skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 11:00 PM ET on Thursday, June 13 until 2:00 AM ET on Friday, June 14 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Title: The Popularity and Intensity of Engineering Undergraduate Out‐of‐Class Activities
Abstract Background

Although researchers have documented the outcomes of various out‐of‐class activities for undergraduate students, less attention has been given to student perspectives on activity category and activity levels, particularly when considering demographics such as gender and race/ethnicity.

Purpose/Hypothesis

This study aims to create a more nuanced profile of engineering undergraduate engagement in out‐of‐class activities disaggregated by gender, race/ethnicity, and level of activity. As an exploratory study, its goal is to identify patterns that can be explored in the future.

Design/Method

A purposive sample of 649 engineering students from three institutions provided complete survey responses that were quantitatively analyzed using frequency tables, diverging bar charts, and calculated odds ratios. This study included an intentional focus on gender and racial/ethnic differences.

Results

Job and Sports were most commonly identified as the top out‐of‐class activity for engineering students. Select pre‐professional activities and activities related to the humanities, arts, environment, and civic life were identified less frequently as top activities. Significant differences in choice of top activity and level of activity were found when comparing students by gender and race/ethnicity.

Conclusion

A better understanding of engineering student engagement in out‐of‐class activities helps guide actions of program administrators and educators and the direction of future research exploring out‐of‐class engagement. Such opportunities can be shaped to improve engagement, particularly among underrepresented groups.

 
more » « less
NSF-PAR ID:
10081022
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Engineering Education
Volume:
107
Issue:
4
ISSN:
1069-4730
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 611-635
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. The research and evaluation team of an S-STEM project at a large, research-intensive Southeastern public university conducted a cross-sectional survey as a first step to compare factors which may influence undergraduate student persistence in engineering and computing. All engineering and computing students were invited to participate in the survey, and 282 (10.4%) provided responses. The respondents included 15 high financial need students who were participating in the S-STEM program, of which 7 were first-year students and 8 were sophomores. The remaining 267 respondents were undergraduates ranging from first-year to seniors. Survey questions were adapted from previously developed instruments on self-efficacy, sense-of-belonging, identity, community involvement, and overall college experience. Additional questions related to stress levels, academic life, use and effectiveness of academic supports, and the impacts of COVID-19 on their college experiences. The team compared responses by level of academic progression, declared major, gender, and race/ethnicity. Student responses showed a variety of similarities and differences between subgroups. Overall, the students said that they often attended lectures (in-person or online) and came to class prepared. At the same time, students rated these activities as the least effective academic supports. On the other hand, the students rated working assigned or extra homework problems and studying for exams as their most effective activities. Consistently among the subgroups, the students said their community involvement and identity as developing engineers were relatively low while self-efficacy and team self-efficacy were seen as stronger personal skills. The students said they were highly stressed about their grades and academic success in general, and about finances and future careers. They reported feeling less stress about aspects such as living away from home and negotiating the university social scene. Students reported spending the most time preparing for class in their first year compared to students in later years. Female students (104 responses) reported higher levels of community involvement, engineering identity, and engagement in college life compared to male students (142 responses) while there was little gender-related difference in self-efficacy and sense of belonging. Levels of self-efficacy and team self-efficacy did not show large differences based on year in college. Interestingly, first-year students expressed the highest levels of engineering identity while senior students the lowest. Senior students reported the lowest community involvement, sense of belonging, and engineering identity compared to other students. Overall, students from different races self-reported the same levels of self-efficacy. Black/African American students reported the highest levels of community involvement, college life, and identity. There were no substantial differences in self-efficacy among the different engineering and computing majors. This study is a first step in analysis of the students’ input. In addition to surveying the students, the team also conducted interviews of the participating S-STEM students, and analysis of these interviews will provide greater depth to interpretation of the survey results. Overall, the research and evaluation team’s intention is to provide insight to the project’s leadership in how best to support the success of first-year engineering and computing students. https://peer.asee.org/student-persistence-factors-for-engineering-and-computing-undergraduates 
    more » « less
  2. Effects of High Impact Educational Practices on Engineering and Computer Science Student Participation, Persistence, and Success at Land Grant Universities: Award# RIEF-1927218 – Year 2 Abstract Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), this project aims to investigate and identify associations (if any) that exist between student participation in High Impact Educational Practices (HIP) and their educational outcomes in undergraduate engineering and computer science (E/CS) programs. To understand the effects of HIP participation among E/CS students from groups historically underrepresented and underserved in E/CS, this study takes place within the rural, public university context at two western land grant institutions (one of which is an Hispanic-serving institution). Conceptualizing diversity broadly, this study considers gender, race and ethnicity, and first-generation, transfer, and nontraditional student status to be facets of identity that contribute to the diversity of academic programs and the technical workforce. This sequential, explanatory, mixed-methods study is guided by the following research questions: 1. To what extent do E/CS students participate in HIP? 2. What relationships (if any) exist between E/CS student participation in HIP and their educational outcomes (i.e., persistence in major, academic performance, and graduation)? 3. How do contextual factors (e.g., institutional, programmatic, personal, social, financial, etc.) affect E/CS student awareness of, interest in, and participation in HIP? During Project Year 1, a survey driven quantitative study was conducted. A survey informed by results of the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) from each institution was developed and deployed. Survey respondents (N = 531) were students enrolled in undergraduate E/CS programs at either institution. Frequency distribution analyses were conducted to assess the respondents’ level of participation in extracurricular HIPs (i.e., global learning and study aboard, internships, learning communities, service and community-based learning, and undergraduate research) that have been shown in the literature to positively impact undergraduate student success. Further statistical analysis was conducted to understand the effects of HIP participation, coursework enjoyability, and confidence at completing a degree on the academic success of underrepresented and nontraditional E/CS students. Exploratory factor analysis was used to derive an "academic success" variable from five items that sought to measure how students persevere to attain academic goals. Results showed that a linear relationship in the target population exists and that the resultant multiple regression model is a good fit for the data. During the Project Year 2, survey results were used to develop focus group interview protocols and guide the purposive selection of focus group participants. Focus group interviews were conducted with a total of 27 undergraduates (12 males, 15 females, 16 engineering students, 11 computer science students) across both institutions via video conferencing (i.e., ZOOM) during the spring and fall 2021 semesters. Currently, verified focus group transcripts are being systematically analyzed and coded by a team of four trained coders to identify themes and answer the research questions. This paper will provide an overview of the preliminary themes so far identified. Future project activities during Project Year 3 will focus on refining themes identified during the focus group transcript analysis. Survey and focus group data will then be combined to develop deeper understandings of why and how E/CS students participate in the HIP at their university, taking into account the institutional and programmatic contexts at each institution. Ultimately, the project will develop and disseminate recommendations for improving diverse E/CS student awareness of, interest in, and participation in HIP, at similar land grant institutions nationally. 
    more » « less
  3. Abstract Background

    Engineering students encounter high levels of stress, which may negatively impact their mental health. Nevertheless, engineering students who experience mental health distress are less likely than their peers to seek professional help, even when controlling for gender and race/ethnicity.

    Purpose

    We examined beliefs that undergraduate engineering students have about barriers and facilitators to seeking professional help for their mental health. We also sought to identify cultural and systemic factors within and beyond engineering that might affect help‐seeking. Together, these beliefs influence students' sense of personal agency around seeking mental health care.

    Method

    We implemented a pragmatic qualitative design that incorporated the integrated behavioral model to investigate engineering students' (N = 33) professional mental health help‐seeking beliefs. We used thematic analysis to analyze help‐seeking beliefs and perceived barriers and facilitators that students described during interviews.

    Results

    We identified four themes: Navigating the system impacts personal agency; sacrifices associated with help‐seeking act as a barrier; engineering culture acts as a barrier to help‐seeking; and student confidence in help‐seeking varies significantly. These themes portray the effect of perceived barriers and facilitators on students' personal agency for accessing mental health care. Our findings have implications for engineering departments and university counseling centers that want to minimize barriers to help‐seeking.

    Conclusions

    Engineering stakeholders must improve access to professional help for engineering students. Implementing changes to normalize help‐seeking behaviors, enhance personal agency, and facilitate engagement with mental health resources will create better conditions for engineers. Further research is necessary to understand how other beliefs (e.g., attitudes, perceived norms) inform the relationships between student mental health, professional help seeking, and engineering culture.

     
    more » « less
  4. Abstract Background

    Students' recognition beliefs have emerged as one of the most important components of engineering role identity development for early‐career undergraduate students. Recognition beliefs are students' perceptions of how meaningful others, such as peers, instructors, and family, see them as engineers. However, little work has investigated the experiences that facilitate recognition beliefs, particularly across the intersections of race, ethnicity, and gender. Investigation of these experiences provides ways to understand how recognition may be supported in engineering environments and how White and masculine norms in engineering can shape marginalized students' experiences.

    Purpose

    We examined how specific experiences theorized to promote recognition are related to recognition beliefs for students at the intersections of race, ethnicity, and gender. Based on self‐reported demographics, we created 10 groups, including Asian, Black, Latino and Hispanic, Indigenous, and White cisgender men and Asian, Black, Latinè/x/a/o and Hispanic, Indigenous, and White ciswomen, trans, and non‐binary individuals. This article describes the patterns within each intersectional group rather than drawing comparisons across the groups, which can perpetuate raced and gendered stereotypes.

    Methods

    The data came from a survey distributed in Fall 2017 (n = 2316). Ten multiple regression models were used to understand the recognition experiences that influenced students' recognition beliefs by intersectional group.

    Results

    There is no one‐size‐fits‐all approach to developing students' recognition beliefs. For example, family members referring to the student as an engineer are positively related to recognition beliefs for Asian, Black, Latino and Hispanic, and White cisgender men. Friends seeing Asian and White marginalized gender students as an engineer is predictive of recognition beliefs. Other recognition experiences, such as receiving compliments from an engineering instructor or peer about their engineering design and contributions to the team, do not influence the recognition beliefs of these early‐career engineering students.

    Conclusion

    This article emphasizes the need to draw on multiple experiences to support the equitable development of early‐career engineers across race, ethnicity, and gender, and reveals patterns for recognition that may support future scholarship on effective classroom practices for recognition.

     
    more » « less
  5. In March 2020, the global COVID-19 pandemic forced universities across the United States to immediately stop face-to-face activities and transition to virtual instruction. While this transition was not easy for anyone, the shift to online learning was especially difficult for STEM courses, particularly engineering, which has a strong practical/laboratory component. Additionally, underrepresented students (URMs) in engineering experienced a range of difficulties during this transition. The purpose of this paper is to highlight underrepresented engineering students’ experiences as a result of COVID-19. In particular, we aim to highlight stories shared by participants who indicated a desire to share their experience with their instructor. In order to better understand these experiences, research participants were asked to share a story, using the novel data collection platform SenseMaker, based on the following prompt: Imagine you are chatting with a friend or family member about the evolving COVID-19 crisis. Tell them about something you have experienced recently as an engineering student. Conducting a SenseMaker study involves four iterative steps: 1) Initiation is the process of designing signifiers, testing, and deploying the instrument; 2) Story Collection is the process of collecting data through narratives; 3) Sense-making is the process of exploring and analyzing patterns of the collection of narratives; and 4) Response is the process of amplifying positive stories and dampening negative stories to nudge the system to an adjacent possible (Van der Merwe et al. 2019). Unlike traditional surveys or other qualitative data collection methods, SenseMaker encourages participants to think more critically about the stories they share by inviting them to make sense of their story using a series of triads and dyads. After completing their narrative, participants were asked a series of triadic, dyadic, and sentiment-based multiple-choice questions (MCQ) relevant to their story. For one MCQ, in particular, participants were required to answer was “If you could do so without fear of judgment or retaliation, who would you share this story with?” and were given the following options: 1) Family 2) Instructor 3) Peers 4) Prefer not to answer 5) Other. A third of the participants indicated that they would share their story with their instructor. Therefore, we further explored this particular question. Additionally, this paper aims to highlight this subset of students whose primary motivation for their actions were based on Necessity. High-level qualitative findings from the data show that students valued Grit and Perseverance, recent experiences influenced their Sense of Purpose, and their decisions were majorly made based on Intuition. Chi-squared tests showed that there were not any significant differences between race and the desire to share with their instructor, however, there were significant differences when factoring in gender suggesting that gender has a large impact on the complexity of navigating school during this time. Lastly, ~50% of participants reported feeling negative or extremely negative about their experiences, ~30% reported feeling neutral, and ~20% reported feeling positive or extremely positive about their experiences. In the study, a total of 500 micro-narratives from underrepresented engineering students were collected from June – July 2020. Undergraduate and graduate students were recruited for participation through the researchers’ personal networks, social media, and through organizations like NSBE. Participants had the option to indicate who is able to read their stories 1) Everyone 2) Researchers Only, or 3) No one. This work presents qualitative stories of those who granted permission for everyone to read. 
    more » « less