Grounding the design of educational interventions and their analysis in theory allows us to understand and interpret results of interventions and advance educational theories. Moreover, building an understanding of which educational theories are used and how they are used can build a consensus among researchers and mature the research in a field. In this paper, we investigate the extent to which educational theories are used to ground the design, analysis, and evaluation of learning activities in engineering education. For this purpose, we developed a coding instrument to determine: (1) which educational theories are expressed in studies investigating learning activities and interventions, and (2) the extent to which these theories inform (a) the design of an intervention and (b) the analysis of that intervention. The instrument was applied to a sample of 12 studies from an existing literature review on collaborative engineering design activities to demonstrate the relevance of the developed framework. Results reveal that most studies refer to educational theory, primarily pedagogical approaches such as project-based learning. Furthermore, half of the time, the design of learning interventions is grounded in theory, however, the evaluation of those interventions is often not connected to educational theories.
van der Werf, V., van Helden, G., Schleiss, J., & Saunders-Smits, G. N. (2023). A Framework For Investigating The Application Of Educational Theories In Engineering Education Research. European Society for Engineering Education (SEFI). DOI: 10.21427/PM7V-MD26
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