July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
This paper presents a framework for the examination of engineering doctoral students’ identity that draws upon similar frameworks for undergraduate engineering identity (Godwin, 2016) and science identity (Carlone & Johnson; 2007). Engineering identity at the undergraduate level has been widely explored, but comparably few studies have explored engineering identity at the graduate level (Rodriguez et al., 2018). Prior research shows that engineering identity relates to persistence in engineering (Meyers et al., 2012; Pierrakos et al., 2009), and doctoral students who form stronger engineering identities in graduate school engage more positively in their program (Perkins et al., 2017). Additionally, identity development is fundamental to becoming part of the community of practice of graduate school and academia (e.g., Lave & Wenger, 1991); thus, it is important to examine the identity development of engineering graduate students. Specifically, this paper focuses on how roles taken on by doctoral students may relate to role identities that then interact to help develop an individual’s identity in graduate school. Engineer, researcher, student, and educator roles are common for engineering doctoral students (Kajfez & McNair, 2014) and so are specifically included. This framework uniquely considers engineering identity in parallel with these other role identities that doctoral students commonly enact in graduate school and other existing identities with which doctoral students may enter graduate school. These role identities do not develop independently, but may interact with each other over the course of graduate school. For example, a technical research project may bolster both a research identity and an engineering identity, whereas a heavy amount of coursework may bolster a student identity but not the development of a researcher identity. Other existing identities such as racial, ethnic, and gender identities may also affect the role identity development as well as how existing identities may influence overall doctoral student identity development; these influences are also articulated by the framework. Additionally, the framework considers the dimensions of performance/competence, recognition, and interest (Carlone & Johnson, 2007; Godwin, 2016) as pathways by which enacted roles may lead to stronger role identities. For each role identity, the impact of performance/competence is mediated through interest and recognition (Cribbs et al., 2015; Godwin et al., 2016). This work makes an important contribution to the limited exploration of engineering doctoral student identity. This sort of framework has not been created for engineering doctoral students. As doctoral programs are research-oriented and students enter with more experience in engineering than undergraduates, frameworks for undergraduate engineering identity cannot simply be generalized to the graduate student population. In addition, a framework for engineering graduate student identity development has the potential to increase understanding of doctoral students’ experiences, particularly those of historically marginalized graduate students, and how institutions may better support the identity development of all students. Furthering understanding of identity development in graduate school supports the development of a more representative engineering workforce through increased understanding of the identity experiences of students from historically marginalized groups in engineering. Thus, this work may have implications for persistence and representation in graduate school and academia.
McAlister, A. M., & Lilly, S. C., & Chiu, J. L. (2021, July), A Framework for Examining Engineering Doctoral Student Identity Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36580
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