Qualitative Engineering Education Researchers and our Relationships with Data: Exploring our Epistemologies and Values as a Community

Nadia Kellam, Madeleine Jennings

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In this research paper, we will continue to develop an understanding of our epistemologies and values of our qualitative engineering education research community through an analysis of relationships with our data in recently published articles. Qualitative research has become more commonplace and valued in engineering education in recent years. However, some tensions are apparent within qualitative research as some people within our community (researchers and consumers of our research) are more positivist leaning while others embrace more constructivist, postmodern, and critical ways of engaging as researchers. The purpose of this paper is to consider some of these tensions in our community through considering researchers relationships and use of data in journal publications. The research question guiding this study was: Through an analysis of qualitative, engineering education manuscripts published in 2019, what is our relationship with data and what might this tell us about our values and epistemologies? Journal articles that are qualitative, engineering education, and published in 2019 were identified through database searches of Engineering Village and Google Scholar resulting in 27 journal articles from nine journals. The analysis followed a process presented in the book, Reconceptualizing Qualitative Research [1] and involved multiple readings of each journal article and considerations of the types and amounts of data, the relationships between researchers and the data, the types of questions authors tried to answer with their data, how authors worked with and learned from their data, and how data was analyzed. The results suggest a range of types and amounts of data collected by engineering education researchers who seem to have diverse epistemological leanings. Moreover, the relationships between researchers and data ranged from a desired separation between the two to a process of co-construction with participants. The insights gained from this analysis suggest epistemological tensions between and among researchers and faculty in our community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Aug 23 2022
Event129th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Excellence Through Diversity, ASEE 2022 - Minneapolis, United States
Duration: Jun 26 2022Jun 29 2022


  • Data
  • Engineering education researchers
  • Epistemologies
  • Qualitative research
  • Values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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