Centered on Education Research

Article excerpt

Centered on Education Research

Scientific Research in Education Richard J. Shavelson and Lisa Towne, Editors National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2002,18Sf ages, ISBN 0-309-08291-9

How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School John D. Bransford, Ann L. Brown, Rodney R. Cocking, M. Suzanne Donovan, and James W. and James W. Pellegnno, Editors National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2000, 374 pages, ISBN 0-309-07036-8

Evaluating and Improving Undergraduate Teaching in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics MaryeAnne Fox and Norman Hackerman, Editors National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2003, 215 pages, ISBN 0-309-07277-8

Do you know an engineering education scholar? Probably, and you may be one yourself. Do you know an engineering education researcher? Your answer may depend on the semantics of scholarship versus research. Boyer's four forms of scholarship-discovery, integration, application, and teaching-give rise to a broader definition than traditional scientific research. In their article "Using Boyer's Four Forms of Scholarship to Advance Engineering Education" [1, 2], Streveler, Moskal, and Miller point out the differences and interdependences among the forms of scholarship. As an example, they refer to studies in response to the question, "Why are some concepts in science and engineering so difficult for students to learn?" The scholarship of discovery corresponds to studies to identify what concepts engineering students find difficult; the scholarship of integration-what makes these concepts difficult (integrates engineering, engineering education and cognitive psychology theory); the scholarship of application-how assessment can be used to identify the existence of student misconceptions; and the scholarship of teaching-what instructional approaches are necessary to correct these misconceptions. Whether someone does education research really depends on the nature and rigor of the educational studies. My awareness and understanding of such studies have been enhanced through collaboration with colleagues in the education field. At Iowa State University we have the Research Institute for Studies in Education (RISE) [3], which supports education research, evaluation, and planning for on- and off-campus clients and assists faculty by facilitating quality research. Many universities likely have similar groups, which are one means to maximize the research potential of our scholarly activities in engineering education.

A growing number of resources available to increase highquality education research are products of the National Academies, i.e., the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy (if Engineering, Institute ot Medicine, and the National Research Council. The Center for Education [4] is the driver for education work at the National Academies. The center addresses national issues in education research, policy, and practice, with special emphasis on science, mathematics, and engineering education, among other foci. The National Academy of Engineering in 2002 created the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education (caseE) [5], part of a multifold effort on engineering education. An important part of this effort was the modification of its interpretation of the criteria for NAE membership to more explicitly recognize contributions to engineering education. caseE represents the commitment of the NAE to improve engineering education by expanding the capacity for conducting high-quality research on engineering education, integrating engineering education research and practice, and leveraging the efforts and interests of relevant stakeholders. The goal of caseE is "to achieve a climate of continuous improvement in engineering education wherein the excellence of engineering education (at the precollegc, undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education levels) contributes to the sustained maintenance of a high quality engineering workforce. …