State of qualitative research in engineering education: Meta-analysis of JEE articles, 2005-2006

Mirka Koro-Ljungberg, Elliot P. Douglas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


With recent calls for expanding the scope and rigor of engineering education research, use of qualitative methods to answer research questions that can not be answered through quantitative methods is taking on increasing significance. Well-designed qualitative studies often build on epistemological consistency across theoretical perspectives, research questions, and research methods. We examine recent articles published in the Journal of Engineering Education to determine the overall prevalence of qualitative articles and the extent to which they appear epistemologically and methodologically consistent with the goals of qualitative inquiry. We find that there are very few qualitative articles published, and even fewer which show epistemological consistency across different aspects of the research design. These issues may limit the rich, descriptive information that could be gained from qualitative inquiry, limiting the contributions qualitative studies could make to engineering education. We call on researchers to expand their use of qualitative methods and to design their studies with careful attention to epistemological consistency across the design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)163-175
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Epistemology
  • Qualitative research
  • Theoretical perspective

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Engineering(all)


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