Investigating engineering education & technology tools to realize opportunities for diverse students around the world

Jennifer DeBoer, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Engineering Education × Purdue University
Co-Director × International Institute for the Development of Engineering Academics
+1-765-496-0195 × deboerj@purdue.edu




Advancing Knowledge

Research Agenda

The DeBoer Lab is motivated to understand how we can promote equity and success for diverse engineering students around the world. Specifically we are interested in:

International & Comparative Engineering education policy

What effects do local, national, and international engineering education policies have on the recruitment and training of diverse engineering students?

Social context and student background factors of Education

How do Individual (gender, race/ethnicity), Family (economic, socio-cultural status), and Institutional (classroom, school, community composition) factors intersect in the education of engineering students?

Technology use in providing learning opportunities for diverse students

Are there technologies that are effective in educating engineering students in low-resource contexts?  What role do MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) play in reaching these students?. 

Click below to learn more about specific past and present research efforts in the DeBoer Lab

Screen Shot 2014-10-24 at 1.02.37 PM.png



As an international education researcher, I know that there are myriad learning environments around the world.  My objective as a teacher is to use an empirical perspective and problem-based learning activities to support students’ study of engineering learning settings around the world.  I do this in courses such as research design, basic and advanced statistical methods, and education and technology. My classroom is a conversation. I help students identify the comparative knowledge, research design and analysis skills, and critical thinking and justice-oriented attitudes they require to reach their individual goals for education research and practice.  More specifically, for undergraduate students, my broad learning goal is to provide a sociological and cognitive perspective of how engineering education works in numerous contexts and via different technologies; for masters students, my goal is to prepare them to critically evaluate programs that are situated in a given learning context; and, for doctoral students, my goal is to prepare them to explore and generate new insights into the complex relationship between technological, social, economic, and cultural factors and learning.

IMplementation & Experimentation

Research findings from the DeBoer lab are implemented immediately in Dr. DeBoers sections of Purdue's ENGR131 First Year Engineering course. Effectiveness of classroom implementation is measured both quantitatively and qualitatively. The data from these experiments guides the research of the DeBoer Lab.  In this way, Teaching and Research work synergystically in a recursive cycle.



Leadership in Capacity building

Dr. DeBoer currently serves as Co-Director of IIDEA (International Institute for Development of Engineering Academics), which is the capacity building arm of IFEES (International Federation of Engineering Education Societies). In this role she helps to develop and coordinate capacity building workshops for national engineering training systems throughout Latin America, Africa, and Asia. Recent workshops include

Empowering Students

Undergraduate and graduate engineering students are often overlooked as important stakeholders in Engineering Education. Dr. DeBoer is committed to empowering students and helping their voices be heard both at the local level in their educational institutions, and at the international level in Engineering Education professional societies. As a graduate student, Dr. DeBoer cofounded and seved as president of SPEED (Student Platform for Engineering Education Development). 

SPEED is a global, non-profit student organization that functions as an interdisciplinary network of engineering students, who aspire to provide opinion and create an impact on future development of engineering education and its effect on society and environment.  Dr. DeBoer currently engages with  SPEED as an Advisory Council Member.  For more information visit the website at Worldspeed.org


Our Team

DR. Jennifer DeBoer × Principal INvestigator

deboer photos.jpg

Dr. DeBoer is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Education Department at Purdue University. Her Ph.D. is in Eduation Policy with a focus on from the Peabody School at Vanderbilt University.  Her undergraduate training was in Engineering and Languages at MIT.

Dr. DeBoer is the recipient of a 2015 National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award for her work evaluating and improving online courses for engineering undergraduates from diverse backgrounds.





Xin "Cindy" Chen × Graduate student

My Ph.D. research focuses on using data mining and machine learning methods to understand student behaviors in online and blended learning environments.  I was a Data Science fellow in the Eric & Wendy Schmidt "Data Science for Social Good" Fellowship in 2014.  I have a B.S. in Electrical Engineering.

Research Interests: Educational data mining, learning analytics, online learning environments, social media

CV: http://web.ics.purdue.edu/~chen654/resume/Xin(Cindy)_Chen_CV_March2015.pdf 

Contact: Chen645 at purdue dot edu


S. Zahra Attiq × Graduate student

zahra photo.jpg

 Zahra is a PhD student at the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research interests include: computer science education specifically on teaching computer programming to undergraduates and how to improve their learning experiences. Zahra is currently studying student behavior and performance in a neuroscience MOOC offered by a leading MOOC provider. She is also keen to understand how women in engineering make their educational and occupational decisions.

Research Interests:  Learning Analytics specifically in MOOCs, Computer Science (CS) Education, Self-efficacy beliefs of CS students, Women in Engineering

Fun Facts: I am interested in photography and travel.

Contact: satiq at purdue dot edu



Dhinesh is a 1st year doctoral student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Dhinesh holds a Bachelor in Electrical Engineering and Masters in Energy Systems (Specialization in Renewable Energy). His research interests are involved in the use of technology into education and innovation in curriculum design for middle school children in low-resource settings. He is also the Co-Director of Footsteps (a social venture for training engineering students in India). He has been associated with SPEED (Student Platform for Engineering Education Development) for the past 6 years and he is currently the Chair for Global Students’ Forum’2016 at Seoul. 

Research Interests: Technology, Curriculum Design, International Education

Fun Fact: Dhinesh enjoys cooking. Mostly Indian cuisine, but he is experimenting with Italian and other cuisines currently. 

Contact: dradhak at purdue dot edu

Xingyu Zhou × UnderGraduate student


Xingyu is currently a senior in Computer Engineering at Purdue University. He has been working on log data of online courses.

Research Interest: Machine Learning

Contact: zhou326 at purdue dot edu



Casey Smith × UnderGraduate student

Casey Smith.jpg

I'm a senior Interdisciplinary Science student who's been with INSPIRE since 2012. In that time I've worked on over a dozen projects encompassing a wide range of jobs- including data mining, editing, technical writing, website maintenance, qualitative data analysis (i.e. coding), and data base organization. I'm hoping that my work here will be a stepping stone for me- specifically, that I'll have the opportunity to cultivate the kinds of skills and connections that will be helpful to me as a I prepare to transition into the working world.

Research interests: Science communication, technical writing, qualitative data analysis

Fun Fact: My undergradute training is Interdisciplinary Science with a Concentration in Biology and I have minors in both English and History.

Contact: smit1691 at purdue dot edu



News and Announcements

The following is placeholder text known as “lorem ipsum,” which is scrambled Latin used by designers to mimic real copy. Sed a ligula quis sapien lacinia egestas. Sed a ligula quis sapien lacinia egestas.

Feature 1