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  1. This project uses an ecological belonging intervention approach [1] that requires one-class or one- recitation/discussion session to implement and has been shown to erase long-standing equity gaps in achievement in introductory STEM courses. However, given the wide social and cultural heterogeneity across US university contexts (e.g., differences in regional demographics, history, political climates), it is an open question if and how the intervention may scale. This project brings together an interdisciplinary team across three strategically selected universities to design, test, and iteratively improve an approach to systematically identify which first and second year courses would most benefit from the intervention,more »reveal student concerns that may be specific to that course, adapt the intervention to address those concerns, and evaluate the universality versus specificity of the intervention across university contexts. This systematic approach also includes persuasion and training processes for onboarding the instructors of the targeted courses. The instructor onboarding and the intervention adaptation processes are guided by a theory-of-action that is the backbone of the project’s research activities and iterative process improvement. A synergistic mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods is used throughout the study. In this paper, we describe our theoretical framing of this ecological belonging intervention and the current efforts of the project in developing customized student stories for the intervention. We have conducted focus groups across each of the partner institutions (University of Pittsburgh, Purdue University, and University of California Irvine). We describe the process of developing these contextually relevant stories and the lessons learned about how this ecological belonging intervention can be translated across institutional contexts and for various STEM majors and systemically minoritized populations. The results of this work can provide actionable strategies for reducing equity gaps in students' degree attainment and achievement in engineering.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  2. This Work in Progress (WIP) paper describes the development of a middle school program focused on an integrated STEM architectural engineering design project and exploration of career pathways. The current engineering workforce is increasingly aging, needing new engineering graduates to meet the industry demands. It is crucial to create inclusive educational programs in STEM to expose and connect with youths from diverse backgrounds, especially the demographics that are underrepresented, in STEM career paths. Middle school is a pivotal time for generating students’ awareness of and promoting pathways into STEM careers; however, opportunities to engage in engineering are often lacking ormore »nonexistent, particularly for low-income students. Additionally, low-income students may bring particular experiences and skills from their backgrounds to engineering that may increase the innovation of engineering solutions. These assets are important to recognize and cultivate in young students. The Middle School Architectural Engineering Pilot Program (MSAEPP), drawing from social cognitive career theory and identity-based motivation, is an intervention designed to affect STEM related content and STEM identities, motivation, and career goals for low-income students using relatable topics within the building industry. The focus on architectural engineering activities is because buildings, and the industry they represent, touch everyone’s lives. The MSAEPP is planned to be implemented through the Talent Search Programs at middle schools in Pennsylvania. The Talent Search Program is one of the Federal TRIO Programs dedicated to assisting high school students in furthering their education. Penn State Talent Search Programs serve 22 schools in 8 impoverished school districts. The pilot program engages middle school students (seventh and eighth grade) in architectural engineering related lessons and activities, by exploring engineering identities interactions with architectural engineering industry professionals, and by planning potential career pathways in architectural engineering and other STEM careers with Talent Search Counselors. The purpose of this paper is to present the background and process used in this funded NSF project for developing the suite of architectural engineering related lessons and activities and the research plan for answering the research question: How does the combination of meaningful engineering learning, exposure to professional engineers, and career planning, focused on building industry engineering applications, increase identity-based motivation of students from low-income households and marginalized students in pursuing STEM careers? Answering this question will inform future work developing interventions that target similar goals and will validate and expand the identity-based motivation framework. Keywords: middle school, identity, motivation, informal education.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  3. This Work in Progress (WIP) paper describes the development of a middle school program focused on an integrated STEM architectural engineering design project and exploration of career pathways. The current engineering workforce is increasingly aging, needing new engineering graduates to meet the industry demands. It is crucial to create inclusive educational programs in STEM to expose and connect with youths from diverse backgrounds, especially the demographics that are underrepresented, in STEM career paths. Middle school is a pivotal time for generating students’ awareness of and promoting pathways into STEM careers; however, opportunities to engage in engineering are often lacking ormore »nonexistent, particularly for low-income students. Additionally, low-income students may bring particular experiences and skills from their backgrounds to engineering that may increase the innovation of engineering solutions. These assets are important to recognize and cultivate in young students. The Middle School Architectural Engineering Pilot Program (MSAEPP), drawing from social cognitive career theory and identity-based motivation, is an intervention designed to affect STEM-related content and STEM identities, motivation, and career goals for low-income students using relatable topics within the building industry. The focus on architectural engineering activities is because buildings, and the industry they represent, touch everyone’s lives. The MSAEPP is planned to be implemented through the Talent Search Programs at middle schools in Pennsylvania. The Talent Search Program is one of the Federal TRIO Programs dedicated to assisting high school students in furthering their education. Penn State Talent Search Programs serve 22 schools in 8 impoverished school districts. The pilot program engages middle school students (seventh and eighth grade) in architectural engineering-related lessons and activities, by exploring engineering identities interactions with architectural engineering industry professionals, and by planning potential career pathways in architectural engineering and other STEM careers with Talent Search Counselors. The purpose of this paper is to present the background and process used in this funded NSF project for developing the suite of architectural engineering related lessons and activities and the research plan for answering the research question: How do the combination of meaningful engineering learning, exposure to professional engineers, and career planning, focused on building industry engineering applications, increase identity-based motivation of students from low-income households and marginalized students in pursuing STEM careers? Answering this question will inform future work developing interventions that target similar goals and will validate and expand the identity-based motivation framework. Keywords: middle school, identity, motivation, informal education.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 1, 2023
  4. The United Nations recognizes reducing the effects of global warming as a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) (#13). This goal is interconnected and critical to improving health and education, reducing inequality, and spurring economic growth globally. Civil engineers will play a vital role in meeting this goal. To understand how civil engineering students perceive global warming, we surveyed a national sample of civil engineering students in their final semester of college (n = 524). We asked them (a) if they recognize both the technical and social issues associated with global warming and (b) when they believe global warming will start tomore »have a severe effect on themselves, others, and the planet. Civil engineering students are significantly more likely to recognize the technical issues associated with global warming than social issues. In particular, the majority of students understand global warming is an immediate issue for the environment, engineering, health, and science, but less than half recognize global warming presents social justice, poverty, and national security issues. Moreover, civil engineering students hold an inverse relationship between spatial distance and the timing of the effects of global warming. The majority of students believe global warming is currently having a severe impact on plant and animal species, the environment, people in developing countries, and the world's poor but do not recognize themselves in this group. Instead, civil engineering students predominantly believe the effects of global warming will start to have a serious impact on themselves, their family, and people in their community in 25 to 50 years. These results are troubling because if those beliefs translate into students waiting to address climate change for another two to five decades locks in more emissions and increases the chance of future and more severe global humanitarian crises. Educational interventions are needed to change these perspectives about time and impact.« less
  5. This theory paper describes the development and use of a framework for supporting early career faculty development, especially in competitive National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER proposals. Engineering Education Research (EER) has developed into a field of expertise and a career pathway over the past three decades. In response to numerous reports in the 1990s and early 2000s, multiple EER graduate programs were established in the mid-2000s and a growing number continue to emerge to educate and train the next generation of EER faculty and policy makers. Historically, many came to EER as individuals trained in other disciplines, but with anmore »interest in improving teaching and learning. This approach created an interdisciplinary space where many could learn the norms, practices, and language of EER, as they became scholars. This history combined with the emergence of EER as a discipline with academic recognition; specific knowledge, frameworks, methodologies, and ways of conducting research; and particular emphasis and goals, creates a tension for building capacity to continue to develop EER and also include engineering education researchers who have not completed PhDs in an engineering education program. If EER is to continue to develop and emerge as a strong and robust discipline with high quality engineering education research, support mechanisms must be developed to both recognize outstanding EER scholars and develop the next generation of researchers in the field. The Five I’s framework comes from a larger project on supporting early career EER faculty in developing NSF CAREER proposals. Arguably, a NSF CAREER award is significant external recognition of EER that signals central membership in the community. The Five I’s were developed using collaborative inquiry, a tool and process to inform practice, with 19 EER CAREER awardees during a retreat in March 2019. The Five I’s include: Ideas, Integration, Impact, Identity, and Infrastructure. Ideas is researchers’ innovative and potentially transformative ideas that can make a significant contribution to EER. All NSF proposals are evaluated using the criteria of intellectual merit and broader impacts, and ideas aligned with these goals are essential for funding success. The integration of research and education is a specific additional consideration of CAREER proposals. Both education and research must inform one another in the proposal process. Demonstrating the impact of research is essential to convey why research should be funded. This impact is essential to address as it directly relates to the NSF criteria of broader impacts as well as why an individual is positioned to carry out that impact. This positioning is tied to identity or the particular research expertise from which a faculty member will be a leader in the field. Finally, infrastructure includes the people and physical resources from which a faculty member must draw to be successful. This framework has proven useful in helping early career faculty evaluate their readiness to apply for an NSF CAREER award or highlight the particular areas of their development that could be improved for future success.« less
  6. The purpose of the project is to identify how to measure various types of institutional support as it pertains to underrepresented and underserved populations in colleges of engineering and science. We are grounding this investigation in the Model of Co-Curricular Support, a conceptual framework that emphasizes the breadth of assistance currently used to support undergraduate students in engineering and science. The results from our study will help prioritize the elements of institutional support that should appear somewhere in a college’s suite of support efforts to improve engineering and science learning environments and design effective programs, activities, and services. Our postermore »will present: 1) an overview of the instrument development process; 2) evaluation of the prototype for face and content validity from students and experts; and 3) instrument revision and data collection to determine test validity and reliability across varied institutional contexts. In evaluating the initial survey, we included multiple rounds of feedback from students and experts, receiving feedback from 46 participants (38 students, 8 administrators). We intentionally sampled for representation across engineering and science colleges; gender identity; race/ethnicity; international student status; and transfer student status. The instrument was deployed for the first time in Spring 2018 to the institutional project partners at three universities. It was completed by 722 students: 598 from University 1, 51 from University 2, and 123 from University 3. We tested the construct validity of these responses using a minimum residuals exploratory factor analysis and correlation. A preliminary data analysis shows evidence of differences in perception on types of support college of engineering and college of science students experience. The findings of this preliminary analysis were used to revise the instrument further prior to the next round of testing. Our target sample for the next instrument deployment is 2,000 students, so we will survey ~13,000 students based on a 15% anticipated response rate. Following data collection, we will use confirmatory factor analysis to continue establishing construct validity and report on the stability of constructs emerging from our piloting on a new student sample(s). We will also investigate differences across these constructs by subpopulations of students.« less
  7. Despite increased calls for the need for more diverse engineers and significant efforts to “move the needle,” the composition of students, especially women, earning bachelor’s degrees in engineering has not significantly changed over the past three decades. Prior research by Klotz and colleagues (2014) showed that sustainability as a topic in engineering education is a potentially positive way to increase women’s interest in STEM at the transition from high school to college. Additionally, sustainability has increasingly become a more prevalent topic in engineering as the need for global solutions that address the environmental, social, and economic aspects of sustainability havemore »become more pressing. However, few studies have examined students’ sustainability related career for upper-level engineering students. This time point is a critical one as students are transitioning from college to industry or other careers where they may be positioned to solve some of these pressing problems. In this work, we answer the question, “What differences exist between men and women’s attitudes about sustainability in upper-level engineering courses?” in order to better understand how sustainability topics may promote women’s interest in and desire to address these needs in their future careers. We used pilot data from the CLIMATE survey given to 228 junior and senior civil, environmental, and mechanical engineering students at a large East Coast research institution. This survey included questions about students’ career goals, college experiences, beliefs about engineering, and demographic information. The students surveyed included 62 third-year students, 96 fourth-year students, 29 fifth-year students, and one sixth-year student. In order to compare our results of upper-level students’ attitudes about sustainability, we asked the same questions as the previous study focused on first-year engineering students, “Which of these topics, if any, do you hope to directly address in your career?” The list of topics included energy (supply or demand), climate change, environmental degradation, water supply, terrorism and war, opportunities for future generations, food availability, disease, poverty and distribution of resources, and opportunities for women and/or minorities. As the answer to this question was binary, either “Yes,” or “No,” Pearson’s Chi-squared test with Yates’ continuity correction was performed on each topic for this question, comparing men and women’s answers. We found that women are significantly more likely to want to address water supply, food availability, and opportunities for woman and/or minorities in their careers than their male peers. Conversely, men were significantly more likely to want to address energy and terrorism and war in their careers than their female peers. Our results begin to help us understand the particular differences that men and women, even far along in their undergraduate engineering careers, may have in their desire to address certain sustainability outcomes in their careers. This work begins to let us understand certain topics and pathways that may support women in engineering as well as provides comparisons to prior work on early career undergraduate students. Our future work will include looking at particular student experiences in and out of the classroom to understand how these sustainability outcome expectations develop.« less
  8. The overwhelming consensus in the scientific community is that anthropogenic climate change will irreversibly affect future generations. Engineering professionals who design and construct our built environment can protect society against the effects of global warming through implementation of building strategies that reduce climate changing emissions. There is little research to assess if students who intend to pursue careers in the design and construction of our built environment hope to address such important environmental and societal challenges. To advance understanding, a survey instrument was developed and validated to measure undergraduate engineering students’ climate change literacy, career motivations, and agency to addressmore »climate change in their career. Preliminary results compare responses of engineering students intending to pursue a career in civil and construction industries to those of engineering students intending to pursue other engineering careers. The results indicate that civil and construction engineering students are more likely to take sustainability courses and learn about climate change in the classroom, but they do not excel above other engineers in their knowledge of climate science. The educational gap in engineering sustainability courses must be closed to ensure those who will design and construct our built environment are properly equipped to succeed in the sustainability-related careers they desire.« less
  9. Student-retention theories traditionally focus on institutional retention, even though efforts to support students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occur at the college level. This study bridges this gap between research and practice by extending and empirically testing the Model of Co-Curricular Support (MCCS), which specifically focuses on supporting and retaining underrepresented groups in STEM. The MCCS is a student-retention model that demonstrates the breadth of assistance currently used to support undergraduate students in STEM, particularly those from underrepresented groups. The aim of this exploratory research is to develop and validate a survey instrument grounded in the MCCS thatmore »can be used by college administrators and student-support practitioners to assess the magnitude of institutional support received by undergraduate students in STEM. To date, such an instrument does not exist. Our poster will present a summary of the instrument development process that has occurred to date. We are developing the survey following best practices outlined in the literature. We are clearly defining the construct of interest and target population; reviewing related tests; developing the prototype of the survey instrument; evaluating the prototype for face and content validity from students and experts; revising and testing based on suggestion; and collecting data to determine test validity and reliability across four institutional contexts. Our institutional sample sites were purposefully selected because of their large size and diversity with respect to undergraduates in STEM. The results from our study will help prioritize the elements of institutional support that should appear somewhere in a college’s suite of support efforts. Our study will provide scientific evidence that STEM researchers, educators, administrators, and policy makers need to make informed decisions to improve STEM learning environments and design effective programs, activities, and services.« less