Project Overview

I worked with Dr. Jennifer Turns on an interdisciplinary team conducting the “Implications for Practice” research study. This research project was motivated by a desire to:

  • Characterize how research findings are being presented as actions for educational practice in engineering education
  • Develop guidelines to improve the translation of engineering education research findings to education practice

As part of this project I facilitated multiple rounds of qualitative data production and document analysis of a corpus of articles from the Journal of Engineering Education (JEE). We published multiple articles in Engineering Education venues as a result of this multi-year effort (see A5, A4, A2, & C3 on my CV).


Project Activities

We broke down 2 years of issues (59 articles) to the sentence level so that we could qualitatively code and evaluate whether implications for educational practice were presented to the reader by the authors of the paper. This produced a corpus of almost 6,000 individual sentences for coding. We assigned two individuals to code a given article’s sentences who then compared their results and made a final decision or indicated a need for a full group discussion. From this work we developed a framework for coding sentences to answer research questions such as:

  • (1) To what extent are implications for educational practice emphasized in the most recent year of the Journal of Engineering Education? and (2) When implications for educational practice are present, who is implicated? (Turns, Paine, Sattler, Munoz 2012)

  • When researchers identify practical implications in their research publications, what specific actions are they suggesting be done, and who is expected to take these actions? (Turns, Paine, Sattler 2014)

Developing a framework

This framework consisted of different rhetorical strategies that authors employed to write sentences in their article’s discussion & conclusion sections. This framework (published in Turns, Sattler, Mobrand, Paine 2014) consists of five strategies to characterize the extent to which authors are attempting to translate their research findings to actionable outcomes for educational practice:

  1. Committed: Explicitly stating that an action has been taken or that there is a commitment to take the action.
  2. Imperative: Explicitly stating that an action “should” be done
  3. Urged: Explicitly stating that it is important, urgent, necessary that an action be done
  4. Possible: Explicitly stating that an action is possible, feasible, can/could be done
  5. Outcome: Explicitly stating that an action that will lead to a particular outcome

The goal was for this framework to be usable by students and scholars to assess their own in-progress writing. For example, if a paper is filled with many sentences meeting of type “Possible” how could they be strengthened to offer more concrete suggestions for translating the paper’s research findings into actionable outcomes.


Visual qualitative analysis

To facilitate our qualitative analysis we developed a variety of visualizations to display our coding. We collaboratively engaged in thematic analysis using visualizations of each article include in our study to surface findings for our own articles.




Project Outcomes

My publications & presentations resulting from this work include the items below. In addition, early versions of this work were employed in the design of the Masters course I helped TA and many later iterations of Dr. Turns courses.


A5 — Turns, J., Paine, D., & Sattler, B. (2014). Practical implication in engineering education: Who is supposed to do what?. Paper presented at the Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), October 22-25, 2014, Madrid, Spain.

A4 — Turns, J., Sattler, B., Mobrand, K., & Paine, D. (2014). Connecting Research to Action: A Useful Procedure. Paper presented at the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) 2014 Conference, June 15-18, 2014, Indianapolis, IN. 2014 ASEE Student Division Best Paper Aware Winner.

A2 — Turns, J., Paine, D., Sattler, B., & Munoz, D. (2012). What are the implications for teaching? An analysis of how educational implications are represented in engineering education. Paper presented at the Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), Oct. 3-6, 2012, Seattle, WA, USA.

C3 — Paine, D., Sattler, B., Mobrand, K., Turns, J. (2012). The Implications of Implications. Poster for HCDE Corporate Affiliates Day. Seattle, WA, Feb. 27, 2012.