Joachim Walther

Joachim Walther
University of Georgia | UGA · College of Engineering

About

88
Publications
24,408
Reads
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1,467
Citations
Introduction
Founding Director of the Engineering Education Transformations Institute (EETI) and Professor of engineering education research. I am committed to creating a collaborative, welcoming, and inclusive environment as the basis for a vibrant engineering education ecosystem in our College of Engineering. My research interests span research quality across interpretive methodologies, the role of empathy in engineering formation, and student development in interdisciplinary and inter-professional spaces.
Additional affiliations
January 2008 - present
University of Georgia
Position
  • Professor (Associate)
Description
  • http://education.engineering.uga.edu/

Publications

Publications (88)
Article
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Background The emerging discipline of engineering education research is increasingly embracing a diverse range of interpretive research methods, whose adoption is characterized by a lack of coherent ways to conceptualize, communicate, and judge the quality of interpretive inquiries. Yet fields that have traditionally employed these methods do not o...
Conference Paper
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There is a growing recognition of the impact of messaging on attracting and retaining a diverse student body in engineering. Drawing on the notion of autopoiesis from systems theory, this exploratory study examines a non-traditional, freshman college student's experiences of how messaging or, stories 'told' about engineering, function to privilege...
Conference Paper
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The engineering education community is adopting an increasingly diverse range of qualitative methods. This rapid expansion in required methodological expertise has sparked a vibrant discourse around ways to foster and articulate research quality in qualitative and mixed-methods studies. This paper describes three engineering education scholars' eng...
Conference Paper
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This study examines how engineering is portrayed in the media. This is set against a continuing discourse in the field around representations and perceptions of engineering as they relate to attracting and retaining diverse groups of students. Data comprises one year of news articles (August 2011-July 2012) selected by the Bulletin Media service fo...
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Service-learning (SL), especially in engineering, is a promising way to engage and support local communities, educate students as holistic citizens and professionals, and strengthen the connection between higher education and society. However, within engineering education, SL as a pedagogy has yet to reach its full potential as a transformational p...
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Background Shame is a deeply painful emotion people feel when they perceive that they have fallen short of socially constructed expectations. In this study, professional shame refers to shame experiences that stem from people's perceptions that they have failed to meet expectations or standards that are relevant to their identities in a professiona...
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Background: Stories are a natural and powerful way for humans to make sense of complex situations. Prior research suggests that when people are faced with complex problems, like underrepresentation in engineering, they construct and defer to stories, sometimes even in the face of contradicting evidence, as a basis for decision making and action. Pu...
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Prior research indicates that empathy can help engineers achieve better outcomes in team-based, design, entrepreneurial, and humanitarian environments. We describe an educational innovation designed to teach engineering students empathic communication skills. Written in the spirit of a propagation (versus dissemination) paradigm, we focus on how th...
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Background Although prior research has provided robust descriptions of engineering students' identity development, a gap in the literature exists related to students' emotional experiences of shame, which undergird the socially constructed expectations of their professional formation. Purpose We examined the lived experiences of professional shame...
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Background: The engineering education research community has embraced a diverse range of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research approaches. In line with the pragmatic roots of both engineering practice and education, we concur with past scholars that no particular method is better than any other. Rather, the method should be determin...
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This paper describes a novel institutional change model, embodied in the Engineering Education Transformations Institute at the University of Georgia, that was intentionally designed to build community and expertise around scholarly teaching and learning in engineering education. The model is informed by several theoretical constructs, including co...
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This paper describes the use of a novel research platform called SenseMaker® to collect and analyze real-time data in the form of participants’ qualitative accounts of COVID-19 along with online learning experiences and participants’ own quantitative assessments of those experiences. Participants were faculty, students, and staff in the College of...
Article
Empathy is an important professional skill for engineers. Defined as the capacity to understand and share the feelings of others, empathy can help engineers work on teams and interact more effectively with clients. Approaches designed to teach empathy to engineering students, however, are limited, as are studies on such interventions. This study in...
Conference Paper
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Over the past two decades, there has been a significant increase in the production of engineering education research. Many scholars argue, however, that there remains a gap between research and practice. Some studies attribute this gap to a focus on the dissemination of evidence-based practices, as opposed to working with instructors to adapt evide...
Conference Paper
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Numerous studies of engineering practice have provided compelling evidence of the socio-technical nature of the profession and, therefore, the need for a greater focus in engineering curricula on professional skills and orientations. Compared to other professional skills, however, such as leadership and teamwork, the development of empathy in engin...
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The engineering education discourse increasingly recognizes the role of empathy in preparing students for 21st century challenges. This pedagogical and theoretical interest is not supported by an empirical understanding of the role empathy plays in students' professional formation. This study investigated how undergraduate engineering students made...
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Background Prior to undertaking studies involving human subjects, engineering education researchers are required to consider the ethical implications of their work by obtaining approval from an ethical review board. Purpose/Hypothesis Recent research suggests that some unintended consequences of this procedure are that it externalizes and inflexib...
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Past research has found that engineering students graduate with less concern for the welfare of the public, and for the social implications of engineering design, than when they begin their studies. To address this issue, researchers from the University of Georgia have developed a theoretical model of empathy in engineering to provide a foundation...
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As the problems that engineers are framing and solving are becoming more complex, it is becoming critical to develop a more nuanced understanding of learning that encompasses more than separate knowing and includes connected knowing. To better understand connected knowing within engineering students, we explore the role of emotion in engineering ed...
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The field of engineering education research is adopting an increasingly diverse range of qualitative methods. These developments necessitate a coherent language and conceptual framework to critically engage with questions of qualitative research quality. This article advances discussions of qualitative research quality through sharing and analyzing...
Conference Paper
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This study uses a social phenomenological approach to examine how students experience and give meaning to empathy in engineering education and practice. Data for the investigation included students' written reflections on a series of four empathy modules, which were integrated into a compulsory, sophomore engineering and society course in a mechani...
Article
The IEEE Education Society, the IEEE Computer Society, and the American Society for Engineering Education Educational Research and Methods Division (ASEE ERM) sponsored the 46th Frontiers in Education (FIE) Conference in Erie, PA, USA, held October 12–15, 2016. James Sluss, President of the Society, Russell Meier, President of the ASEE ECE Division...
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Background: Engineers are increasingly being asked to empathically engage with a broad range of stakeholders. Current efforts to educate empathic engineers, however, are hindered by the lack of a conceptually cohesive understanding of, and language for, applying empathy to engineering. Prior studies have suggested that research informed by long-sta...
Conference Paper
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Individual experiences of inclusion or exclusion are increasingly recognized for their relevance in relation to attracting and retaining diverse students in engineering programs. Referring to this emerging body of work, this article explores the emotion of shame as a psychological and sociological construct that might underpin student experiences o...
Conference Paper
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Engineers are increasingly being called upon to infuse a deeply considered, empathic regard for a broad range of stakeholders into their work. This development can be attributed to a growing recognition of the socially-situated nature of engineering practice and the shared and interdisciplinary nature of today’s grand challenges. In order to prepar...
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Background There is a growing interest in STEAM (STEM + the Arts) education as a means to enhance the creativity of STEM students and broaden interest in STEM fields. Many art educators, however, object to the instrumental justification for study in the arts as a way to improve student performance in other areas. Purpose Drawing on the first two...
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This article explores challenges and opportunities associated with sharing qualitative data in engineering education research. This exploration is theoretically informed by an existing framework of interpretive research quality with a focus on the concept of Communicative Validation. Drawing on practice anecdotes from the authors' work, the article...
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Current efforts to promote STEAM (STEM + Arts) education focus predominantly on how partnering with the arts provides a range of benefits to STEM students. Here we take a different approach and focus on what art and art education students stand to gain from collaborating with STEM students. Drawing on a variety of student field texts, we present th...
Conference Paper
This special session invites academic researchers to temporarily adopt the commitments of interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) in order to gain insight into psychological experiences in engineering education research. In this session, we will introduce participants to IPA as a methodology that is committed to understanding the lived exper...
Conference Paper
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Set in the context of an NSF-funded CAREER project, this paper describes a collaborative effort in the engineering education research community to build social capital and capacity around questions of research quality. To date, this effort has entailed: i) two one and a half-day longitudinal interactive workshops with leading qualitative researcher...
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This workshop is set against the context of a growing methodological diversity in the field of engineering education research with a range of qualitative or 'interpretive' methods currently being adopted by the research community. This mini-workshop will introduce participants to a theoretical framework for ensuring quality in interpretive engineer...
Article
Interviews conducted with community engagement stakeholders are qualitatively analyzed to provide contextual understanding for boundary spanning within the STEM community. Community engagement refers to relationships between the university and external educational entities such as K12 institutions, libraries, and community centers, to mutually impr...
Article
Full-text available
There is a growing recognition of the impact of messaging on attracting and retaining a diverse student body in engineering. Drawing on the notion of autopoiesis from systems theory, this exploratory study examines a non-traditional, freshman college student's experiences of how messaging or, stories 'told' about engineering, function to privilege...
Article
Full-text available
Recently there have been calls to expand STEM education to include the arts and design, transforming STEM into STEAM in the K-20 classroom (Maeda, 2013). Like STEM, STEAM education stresses making connections between disciplines that were previously perceived as disparate. This has been conceptualized in different ways, such as: focusing on the cre...
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This article explores visual response methods as a representation of student learning in a college-level interdisciplinary curriculum integrating art and engineering. The visual response methods, specifically visual journals and postcards, are examples of authentic assessment and alternative data collection methods embedded in a mixed-methods (qual...
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Background Cross-cultural studies contribute to engineering education as a globally interconnected field. The methodological challenges posed by research across cultural boundaries must be explored to ensure the quality of such studies.PurposeThis article explores challenges and opportunities for insight by examining the effects of researchers' and...
Conference Paper
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Concerns regarding America's standing as a globally competitive innovator have spurred a growing interest in STEAM (STEM + the Arts) education. Set against this context, this paper uses collaborative autoethnographic techniques to uncover and explore some of the possibilities and pitfalls of STEAM-inspired learning. Data for the study entails an em...
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Traditional curricular approaches within engineering education tend to be fragmented, with opportunities for content- and meta-level synthesis being mostly limited to freshman and senior year design courses. In this paper, we are proposing a curricular model, the Synthesis and Design Studio, to combat the tendency towards fragmented curricula. The...
Conference Paper
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This paper explores the role of empathy as a core aspect of engineering communication which serves to integrate multifaceted information about, and make sense of, complex socio-technical contexts. We argue that empathy, which we understand to entail both the intuitive emotional, as well as, cognitive aspect of "perspective taking", enables engineer...
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Qualitative research methods are increasingly being used in engineering education research. In this context there is an ongoing discourse in the community around ways of ensuring interpretive research quality. This paper presents a process-oriented framework of research quality that was developed while undertaking a study that was recently publishe...
Article
This paper presents a theoretical basis for cultivating engineering education as a complex system that will prepare students to think critically and make decisions with regard to poorly understood, ill-structured issues. Integral to this theoretical basis is a solution space construct developed and presented as a benchmark for evaluating problem-so...
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Background There is growing evidence that engineering students' professional formation is shaped by the interplay of explicit learning activities and various influences from the wider educational context. The unintended outcomes of these processes, or Accidental Competencies, formed the lens for an empirical investigation of this social learning sy...
Article
Reflection is increasingly recognized as central to student learning and professional development. There is, however, a lack of defined, systematic strategies to stimulate purposeful student reflection and overcome the inherent difficulties of the engineering cohort to engage in reflective thought. This paper theoretically develops a framework of e...
Article
The purpose of this paper is to uncover the role of emotion within an interdisciplinary, projectbased design studio as implemented in 2009 and 2010. This qualitative research study involves a narrative analysis of data collected over two semesters of the design studios to identify the types of emotions described, the change in these emotions over t...
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This paper examines the fundamental assumptions underlying the concept of outcomes-based education in engineering. Tensions between these assumptions that derive from the origins of the theory in the field of behavioral psychology and current practices of curriculum design in engineering are discussed. These tensions are potentially impeding factor...
Conference Paper
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Engineering education is uniquely qualified to make strides towards both a more integrated curriculum and understanding the benefits of an integrated learning experiences, due to the vast amounts of experience with innovative integrative curricular structures. This paper briefly describes an innovative approach to integrate student learning through...
Conference Paper
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This paper presents the evaluation of an alternative procedure to facilitate engineering students' reflective learning in the context of situated learning experiences. The procedure takes the format of a focus group with specific triggers to elicit students' accounts of critical learning experiences. This reflection starts from students' concrete,...
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To meet current and future challenges, engineers are needed that have different ways of thinking and one way this can be achieved is by attracting and retaining more diverse people from more diverse backgrounds. Student retention and attraction have been studied extensively in engineering education; however the underlying cause is still not well un...
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Recently, engineering education research has begun to implicitly employ a discourse of complex systems with terms such as emergence, adaptability and flexibility permeating the discussions. This paper proposes that complex systems offer a unifying perspective for engineering education researchers and will help the discipline move towards a better u...
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Reflexive practices allow researchers to think critically about how their disciplinary background, preconceptions and behaviours impact on the research process. With recent calls for increased rigour in engineering education research, reflexive practices are important because they provide ways to increase the trustworthiness of research findings. D...
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This paper presents results of an interpretive study into engineering students' formation of professional competence from the interaction of learning activities and other influences from the learning environment. Data was collected in focus groups with students from Germany, Australia, the United States and Thailand. Using the qualitative analysis...
Article
This paper introduces an interpretive research approach as one possible way to investigate complex social aspects of engineering education. With the aim of exploring questions of rigor in the interpretive enquiry, we present the details of a study into competence formation of engineering students. The study employed focus groups with engineering st...
Conference Paper
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Situated learning in professional practice is increasingly recognized as a key component of engineering curricula. One challenge in this context is to establish a reflexive link between the students' learning at university and their experiences in practice. This paper proposes the accidental competency discourse as an alternative tool to support st...