How Engineering Education Guilds are Expanding our Understanding of Propagation in Engineering Education
Journal of STEM Education Innovations and Research
Background: The National Science Foundation (NSF) and other organizations have spent millions of dollars each year supporting well-designed educational innovations that positively impact the undergraduate engineering students who encounter them. However, many of these pedagogical innovations never experience widespread adoption. To further the ability of innovation developers to advance engineering education practice and achieve sustained adoption of their innovations, this paper focuses on exploring how one community-based model, engineering education guilds, fosters propagation across institutions and individuals. Engineering education guilds seek to work at the forefront of educational innovation by creating networks of instructor change-agents who design and implement a particular innovation in their own context. The guilds of interest are the Consortium to Promote Reflection in Engineering Education (CPREE) and the Kern Entrepreneurial Engineering Network (KEEN). With these guilds as exemplars, this study’s purpose is (1) to articulate how the approaches of engineering education guilds align with existing literature on supporting sustained adoption of educational innovations and (2) to identify how these approaches can advance the STEM education community’s discussion of propagation practices through the use of the Designing for Sustained Adoption Assessment Instrument (DSAAI). The DSAAI is a conceptual framework based on research in sustained adoption of pedagogical innovations. It has previously been previously used in the form of a rubric to analyze dissemination and propagation plans of NSF educational grant recipients and was shown been shown to predict the effectiveness of those propagation plans. Results: Through semi-structured interviews with two leaders from each guild, we observed strong alignment between the structures of CRPEE and KEEN and evidence-based sustained adoption characteristics. For example, both guilds identified their intended audience early in their formation, developed and implemented extensive plans for engaging and supporting potential adopters, and accounted for the complexity of the higher education landscape and their innovations in their propagation plans. Conclusions: Our results suggest that guilds could provide another approach to innovation, as their structures can be aligned with evidence-based methods for propagating pedagogical innovations. Additionally, while the DSAAI captures many of the characteristics of a well-designed propagation strategy, there are additional components that emerged as successful strategies used by the CPREE and KEEN guild leaders. These strategies could and should be considered as educational innovators work to encourage adoption of their innovations, including having mutual accountability among adopters and connecting adoption of innovations to faculty reward structures in the form of recognition and funding.
Mallouk, K. E.., Strong, A. C., Riley, D. R., & Faber, C. J. (2022). How Engineering Education Guilds are Expanding our Understanding of Propagation in Engineering Education. Journal of STEM Education Innovations and Research 23(3).
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