How would you define the scholarship of engineering education? What elements in your definition make this an important activity for engineering faculty to pursue?

Moderator: In his 1990 work, entitled “Scholarship Reconsidered: Priorities of the Professoria”, Ernest Boyer extended the definition of scholarship beyond research to include three other basic areas. Namely teaching, integration and application. Boyer further stated that these four areas of scholarship are equally important to the research mission of the university and thus are all important for faculty to use, to pursue. How would you define the scholarship of engineering education? And secondly, probably just as importantly, what elements in your definition make this an important activity for engineering faculty to pursue?

Norman Fortenberry: Two points, first I want to challenge the premise in the question. You indicated that Boyer defined scholarship as extending beyond research. I would say that Boyer broadened the definition of research to include looking at discovery, integration, application and teaching. Therefore, in my view, scholarship of engineering education is a directed inquiry into aspects of the system of engineering education. Not only looking particularly at interactions of instructors and learners, but also looking at the content of what is taught, how it is taught, and also looking at interactions of various other elements in the system of education. Now why that’s important is that as engineers we do more than simply characterize systems. We seek to improve their performance. And through a processes of directed inquiry we hope to better understand various aspects of engineering education so that we can improve the performance of students, of faculty, of administrators, of colleges, of performance on industrial worksites.

Moderator: Sheri, do you agree with that definition?

Sheri Sheppard: Well, I definitely agree that scholarship has a number of facets, and I think Ernie was saying it has four facets, certainly one is discovery which is most tied to traditional research methodologies. Then he had the one on teaching which I think now the community has broadened to say it’s teaching and learning, and application integration which Norman mentioned. I think a hard thing, one of the hard things for the community right now is what form does this scholarship of teaching and learning take? How is it different from what you typically do in the classroom every day? And so what distinguishes it from just good teaching? And I think the community is, to a certain extend is grappling with, that it isn’t the same thing. There’s an added dimension to how you’re thinking about your teaching and communicating it to a community. Because one of the other things that Ernie talked about is that scholarship requires a community that’s engaged in debate and publishing and building on each other’s work.

Jeremy Noonan: Sheri, how do you distinguish between the scholarship of teaching in engineering education and the scholarship of research in engineering education?

Sheri Sheppard: I would say those of us that are taking on engineering education research as the primary research we are doing, are dong it at a level where our method, you know, we are going to our IRB Boards, to get human subjects approval because we are looking at it as an experiment. I think scholarship of teaching is what most of my colleagues are hopefully doing in making their classes better every year, reading papers that are coming out. But they’re not necessarily publishing themselves on engineering education because they may be doing robotics work, they may be doing controls, other research endeavors.

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