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Title: Reflections on a paradigm shift: An autoethnographic exploration of program implementation
Research and evidence-based practices that center sense of belonging and engineering identity development drive strong outcomes for undergraduate students in engineering—especially those who are first-generation college students, from low-income families, and identify as other underrepresented groups in engineering (Deil-Amen, 2011; Hurtado, Cabrera, Lin, & Arellano, 2009; Patrick & Prybutok, 2018). The process from ideation to organizational implementation is not well-documented in the literature on student success, leaving a gap in practitioners’ understanding of how to bring strong, research-informed practices to fruition in their institutions. Implementation is arguably as important as the design of a student intervention and knowing how to implement a good idea is an art and a science. This paper explores the various people and processes that take theory to practice for a National Science Foundation Improving Undergraduate STEM Education funded program. In this paper, I invoke an autoethnographic approach to reflect on the experience of designing a student-facing program while managing the organizational systems that empower or restrain transformative organizational change for students. Autoethnography as a methodology can be a helpful mode to understanding practice, as the researcher can move more fluidly between their lived experience and the organizational, sociological, or psychosocial theory that it mirrors (Berry & Hodges, 2015). The proposed paper discusses my team’s approaches to working with stakeholders and gatekeepers in our organization and in our community to execute a program designed to build sense of belonging and engineering identity while supporting academic attainment of underserved student populations using Community Cultural Wealth (Yosso, 2005) and Street-Level Bureaucracy (Lipsky, 1980) as theoretical lenses. A small, summer-intensive program required the cooperation and capital of gatekeepers across the campus of our large, research university in the southwestern United States. This program, which serves students from marginalized ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds in engineering disciplines, became the basis for an NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education award. Students spent part of their summer (six weeks during the pilot program, which evolved to ten weeks for the second cohort) taking summer classes that helped them advance into their sophomore year of an engineering degree. They also took a career development class, which featured regular field trips to various regional engineering employers. Outcomes from the pilot program and subsequent year are promising, and include high rates of persistence, strong academic performance, and increased sense of engineering identity, but this paper focuses on the structure of the program, the need for collaborators, and the way that the team implemented an initiative which challenges the assumptions of stakeholders from within and outside of the institution. Major themes discussed are personal reflections of the process of coalition-building, gaining buy-in from critical partners on-campus and in the community, and co-investing in programmatic improvement with early cohorts of participating students.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
2225157
NSF-PAR ID:
10482215
Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
ASEE Pacific Southwest
Date Published:
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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