Dr. David Knight

David Knight, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
353 Goodwin Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061




Ph.D. Higher Education, Pennsylvania State University, 2012
M.S. Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, 2009
B.S. Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, 2006

Research Interests:

  • Engineering Education
  • Learning Analytics
  • Engineering Student Outcomes
  • Diversification of STEM Fields
  • International Higher Education
  • Interdisciplinary Teaching & Learning
  • Organizational Issues in Higher Education
  • Higher Education Administration

I am interested in addressing issues in engineering education at the macro-scale and believe we must investigate multiple aspects of the system (i.e., curricular and co-curricular experiences and organizational contexts that enable or inhibit experiences) to understand how to help students develop a variety of outcomes. I focus energy in the following areas: 1) Investigating organizational contexts, educational environments, and student experiences that support the development of diverse engineers who can become interdisciplinary problem-solving leaders across global contexts, 2) Identifying mechanisms to enhance existing organizational decision-making processes through the incorporation of local data, 3) Leveraging existing - yet disconnected - university data sets, or collecting new data in innovative ways to create intelligent feedback loops by connecting data, educational processes, and educational outcomes. I align my research, teaching and advising, and service roles so that they work toward improving the efficiency, effectiveness, and inclusiveness of the engineering education system.


David Knight is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech and affiliate faculty member with the Higher Education Program, Center for Human-Computer Interaction, and Human-Centered Design Program. At Virginia Tech, Knight manages the VT DEEP Lab - Data Enlightened Educational Practice - which is comprised of a collaborative team of Engineering Education doctoral students who work in interdisciplinary ways across the university. The group's research focuses on student learning outcomes in undergraduate engineering, learning analytics approaches to improve educational practices and policies, interdisciplinary teaching and learning, organizational change in colleges and universities, and international issues in higher education. Knight also directs Virginia Tech's Rising Sophomore Abroad Program, which is a collaborative effort between Virginia Tech and North Carolina A&T that incorporates a semester-long, on-campus learning experience with an international component in Europe to help students develop an awareness of the global nature of engineering. Knight earned a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Penn State University, two Master's degrees (Environmental Sciences with a concentration in Atmospheric Sciences and Urban and Environmental Planning), and a bachelor's of science in Environmental Sciences from the University of Virginia. He also worked as a research assistant in the University of Michigan's Center for the Study of Higher and Postsecondary Education and as a postdoctoral fellow in Engineering Education in the University of Queensland's School of Civil Engineering in Brisbane, Australia. Knight currently serves as PI on the NSF project Understanding and diversifying transfer student pathways to engineering degrees and PI for the VT portion of the NSF project Collaborative research: Variation in the awarding and effectiveness of STEM graduate student funding across teaching and research assistantships, fellowships, and traineeships,

  • Awards & Honors:
  • Virginia Tech Scholar of the Week, Office of the Vice President for Research, Virginia Tech, Oct. 2015.
  • Invited Panelist, National Academy of Engineering, Workshop on Pathways for Engineering Talent, Understanding the Engineering Education-Workforce Continuum, Washington, D.C., Nov. 2014.
  • Best Paper Nominee: Computers in Education Division, American Society of Engineering Education, 2014, Knight, Brozina, & Culver, Technology in classrooms: How familiar are new college students with the pedagogy?
  • ResTeach Fellowship Recipient, University of Queensland, 2012.
  • Best Paper: Educational Research and Methods Division, American Society of Engineering Education, 2012, Knight, In search of the engineers of 2020: An outcomes-based typology of engineering undergraduates.
  • Presidential Management Fellowship Finalist, 2012.
  • Graduate Student Recognition Award, College of Education, Pennsylvania State University, 2011, Outstanding scholarship, research, and dedication to education and the promise of professional excellence.
  • Best Paper: Educational Research and Methods Division, American Society of Engineering Education, 2010, Lattuca & Knight, In the eye of the beholder: Defining and studying interdisciplinarity in engineering education.
  • Dean's Award for Excellence in Leadership, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia, 2008.
  • Graduate Student Research Publication Award, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia, 2008.
  • American Meteorology Society Government/Industry Graduate Fellowship, 2007.

Selected Publications:

Knight, D.B. (2014). Reversing the logic: An outcomes-based student typology for determining 'what works' in promoting an array of student learning outcomes. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 36(2), 145-169.

Knight, D.B., Callaghan, D., Baldock, T., & Meyer, J.H.F. (2013). Identifying threshold concepts: Case study of an open catchment hydraulics course. European Journal of Engineering Education, 39(2), 125-142.

Lattuca, L.R., Bergom, I., & Knight, D.B. (2014). Professional development, departmental contexts, and use of instructional strategies. Journal of Engineering Education, 103(4), 549-572.

Knight, D.B., Lattuca, L.R., Yin, A.C., Kremer, G., York, T. & Ro, H.K. (2012). An exploration of gender diversity in engineering programs: A curriculum and instruction-based perspective. Journal of Women and Minorities in Science and Engineering, 18(1), 55-78.

Lattuca, L.R., Knight, D.B., & Bergom, I. (2013). Developing a measure of interdisciplinary competence. International Journal of Engineering Education, 29(3), 726-739.

Kinoshita, T.J., Knight, D.B., & Gibbes, B. (in press). The positive influence of active learning in a lecture hall: An analysis of normalized gain scores in introductory environmental engineering. Innovations in Education and Teaching International.

Meyer, J.H.F., Knight, D.B., Callaghan, D.C., & Baldock, T.E. (2015). An empirical exploration of metacognitive assessment activities in engineering. European Journal of Engineering Education, 40(3), 309-327.

Knight, D.B., Lattuca, L.R., Kimball, E.W. & Reason, R.D. (2013).

Understanding interdisciplinarity: Curricular and organizational features of undergraduate interdisciplinary programs. Innovative Higher Education, 38(2), 143-158.

Meyer, J.H.F., Knight, D.B., Callaghan, D.P., Baldock, T.E. (2015). Threshold concepts as a focus for metalearning activity: Application of a research-developed mechanism in undergraduate engineering. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 52(3).

Cheslock, J.J., & Knight, D.B. (2015). Diverging revenues, cascading expenditures, and ensuing subsidies: The unbalanced and growing financial strain of intercollegiate athletics on universities and their students. Journal of Higher Education, 86(3), 417-447.