Engineering Education Research for educational change: the possibilities of critical realism for conceptualising causal mechanicsms in education
Keywords:educational change, critical realism, causal mechanisms
Engineering Education Research (EER) grew in prominence from the late 1990s as purposes for this field were espoused in relation to the necessity of change for engineering education in the newly globalising world. Arguments centred on overall challenges with recruitment to engineering, specifically in relation to historically underrepresented populations, as well as with the forms of education (both in terms of quality of teaching and relevance of curricula) offered to students, and the needs of employers as reflected in newly-emerged global accreditation systems. In a field that is at least partly directed towards educational change, there is a need to understand how change typically happens in education systems. This article first draws on findings from the sociology of education to show that causality in relation to educational change is complex. It then turns to the philosophy of critical realism for a way of thinking about change that can inform EER, and concludes by outlining how this might change the research questions that drive the field, and how these might be approached.
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Copyright (c) 2022 Jennifer Case, Margaret Blackie
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