Annals of Research on Engineering Education

Project Status
July 09, 2012
NSF (DUE-0434960)
  • AREE had the primary three goals: (1) providing an overview of on-going education research in a variety of engineering and engineering-relevant fields, and (2) serving as a form of professional development to help those relatively new to the engineering education research community to understand the questions, theory, and methods currently being pursued in the field, and (3) providing a venue for experienced engineering education researchers to push themselves and their peers to further develop the field.

The Annals of Research on Engineering Education (AREE) (, was developed (with NSF support via grant DUE-0434960) with the primary goal of advancing education research through communication. AREE provided links to education research articles drawn from a group of participating journals. The links connected to the copyright holders’ gateway for each participating journal, some of which provided free access to a given article. Associated with each link was a) a structured summary of the research conducted, b) reflective essays by the author(s) describing aspects of the process used to identify and pursue the research described in the article, and c) comments by AREE readers with their judgments/comments on the structured summaries and reflective essays. The site also contained many resources for engineering education researchers and faculty. The site included series of guiding questions for the structured summaries to be prepared by the authors. Authors responded to each of these questions in their structured summaries. These guiding questions were:

  1.  What is the context or background of the study? What are the most significant findings from other research studies which influenced your work?
  2.  What are the research questions you investigated? Why are they important to engineering education?
  3.  What theoretical frameworks did you use? Explain any theoretical concepts, such as self-efficacy, double consciousness, transformation learning, etc., which are critical to the research.
  4. Discuss your methodology. How did you collect data to investigate your research question? From whom did you collect it? How did you analyze the data?
  5. Discuss your major findings and/or conclusions. Outline your chain of reasoning from data analysis to findings. Are there other interpretations which could fit your data and analysis? are there alternative interpretations which you ruled out?
  6. Discuss any recommendations for engineering education. Indicate future research plans or additional questions raised by this research project.
  7. Please acknowledge any support you received for the project. 

In addition, the site included a series of guiding reflection questions which correspond to activities in the research process. Authors used one or two of these questions as a basis for writing their essays and discussing the process of engineering education research. The reflective questions were:

  1. Research Questions: What research question did you start with? How did the research questions develop? What allowed you to see the opportunity for this research project? How did the questions change as you designed and implemented the research? What were the final research questions you investigated? To whom is the question significant and why?
  2. Methodology: What methodology did you use? How did you choose your methodology? What other methodologies did you consider? What criteria did you use to choose among them? In what ways did the methodology change as you implemented your research?
  3. Analysis of Data: How did you analyze your data? Why did you choose that approach? What other approaches did you consider? If your analysis was collaborative, how did that work? How did you work together (e.g. serially analyzed the data, all sat around a table and did it through discussion together)? What difficulties arose during the analysis? What surprised you?
  4. Chain of Reasoning: Discuss your chain of reasoning in moving from data analysis to interpretation. How did you develop this argument? What was most difficult in making it explicit and clear for the journal's readers?
  5. Design for Rigor: In what ways did you design your study to be rigorous? Were you able to implement the design in such a way as to achieve the rigor you desired?
  6. Replicability and Generalizability: In what ways is your study replicable? In what ways is your study generalizable? How amenable is your study to being repeated on different campuses, in different disciplines, across classrooms, etc.?  What studies do you think need to be done now, in light of what you learned?
  7. Lessons Learned: What are the most important things you learned about doing educational research while doing this project?