New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Educational Research and Methods
Diversity and ASEE Diversity Committee
The aim of this review is to summarize the use of identity in theory and practice in the existing literature and make suggestions for areas of future work in engineering education. Identity is complex, multi-faceted and changes over time. Intersectional identities of gender and race also complicate what it means to identify as an engineer. Furthermore, identity development and its relation to academic and career outcomes are important lenses for studying engineering student recruitment and retention, the impact of interventions, and diversity of a competitive STEM workforce. However, the usefulness of engineering identity is dependent on maintaining a clear definition of what the framework is (and is not), distinct from other identity theories. The use of the term “identity” as it relates to this review spans studies in psychology, sociology, education, cultural studies, anthropology, and social linguistics and culminates with more recent research in physics, math and engineering education. Researchers do not always make a clear distinction between “identity” and other more rigorously studied constructs such as self-efficacy. Relating factors that contribute to identity across these different bodies of literature is even more confusing when terms including agency, utility, motivation, beliefs, values, and attitudes are used seemingly interchangeably with engineering identity. Consistency in the language of engineering identity such that the construct can be used consistently and coherently is an apparent need. Despite the existence of validated scales on instruments such as Sustainability and Gender in Engineering (SaGE), engineering identity has not been conceptualized or measured directly to date. Increased attention to the connection between both qualitative and quantitative studies will further strengthen the character of engineering identity work.
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