New NSF grant to study mentorship of engineering faculty in engineering education research

3/20/2019 Laura Schmitt

Written by Laura Schmitt

Bioengineering Teaching Assistant Professor Karin Jensen was recently awarded a $200,000 grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate how engineering faculty become engineering education researchers through mentoring relationships. Jensen is collaborating on the project with Kelly Cross, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, who received an additional $100,000 from NSF.

Bioengineering Teaching Assistant Professor Karin Jensen
Bioengineering Teaching Assistant Professor Karin Jensen

During the coming year, they will interview engineering faculty who are working with engineering education researchers on NSF-funded Research Initiation in Engineering Formation (RIEF) projects in order to understand what makes those relationships successful. In the second year of the grant, they will develop a workshop and networking opportunity at the 2020 American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) conference for engineering faculty who want to work with an engineering education researcher mentor.

Training engineering professors in engineering education research expands the number of faculty adopting research-based instructional practices in their courses, and results in improved teaching, advising, and programming.

"The more we have these groups interact, the results will reach our students through best practices," said Jensen. "Ultimately, the students' experience in the classroom will be better."

According to Jensen, the impetus for this new grant was a mentor-mentee relationship that she and Cross developed two years ago while working on an NSF-funded study (Grant # 1738186) about the culture of stress in engineering and how that culture effects recruitment, retention, and success. At the time, Cross was an education researcher at Illinois.

University of Nevada, Reno Assistant Professor Kelly Cross
University of Nevada, Reno Assistant Professor Kelly Cross

As an instructor for four undergraduate courses, Jensen saw firsthand how this engineering stress culture impacted students. To study the problem, she paired with Cross, who has a doctorate in engineering education.

"My collaboration with Kelly was phenomenal," said Jensen. “We have a great partnership and friendship and are collaborating on several projects together, all the with the goal of improving undergraduate engineering education.”


To read more about the new NSF grant, click here

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This story was published March 20, 2019.