The impact of federally supported STEM education research is difficult to document, because knowledge resulting from research is deeply embedded in complex networks of social interactions, structures and artifacts. DIA2 is a web based search and visualization tool designed to make knowledge associated with NSF-funded projects more accessible to the STEM education scholarly community. No studies have communicated its value to the community it was designed to serve. This study investigates users’ perceptions of DIA2’s usefulness for carrying out teaching, research, and administrative duties. Using a qualitative interpretivist approach, researchers conducted semi-structured interviews with 89 principal investigators on NSF-funded grants. We used thematic analysis, and interpreted the results using the Distributed Cognition and the Affordances of Information and Communications Technology frameworks. Results indicated ten ways DIA2 is valuable for carrying out a spectrum of routine scholarly activities, including initiating research collaborations, preparing promotion and tenure documents, and informing strategic decisions. With increased accessibility to the knowledge DIA2 provides, we are better equipped to characterize the impact of federally supported STEM education R&D.
|International Journal of Engineering Education
|Published - 1 Jun 2018