A content analysis of how STEM education researchers discuss the impact of their publicly-supported research

Jeremi London

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Impact is a topic of interest among a wide range of stakeholders interested in engineering workforce development but is one in which there is a dearth of scholarship. While existing literature includes two dimensions of research impact (scientific, and societal), this qualitative study proposes and focuses on the third dimension—contextual impact. Using Toulmin’s Model and the Common Guidelines for Education Research and Development, this study uses content analysis to explore how researchers on National Science Foundation-funded STEM education R&D projects talk about the impact of their work in abstracts (n = 155) with an explicit impact section; special attention is given to engineering education research. Findings reveal eight claims that are commonly discussed when Principal Investigators articulate research impact; two themes relate to how their claims are supported. The findings also indicate that the discipline associated with the study and the project focus has more to do with the types of impact PIs claim than the amount of funding awarded to the project. The proposed SCS Impact Framework resulted from identifying the points of alignment between PIs’ perspectives on impact and existing literature. This conceptual lens describing impact in this context is useful for researchers, practitioners, and policymakers around the world interested in the scientific, contextual, and societal dimensions of engineering education R&D.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1120-1137
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Engineering Education
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2018


  • Engineering education research
  • Impact
  • National Science Foundation
  • STEM education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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