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Academic staff on connections to professional practice and research in engineering education: a discourse analysis
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM), Learning. (HEOS)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-7496-2435
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Connections to research and professional practice are both essential components of engineering education, although handled differently across engineering programmes. The aim of this paper is to identify the academic staff’s discourses on these components across three engineering programmes to in depth understand these variations. A discourse analysis was conducted on interviews, documents and observations and the results show three distinct discourses: the relevance and usefulness discourse, primarily emphasising engineering professional practice and connections to industry; the research and independence discourse, primarily accentuating research connections and independence from external actors; and the dual coupling and sustainability discourse, mainly highlighting a combination of connections to research and professional practice, along with a focus on sustainable development. The overall function of the discourses is interpreted as enhancing the particular characteristics of each programme and resisting different types of influences that threaten to undermine the characteristics of each programme.

Keywords [en]
Research-teaching links, professional practice, engineering education, teaching and learning regimes, discourse analysis
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Technology and Learning
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-263783OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-263783DiVA, id: diva2:1369949
Note

QC 20191115

Available from: 2019-11-13 Created: 2019-11-13 Last updated: 2019-11-15Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Engaged in a seamless blend: A study on how academic staff approach connections to professional practice and research in the engineering curriculum
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Engaged in a seamless blend: A study on how academic staff approach connections to professional practice and research in the engineering curriculum
2019 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The connection between research and teaching is one of the main attributes of higher education. Aside from this link, the relation between higher education and the world of work is another prevailing facet, particularly in education for the professions. In engineering education, both aspects – connections to research and professional practice – have been under continuing discussion regarding the extent to which these aspects should be included in the curriculum. This thesis focuses on this discussion; the aim is to explore how academic staff approach connections to professional practice and research in the engineering curriculum. A brief historical overview is displayed to present the background regarding the relation to professional practice and research in engineering education. The conceptual framework is based on the literature on curricula, teaching and learning regimes, connections to professional practice, connections to research, and academic drift. Methodologically, the work builds on an interpretive approach, using case studies and a discourse analysis as the primary methodologies. The results reveal three overarching discourses and each discourse has a distinct relation to the inclusion of professional practice and research in the curriculum. Here, the functions of these discourses are primarily preserving the characteristics of each programme and securing the boundaries of each programme from the different types of influences threatening these characteristics. Different strategies for including connections to professional practice, and for dual coupling of connections to research and professional practice, with the aim of motivating students and preparing them for the engineering profession, were identified. The findings show that links to research can be included in the curriculum while keeping the connections to professional practice in place, hence forming a seamless blend. Thus, the facet of academic drift that is assumed to be created by the inclusion of research links and leading to a loss of connections to professional practice was questioned, and it was argued that research-based activities in the curriculum contribute to the formation of professional knowledge. On the basis of the identified discourses and strategies, it was concluded that neither connections to professional practice nor connections to research can be a case of a one-size-fits-all approach; instead, each discourse requires local adjustments when implementing these connections in the curriculum. The results indicate that in the future, the discussion should focus on how to best combine the two types of connections because both are important aspects in the formation of professional knowledge.

Abstract [sv]

Ett av den högre utbildningens främsta kännetecken är dess koppling till forskning. Utöver detta samband är även länken till arbetslivet ett framträdande attribut, framför allt inom professionsutbildning. Inom ingenjörsutbildning har båda dessa aspekter – anknytning till forskning och ingenjörsprofessionen – länge diskuterats, bland annat gällande i vilken utsträckning dessa båda aspekter bör utgöra inslag i undervisningen. Denna avhandling fokuserar på denna diskussion och syftet är att undersöka hur akademisk personal tar sig an kopplingen till professionen och forskningen i undervisningen. Genom en historisk översikt över ingenjörsutbildningens utveckling redogörs för bakgrunden till dagens professions- och forskningsanknytning inom ingenjörsutbildningen. Det konceptuella ramverket bygger på ett sociokulturellt perspektiv som belyser hur akademisk personal formas i och formar gemensamma förhållningssätt kring undervisning. Därutöver redogörs för litteratur som beskriver hur utbildningars innehåll skapas och vilka faktorer som påverkar processen. Därefter belyses professionskoppling, forskningskoppling, och akademisering. Det empiriska arbetet bygger på ett tolkande förhållningssätt, med fallstudier och diskursanalys som de framträdande metoderna. Resultatet visar på tre övergripande diskurser som var och en har en distinkt relation till professions- och forskningskoppling i undervisningen. Diskurserna tycks främst syfta till att värna och bevara de specifika egenskaperna hos vart och ett av utbildningsprogrammen samt till att säkra dem från olika typer av influenser som hotar dessa egenskaper. Olika strategier för att inkludera professionskoppling och för att inkludera en kombination av forsknings- och professionskoppling identifierades. Det övergripande syftet med dessa strategier tycks vara att motivera studenter och förbereda dem för ingenjörsyrket. Resultatet visar att forskningsanknytning kan göras parallellt med professionsanknytning i en sömlös blandning och därmed ifrågasattes antagandet att forskningsanknytning skulle leda till att ingenjörsutbildningens professionskoppling går förlorad. I stället drogs slutsatsen att forskningsbaserade aktiviteter i undervisningen bidrar till professionsrelaterad kunskap. Med utgångspunkt i de identifierade diskurserna och de olika strategierna drogs även slutsatsen att varken professions- eller forskningskoppling kan förväntas genomföras på ett och samma sätt i olika ingenjörsutbildningar, snarare behövs anpassning till lokala förhållanden inom de olika ingenjörsprogrammen när dessa aspekter implementeras. Slutligen drogs slutsatsen att diskussionen kring professions- och forskningskoppling i framtiden bör inriktas på hur man bäst kombinerar de två eftersom båda är betydelsefulla komponenter i formandet av professionsrelaterad kunskap.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Kungliga Tekniska högskolan, 2019. p. 71
Series
TRITA-ITM-AVL ; 32
Keywords
Engineering education, research-teaching links, professional practice, teaching and learning regimes
National Category
Educational Sciences
Research subject
Technology and Learning
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-263788 (URN)978-91-7873-346-0 (ISBN)
Public defence
2019-12-06, Kollegiesalen, Brinellvägen 8, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2019-11-14 Created: 2019-11-13 Last updated: 2019-11-14Bibliographically approved

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