Maura Borrego is an associate professor and director of the graduate program in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She holds U.S. NSF CAREER and Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) awards for her engineering education research. Her research interests include research and scholarship communities in engineering education and interdisciplinary graduate education. She teaches graduate level courses in engineering education research methods and assessment. All of Dr. Borrego's degrees are in Materials Science and Engineering, M.S. and Ph.D. from Stanford University, and B.S. from University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Diffusion of Engineering Education Innovations: A Survey of Awareness and Adoption Rates in U.S. Engineering Departments
Article first published online: 2 JAN 2013
2010 American Society for Engineering Education
Journal of Engineering Education
Volume 99, Issue 3, pages 185–207, July 2010
How to Cite
Borrego, M., Froyd, J. E. and Hall, T. S. (2010), Diffusion of Engineering Education Innovations: A Survey of Awareness and Adoption Rates in U.S. Engineering Departments. Journal of Engineering Education, 99: 185–207. doi: 10.1002/j.2168-9830.2010.tb01056.x
- Issue published online: 2 JAN 2013
- Article first published online: 2 JAN 2013
- diffusion of innovations;
- faculty development
Despite decades of effort focused on improvement of engineering education, many recent advances have not resulted in systemic change. Diffusion of innovations theory is used to better understand this phenomenon.
Research questions include: How widespread is awareness and adoption of established engineering education innovations? Are there differences by discipline or institutional type? How do engineering department chairs find out about engineering education innovations? What factors do engineering department chairs cite as important in adoption decisions?
U.S. engineering department chairs were surveyed regarding their awareness and department use of seven engineering education innovations. One hundred ninety-seven usable responses are presented primarily as categorical data with Chi square tests where relevant.
Overall, the awareness rate was 82 percent, while the adoption rate was 47 percent. Eighty-two percent of engineering departments employ student-active pedagogies (the highest). Mechanical and civil engineering had the highest rates, in part due to many design-related innovations in the survey. Few differences by institution type were evident. In the past, word of mouth and presentations were far more effective than publications in alerting department chairs to the innovations. Department chairs cited financial resources, faculty time and attitudes, and student satisfaction and learning as major considerations in adoption decisions.
The importance of disciplinary networks was evident during survey administration and in the results. Specific recommendations are offered to employ these networks and the engineering professional societies for future engineering education improvement efforts.