- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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BACKGROUND Previous work has identified the reality of structural constraints placed on engineering students from underrepresented gender, racial, or ethnic backgrounds, a process known as minoritization. Students from minoritized and marginalized backgrounds are often expected to overcome additional obstacles in order to be successful in engineering or to claim identity as an engineer. Such a cultural backdrop contributes to the experience of professional shame, which has not yet been characterized in the lived experiences of engineering students who identify with minoritized backgrounds. PURPOSE We contend that professional shame is a major factor in both creating and perpetuating cycles of marginalization that inhibit students from forming a professional identity as an engineer or succeeding in their academic program. Anchored in theoretical foundations of psychology and sociology, we define professional shame as a painful emotional experience that occurs when individuals perceive themselves to be wholly inadequate in relation to identity-relevant standards within a professional domain. In this paper, we examine the lived experiences of professional shame in undergraduate engineering students in the United States who identify with racial, gender, or ethnic backgrounds that are minoritized within the structural constraints of their engineering programs. METHODS To answer our research question: How do students from minoritized gender, racial or ethnic backgrounds experience professional shame within the context of engineering education? We conducted an interpretative methodological analysis (IPA). Specifically, we conducted semi-structured interviews with junior engineering majors (n = 7) from two predominantly white institutions (PWIs) who self-identified as being from a minoritized gender, racial, or ethnic background. We found IPA to be especially effective in answering our research question while affirming the nuances of the diversity found in our participants’ gender, racial and ethnic backgrounds. We carefully analyzed the interview transcripts, generating descriptive, linguistic, and contextual comments. These comments informed multiple emergent themes for each participant, which were subsequently integrated into robust themes that characterized the psychological experiences shared by all participants. SUMMARY OF FINDINGS Our findings are summarized in four robust, psychological themes. First, minoritized identities were salient in moments of professional shame. Second, in response to professional shame, students sought out confirmation of belonging within the engineering space. Third, their perception of engineering as an exceptionally difficult major that required exceptional smartness intensified the shame experience. And, finally, participants experienced a tension between wanting to adhere to engineering stereotypes and wanting to diverge from or alter engineering stereotypes. SIGNIFICANCE AND IMPLICATIONS Through examining participants’ experiences of shame and subsequent struggle to belong and claim identity as an engineer, we seek to address efforts in bolstering diversity, equity, and inclusion that may be hindered by the permeation of professional shame in the experience of minoritized students. We see these findings as critical in giving insight on how minoritization occurs and so that equity can become a systemic objective for everyone in the engineering community rather than the burden only on the shoulders of those who are marginalized by the community.more » « less
Although prior research has provided robust descriptions of engineering students' identity development, a gap in the literature exists related to students' emotional experiences of shame, which undergird the socially constructed expectations of their professional formation.
We examined the lived experiences of professional shame among White male engineering students in the United States. We conceptualize professional shame to be a painful emotional state that occurs when one perceives they have failed to meet socially constructed expectations or standards that are relevant to their identity in a professional domain.
We conducted unstructured interviews with nine White male engineering students from both a research‐focused institution and a teaching‐focused institution. We used interpretative phenomenological analysis to examine the interview transcripts.
The findings demonstrated four themes related to how participants experienced professional shame. First, they negotiated their global, or holistic, identities in the engineering domain. Second, they experienced threats to their identities within professional contexts. Third, participants responded to threats in ways that gave prominence to the standards they perceived themselves to have failed. Finally, they repaired their identities through reframing shame experiences and seeking social connection.
The findings demonstrate that the professional shame phenomenon is interwoven with professional identity development. In experiencing professional shame, White male students might reproduce the shame experience for themselves and others. This finding has important implications for the standards against which members from underrepresented groups may compare themselves and provides insight into the social construction of engineering cultures by dominant groups.
This paper summarizes the current status of our NSF CAREER investigation of engineering faculty members’ experiences of professional shame. In the first year of this project, we used interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to examine the emotional experience among individual faculty members in engineering programs. Our objectives are anchored in our overarching goal to understand the connections between the emotion regulation of engineering faculty and the academic cultures that embed them. This paper focuses on the work that has been completed in the first year of this project examining the individual experiences of engineering faculty with professional shame. We report on general patterns from the early stages of our analysis of interview transcripts with four engineering faculty members (n = 14). We discuss how our IPA work informs the next steps of our overarching investigation, and briefly discuss the broader significance related to the context of faculty wellbeing within engineering education.more » « less
Team- and project-based pedagogies are increasingly normative in engineering education and beyond. Student teamwork holds the promise of developing collaborative skills deemed essential for new engineers by professional accreditation bodies such as ABET. The emphasis on these models, furthermore, reflects developments in pedagogical theory, stressing the importance of experiential learning and the social construction of knowledge, repositioning the instructor as a facilitator and guide. Teamwork in an educational context differs from that in professional contexts in that learning outcomes for all team members – both in terms of technical knowledge and team-working skills – are a primary goal of the activity, even while more tangible task-related outcomes might be the main concern of the students themselves. However, team-based learning also holds the potential for team members to have negative experiences, of which instructors may have little or no awareness, especially in real-time. Teams may achieve team-level outcomes required for successful completion, in spite of uneven levels of participation and contribution. Reduced participation on the part of an individual team member may have many causes, pro-active or reactive: it may be a deliberate refusal to engage, a lack of self-confidence, or a response to hostility from other members, among other possibilities. Inequitable team interactions will lead to uneven uptake of desired learning outcomes. Fostering equity in interactions and identifying inequitable practices among team members is therefore an important part of implementing team-based pedagogies, and an essential first step in identifying and challenging systematic patterns of inequity with regard to members of historically marginalized groups. This paper will therefore explore ways in which equity in group decision-making may be conceptualized and observed, laying the foundations for identifying and addressing inequities in the student experience. It will begin by considering different potential manifestations of interactional equity, surveying notions derived from prior education research in the fields of health, mathematics, engineering, and the natural sciences. These notions include: equity of participation on the basis of quantified vocal contributions (in terms of words, utterances, or clausal units); distribution and evolution of interactional roles; equity of idea endorsement and uptake; distribution of inchargeness and influence; equity of access to positional identities and discourse practices; and team member citizenship. In the paper’s empirical component, we trial measures of equity taken or developed from this literature on a small dataset of transcripts showing verbal interactions between undergraduate student team members in a first-year engineering design course. Some measures will be qualitative and others quantitative, depending on the particular form and manifestation of equity they are designed to examine. Measures include manual coding of speech acts and interactional ‘bids’, statistical measures of utterance frequency and length, and computational approaches to modeling interactional features such as social impact and receptivity. Results are compared with the students’ own reflections on the interactions, taken immediately afterward. Recommendations are made for the application of the measures, both from research and practice perspectives. Keywords: Teamwork, Equity, Interaction, Designmore » « less
Student engagement, especially among Engineering and Computer science majors (E/CS), has been a priority for researchers. Although considerable efforts have been made to improve college students' engagement and interest, underrepresented minority groups and first-generation students are still at risk of dropping out of engineering majors due to lack of inclusiveness, motivation, and other related factors. According to Kuh (2008), student participation in High-Impact Educational Practices (HIEP) is correlated with student outcomes such as persistence, performance, achievement, and intent to complete their current major. The present study reviews the existing National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE, 2012, 2017) data from two western land-grant universities to fully capture participation through the survey of first-year students and seniors (N = 674). The HIEP considered include service-learning, learning communities, research with faculty, internship or field experience, study abroad, and culminating senior experience. These practices are designed to encourage meaningful interactions between faculty and students, foster collaboration with students within different demographics groups, and facilitate learning outside the classroom. Insights were gleaned from how the students interacted with HIEP based on special characteristics such as sex, race, age, enrollment status, and residence. The purpose of the present study is to examine the extent to which E/CS students participate in HIEP and its effects on student outcomes. This study also offers comparisons or possible relationships between student demographics, student success, and HIEP involvement. For example, the participation rates of HIEP on different engineering and computer science majors, including civil, chemical, electrical, mechanical, and materials engineering, etc., are analyzed to examine the practices that work for a particular E/CS major. The present study reports findings from NSSE 2012 and 2017 surveys. Results show that among the E/CS seniors, service-learning, learning community, and study abroad program are the HIEP with the lowest participation rate with 41% (service-learning), 59% (learning community), and 68% (study abroad program), indicating that they do not plan to engage in these practices in their senior year. Conversely, internships and culminating senior experiences had the most participation among E/CS seniors with 52% (internships) and 68% (culminating senior experiences. Interestingly, first-year students showed a significant interest to participate in the following HIEP: internships, study abroad programs, and culminating senior experiences – with 76% (internships), 47% (study abroad program), and 68% (culminating senior experiences) indicating plans to engage in these practices. Finally, findings show that participation or engagement in HIEP is a significant predictor of student learning outcomes. Findings of this review may serve as a guide for future research in E/CS student participation in HIEP. The paper concludes with theoretical and practical implications of the findings on student engagement and learning. Key words: NSSE, high impact educational practices, Engagementmore » « less