New doctoral degree in Engineering, Sciences and Technology Education underway

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The programme is aimed at graduates in STEAM fields with an interest in education research in their discipline.

Producing researchers with international competency in STEAM education is the aim of the new doctoral degree in Engineering, Sciences and Technology Education that has been launched at the UPC in the 2020-2021 academic year. The programme, promoted by the University’s Institute of Education Sciences (ICE), is the first of its kind in Catalonia and Spain and the fourth in Europe.

Jun 03, 2021

Research in university education in STEAM fields (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) is a reality at research-focused technological universities especially in the US. However, despite the over 50-year-old tradition of mathematics and applied sciences education, research in engineering and technology education is relatively new.

In this context, the doctoral degree in Engineering, Sciences and Technology Education, promoted by the Institute of Education Sciences (ICE), has been launched this academic year as a programme that is applicable to all the areas of knowledge of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya · BarcelonaTech (UPC). The programme was inspired by the experience of a group of professors who have delved into pedagogical aspects from several perspectives throughout their professional lives, implementing and adapting innovation and research methods for education and publishing numerous articles on the subject in recent years. In fact, according to a recent study, the UPC is the fourth European institution with the largest number of publications in engineering education journals between 1970 and 2018. 

One of those professors, David López, explains that “the didactics of a discipline must be based on its particular epistemology. Every discipline has its own characteristics: the very nature of problems differs between disciplines, requires different cognitive processes and involves different difficulties, challenges and opportunities. It is therefore essential for science and engineering education to be led by benchmark technological universities such as the UPC. This requires a research ecosystem with projects, publications and a doctoral programme like this one.”

There are 15 places available on the programme, which is aimed at graduates in engineering, sciences or technology with an interest in education research in their discipline. The doctoral degree can provide added value to those who develop their careers in STEAM fields, whether from the perspective of teaching and outreach, education policy management or lifelong learning or specialised training in companies or not-for-profit organisations.

“The aim is for these students to participate in or even lead the educational transformation required in STEAM disciplines to respond creatively and responsibly to the challenges of the 21st century”, explains David López.

Research at the BCN-SEER
Doctoral students on this programme will conduct their research at the Barcelona Science and Engineering Education Research Group (BCN-SEER), which studies cutting-edge teaching and learning in technological universities.

The group’s main lines of work are related to education for sustainable development in engineering, university teaching staff training in the teaching-learning process, professional competencies, social factors of university education in engineering and technology and engineering in secondary schools.

The UPC is a leader in innovative STEAM education
The UPC’s Institute of Education Sciences is a benchmark in secondary and higher education in engineering, sciences, technology and architecture. It aims to improve teaching quality in all the areas of academic activity at the University.

The ICE promotes and supports innovation for the continuous improvement of teaching staff and recognises and disseminates good practice. It provides criteria, tools and methodologies for designing and developing top-quality education. Additionally, it promotes training for developing university research, management, extension and dissemination tasks.

Always on the lookout for new trends in university teaching quality, the ICE spotted the chance of launching this new doctoral programme by noticing American universities creating departments of Engineering Education and the scholarship of teaching and learning (Boyer, 1990) emerging as a concept and subsequently as a movement.

Therefore, in 2018 the Doctoral School approved the creation of the new programme, which was incorporated into the University’s programming by Governing Council Agreement CG/2018/09/03, of 11 December 2018, and approved by the Catalan University Quality Assurance Agency (AQU Catalunya) in May 2020.