Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Details

Carew, A. L., Wickson, F. & Radcliffe, D. (2006). Lessons from transdisciplinarity studies in the design and evaluation of engineering education research. AAEE - Annual Conference of Australasian Association for Engineering Education (pp. 1-7). Auckland, NZ: Australasian Association for Engineering Education.


Engineering education research in Australia is a burgeoning field. The literature and theory on transdisciplinary research presents some valuable ideas for justifying, designing and evaluating engineering education research. Engineering education research is a transdisciplinary endeavour in both a literal sense (in that it draws on knowledge from the disciplines of engineering and education), and in a formal theoretical sense, given that transdisciplinarity is defined as problem solving through ‘the context specific negotiation of knowledge’. In this paper, we describe three outcomes that transdisciplinary research aspires to (problem-solving, peer approval, and mutual learning) and a case study of their application in shaping engineering education research. The case study details a research project titled ‘Teaching and Assessing Meta-attributes in Engineering: Identifying, Developing and Disseminating Good Practice’. This project commenced late in 2006 and is funded by the Carrick Institute for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. This work is part of a much broader discourse globally concerned with research and scholarship in engineering education and its impact on the practice of engineering schools. For example, the ASEE has launched the “Year of Dialogue on Scholarship in Engineering Education” and the National Science Foundation in the US is conducting a series of Colloquy to determine the main research questions and themes in engineering education. As engineering education emerges as a discipline in it own right, we need to consider carefully the nature of knowledge in this field and how we acquire and share it.