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  1. The research paper examines how engineering doctoral students describe their awareness and experiences with stress and mental health during their graduate studies. Despite the known bidirectional relationship between stress and mental health, there is limited research on how engineering doctoral students rationalize the disparity between the health consequences of chronic stress and the veneration of academic endurance in the face of these challenges. Given the dangers of chronic stress to physical and mental health, it is important to understand how students perceive the purpose and impact of stress and mental health within overlapping cultures of normalized stress. We conducted semi-structured interviews to understand participants' awareness, conceptualizations, and interpretations of stress and mental health. The research team analyzed interview transcripts using content analysis with inductive coding. Overall, we found that our participants recognized behavioral changes as an early sign of chronic stress while physical changes were a sign of sustained chronic stress; these cues signaled that participants needed additional support, including social support and campus mental health services. These findings support the need for greater mental health awareness and education within engineering doctoral programs to help students identify and manage chronic stress. 
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  2. Research demonstrates a growing mental health crisis in graduate education, which can contribute to productivity, departure, and well-being issues. To address this crisis and advocate for systemic change, this project explored faculty perceptions about graduate student mental health and how these perceptions intersect with direct action when student mental health challenges arise. We were guided by phenomenological inquiry to explore how faculty attitudes (n = 3) about mental health shape programmatic and individual decisions around supporting mental health. We thematically analyzed interviews discussing stress and mental health focused on faculty experiences. Faculty interviews demonstrated varying attitudes toward graduate student stress and mental health. Faculty desires to engage in discussions about stress or mental health were on a wide spectrum, often with work productivity guiding these discussions. Further, faculty highlighted levels of discomfort with engaging in discussions about mental health, especially with the students they work closest with. Findings indicate a need to foster faculty skill and comfort with engaging with students about their mental health while also providing clear institutional policies that support these actions to address the mental health crisis. 
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  3. 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.

     
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  4. Mental health is a key attribute for success in graduate programs. However, previous studies demonstrate a growing mental health crisis in graduate education, which can contribute to issues with productivity, departure, and well-being. Engineering students are not immune to this crisis, yet are one of the least likely disciplines to seek help for mental health. Despite this trend, there is limited literature available to provide evidence-based practices for addressing the causes and persistence of mental health issues for engineering graduate students. To address this need and to begin advocating for systemic change, this project will explore how faculty and student attitudes about mental health intersect with the institutional features that direct action when a mental health crisis arises. Specifically, this project focuses on generating new knowledge about the ways faculty and students conceptualize mental health within engineering graduate programs. Understanding these facets of mental health in academia is a first step toward changing policies and practices that have perpetuated the mental health crisis in engineering. This long-term outcome of this EEC project will develop evidence-based practices to improve student mental health services in graduate engineering programs. 
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  5. Abstract Background

    Degree completion rates for doctoral engineering students remain stagnant at levels lower than necessary to meet national and global workforce needs. Increasing degree completion can improve opportunities for individuals and provide the human resources needed to address engineering challenges.

    Purpose/Hypothesis

    In this work, we measure the association of engineering identity variables with degree completion intentions for students who have persisted in doctoral study. We add to existing literature that suggests the importance of advisor and peer relationships, and the number of years in the doctoral program.

    Design/Method

    We use data collected via a national cross‐sectional survey of doctoral engineering students, which included measures of social and professional identities, graduate school experiences, and demographics. Surveys were collected from 1754 participants at 98 US universities between late 2017 and early 2018. The analyses reported here use multiple regression to measure associations with engineering doctoral degree completion intentions.

    Results

    Research interest and scientist performance/competence are individually associated with degree completion intentions in students who are persisting in doctoral study. Overall, graduate engineering identity explains significant portions of variation in degree completion intentions (9.5%) beyond advisor and peer relationship variables and the number of years in graduate programs.

    Conclusions

    Researcher interest and scientist performance/competence may be key opportunities to engage doctoral student engineering identity to improve degree completion rates. Accordingly, institutions can foster students' interest in research and build their confidence in their scientific competence to support students as they complete the doctoral degree.

     
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  6. Abstract Background

    Research in engineering education has highlighted the importance of identity and motivation for a number of student outcomes, including persistence. However, these constructs have often been studied separately, despite theorized and demonstrated connections between students' identity and motivation in other fields.

    Purpose/Hypothesis

    Our study fills this gap by investigating the connections between identity and motivation. We specifically examined the connections between students' engineering role identity and future‐time perspective (FTP; a theory of human motivation) theories to understand students' interest in choosing an engineering major after their first year, which we call continuing engineering major interest.

    Design/Methods

    The data came from a questionnaire distributed during Fall 2015 (n = 2,879). Structural equation modeling was used to understand the connections between the latent factors of engineering role identity and FTP. We also examined the predictive validity of this model on students' continuing engineering major interest.

    Results

    Our results show connections between students' engineering role identity and the domain‐specific constructs of FTP. Identity was fully mediated by students' FTPs, and these perspectives were important for predicting continuing major interest. Engineering role identity measures explained a combined 69% of the variance in the FTP measures, and engineering role identity and FTP measures together explained 14.2% of the variance in engineering major interest.

    Conclusions

    These findings provide empirical evidence for linking identity and motivation in studies of engineering students' career pathways. The results of this work inform how theories of identity and motivation can be used collectively in engineering education research.

     
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