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Title: Work in Progress: Understanding Student Perceptions of Stress as part of Engineering Culture
High levels of stress and anxiety are common amongst college students, particularly engineering students. Students report lack of sleep, grades, competition, change in lifestyle, and other significant stressors throughout their undergraduate education (1, 2). Stress and anxiety have been shown to negatively impact student experience (3-6), academic performance (6-8), and retention (9). Previous studies have focused on identifying factors that cause individual students stress while completing undergraduate engineering degree programs (1). However, it not well-understood how a culture of stress is perceived and is propagated in engineering programs or how this culture impacts student levels of identification with engineering. Further, the impact of student stress has not been directly considered in engineering regarding recruitment, retention, and success. Therefore, our guiding research question is: Does the engineering culture create stress for students that hinder their engineering identity development? To answer our research question, we designed a sequential mixed methods study with equal priority of quantitative survey data and qualitative individual interviews. Our study participants are undergraduate engineering students across all levels and majors at a large, public university. Our sample goal is 2000 engineering student respondents. We combined three published surveys to build our quantitative data collection instrument, including the Depression Anxiety more » Stress Scales (DASS), Identification with engineering subscale, and Engineering Department Inclusion Level subscale. The objective of the quantitative instrument is to illuminate individual perceptions of the existence of an engineering stress culture (ESC) and create an efficient tool to measure the impact ESC on engineering identity development. Specifically, we seek to understand the relationships among the following constructs; 1) identification with engineering, 2) stress and anxiety, and 3) feelings of inclusion within their department. The focus of this paper presents the results of the pilot of the proposed instrument with 20 participants and a detailed data collection and analysis process. In an effort to validate our instrument, we conducted a pilot study to refine our data collection process and the results will guide the data collection for the larger study. In addition to identifying relationships among construct, the survey data will be further analyzed to specify which demographics are mediating or moderating factors of these relationships. For example, does a student’s 1st generation status influence their perception of stress or engineering identity development? Our analysis may identify discipline-specific stressors and characterize culture components that promote student anxiety and stress. Our objective is to validate our survey instrument and use it to inform the protocol for the follow-up interviews to gain a deeper understanding of the responses to the survey instrument. Understanding what students view as stressful and how students identify stress as an element of program culture will support the development of interventions to mitigate student stress. References 1. Schneider L (2007) Perceived stress among engineering students. A Paper Presented at St. Lawrence Section Conference. Toronto, Canada. Retrieved from: www. asee. morrisville. edu. 2. Ross SE, Niebling BC, & Heckert TM (1999) Sources of stress among college students. Social psychology 61(5):841-846. 3. Goldman CS & Wong EH (1997) Stress and the college student. Education 117(4):604-611. 4. Hudd SS, et al. (2000) Stress at college: Effects on health habits, health status and self-esteem. College Student Journal 34(2):217-228. 5. Macgeorge EL, Samter W, & Gillihan SJ (2005) Academic Stress, Supportive Communication, and Health A version of this paper was presented at the 2005 International Communication Association convention in New York City. Communication Education 54(4):365-372. 6. Burt KB & Paysnick AA (2014) Identity, stress, and behavioral and emotional problems in undergraduates: Evidence for interaction effects. Journal of college student development 55(4):368-384. 7. Felsten G & Wilcox K (1992) Influences of stress and situation-specific mastery beliefs and satisfaction with social support on well-being and academic performance. Psychological Reports 70(1):291-303. 8. Pritchard ME & Wilson GS (2003) Using emotional and social factors to predict student success. Journal of college student development 44(1):18-28. 9. Zhang Z & RiCharde RS (1998) Prediction and Analysis of Freshman Retention. AIR 1998 Annual Forum Paper. « less
Authors:
;
Award ID(s):
1738186
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10058680
Journal Name:
American Society of Engineering Education Conference Proceedings
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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