Date of Award

12-2001

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education

Major

Education

Major Professor

Dr. Dan R. Quarles

Committee Members

Dr. C. Glennon Rowell, Dr. Thomas W. George, Dr. Mary Jane Connelly

Abstract

Over the years, the case method of instruction has been successfully integrated into professional educational programs like business, law, medicine, and psychology. In the 1960’s, Stanford University began a movement to include case studies in engineering programs. In the 1970’s a number of engineering professors developed and taught with cases and then published their experiences. Then in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the engineering case study movement died down. Engineering and engineering technology educational programs are closely related. In the literature, any national movement in engineering technology education to use case studies was virtually non-existent with the exception of the work by the South East Advanced Technology Education Consortium (SEATEC.) Why was this so?

The purpose of this study was to analyze the use of case studies by fulltime faculty members teaching in ABET accredited, two-year engineering technology (ET) programs in the United States with data collected from a national survey designed specifically for this study and mailed to a random sample. The population database included 1,181 faculty members from 100 two-year colleges and 40 four-year institutions of higher education. A random sample of 618 was selected and the return rate was 426 or 68.9 percent. However, this return rate would not have been achieved if a website version of the survey instrument had not been developed four months into the data collection process.

The survey was designed to provide answers to 12 research questions on the use of case studies, case study development, reasons for using and not using case studies, existing case study repositories, and survey participant demographics. Analysis of the data provided answers to the research questions and among other findings it was found that 164 or 39.0 percent used cases in either lectures or labs; 137 or 32.8 percent had developed one or more case studies; 146 or 34.3 percent planned future case study development; the primary reason respondents used cases or considered their use was that cases introduced real-world problems into the classroom; the main reason respondents did not use cases centered on time constraint issues; and, respondents suggested 179 different locations where engineering technology cases existed.

It was determined that further research is needed in four areas: 1) understanding the definitions engineering technology faculty members apply to the term “case study”, 2) documenting the effective teaching methods of engineering technology faculty members who teach with case studies, 3) developing a national engineering technology case study repository, and 4) understanding time management issues that engineering technology faculty members face.

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