Bridging the Valley of Death: A 360 Approach to Understanding Adoption of Innovations in Engineering Education

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Conference Proceeding

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There is a nationwide need to better translate engineering education research into the classroom setting. Moving engineering education research into practice is a more complicated task than it might initially seem. There are many significant barriers to hinder the transition from research to implementation. These barriers can be categorized into two groups: (1) individual barriers, such as personality characteristics that contribute to a lack of willingness to implement innovations, as well as a lack of knowledge about engineering education research; and (2) environmental perceptions, such as perceptions of the tenure and promotion that suggest a lack of support for innovations.

The project discussed in this paper investigates the characteristics of faculty members who successfully adopt engineering education innovations and studies the impact of their working environment on their decision to adopt. Additionally, the project investigates characteristics of faculty members who do not adopt engineering education innovations and whether that decision was affected by perceptions of their working environment.

This paper describes the identification of current barriers to the adoption of innovations in engineering education using a 360° approach. Perspectives include that of self, colleagues, students, experts in education innovation (such as the director of a center for teaching and learning), and the reality (from administrators and published documents) and perceptions (from individuals) of the tenure process and rewards/incentives. This 360° approach provides a foundation for bridging the gap, often referred to as the 'valley of death,' between engineering education research and the common practice of engineering education.

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