skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 5:00 PM ET until 11:00 PM ET on Friday, June 21 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: The Development of a Measure of Engineering Identity
Measures of subject-related role identities in physics and math have been developed from research on the underlying constructs of identity in science education. The items for these measures capture three constructs of identity: students’ interest in the subject, students’ feeling of recognition by others, and students’ beliefs about their performance/competence in the subject area. In prior studies with late secondary and early post-secondary students, participants did not distinguish between performance beliefs (e.g., believing that they can do well in a particular subject) and competence beliefs (e.g., believing that they can understand a particular subject); therefore, performance/competence beliefs are measured as a single construct. These validated measures have been successful in predicting STEM career choices including physics, math, and engineering. Based on these measures of identity, literature on engineering identity, and my prior work on understanding engineering choice and belongingness through students’ science and math identities at the transition from high school to college, I developed a set of new engineering identity measures that capture and overall identification as an engineer, future engineering career identification, and students’ engineering-related interest, recognition, and performance/competence beliefs. I conducted a pilot survey of 371 first-year engineering students at three institutions within the U.S. during the spring semester of 2015. An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was performed to examine the underlying structure of the piloted questions about students’ engineering identity. The measures loaded on three separate constructs that were consistent with the hypothesized constructs of interest, performance/competence and recognition. The developed items were used in a subsequent study deployed in the fall semester of 2015 that measured more than 2500 first-year engineering students’ attitudes and beliefs at four institutions within the U.S. The data on engineering identity measures from this second survey were analyzed using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The results indicated that the developed measures do extract a significant portion of the average variance in the latent constructs and the internal consistency of the measures (Cronbach’s α) falls within the acceptable and better range. The development of these items provides ways for engineering education researchers to more deeply explore the underlying self-beliefs in students’ engineering identity formation through quantitative measures with strong evidence for validity.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
1428689
NSF-PAR ID:
10042227
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Date Published:
Journal Name:
ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. https://peer.asee.org/28741 Previous studies quantitatively and qualitatively measured and validated the constructs that make up math identity, physics identity and engineering identity (i.e., interest in the subject, recognition by others, and beliefs about one’s performance/competence) for predicting engineering choice. To answer the first research question, a Welch’s t-test was used to compare the averages of first-generation college students and non-first-generation college students on overall measures of mathematics, physics, and engineering identity as well as the constructs of interest, recognition, and performance/competence in each subject area. This t-test was selected because it corrects unequal variance within the two populations. To answer the second research question, we used multiple linear regression to predict the choices of STEM and non-stem majors using measures of identity, affective factors, and first-generation college student status. Results from the first analysis demonstrate that first-generation college students entered engineering with a high sense of engineering identity, particularly in the performance/competence and interest constructs. Regression results showed that first-generation college students’ physics identity positively predicted choice of a non-STEM career; that is, first-generation college students with high physics identity were more interested in non-STEM careers (e.g., non-profit/non-government organization and medicine/health). This work highlights that first-generation college students may have different career pathway intentions and motivations in studying engineering during college. 
    more » « less
  2. nterest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) begins as early as elementary and middle school. As youth enter adolescence, they begin to shape their personal identities and start making decisions about who they are and could be in the future. Students form their career aspirations and interests related to STEM in elementary school, long before they choose STEM coursework in high school or college. Much of the literature examines either science or STEM identity and career aspirations without separating out individual sub-disciplines. Therefore, the purpose of this paper is to describe the development of a survey instrument to specifically measure engineering identity and career aspirations in adolescents and preadolescents. When possible, we utilized existing measures of STEM identity and career aspirations, adapting them when necessary to the elementary school level and to fit the engineering context. The instrument was developed within the context of a multi-year, NSF-funded research project examining the dynamics between undergraduate outreach providers and elementary students to understand the impact of the program on students’ engineering identity and career aspirations. Three phases of survey development were conducted that involved 492 elementary students from diverse communities in the United States. Three sets of items were developed and/or adapted throughout the four phases. The first set of items assessed Engineering Identity. Recent research suggests that identity consists of three components: recognition, interest, and performance/competence. Items assessing each of these constructs were included in the survey. The second and third sets of items reflected Career Interests and Aspirations. Because elementary and middle school students often have a limited or nascent awareness of what engineers do or misconceptions about what a job in science or engineering entails, it is problematic to measure their engineering identity or career aspirations by directly asking them whether they want to be a scientist/engineer or by using a checklist of broad career categories. Therefore, similar to other researchers, the second set of items assessed the types of activities that students are interested in doing as part of a future career, including both non-STEM and STEM (general and engineering-specific) activities. These items were created by the research team or adapted from activity lists used in existing research. The third set of items drew from career counseling measures relying on Holland’s Career Codes. We adapted the format of these instruments by asking students to choose the activity they liked the most from a list of six activities that reflected each of the codes rather than responding to their interest about each activity. Preliminary findings for each set of items will be discussed. Results from the survey contribute to our understanding of engineering identities and career aspirations in preadolescent and adolescent youth. However, our instrument has the potential for broader application in non-engineering STEM environments (e.g., computer science) with minor wording changes to reflect the relevant science subject area. More research is needed in determining its usefulness in this capacity. 
    more » « less
  3. https://peer.asee.org/27950 This paper presents results of work completed on our project, Intersectionality of Non-normative Identities in the Cultures of Engineering (InIce). The overarching focus of this project is on how students who hold non-normative identities position themselves, grow through their education, and navigate the cultures of engineering they experience in college. Our goal is to investigate ways to engage students who hold non-normative identities to become more active and lifelong participants in engineering disciplines. Our work is proceeding in three phases: 1) Identify, through a quantitative instrument, the attitudinal profiles of normative and non-normative students in engineering; 2) Characterize students’ normative and non-normative identities through in-depth interviews and analysis of differences between students with normative and non-normative identities in engineering; and 3) Drawing from our findings, develop a workshop and set of courses to incorporate diversity topics into engineering programs to enhance the culture of engineering to be more responsive towards, and inclusive of, a diverse range of student identities. We have completed the first phase of the project in which we quantitatively measured and characterized student groups with normative and non-normative identities in engineering. Our definitions of normative and non-normative for this project are developed through Topological Data Analysis (TDA) of a set of multi-institution survey data (n = 2916). TDA allows identification of groups without imposing a priori hypotheses on how the attitudes of students may group together (nor how they may distinguish between demographic groups). This approach allows the underlying structure of the data to emerge rather than imposing pre-defined definitions of normative attitudes or identities. Our TDA results revealed one group that contains a relatively large number of students (the “normative” group) and a total of seven other distinct, but relatively populated, groups (the “non-normative” groups). We have compiled a summary of the most salient attitudinal constructs in terms of characterizing and distinguishing between all these groups including: motivation (value, goal orientation, future time perspective), engineering and physics identities (performance/competence and recognition beliefs for each), personality traits (neuroticism, extraversion, belongingness) and grit (consistency of interest). We are currently in Phase 2 of our study in which we are conducting a series of qualitative, longitudinal interviews with students selected from normative and non-normative groups to understand how they navigate their engineering experiences and define their educational trajectories over the first two years of college. This data will be deductively analyzed based on our existing attitudinal frameworks as well as inductively coded for emerging themes on how students feel belongingness within engineering culture. This project promises to move traditional measures of demographic data beyond socially constructed perceptions of others and allows for the representation of student diversity from the perspective of each participant. This more accurate reflection of diversity provides novel insight into the experiences of students who might otherwise be ignored or unjustifiably lumped in with other students with whom they share some demographic indicator and how residing at the intersection of multiple measures of diversity can influence students’ experiences in engineering culture. 
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    This work in progress paper describes initial findings from a multi-cohort, longitudinal study designed to investigate engineering identity development and the role it plays in postsecondary engineering students’ commitment to the field and educational persistence. Although engineering identity is often considered an important contributing factor to educational and occupational persistence, there are few quantitative studies that directly examine this link. This study aims to address this gap and contribute to a better understanding of how we may foster engineering identity and help support students in their educational trajectories. To capture engineering identity, we use survey questions developed and validated in previous research to measure three scientific identity concepts: interest, recognition by self and others, and perceptions of competence and performance in engineering. Drawing on additional concepts in the literature, we also include measures of sense of belonging and commitment to an engineering career. In the spring semester 2019, a baseline survey for our first cohort was administered to 179 early career, engineering students across three public postsecondary Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs) in the Southwest United States. A little more than half of the respondents (N=93) were attending a traditional 4-year university while the remainder (N=86) were attending community college at the time of the survey. Almost 70% of the respondents identified as Latinx, approximately 30% identified as female, and about one-third reported that they were first generation college students. To examine whether students with higher engineering identity, sense of belonging and career commitment are more likely to persist into their second year and have higher college GPAs, institutional enrollment and achievement data were obtained for all survey participants in our first cohort. Logistic and ordinary least squares (OLS) regression were used to test for significant associations, controlling for demographic factors. Preliminary findings suggest that engineering students’ sense of belonging to the field may be especially important. 
    more » « less
  5. As technology increases in the global arena and the necessity for a more diverse group of individuals to fulfill engineering and computing roles increases, it is important to engage more students in computing majors and roles. Identity has proven to be an important lens through which researchers can better understand how to engage students in these fields. In particular, our framing for computing identity includes students’ self-perceptions about recognition, interest, and performance/competence. Using survey data, this study examines the computing identity of high achieving underserved students in computer science (CS), computer engineering (CE), and information technology (IT). For these students, we compare the constructs between men and women, computing fields, and freshmen and juniors/seniors. Based on preliminary data, results show that female participants had less of a computing identity than male students, specifically with respect to computing recognition and overall computing identity. Students in IT programs had less of an overall computing identity than students in CS and CE. Finally, freshmen were lower on their overall computing identities and specifically performance/competence beliefs and interest. These results suggest that even within computing programs, students differ in their computing identities. Furthermore, there are different constructs related to computing identity that vary for different subgroups of students. While these results are insightful, future work will compare the computing identities of high achieving underserved students with a larger population of computing students as well as strategies for building their computing identities. 
    more » « less