Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Quality of supervision (1.3)

In today’s post, I share subsection 1.3 of the MSCA Individual Fellowship proposal submitted in 2015–it’s on “Quality of the supervision and the hosting arrangements.”

As the 2015 call allowed for a chart highlighting the capacity of the host organization to support my development, I’ve included that chart in the blog as well (down at the bottom).

Although this 2015 submission was unsuccessful, I revised it based on evaluators’ comments and the revision was funded in the 2016 call.

The full suite of posts on this topic includes:
Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2, 1.3 (here), 1.4
• Impact Section
• Implementation Section
• Ethics Section

1     EXCELLENCE

1.3  Quality of the supervision and the hosting arrangements       

Qualifications and experience of the supervisor(s). Prof. Nick Tyler has unique expertise to support Dr. Chance’s development into an independent researcher. He has implemented EER findings4 and has supervised 17 PhD completers and as many post-docs. He is currently part of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering’s Engineering Education hub. He is advising universities in Argentina, Colombia, UK, and Japan in renewing their approaches to education. From 2003-13, Prof. Tyler headed UCL’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. During this period, he developed new educational approaches to combat problems, introducing a new curriculum based on detailed analysis of quality and gender4. It was launched in 2006 and graduated it first students in 2009; this provides a valuable case study and a wealth of experience that can be transferred to other engineering programs. For this work, Prof. Tyler’s group received the inaugural Athena SWAN Silver awarded to an engineering department.

Prof. Tyler’s successes—in project management, social science methodologies23, diversity and inclusion research24, and book publishing25—support a portfolio of £20 million in research that is funded by research councils, industry, and government. His CV features well over 70 publications. Prof. Tyler has been named a Fellow of multiple organizations, including the UK’s: Institution of Civil Engineers; Royal Society of Arts; Transport Research Foundation; and most recently the Royal Academy of Engineering. Most noteworthy, however, is his 2011 appointment, by Her Majesty the Queen, as a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to technology. The CRUCIBLE research center he directs will provide Dr. Chance a plethora of research consultants. It involves experts, from all eleven faculties at UCL, who conduct interdisciplinary research.

Prof. Tyler’s experience is well aligned with the proposed project. At the outset of the EF, Professors Tyler and Chance will create a Career Development Plan. They will meet frequently as part of larger research meetings, and will hold EF-specific meetings twice monthly to monitor progress and quality. They will conduct formal milestone assessments every six months. Throughout, Prof. Tyler will provide strategic advice on data collection, analysis, methodologies, gender and diversity, engineering education pedagogies, UCL’s culture and curricular innovations, and the creation of design projects. He will assist/mentor Dr. Chance in dissemination and outreach activities and budgetary matters, help her gain ethics approvals, and help with the recruitment of research participants. She will learn highly effective techniques by observing his team meetings, grant writing, and project management activities.

Hosting arrangements.

UCL Human Resources and EURAXESS UK will provide assistance in relocating and settling in (see Capacities). UCL offers many induction activities she will attend. UCL is ideal for her project because:

1) Its design-focused civil engineering programs achieved notable successes among women, meriting more study4.

2) Dr. Chance will be well integrated into UCL’s organization. She will work in UCL’s new Centre for Engineering Education (CEE), which is physically located in the office of the Dean of Engineering at UCL. She will collaborate closely with the Vice-Dean for Education, staff members of the CEE, and the Centre’s two co-directors.

3) CEE has been set up to support training and two-way transfer of knowledge. Formally launched in April 2015, it brings together UCL’s Institute of Education with its Faculty of Engineering Sciences. CEE hosts a bi-weekly “Engineering Education Seminar Series” on topics central to engineering education. These seminars facilitate conversation among educators, professional bodies, and industry about how to attract and nurture engineering talent. Dr. Chance will participate fully in these sessions and will deliver seminars early and late in the Fellowship to familiarize her colleagues with the topics at hand. Industry representatives also attend these sessions.

3) CEE is establishing industry partnerships. These include Creative Industries Federation (CIF), which advocates integrating art and design in industry and has already expressed great interest in Dr. Chance’s research proposal.

4) UK policy requires all new 3rd level teachers to study pedagogy. As such, CEE will launch a new Masters program in 2016, geared toward practicing engineers and people who teach engineering. Dr. Chance will help create activities and module descriptors for this program—an ideal platform to exploit her research findings.

Career development.

UCL provides a healthy research environment as evidenced in its HR Excellence in Research Award from the European Commission (see also Section 3.2-3.4 and the Capacities Charts). UCL publicizes all successful promotions, including those by researchers, and has clear promotion procedures for research staff. UCL offers open training and development programs to all staff; as detailed above, Dr. Chance will make use of UCL’s Professional Development Programmes (PDPs) on: 1) Academic & Researcher Development, 2) Financial & Resource Management, 3) Leadership & Management, and 4) Project Management. She will also attend courses and events offered through VITAE, designed to help researchers realize their full potential, such as Vitae Connections for Supporting Open Researchers and the Vitae Researcher Conference. Based on the Vitae Researcher Development Framework, Dr. Chance’s fellowship at UCL will focus on building skill in areas: B3-Professional and Career Development, C2-Research Management, C3-Financial, Funding and Resources, and D2-Communication and Dissemination. Her training will also include: a) conferences on gender/technology; b) writing/submitting proposals to Irish, UK, and EU Research Councils, Horizon 2020, and Science Foundation Ireland; and likely c) serving on an evaluation panel for Horizon 2020, the Irish Research Council, or similar. She is registered as a CORDIS expert.

Capacities Table

The following table appeared in the Appendices and thus it didn’t count against the page limit. It was restricted to a single page. I included a second page with the three possibilities I had identified for secondment, but I ended up omitting them in my resubmission.

Note that because I made no mention of a secondment in the resubmission, I wasn’t allowed to add one later. Had I mentioned one in any form (I was told by my Project Officer later when trying to add one in), I could have altered the destination. I wasn’t allowed to add one later, however, as I hadn’t mentioned one in the 2016 proposal. Adding one after acceptance would have required a new formal review of the project. I don’t like to over-complicate things, yet I did manage to work closely with a non-profit organization (Engineers Without Borders UK) while I was in London, and produce research of value to them.

Top half of the capacities table.

You’ll see I tried to personalize this chart by including photos of the people I’d be working with because I wanted to highlight the diversity of this team. Plus I managed to make a fairly nice graphic arrangement to add appeal to the page! By the time I started the Fellowship, Paul, Greening had moved to a different university so I worked with the Vice Dean for Education, Prof. John Mitchell–as well as the rest of this group. By the time I arrived to start my MSCA-IF, UCL had brought a new full-time researcher on board who isn’t pictured above, so I got to work with the brilliant Dr. Inês Direito as well.

This was a truly amazing team to work with!

The research facilities and supports at UCL are world class, as the bottom half of the Capacities Table illustrates:

Bottom half of the capacities table.

Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Transfer-of-Knowledge (1.2)

1     EXCELLENCE

In this post, I share subsection 1.2 on “Clarity and quality of Transfer-of-Knowledge/training for development of the researcher in light of the research objectives” of an MSCA Individual Fellowship proposal submitted, unsuccessfully in 2015. I revised it based on evaluators’ comments provided in a previous blog. The revision was funded in the 2016 call. This blog provides one sub-section of the “Excellence” section, the section that has to do with the researcher and the design and merit of the work being proposed.

Please note that my home institution, formerly known as DIT, changed its name to TU Dublin (Technological University Dublin) while I was in London doing my MSCA-IF.

The full suite of posts on this topic includes:
Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2 (here), 1.3 , 1.4
• Impact Section
• Implementation Section
• Ethics Section

1.2  Clarity and quality of Transfer-of-Knowledge/training for development of the researcher in light of the research objectives

UCL offers crucial knowledge, models, and training programs (see 1.3 & Capacities). At UCL, Dr. Chance will build on her solid foundation in the emerging field of EER by developing new research and management skills and by catapulting her work well beyond her already notable capabilities. Working under the expert supervision of Prof. Nick Tyler, a global leader in research productivity, she will develop specific, crucial new skills in: quantitative and qualitative social science research, project organization and leadership, financial management, grant writing, and PhD supervision. This training will have enormous positive impact on the research career of Dr. Chance and will positively impact UCL, UK and Irish EER, and a host of project partners across the EU (see Table 2). Specific stretch-goals for the EF period are: (1) publishing two articles in the highest-ranking journals in EER and higher education, (2) leading the production of a seminal new guidebook for educators, and (3) securing grants to establish an independent research team, recruit/train new researchers (see Implementation).

Dr. Chance’s career goals are to permanently base her research operations in Ireland and to spearhead research teams via European Research Council and industry funding. She possesses many of the skills necessary to do this, however she and CREATE need specific experience in securing and managing large-scale research grants, conducting advanced statistical procedures using statistical modeling tools, and using programs like SPSS. To gain crucial experience, Dr. Chance needs mobility out of DIT for a period so she can work alongside extremely high-research producers and in industry. A three-month secondment will develop her understanding of what this sector needs and how it uses social science research and education programs. It will help exploit her research more fully.

Table 2: Training and project support provided by partner organizations.

As an EF, Dr. Chance will spearhead two-way transfer of knowledge between UCL and Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT, her current employer), and will coordinate EER efforts between the two. This will enhance her leadership and project management skills. She will transfer to UCL specific knowledge gained at DIT regarding phenomenological research methods, design of a new Master of Philosophy degree in EER, and implementation of engineering design projects. Dr. Chance will transfer crucial knowledge back to DIT through ongoing exchange and her planned return to DIT at the end of the EF—at which point she aims to lead a new research strand for DIT’s CREATE research group via grant funding secured under Prof. Tyler’s mentorship (details in CV). She will apply to organizations like the European Research Commission (ERC) for large-scale Starter Grants. Her new research and project management skills will render Dr. Chance more competitive in accessing this type of large-scale funding, and her support network (from UCL, DIT, and industry) will provide valuable assistance. Her work will support DIT’s evolution into Ireland’s first Technological University and help grow CREATE into a full-fledged research center. UCL is a global leader in the training of researchers, and Dr. Chance will take full advantage of its excellent Professional Development programs. She enjoys this type of learning and is committed to completing a wide range of Researcher Development and Leadership and Management programs at UCL. She will participate in either Springboard Women’s Development Programme (researcher cohort) or Taking Control of Your Career. Both of these run over the course of a year. She will definitely take Writing Targeted Grant Proposals and 4 specific Financial and Project Management courses (see 3.3). She will watch the schedule for Quality Papers, Writing a Peer Review, Leadership in Action, Professional Skills for Research Leaders, Effective Delegation, and Breakthrough Conversations and will complete as many as possible. If Writing a Book is offered upon arrival, she will take it.

Table 3: Plan for transfer of knowledge to host

New collaboration opportunities will open for the host institution, notably a new symbiotic relationship with DIT that will further enhancing UCL’s successes in engineering education pedagogy while also adding to CREATE’s record of producing quality phenomenological and phenomenographic research. Dr. Chance’s work will include clarifying and refining a distinctive niche for each institution, and positioning each for maximum impact. To UCL, Dr. Chance will bring existing international connections, as well as an engaging new research project that includes R&D of educational activities. She will help infuse practice and pedagogy at UCL with findings from her research.

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 (here)
• Impact Section
• Implementation Section
• Ethics Section

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.

Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Quality of research (1.1)

1     EXCELLENCE

This blog provides the first sub-section of the Excellence section, on “Quality, innovative aspects and credibility of the research” of a grant proposal I submitted for an MSCA Individual Fellowship in 2015. This submission was NOT successfully in 2015, but I revised it based on evaluators’ comments provided in a previous blog.

I note that, in social sciences, it is likely that your methodologies and your research design will evolve while you are conducting the work. They will change based on what you are finding as you are collecting data and working in-situ. Nevertheless, it’s crucial that your proposal convey sa solid understanding of your field, its literature base, and the methods used to study it. The plan you propose has to be realistic, respond to the most cutting-edge knowledge in your field, and also explain how your proposed work is innovative–and needed by Europe.

The reviewers took off points for this proposal being too ambitious, lacking specificity regarding methods, and not integrating specific enough info on cutting edge research on the topics within my specific sub-field of engineering education research. I also lost points for mentioning a secondment but not having a clear enough secondment plan. I addressed those criticisms in my application the following year. The revision was funded in the 2016 call.

The full suite of posts on this topic includes:
Abstract and Eval
• Excellence Section 1.1 (here), 1.2, 1.3, 1.4
• Impact Section
• Implementation Section
• Ethics Section

1.1  Quality, innovative aspects and credibility of the research

Over the two-year period of the MSCA European Fellowship (EF), Prof./Dr. Shannon Chance’s research and training efforts will be based at the new Centre for Engineering Education (CEE) at University College London (UCL). Dr. Chance intends to complete a 3-month secondment during the fellowship—if an appropriate partnership can be arranged with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Science|Business, Creative Industries Federation or similar—so as to maximize and exploit her research. Her primary research project will investigate overlaps between epistemology (which asks: What is knowledge?) and design thinking (How is knowledge created and used in the process of design?). Her research will evaluate the role of design projects in the learning, retention, and epistemological development of engineering students, particularly women. She will collect qualitative and quantitative data in Ireland, Poland, Portugal, the UK and USA. Simultaneous outreach in these places will promote Science, Engineering, Technology, and Mathematics (STEM) research and careers. Creating and pilot testing new activities for 2nd, 3rd, and post-graduate students will provide Dr. Chance another important avenue to exploit her research findings. Overall, Dr. Chance’s research will address grand societal challenges, specifically the lack of diversity and the ominous shortfall of engineers in Europe. Overarching research objectives are to: (1) develop and promote better ways to teach/support engineering students, (2) help transform engineering into a more diverse and creative field, and (3) track results via five primary research questions (Table 1) surrounding the theme: To what extents do design projects influence the cognitive and epistemological development of undergraduates in engineering and architecture?

The interdisciplinary approach draws from Dr. Chance’s unique skill set and synthesizes state-of-the-art in three realms: (1) practices from architecture education, (2) research on engineering education, and (3) theories on college student development. Architecture education provides a long-standing focus on pedagogy (through immersive, active design-based education). Innovators in engineering education are creating new ways to facilitate group learning and are slowly shifting the focus from teacher to student in the engineering classroom. Dr. Chance believes leveraging theories on student development can provide new opportunities in reforming/transforming engineering education. Such work can make engineering more attractive to students in design and creative fields—a category of students who may never have considered engineering as a field of study or career. Scholars of student development provide ways to conceptualize and monitor student learning, particularly with regard to contextual and generative ways of thinking and knowing. Dr. Chance’s initial investigations at the intersection of these three realms (which have involved exploratory analysis of students’ blogs) yielded encouraging preliminary results. Even though the findings were extremely tentative, they were solicited for a peer-reviewed journal1. To derive extensive benefit, we must strike while the iron is hot. She needs to pursue promising leads immediately, while momentum is strong.

Table 1: Research Methods and Methods

The need for further study is eminently clear. The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching argued that architecture’s design-based model should be incorporated into curricula to improve the teaching of engineering2, 3. The UK Royal Academy of Engineering4 and the US National Science Board5 demanded engineering schools do more to cultivate creativity and flexibility among graduates. Yet, very little has changed6. At UCL, however, Prof. Nick Tyler’s department accrued success by integrating design projects into civil engineering—dramatically increasing its enrollment and graduation numbers, particularly among women, as is documented in a case study by the UK Royal Academy and MIT4. Outcomes of their work deserve additional analysis via this project. Two primary resources on the overlap of design thinking and engineering education are a 2014 article on how to prompt informed thinking among novice designers7 and a 2001 book on Design Thinking and Cognition8. Contemporary student development theory stems from Perry’s 1970 schema of ethical and intellectual development of (male) college students9. Refinements to Perry’s work include gender-related investigations10, 11, ways to assess epistemology12, 13 and reflective judgment14, and synthesis across theories15. Dr. Chance believes applying these theories can make engineering education more effective. She aims to provide educators with the necessary tools to do so—and to disseminate them widely. Her cross-cultural project utilizes novel concepts (overlapping theories on development and design), novel methods (phenomenology along with surveys and field tests), and novel approaches (new project applications and a new guidebook to help revolutionize teaching and shift the knowledge frontier).

Dr. Chance’s EF study is being carefully designed to address criticism that “engineering education scholarship is still characterized by a lack of explicit and consistent theoretical engagement.”16 Her innovative mixed-methods study will start with cutting-edge qualitative methods for collection and analysis of in-depth phenomenological interviews with 60 women in 5 countries—a very large and diverse sample. Phenomenology provides means to investigate structures of consciousness and to explore how specific phenomena (in this case, design and engineering education) are experienced from a first-person point of view. Dr. Chance will use Van Manen’s interpretive, hermeneutic method for analyzing data17 and will help adapt phenomenology for widespread use in the emerging field of engineering education research (EER). To extend and magnify the impact of her qualitative findings, Dr. Chance will follow up with confirmatory surveys. Guided by Prof. Tyler, she will gain mastery of advanced statistical analysis procedures. She will use ANOVA, multiple regression, and other statistical modeling tools, to study results of surveys with 500+ women and men in 4 different EU countries. This will help achieve generalizability across EU engineering education. The proposed work is unique in scale, because no other engineering education researcher in Europe has collected such extensive data from participants from such diverse countries.

Such work is crucial to address today’s social and economic challenges. All over the world, there is a realization that engineering education is not working effectively—that engineering graduates are not equipped to handle ill-defined problems or address grand societal challenges—but no one is sure what the solution is. Even in places where the educational system is conservative (like Japan, Singapore, China, France, and Germany) it is widely realized that things must change, but exactly how to change them is unchartered territory and entirely up for grabs. The way engineering is conceived and taught simply isn’t attractive enough to students. Of all learners entering higher education in the UK in 2010, just 4.8% applied in engineering or technology18. Globally, half of all students who enter engineering drop out by the end of their first year19. These are problems for the engineering profession of course, but also for individual nations and for Europe as a whole.

The EU urgently needs more engineers, particularly ones who can work collaboratively and creatively. The EU is suffering an enormous deficit of engineers. In 2011, Germany alone fell short by 76,400 engineers20. Failure to attract women exacerbates the crisis. Today, women comprise 26% of engineering professionals in Sweden, 20% in Italy, 18% in Spain, but just 9% in the UK21. In Ireland, there are nine times more male than female engineers21. In the UK in 2010, applications to study engineering from women represented 0.58% of the overall applicant pool and were outnumbered by those from by men more than 7:118. Even in countries like Australia, where women who enter engineering now outperform men in persistence-to-graduation, half of all female engineering graduates still choose to leave the profession within ten years after graduating. This suggests a need to shift the educational and professional cultures of engineering. To address shortfall and diversify perspectives, the EU must find ways to attract and retain female students in engineering—as this study seeks to do.

Reference list, formatted for maximum density

Example SOC proposal for MSCA IF: Abstract and Eval

I’ve decided to share an example proposal submitted to the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 for the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Individual Fellowship (IF) program. It was prepared for the SOC panel, which reviews all the social science research proposals, including educational and learning sciences, where my proposal resides.

Specifically, I do engineering education research (EER). I moved to Europe from the USA to develop mastery in EER, and MSCA funding has been fundamental to me developing as a researcher. Of the three proposals I have submitted to MSCA, two were funded (the first for the 2013 call and the second for the 2016 call) and one (submitted for the 2015 call) was not. I will be sharing parts of the 2015 proposal that was not funded along with the evaluators’ comments.

Over the course of the week starting August 3, I will be posting blogs on each of the following topics:
Abstract and Eval (here)
• Excellence Section 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4
• Impact Section
• Implementation Section
• Ethics Section

After enjoying a 2014-2016 IIF (International Incoming Fellowship under FP7) to Ireland, I was eager to stay in Europe with my new research skills rather than return to the USA. I submitted this proposal in 2015, hoping to go to the UK to work for a couple years. Although this 2015 version of the proposal was not funded, the score wasn’t terrible (87.8/100), and it left me with hope that I could secure funding if I did not meddle with the content too much. I had specific review comments in hand to guide me. A score of 92-93 is normally needed to garner funding.

I submitted a modified version of this proposal in 2016 and was funded for a 2018-2020 IF. It enabled me to spent two glorious years living in London and working at University College London–ranked #7 in the world for research. What a truly amazing opportunity!

I had spent 5-6 weeks full-time writing the 2015 version that I am sharing, and in 2016 I dedicated just about three days to revising that proposal using the evaluators’ comments. That version succeeded in winning the funding I needed to pack my bags for London.

I am sharing the 2015 submission because I feel this version is most helpful to others writing proposals. They can use these resources to learn to critique to their own proposals.

Just look to see what the evaluators said, and to what degree you agree with them….

In today’s blog post, I will share the abstract and the evaluators’ comments.

MARIE SKŁODOWSKA-CURIE ACTIONS

Individual Fellowships (IF)

Call: H2020-MSCA-IF-2015

PART B

“Designing Engineers”

Abstract

Europe is suffering an enormous deficit of engineers and this adversely affects the number of patent filings, top tech companies, and level of R&D. In 2011, Germany alone fell short by 76,400 engineers. We urgently need more engineers, particularly ones who can work collaboratively and creatively. Failure to attract women exacerbates the crisis. Today, women comprise 26% of engineering professionals in Sweden, 20% in Italy, 18% in Spain, but just 9% in the UK.

As an MSCA fellow, Prof./Dr. Shannon Chance will receive crucial training at at University College London and will investigate overlaps between epistemology (‘what is knowledge?’) and design thinking (‘how is knowledge created and used in the process of design?’). She will evaluate the role of design projects in the learning, epistemological development, and retention of engineering students, particularly women. She will collect data in Ireland, Poland, Portugal, the UK and USA. A three-month secondment in industry will help her extend and exploit her research.

Overarching research objectives are to: (1) develop and promote better ways to teach and support engineering students, (2) help transform engineering into a more diverse and creative field, and (3) track results via five primary research questions surrounding the theme:

To what extents do design projects influence the cognitive and epistemological development of undergraduates in engineering and architecture?

Dr. Chance will produce: mixed-methods research in a ground-breaking field; new design project briefs (and pilot test them); outreach and dissemination to crucial target audiences; and publication of an educator’s handbook intended to revolutionize engineering teaching methods. The interdisciplinary approach draws from Dr. Chance’s unique skill set and synthesizes state-of-the-art in three realms: (1) practices from architecture education, (2) research on engineering education, and (3) theories on college student development. 

List of Participants

Evaluation Summary Report

Total score for my proposal: 87.80% (Threshold: 70/100.00)

Scoring Rubric

Scores can range 0-5. Interpretation of the score:
0– The proposal fails to address the criterion or cannot be assessed due to missing or incomplete information.
1Poor. The criterion is inadequately addressed, or there are serious inherent weaknesses.
2Fair. The proposal broadly addresses the criterion, but there are significant weaknesses.
3Good. The proposal addresses the criterion well, but a number of shortcomings are present.
4 Very good. The proposal addresses the criterion very well, but a small number of shortcomings are present.
5Excellent. The proposal successfully addresses all relevant aspects of the criterion. Any shortcomings are minor.

Criterion 1 – Excellence

Score for my proposal: 4.50 (Threshold: 0/5.00 , Weight: 50.00%)

Reviewers are scoring based on:
* Quality, innovative aspects and credibility of the research (including inter/multidisciplinary aspects)
* Clarity and quality of transfer of knowledge/training for the development of researcher in light of the research objectives
* Quality of the supervision and the hosting arrangements
* Capacity of the researcher to reach or re-enforce a position of professional maturity in research (You must earn at least 70/100 in this category to be eligible to receive funding)

Strengths:

  • This is an ambitious interdisciplinary proposal which includes original and innovative features.
  • The research objectives and questions are clearly formulated.
  • The proposal clearly illustrates the new competence and knowledge that the researcher would gain through training and supervising at the host institution.
  • The supervision and hosting arrangements are credibly described and match the needs of the proposed research.
  • The proposal demonstrates that the proposed research would contribute to the professional maturity of the researcher. The methodological framework is appropriate and gender considerations are taken into account.

Weaknesses:

  • Certain aspects of the research methodology are not explained in sufficient detail; for example, the sampling procedure and the quantitative survey, data analysis and the comparative aspects of collected data.
  • Some aspects of the state of the art are not well elaborated, e.g., no adequate information is provided on theories of student development as related to research on engineering education.

Criterion 2 – Impact

Score for my proposal: 4.20 (Threshold: 0/5.00 , Weight: 30.00%)

Reviewers are scoring based on:
* Enhancing research- and innovation-related human resources, skills, and working conditions to realise the potential of individuals and to provide new career perspectives
* Effectiveness of the proposed measures for communication and results dissemination

Strengths:

  • There is clear evidence that the researcher would benefit from the hosting institution’s participation in research and the international
    collaborations.
  • The strategy for communicating results to non-academic audiences is well elaborated and is likely to be effective.

Weaknesses:

  • The proposal does not convincingly demonstrate that the measures planned for the dissemination of results are feasible within the duration of the fellowship.
  • The issues related to intellectual property are insufficiently addressed.

Criterion 3 – Implementation

Score for my proposal: 4.40 (Threshold: 0/5.00 , Weight: 20.00%)

Reviewers are scoring based on:
* Overall coherence and effectiveness of the work plan, including appropriateness of the allocation of tasks and resources
* Appropriateness of the management structures and procedures, including quality management and risk management
* Appropriateness of the institutional environment (infrastructure)
* Competences, experience and complementarity of the participating organisations and institutional commitment

Strengths:

  • The work plan is clear overall.
  • The proposal provides a clear structure of the project organization and management, taking into account financial and administrative
    aspects.
  • The institutional environment proposed for the project is well described and matches well with the needs of the proposal.
  • Quality and risk management are taken into due consideration and a basic contingency plan is described.
  • The institutional commitment of the host to the project is well described.

Weaknesses:

  • The level of institutional commitment of the participating organisations is difficult to assess given that not all of the partners are already secured.
  • The Gantt Chart has some imprecisions, e.g., it does not precisely indicate when the activities occur within the project timeframe.
  • It is not clear whether the deliverables proposed can be finished within the timeframe of the project.

In summary, you can see that the evaluators thought I was trying to accomplish an unreasonably high amount, and I also lost points for mentioning a possible secondment without providing a convincing level of detail.

Researcher Training and Transfer-of-Knowledge

A Marie Curie Research Fellowship is–first and foremost–about developing researchers by giving them a chance to research new things, in new places, with new people. For an MSCA Fellowship, you’ve got to travel. You can come from anywhere in the world, but you can’t have lived in the country where you do the MSCA Fellowship for any more than 12 months of the 36 months before the application date.

In previous blogs, I have described specific qualitative (WP1) and multiple methods (WP2) projects I conducted as a Marie Curie Fellows with the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship (MSCA-IF) program from 2018-2020, as well as the project management skills I developed via developing special focus journal issues (WP3) and managing my own MSCA project (WP6). In this blog, I will describe things I did to share my knowledge with others and help them build new understandings and new skills as well (WP5). A final blog will follow on outreach activities I did to share knowledge and spread a love for STEM subjects with people outside academia (WP4).

I also provided an overview of the grant and even linked my final report of the 2018-2020 MSCA-IF for others to download for reference.

Discussing our ArchEng research project over dinner on Charlotte Street in London, with Drs. Inês Direito and Mike Miminiris.

Work package 5

Researcher Training and Transfer-of-Knowledge  

The intention of WP5 was to increase my research skills and encourage me to share my own knowledge and skills with others (i.e., transfer knowledge to them). The MSCA application listed the following deliverables for this work package: 26 Training and Transfer-of-Knowledge sessions completed by the end of the grant period. I’m able to list 70 specific research training workshops and conferences that I attended–and there were actually more!

Yet, it is important to note that the most important training and knowledge transfer actually resulted from me providing leadership in EER. As a result of having a Marie Curie research fellowship at University College London (UCL), many doors were open to me and I was able to learn from the wealth of opportunities that emerged.

Via this MSCA grant, the I have provided: (1) leadership in publishing and (2) leadership in research events. These are summarized directly below.

Under that, a list of the completed researcher training session is provided.

Finally, in this blog, I identify outreach activities I conducted to support educators and researchers, including workshops I conducted and supervision and mentorship I provided to early career researchers (like the one pictured below, in South Africa, to help engineering teachers learn more inclusive teaching attitudes and behaviors).

A small-group discussion during the Inclusivity Master Class that Inês Direito and I conducted with Shanali Govender in Cape Town, South Africa.

As part of my training, I also earned a new teaching qualification in the UK while serving as an MSCA fellow:

  • Senior Fellow of the Higher Education Teaching Academy (SFHEA)

Earning this credential helped me build proficiency on the vocabulary used in educational research in the UK, which differs somewhat from the USA. Earning it will also help me demonstrate the skills needed to teach at third level in the UK and Ireland. Since earning SFHEA, I have subsequently applied for the highest available credential in this program (Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Teaching Academy/PFHEA), although the application wasn’t successful. I’ll hone my record and try again.

Research Supervision/Mentoring Skills

I have been advising a full-time PhD student at London South Bank University (LSBU) since the start of my MSCA fellowship. The student’s viva is scheduled, and on track, for August 2020. I have also mentoring 5-6 early career researchers. My activities in this realm include:

  • Mentoring a physics researcher through TU Dublin’s researcher mentoring program
  • Serving as PI for a new MSCA IF application in engineering education submitted September 2019 (which was not funded in 2019 but will be enhanced and resubmitted)
  • Mentor for peer reviewers with the Journal of Engineering Education (appointed in 2018)
  • Expert/external reviewer for applications to Fulbright Ireland (2018, 2019)
A bi-weekly supervision session with Thomas Empson and Prof. Shushma Patel from LSBU. We meet fortnightly in person until I returned to Dublin at the start of 2020.

Leadership in Publishing

In the realm of journal production, I was appointed and has served as:

  • Associate Editor, IEEE Transactions on Education (2018-present)
  • Editorial Board, European Journal of Engineering Education (2018-present)
Desan Ozkan published an article in the special focus issue I spearheaded on students’ epistemological development. Here, I met with her in Blacksburg, Virginia, after I conducted interviews with students for my ArchEng project. She has since completed her PhD, defended her dissertation online (I attended) and she is now Dr. Desan Ozkan!

I serve as a peer reviewer for an academic journal in my field:

  • Australasian Journal of Engineering Education (2019-present)
  • IEEE Transactions on Education (2017-present)
  • European Journal of Engineering Education (2016-present)
  • Journal of Engineering Education (2013-present)

Incidentally, I also provided expert advice to the publisher of two children’s books, although I generally consider this activity to be “Outreach”:

  • Scribble Architecture, STEM activity book by Usborne Publishing Ltd.(in press)
  • Scribble Engineering, STEM activity book by Usborne Publishing Ltd.(2018)

Leadership in Research Networks

Opportunities to provide leadership that emerged as a result of this MSCA include:

  • Chair, Research on Engineering Education Network (January 2020-present)
  • Vice-Chair, Research on Engineering Education Network (2019-2020)
  • Governing Board, Research on Engineering Education Network (2018-present) and member of sub-committees including recruitment and selection of upcoming conference hosts
  • Nathu Puri Institute at the London South Bank University (2018-present), serving on, for example, an interview panel for new director of the Institute (2018) and a member of the Institute’s think tank.
  • Marie Curie Alumni Association, Ireland chapter organizing committee (2018-present)

Leadership in Funded Projects  

Providing grant-writing leadership, I advised Dr. Carlos Mora in securing €56,000 in funding from the Cabildo of Tenerife in Spain to conduct education projects under a project titled “INGENIA” or “Ingenuity” to support sustainability education (I am listed as the co-PI on this grant). I also secured a £11,200 donation to UCL CEE from the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineers via Engineers without Borders UK (the funds will support my ongoing work with UCL’s CEE).

I’ve been mentoring Carlos in grant writing and during this period he has won two grants, including €56,000 from the Cabildo of Tenerife for an educational program and €200,000 for a marine engineering laboratory. We have two more proposals in the works!

This MSCA is intended to broaden career prospects, and it definitely has. Even though I chose to return to my home university at the completion of the fellowship, I brought with me a contract valued at €237,727 allowing me to provide curriculum development services to the University College London Contracts (UCLC) over the three-year period following my MSCA fellowship (2020-2023).  

In 2019, I also served as an expert evaluator for the European Commission (COFUND fellowship program).

Researcher Training sessions completed

I could provide images to go with each of these, but then I’d never get this posted… so I’ll just share the list. Each was interesting and informative and most of these activities opened a pandora’s box of ideas and possibilities.

  1. UCL online training module and certificate earned in Safety
  2. UCL online training module and certificate earned in Green Awareness
  3. UCL online training module and certificate earned as Green Champion
  4. UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Finding Your Voice as an Academic Writer
  5. UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, An Introduction to Research Student Supervision at UCL
  6. Researcher information session organized by the Irish Research Council, Opportunities to collaborate with UK-based researchers
  7. UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Creative Approach to Problem Solving and Decision Taking for Researchers
  8. Informational workshop on MSCA programs held at DIT
  9. UCL Arena Guidance Sessions: Initial Guidance
  10. UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Leading Collaborative Projects
  11. UCL’s Centre for Engineering Education’s event, In Conversation With… Angela Saini and Louise Archer
  12. UCL Astrea Voices workshop: Choosing your journey
  13. UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Writing Books and Book Chapters
  14. UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Managing Your Reputation
  15. UCL Arena Senior Fellow Guidance Session: Developing your application
  16. UCL day-long Education Conference 2018 at the UCL Institute of Education
  17. Nathu Puri Institute Thought Leadership discussion and dinner in April
  18. SRHE day-long workshop, Migration and academic acculturation
  19. SRHE day-long workshop, Developing curriculum, learning and pedagogies in STEM subjects: the case of Engineering
  20. SRHE day-long workshop, Phenomenography: An approach to qualitative research in higher education
  21. UCL LLAKES Seminar by Louise Archer Why can’t we solve the science participation ‘crisis’? Understanding young people’s (non)participation in post-16 science
  22. Attended a UCL “Town Hall” to better understand the administrative structure of this research-intensive university, Finding a new place in society for universities
  23. UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop Publish or Perish: Getting Collaborative Social Science Published
  24. One-day Inaugural Spring Colloquium of the UK-Ireland Engineering Education Research Network, held in Newcastle
  25. UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, The Superior Performer: How to Work to Your Strengths
  26. SRHE day-long workshop, Publishing Academic Articles: A way through the maze
  27. UCL Researcher Development Workshop, Induction for New UCL Research Staff
  28. Attended a half-day of UCL conference on Impacts of Gender Discourse on Polish Politics, Society & Culture Comparative Perspectives reservation
  29. UCL workshop, Provost’s Welcome to New Staff
  30. UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Writing and Publishing Research Papers
  31. UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Increasing Impact – Gaining Positive Media Coverage
  32. Attended two-day Inspirefest celebrating women in technology, held in Dublin
  33. Attended four-day conference of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) in Salt Lake City
  34. Attended one-day symposium at the Royal Society sponsored by the RAEng and UCL CEE, Inclusive Engineering Education Symposium
  35. Second Nathu Puri Institute Thought Leadership Event at 6-9 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AG
  36. Attended two-day 7th International Symposium of Engineering Education (ISEE 2018), hosted by UCL
  37. UCL day-long Researcher Development Workshop, Storytelling Skills for Teachers and Presenters
  38. UCL Arena training for fellowship applicants at principal level, PFHEA Lunch session
  39. Attended five-day conference of the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI 2018) in Copenhagen
  40. Attended three-day International Conference on Interactive Collaborative Learning (ICL 2018) plus events of the International Conference on Engineering Pedagogy (IGIP 2018) in Kos Island, Greece
  41. UCL online training module and certificate earned in GDPR
  42. SRHE day-long workshop, IS THERE (STILL) ROOM FOR EDUCATION IN THE CONTEMPORARY UNIVERSITY? Exploring policy, research and practice through the lens of professional education. Seminar 3
  43. Lecture organized by the Irish Fulbright Commission, Creative Minds: In Conversation with a NASA Astronaut
  44. TU Dublin (formerly DIT) online training module and certificate earned in GDPR
  45. TU Dublin 2.5-hour workshop by Dr. Bill Williams, Getting published in engineering education research journals
  46. Attended half-day IEP Research Away (Half) Day
  47. UCL full-day workshop, Building Research Leaders
  48. UCL Career Centre workshop, Effective Academic Interviews
  49. UCL workshop, Providing learning experiences that enable students to acquire the right mix of knowledge, skills and competences
  50. UCL two-hour workshop, Using and understanding bibliometrics
  51. UCL full-day workshop, Influencing and Negotiating
  52. UCL two-hour workshop, Copyright for Research Staff
  53. UCL Arena Principal Fellow Guidance Session: Developing your application
  54. Expert evaluator training briefing for the European Commission
  55. Attended two-day spring symposium, EERN 2018 (UK & Ireland Engineering Education Research Network) in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  56. Attended two-day Inspirefest (women in tech) in Dublin
  57. Attended two-day engineering education conference, ISEE 2018 (7th International Symposium of Engineering Education) at UCL
  58. Attended four-day engineering education conference, ASEE 2018 in Salt Lake City
  59. Attended five-day engineering education conference, SEFI 2018 in Copenhagen
  60. Attended three-day engineering education conference, ICL/IGIP 2018 in Kos
  61. Attended three-day higher education conference, SRHE 2018 (Society for Research in Higher Education) in Newport, Wales
  62. Attended three-day annual conference, MSCA General Assembly 2019 in Vienna
  63. Attended two-day spring symposium, EERN 2019 (UK & Ireland Engineering Education Research Network) in Dublin
  64. Attended four-day engineering education conference, ASEE 2019 in Tampa
  65. Attended two-day MSCA IF monitoring event, education sector, in Brussels, June 2019
  66. Attended three-day engineering education conference, REES 2019 in Cape Town
  67. Attended four-day engineering education conference, SEFI 2019 in Budapest
  68. Attended one-day conference of UK Engineering Professors Council and the Institution of Engineering and Technology, New approaches in practice, 2020
  69. Attended two-day annual conference, EERN 2018 (UK & Ireland Engineering Education Research Network) in Coventry, UK
  70. Attended 14 lectures at UCL Bartlett School of Architecture’s International Lecture Series (2018, 2019) and at least 7 other lectures in the Faculty of Engineering.

Outreach to Support Educators and Researchers (Workshops and Invited Presentations Delivered)

I provided workshops on research techniques for Early Stage Researchers as well as experienced researchers. I also provided workshops on teaching (learning theories and innovative teaching techniques) for educators. These are presented alphabetically by country:

Denmark

Edström, K., Bernhard, J., van den Bogaard, M., Benson, L., Finelli, C., CHANCE, S. M., & Lyng, R. (2018). Reviewers, reviewers, reviewers! Workshop at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) 2018 annual conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Edström, K., Bernhard, J., De Laet, T., CHANCE, S. M., (2018). Doctoral Symposium. One-day pre-conference workshop at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) 2018 annual conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

De Laet, T., Williams, B., CHANCE, S. M., & others (2018). Engineering Education Research. Workshop by EER Working Group at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) 2018 annual conference in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Hungry

Edström, K.,Benson, L.,Mitchell, J., Bernhard, J., van den Bogaard, M., Carberry, A., & CHANCE, S. (2019). Writing Helpful Reviews for Engineering Education Journals. Workshop at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) 2019 annual conference in Budapest, Hungary.

Hannon, P. K., Berry, D., CHANCE, S., Core, M., & Duignan, F. (2019). Physical computing: A low-cost project-based approach to engineering education. Workshop at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) 2019 annual conference in Budapest, Hungary.

Miminiris, M., CHANCE, S. M., & Direto, I. (2019). Recognising and understanding qualitatively different experiences of learning in engineering: Variation as a learning tool. Workshop at the European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI) 2019 annual conference in Budapest, Hungary.

Ireland

CHANCE, S. M. (2018). Gender Equality in STEM Education. Presentation delivered at Irish Marie Curie Alumni Association’s Gender Equality Workshop Programme on 3rd December 2018 in Dublin, Ireland.

CHANCE, S. M. (2018). MSCA fellowship experiences. Presentation delivered for Dublin Institute of Technology’s EPA & IUA MSCA Research Information Workshop Programme.

I also shared knowledge with friends, colleagues, and former students from back home. One of my former architecture students, Justin Harris, and his wife, visited me in London.

South Africa

Govender, S., CHANCE, S., & Direito, I. (2019). Fostering Inclusivity in Engineering Education in the South African Context. Two-day Master class conducted for the University of Cape Town’s Engineering Education Existing Staff Capacity Enhancement Programme.

Akinmolayan, F. & CHANCE, S. M. (2018). Facilitating group & Problem-Based Learning in the context of engineering education. Two-day Master class conducted for the University of Cape Town’s Engineering Education Existing Staff Capacity Enhancement Programme.

Dr. Folashade Akinmolayan and I had just checked in in Johannesburg to deliver our two-day Master Class on team-based learning, after a vvvveeeerrrryyyy long flight from London.

United Kingdom

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.

My final presentation at UCL at the end of the MSCA IF. Here, I’m presenting one of my projects, this one on Global Responsibility.

Bathmaker, A., CHANCE, S. M., & Wheelahan, L. (2019). Understanding and conceptualizing knowledge in professional and vocationally-oriented higher education: Beyond time management and interpersonal skills. Workshop provided Thursday 16 May 2019 for the Society for Research on Higher Education in London, UK.

CHANCE, S. M. (2019). Learning theories in engineering: A US perspective on student development. A class session for UCL’s new MSc in Engineering and Education.

I frequently connected back to TU Dublin colleagues, Dr. Damon Barry in electrical engineering and Dr. Lorraine D’Arcy in transport engineering and mobility. I even hosted Lorraine and three other colleagues for a day-long visit to UCL.

CHANCE, S. M. (2018). Summary of National STEM Educational Policies in Relation to Girls’ Experiences in Physics in Europe and into the Engineering Pipeline.Society for Research in Higher Education conference 2018 in Newcastle, UK.

Direto, I., Malik, M., & CHANCE, S. M. (2018). Conducting Systematic Literature Reviews in Engineering Education Research. Workshop to the UK & Ireland Engineering Education Research Network (EERN) annual conference 2018 in Portsmouth.

Leão, C. P., Soares, F., Williams, B., & CHANCE, S.(2018). Challenges, experiences and advantages in being a female engineering student: voices in the first person. Presentation at the UK & Ireland Engineering Education Research Network (EERN) annual conference 2018 in Portsmouth.

CHANCE, S. M. (2018). Implications for Irish policy of women’s experiences in STEM education in Ireland, Poland, and Portugal. UK & Ireland EERN Spring Colloquium 2018 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

CHANCE, S. M. (2018). Supporting diverse students: Findings from a longitudinal study of female engineering students in three countries. Lunch seminar for UCL’s Centre for Engineering Education in London.

Here I am in March 2020, meeting with Dr. Susan Feltic, one of the other leaders of the Irish chapter of the Marie Curie Alumni Association upon my return home. She hosted weekly MCAA get-togethers pre-Covid, and this was the second one I attended. I’m hoping to get more involved in the Irish chapter now that I’m back in Dublin!

Final Report of my MSCA Individual Fellowship

My Marie Curie fellowship ended the last day of 2019 and I had 60 days to complete my final report. For Marie Curie Research Fellows, it can be difficult to figure out what will be required for reporting, based on discussion threads I read online.

Fellows don’t have much indication of what the report will entail until the European Commission’s “Participant Portal” invites them to submit the final report. Even then, it’s not clear how long the descriptions will need to be or where the report template is located. Only after you enter the text for the public statements, will the system inform you how long the text must be. Surprises I encountered in the official reporting process: The text you post for the public is limited to just 7480 characters! There’s specific button you’ve got to locate that contains the blank PDF template for the full report.

This blog post contains the public synopsis of my 2018-2019 project as well as a link to a PDF of the full report, which uses the required template and thus may be of help to other fellows:

I’ve posted this blog for (a) people interested in the research I’ve done and also (b) other MSCA fellows who have questions about the reporting process. This particular post shares my short, public synopsis (below). It’s likely I’ll post more detailed info in coming blogs, along with photos of the MSCA grant period that I’ve never posted before.

Getting the photos loaded onto WordPress has provided me a pleasant trip down memory lane. I plan to share more of these in coming posts.

Public Synopsis

1Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project (For the final period, include the conclusions of the action)

This section should include information on:

  • What is the problem/issue being addressed?
  • Why is it important for society?
  • What are the overall objectives?

The Action “Designing Engineers: Harnessing the Power of Design Projects to Spur Cognitive and Epistemological Development of STEM Students” looks at how engineering and architecture students learn, and how design projects and teamwork affect students’ thinking and overall development. The research questions how students learn to design and how their thinking changes over time with regard to what knowledge is, where it comes from, and how it gets validated; their views on this constitute their epistemologies. Such topics are important because society needs more engineers and more STEM graduates. Not only is there widespread lack of engagement, but problems also have been identified in graduate engineers’ ability to think holistically—today’s graduates do not seem prepared to identify and address global challenges in the comprehensive way society needs. Although engineering is often perceived as a dry, technical subject there is great room for creativity.

Architecture programs around the world are filled with highly engaged students. In engineering, there has been a move to teach in more active, hands-on, project-based ways that incorporate design, as done in architecture. Engineering can learn from architecture’s historic success in engaging and teaching students to design, but engineering has placed more focus than architecture has on understanding how students learn. The fields of engineering and architecture education have much to learn from each other. 

Objectives of this Marie Skłodowska Curie Action (MSCA) have been to (a) develop and promote better ways to teach and support STEM students; (b) help transform engineering into a more diverse and creative field; and (c) investigate questions surrounding the theme, To what extents do design projects influence the cognitive and epistemological development of undergraduates in engineering and architecture? A parallel goal of the MSCA Individual Fellowship is to foster the development of the individual researcher (that’s me!).

2Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far (For the final period please include an overview of the results and their exploitation and dissemination)

Work was conducted via 6 work packages (WPs). WP1 comprised 3 qualitative research studies that yielded 4 conference publications and 1 journal publication to date, with an additional 3 conference publications and 2 journal manuscripts underway. WP2 sought to build skill with multiple research methodologies. In it, the Fellow delivered 5 conference presentations, 3 published journal articles, and 1 encyclopedia entry, with 2 conference manuscripts underway. WP3 involved developing a special-focus journal issue. The Fellow exceeded goals by spearheading development of 2 different special focus journal issues (published 2018 & 2019). The Fellow is leading the development of a third special focus issue (for 2020). In WP4, the Fellow delivered 20 public engagement activities to popularize STEM and communicate findings. In WP5, for researcher training and transfer-of-knowledge, the Fellow attended 70 intensive training workshops and multi-day conferences. She provided leadership in publishing and research at university, national, and international levels. To transfer of knowledge, she conducted 18 workshops for researchers and educators; she provided supervision and mentoring for early career researchers. She was appointed Associate Editor of IEEE Transactions on Education, Editorial Board member of the European Journal of Engineering Education, and serves as Chair of the global Research in Engineering Education Network (REEN). During the grant, she earned a teaching qualification in the UK (SFHEA) and secured €56,000 (as co-PI) for education projects in Spain, a £11,200 donation to UCL’s Centre for Engineering Education from the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineers via EWBUK, and €237,727 in contract work from UCL Consulting. The project was managed under WP6.

Results of this MSCA are reported in: (1) forthcoming papers on how architecture and civil engineering students conceptualize design creation and knowledge generation; (2) forthcoming papers on ethics, sustainability/SDGs and early-career engineers from a study on UK civil engineers’ practices and perceptions of global responsibility; (3) papers about women’s experiences studying engineering including a longitudinal study (that uses data collected over four years in Ireland regarding Middle Eastern women’s experiences studying engineering abroad) and analysis using the framework known as A Hero’s Journey (of a single mother’s challenges and successes studying and working in engineering); (4) a systematic review of grit in engineering education; a multi-method study of engineering teachers’ experiences implementing problem based learning (PBL). The data sets collected during this MSCA will inform and enhance dozens of publications in the coming years, in addition to the ones produced and published during the fellowship itself.

3Progress beyond the state of the art, expected results until the end of the project and potential impacts (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

This MSCA has pushed the frontiers of engineering education research (EER) forward in a numerous ways. The 2 special focus issues the Fellow spearheaded have shed new light onto socio-cultural diversity and engineering students’ identity formation and epistemic development. The educational blogs, STEM activity books for kids, and fun, creative events conducted by the Fellow are helping popularize engineering—the first STEM book was nominated for an award of excellence in the UK. The engineering education journals, and the workshops and community up-skilling events led by the Fellow are helping cultivate broader human capacity to produce quality research in the field of EER (e.g., Chairing the Research in Engineering Education Network to help raise the quality, credibility, and usefulness of EER globally and delivering Master Classes to help engineering teachers and researchers upskill).

This MSCA allowed the Fellow to develop agility with many different research methodologies and promote best practices to the larger EER community (e.g., co-authoring a study on “grit” in engineering education and identifying how to report it for maximum impact). The Fellow’s project on UK civil engineers exposed shortfalls in ethics and sustainability education and identified how engineers learn about these crucial topics, in that research participants said they did not learn enough about them in university. The Fellow’s PhD student is generating important new knowledge about processes and organizational systems that support creativity in engineering production; working together they are generating new models that describe shortfalls in engineering for UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and illustrate what can be done to address them. Through the Fellow’s research on architecture and civil engineering students, valuable new understandings are emerging related to how students conceptualize both design creation and knowledge generation.

Impacts anticipated from the MSCA are increased and improved: focus by engineering educators on developmental patterns shared among engineering students; student retention as a result of improved support; diversity as techniques to support minority students are increasingly employed; overall teaching in engineering education as a result increasingly credible and useful research; focus on ethics and sustainability in engineering education; and production of tools and models to help engineering educators foster creativity and engineering firms contribute to realizing the UN’s SDGs. A final overarching impact is enhanced public perception of engineering as a fun and creative field.

The commission also requested:

4 – Address (URL) of the project’s public website

5- Images attached to the Summary for publication