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A Quantitative Pilot Study of Engineering Graduate Student Identity

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2018

Conference Session

Graduate Education

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

15

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/27502

Download Count

25

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Paper Authors

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Nathan Hyungsok Choe The University of Texas, Austin

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Nathan (Hyungsok) Choe is a doctoral student in STEM education at UT Austin. His research focuses on the development of engineering identity in graduate school and underrepresented group. Nathan holds a master's and bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Illinois Tech. He also worked as an engineer at LG electronics mobile communication company.

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Maura J. Borrego University of Texas, Austin

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Maura Borrego is Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Texas at Austin. She previously served as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation, on the board of the American Society for Engineering Education, and as an associate dean and director of interdisciplinary graduate programs. Her research awards include U.S. Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), a National Science Foundation CAREER award, and two outstanding publication awards from the American Educational Research Association for her journal articles. Dr. Borrego is Deputy Editor for Journal of Engineering Education. All of Dr. Borrego’s degrees are in Materials Science and Engineering. Her M.S. and Ph.D. are from Stanford University, and her B.S. is from University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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Luis L. Martins University of Texas, Austin

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Luis L. Martins is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Management at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas at Austin, where he also holds the Herb Kelleher Chair in Entrepreneurship, the Juanita Dreibelbis Fellowship in Business and a Provost’s Teaching Fellowship. He received his Ph.D. in management and organizational behavior from the Leonard N. Stern School of Business at New York University. His research examines the cognitive underpinnings of various individual, group, and organizational phenomena in work organizations, primarily using cognition and identity theories.

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Anita D. Patrick University of Texas, Austin

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Anita Patrick is a STEM Education doctoral student and Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and College of Liberal Arts at UT Austin's Population Research Center. She received her BS in Bioengineering from Clemson University where she tutored undergraduate mathematics and science courses, and mentored undergraduate engineering majors. Prior to coming to UT, she independently tutored K12 and undergraduate mathematics and science. Her research interests include engineering education, identity and equity. Address: Engineering Training Center II (ETC) 204 East Dean Keeton Street Austin, TX 78712 Email: apatrick@utexas.edu

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Carolyn Conner Seepersad University of Texas, Austin

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Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering

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Abstract

The aim of this research paper is to develop a multi-item survey instrument to assess and understand engineering graduate students’ identity. Individuals can develop multiple identities in the academic domain, and we anticipate that graduate students develop both an engineering identity and a research identity in their engineering graduate programs. Engineering identity development has mainly been investigated with undergraduate engineering students. The literature on graduate students’ engineering identity development is relatively sparse, and the phenomenon has been investigated mostly using qualitative studies. Furthermore, research identity development has been studied with non-engineering doctoral students, but very few researchers have investigated engineering graduate students’ research identity, even though engineering graduate students engage in research and develop research proficiency during their graduate studies. In this quantitative study, we incorporate findings from previous qualitative studies of engineering identity and researcher identity to 1) assess engineering identity and investigate its relationships with key factors affecting engineering identity development and 2) investigate researcher identity development among other graduate programs to investigate relationships between engineering graduate students’ research identity and key factors affecting its development.

We developed multi-item scales to measure engineering identity and research identity. Several items were borrowed and modified from undergraduate engineering identity studies and research identity studies in different disciplines. In addition, our survey included items that we generated to measure key factors that prior research suggests may affect these identities, namely engineering and research competencies, interest, and recognition. The survey was completed online by 115 mechanical engineering graduate students from a large public research university. Exploratory factor analysis indicated that the items intended to measure engineering and research identities loaded onto their respective factors, and that the items created to measure engineering and research competencies, interest, and recognition loaded onto six factors: Engineering Competence, Engineering Interest, Research Competence, Research Interest, Math/Science Competence, and Interpersonal Skill Competence. Pearson correlation analysis indicated that engineering identity and research identity were significantly correlated with all independent variables except for Interpersonal Skill Competence. In addition, students’ intention to complete their program is significantly correlated with Engineering Identity, Engineering Interest, Research Interest, and Math/Science Competence.

Choe, N. H., & Borrego, M. J., & Martins, L. L., & Patrick, A. D., & Seepersad, C. C. (2017, June), A Quantitative Pilot Study of Engineering Graduate Student Identity Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/27502

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