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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
This work in progress paper focuses on understanding what students in first- year engineering courses understand about who becomes a researcher and if they see themselves as a researcher, or someone who might become a researcher. Specifically, we compare Latinas to other students in this study to explore the origins of differences in later participation. This work has importance and necessity since it has been noted that the national graduation rate for Latinas with a Ph.D. in engineering is very low; only 91 (< 1%) of awardees in 2018- 2019 identified as Latina. Our research investigates the interest of first year engineering students in research, which might illuminate strategies for addressing the underrepresentation of Latinas in national Ph.D. engineering programs. The purpose of this quantitative study is to characterize early perspectives about research, graduate school, and becoming a researcher. A statistical analysis of the results from a cross-sectional survey was completed. A principal component analysis extracted the following constructs: (1) research self-efficacy, (2) engineering research identity, and (3) perceived cultural compatibility. Self-reported demographics (gender, race/ethnicity, college generation, first year on campus) were collected during the survey and used to group respondents during the analysis. The study population includes all students enrolled in a first-year engineering course for the Fall 2022 (n=215) at the University of New Mexico, a public R1, Hispanic- serving institution. The students were from the following engineering disciplines: Chemical & Biological, Civil, Computer Science, Electrical & Computer, Mechanical, and Nuclear. A regression analysis is used to compare Latinas' perceptions and intentions to students who are well-represented (Asian or White men) in engineering. We hypothesize that the constructs examined in this study explain variance in research persistence. This research has significance if we are to attain more diverse faculty for the emerging student population which requires an increase in the number of Latinas graduating with a doctoral degree and continuing into academia.more » « less
Although participation rates vary by field, Latiné and women engineers continue to be underrepresented across most segments of the engineering workforce. Research has examined engagement and persistence of Latiné and White women in engineering; however, few studies have investigated how race, ethnicity, gender, and institutional setting interact to produce inequities in the field.
To address these limitations, we examined how Latina, Latino, and White women and men students' engagement in engineering was informed by their intersecting identities and within their institutional setting over the course of a year.
We interviewed 32 Latina, Latino, and White women and men undergraduate engineering students attending 11 different predominantly White and Hispanic Serving Institutions. Thematic analysis was used to interpret themes from the data.
Our findings illustrate how Latinas, Latinos, and White women developed a strong engineering identity, which was critical to their engagement in engineering. Students' engineering identity was grounded in their perceived fit within engineering culture, sense of purpose for pursuing their degree, and resistance to the dominance of White male culture in engineering. Latinas described unique forms of gendered, racialized marginalization in engineering, whereas Latinas and Latinos highlighted prosocial motivations for completing their degree.
Findings suggest that institutional cultures, norms, and missions are critical to broadening participation of Latinas, Latinos, and White women in engineering. Disrupting White male culture, leveraging Latiné students' cultural wealth, and counter‐framing traditional recruitment pitches for engineering appear to be key in these efforts.
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
Retaining women and racially minoritized individuals in engineering programs has been a subject of widespread discussion and investigation. While the sense of belonging and its link to retention have been studied based on student characteristics, there is an absence of studies investigating the importance of students' social identities to their sense of belonging in engineering.
This study examines differences in race/ethnic identity centrality, gender identity centrality, and sense of belonging in engineering by subgroups of undergraduate engineering students at Hispanic‐Serving Institutions (HSIs). Subsequently, it examines the extent to which these identity centralities predict a sense of belonging in engineering for each subgroup.
Survey data was collected from 903 Latinx and 452 White undergraduate engineering students from seven HSIs across the continental United States. Multivariate analysis of variance and sequential multivariate linear regression were used to evaluate the research questions.
Latinx students had higher identity centralities but a similar sense of belonging in the engineering community as White students. Latinos and Latinas had an equivalent sense of belonging in engineering, whereas White women were higher than White men. In the full models, race/ethnic identity centrality significantly, and positively predicted a sense of belonging in engineering for Latinos and White women. Gender identity centrality was not a significant predictor of a sense of belonging in engineering for either Latinx or White students.
Race/ethnic and gender identity centrality are differentially important to the sense of belonging in engineering for students at Hispanic‐Serving Institutions based on their group membership at the intersection of race and gender.