture, I had asked the students to pull out their smart phones and look up this blog site.  As a result, they had many questions about what I’ve found in applying the new methods in the second year studio and sustainability classes I teach.

I also passed around the catalog from my photography exhibition, so they could see some of the artwork I created in Ireland.  I also encouraged them to look up pages about my adventures in Greece, Portugal, Belgium (which I still need to post more about), France, and of course, Ireland.

Lecture poster (produced by HU student Samuel Morgan).

Lecture poster (produced by HU student Samuel Morgan).

Always Learning to Teach

I love teaching students to design!  I’m also fascinated by theories about how students learn.  At the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) , I’m going to be researching:

  • How students’ ideas about “knowledge” and “knowing” mature over time.
  • How DIT professors are helping students become more flexible problem-solvers.
  • How DIT’s faculty has transformed its electrical engineering curriculum using a hands-on approach to education known as “student-centered, problem-based learning.”

I’m happy to report that these topics are of interest to the engineering education community… DIT’s Gavin Duffy and I have already been invited to present our work in Greece this September and to publish an article in the Journal of Engineering Education.

You can read more about the Fulbright in press releases by William and Mary and Hampton University.

Electrical Engineering students prepare to compete in the mid-semester round of “Robo Sumo,” March 2012.