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  1. The research draws from a larger study conducted at four large public universities examining the non-normative attitudes of first-year engineering students and how these attitudes might affect their collegiate experience and the development of their engineering identity. Within the survey demographics section, students were asked to report their gender with as many options as they felt appropriate to describe themselves. Students were given the option to respond “male,” “female,” “cisgender,” “transgender,” “agender,” “genderqueer,” and/or “a gender not listed.” Of the students surveyed, 2,697 identified themselves as male or female. Of this population, 55 students additionally identified themselves as cisgender. A Welch’s t-test revealed that factors relating to engineering identity were significantly different between cisgender students who self-identified and those who did not. Self-identified cisgender students possessed higher scores on factors measuring components of engineering identity, such as Physics Performance/Competence beliefs (p = 0.001, Cohen’s d = 0.412). These students were also rated as higher on Openness from the “Big 5” personality measures (p = 0.006, Cohen’s d = 0.403), and scored significantly lower on Conscientiousness from the “Big 5” personality measures (p = 0.028, Cohen’s d = 0.343). These data highlight the differences between cisgender identified and non-identified students.more »Higher Openness results indicate that cisgender students are significantly more attentive of individuals’ inner feelings and may seek out more variety in their experiences than their non-cis-identified peers. Lower Conscientiousness scores reveal that cisgender students, on average, are less likely to conform to traditional cultural norms. Additionally, stronger scores relating to engineering identity indicate that cisgender-identified students feel that they belong in engineering. Together, these findings suggest that cisgender students possess traits and attitudes that could position them as ambassadors to or changemakers within engineering culture. Future research will work to understand these differences qualitatively to inform ways in which these individuals may serve as allies or “bridgers” for individuals within engineering who do not conform to gender and sexual orientation binaries.« less
  2. This research paper examines how four first-year engineering students interact with one another in teams to answer two research questions: 1) How do students experience working in diverse teams? and 2) Do their perceptions of diversity, affect, and engineering practice change as a result of working in diverse teams? Despite engineering's emphasis on developing students’ teaming skills, little research has been conducted on how students develop sensitivity to students from different cultures and backgrounds within diverse teams. We interviewed four students in a first-semester, first-year engineering team twice for a total of eight interviews to understand their experiences working in diverse teams. Each interview was analyzed using a modified form of Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to understand the lived experience of each participant. In this paper, we present the results from the qualitative analysis of one team’s complete interviews as a first step in the larger research project.
  3. Engineering has become a globally focused career with the need to work with people from diverse backgrounds. Researchers seeking to improve students’ teaming skills have found ways to assess team member effectiveness and development of teaming skills. Despite the emphasis on the importance of developing engineering students’ teaming skills, little research has been conducted on how students develop sensitivity for students from different cultures and backgrounds within teams in first-year engineering programs. Here we define diversity sensitivity as students’ multicultural openness and actions taken to incorporate diverse students. To address the lack of literature on diversity and teaming this work examines the following research questions: What changes occur in students’ diversity sensitivity, multicultural effectiveness, and engineering practices as a result of working in diverse teams? How do students’ perceptions of diversity, affect, and engineering practices change as a result of working on diverse teams? The focus of this paper is on the first phase of this three phase project, in which students’ multicultural openness, diversity sensitivity, and teaming effectiveness were measured quantitatively. Additionally, results from qualitative in-depth interviews further develop emerging trends in the quantitative portions of the work. Survey data were collected from participants enrolled in first semestermore »first-year engineering programs at two institutions (n = 1206) as well as data from the Comprehensive Assessment of Team Member Effectiveness (n = 2763 inclusive of survey participants). We used linear modeling, advanced clustering techniques, and pre-post comparisons to understand underlying student attitudes as well as the ways in which students’ attitudes may shift over the course of the semester. Preliminary results indicate that students’ awareness of diversity increased over the semester; however, unwillingness to take action to support diverse groups also increased. We also found that student attitudes towards teaming are ‘sticky’ and difficult to shift over a single-semester experience even when teaming effectiveness and diversity are explicitly taught in the classroom. Additionally, five teams were observed throughout the course of the semester. These observations were conducted to understand how students interact in ways both explicit and implicit. that may or may not improve belongingness in engineering during teaming activities. Students from teams were interviewed individually after completion of their project to understand their perceptions of diversity. Initial trends indicate a valuing of diversity but a lack of adaptation for diverse individuals due to the demands of engineering tasks. Results of this quantitative and qualitative work were used to further refine instruments and data collection protocols for replication in the subsequent phases of the project.« less
  4. This paper presents results of work completed on our project, Intersectionality of Non-normative Identities in the Cultures of Engineering (InIce). The overarching focus of this project is on how students who hold non-normative identities position themselves, grow through their education, and navigate the cultures of engineering they experience in college. Our goal is to investigate ways to engage students who hold non-normative identities to become more active and lifelong participants in engineering disciplines. Our work is proceeding in three phases: 1) Identify, through a quantitative instrument, the attitudinal profiles of normative and non-normative students in engineering; 2) Characterize students’ normative and non-normative identities through in-depth interviews and analysis of differences between students with normative and non-normative identities in engineering; and 3) Drawing from our findings, develop a workshop and set of courses to incorporate diversity topics into engineering programs to enhance the culture of engineering to be more responsive towards, and inclusive of, a diverse range of student identities. We have completed the first phase of the project in which we quantitatively measured and characterized student groups with normative and non-normative identities in engineering. Our definitions of normative and non-normative for this project are developed through Topological Data Analysismore »(TDA) of a set of multi-institution survey data (n = 2916). TDA allows identification of groups without imposing a priori hypotheses on how the attitudes of students may group together (nor how they may distinguish between demographic groups). This approach allows the underlying structure of the data to emerge rather than imposing pre-defined definitions of normative attitudes or identities. Our TDA results revealed one group that contains a relatively large number of students (the “normative” group) and a total of seven other distinct, but relatively populated, groups (the “non-normative” groups). We have compiled a summary of the most salient attitudinal constructs in terms of characterizing and distinguishing between all these groups including: motivation (value, goal orientation, future time perspective), engineering and physics identities (performance/competence and recognition beliefs for each), personality traits (neuroticism, extraversion, belongingness) and grit (consistency of interest). We are currently in Phase 2 of our study in which we are conducting a series of qualitative, longitudinal interviews with students selected from normative and non-normative groups to understand how they navigate their engineering experiences and define their educational trajectories over the first two years of college. This data will be deductively analyzed based on our existing attitudinal frameworks as well as inductively coded for emerging themes on how students feel belongingness within engineering culture. This project promises to move traditional measures of demographic data beyond socially constructed perceptions of others and allows for the representation of student diversity from the perspective of each participant. This more accurate reflection of diversity provides novel insight into the experiences of students who might otherwise be ignored or unjustifiably lumped in with other students with whom they share some demographic indicator and how residing at the intersection of multiple measures of diversity can influence students’ experiences in engineering culture.« less