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Convincing teachers to implement pedagogical innovations is notoriously hard. This research project investigated the shift in pedagogical approach among a small group of faculty as they replaced traditional lecture-based methods with problem-based learning projects. Interviews were conducted with eight drivers of this change, around the question: What was it like to be part of a learning group focused on tangible change toward student-centred learning? Objectives were to understand how pedagogical change happened in an electrical engineering programme at a post-secondary institution in Ireland; analyse data using two different research methods; describe the processes, results, and findings, determining: To what extents do the research methods of grounded theory and phenomenology fit our data and yield relevant and useful findings? Results of this multiple-methods approach indicate enjoyment, camaraderie, and grassroots ownership were essential to driving transformation. With this specific dataset, grounded theory produced valuable findings (including a graphic model of change). Phenomenological methodologies seeking to understanding raw, pre-reflective experience were not as effective, because interviews occurred two years after the events and thus interview comments were inherently reflective. This report should be of particular use to teachers and administrators strategising change and engineering education researchers assessing the applicability of various methods.
Chance, S., Duffy, G. & Bowe, B. (2019). Comparing grounded theory and phenomenology as methods to understand lived experience of engineering educators implementing problem-based learning. European Journal of Engineering Education, doi:10.1080/03043797.2019.1607826