Research Article

A Grounded Theory on the Research Conceptualization Process of Mechanical Engineering Research Students

Angelo A. Acenas, Edsel P. Inocian, Michelle Mae J. Olvido


Research conceptualization refers to the entire process of developing a research proposal. Although there is ample research on students' experiences and outcomes in undergraduate engineering research, little is known about the specific processes that students undertake when conceptualizing their research. This study aimed to explore the unique processes involved in research conceptualization among mechanical engineering students. Understanding these processes can facilitate the development of effective interventions to enhance undergraduate research experiences. The researchers analyzed data obtained from interviews with eight undergraduate mechanical engineering research students regarding their experiences with research conceptualization. A constructivist grounded theory approach was employed to identify and analyse statements from the interviews and develop a conceptual model of research conceptualization. Three major categories emerged in the analysis of the data: encountering barriers, expressing influencers, and employing strategies throughout the process. The barriers encountered by the students include personal challenges, technical challenges, and research management challenges. The following strategies are being employed: Establishing Criteria for Decision-Making, Developing Concept and Design, Identifying and Validating Problems, Literature Review, Utilizing Technology, Managing Tasks, Consulting People, and Modification of Existing Technology. Influencers can be classified as internal influencers and external influencers. The grounded theory of the conceptual model of research conceptualization offers a comprehensive understanding of the research process among engineering students. It emphasizes the dynamic and cyclical nature of research conceptualization, emphasizing the interplay between barriers, influencers, and strategies. Further research is required to explore the limitations and expand the applicability of this model.

Keywords: undergraduate academic research, mechanical engineering, research conceptualization, qualitative research, constructivist grounded theory

A Grounded Theory on the Research Conceptualization Process of Mechanical Engineering Research Students