In recent years, engineering education research (EER) has emerged as an internationally connectedfield of inquiry through the establishment of EER conferences, interest groups within engineeringeducation societies, PhD programs, and departments and centers at universities.Improving the preparation and training of engineers through EER is critical to solving majorengineering challenges in sustainability, climate change, civil infrastructure, energy, and publichealth.
The purpose of this article is twofold: (1) to introduce EER as a field of inquiry, and (2) to describethe U.S. and Northern and Central European approaches to EER as two examples of the diversity ofapproaches.
The article is organized around a framework from the European didaktik tradition, which focuses onanswering the w-questions of education. The major sections describe what, why, to what end, where, who,and how EER is conducted.
Northern and Central European educational approaches focus on authentic, complex problems,while U.S. approaches emphasize empirical evidence. Additionally, disciplinary boundaries andlegitimacy are more salient issues in the U.S., while the Northern and Central European Bildungphilosophy integrates across disciplines toward development of the whole person. Understandingand valuing complementary perspectives is critical to growth and internationalization of EER.
2011. Vol. 100, no 1, 14-47 p.