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Modeling the Social World

Jennifer Case Seminar

Summary:  For those trained in science or engineering, coming to education research means that you have to think about the social world and what it comprises.  At the face of it, this might all seem self-evident, as we use terminology (motivation, identity...) that has an everyday meaning.  But any constructs that we use are essentially models of the social world, and some work better than others, especially if we aim to produce research findings with explanatory power.  In this seminar Jenni Case introduces some tools from realist philosophy that can be use to interrogate the constructs we use for modeling the social world.  What do we mean when we say something in the social world is 'real'?  How can we develop causal accounts in the social world?  The talk will be given with reference to contemporary research questions in engineering education.

Biography:  Jennifer Case is Head and Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech.  Her research on the student experience of learning, focusing mainly on science and engineering education, has been widely published.  She is a coordinating editor for the international journal Higher Education, a co-editor for the Routledge/SRHE series Research into Higher Education and subject editor for the IChemE journal Education for Chemical Engineers.