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A Series of Singular Testimonies: A New Way to Explore Unearned Advantages and Unearned Disadvantages

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Conference

2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015

ISBN

978-0-692-50180-1

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Qualitative Methodologies

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

17

Page Numbers

26.108.1 - 26.108.17

DOI

10.18260/p.23449

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/23449

Download Count

47

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Paper Authors

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Julie P Martin Clemson University

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Julie P. Martin is an assistant professor of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University. Her research interests focus on social factors affecting the recruitment, retention, and career development of underrepresented students in engineering. Dr. Martin is a 2009 NSF CAREER awardee for her research entitled, “Influence of Social Capital on Under-Represented Engineering Students Academic and Career Decisions.” She held an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellowship in 2013-2014, with a placement at the National Science Foundation.

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Aubrie Lynn Pfirman Clemson University

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Aubrie L. Pfirman is a Ph.D. student in Department of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University. Her research interests are in the experiences of doctoral students in chemistry and the social capital of underrepresented students in STEM. Ms. Pfirman received a B.S. in Chemistry and an Instructional I Certification in Secondary Education from Misericordia University, and she also received her M.S. in Chemistry from Clemson University.

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Rachel K. Anderson Clemson University

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Rachel Anderson is a doctoral student in Engineering and Science Education and the research assistant for Clemson University's Creative Inquiry program. Her research interests include cross-disciplinary teams and career preparation. Rachel received a Master's of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Clemson University and a B.S. in Physics from Baldwin-Wallace University.

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Shannon K Stefl Clemson University

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Shannon Stefl: is a doctoral research assistant in the Engineering & Science Education department at Clemson University. She received her B.S. degree in physics from Kent State University and her M.S. degree in physics from Clemson University. sstefl@clemson.edu

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Frederick Paige Clemson University

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Frederick E. Paige is a PhD student in the Glenn Department of Civil Engineering at Clemson University. His PhD research focuses on infrastructure design promoting sustainability and energy literacy. Mr. Paige received his B.S. and M.S in Civil Engineering from Clemson University.

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Lindsey Whitfield Cain Clemson University

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Lindsey W. Cain is a doctoral candidate in the Chemistry Department at Clemson University. Her Ph.D. research focuses on the problem-solving strategies of chemistry graduate students. Mrs. Cain received her B.S. in Chemistry from Lander University.

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Abstract

A Series of Singular Testimonies: A New Way to Explore Unearned Advantages and Unearned DisadvantagesThis paper describes the development of a unique interview method based on Peggy McIntosh’s“serial testimony” technique. In her distinguished lecture at the 2014 American Society forEngineering Education conference, Dr. McIntosh challenged the engineering educationcommunity to use its position of privilege to redesign the system of engineering education. Sheadvocated for the community to recognize the “colossal unseen dimensions” of built-in privilegeand to launch substantive collaborative efforts to change the traditional norms in the institutionof engineering education. Our research team has responded to this challenge by developing anadaptation of the serial testimony technique for one-on-one interviews, which we term “a seriesof singular testimonies.”The “serial testimony” technique, introduced by Dr. McIntosh to attendees at the lecture,encourages participants to discuss “unearned advantages” and “unearned disadvantages” thatresult from living in a mono-culture society where privilege is embedded and granted tomembers based on race, gender and social class. By asking attendees to personally shareunearned advantages and disadvantages with a partner during her lecture, she demonstrated howthe technique facilitates equitable sharing in a group, typically allowing each person to speakuninterrupted for a few minutes in each round.Our adaptation preserves many of the hallmarks of the serial testimony technique, specifically:1. Giving participants the opportunity to share their personal narrative, or testimony, about unearned advantages and unearned disadvantages as they perceive them;2. Allowing them to speak uninterrupted;3. Exhibiting no judgment and expressing no rebuttal;4. Returning to a particular advantage/disadvantage for further exploration and follow up questions in additional “rounds.”We have piloted our interview technique with recent engineering graduates, and found it to beefficacious for eliciting participants’ perceptions of unearned advantages and disadvantagesrelated to their engineering education. In this paper, we (1) describe how this method may elicitdistinct responses compared to other interview techniques, (2) present our results related toparticipants’ perceptions of unearned advantages and disadvantages, and (3) discuss how aparticular trait can be perceived as an advantage by one participant, but as a disadvantage toanother. We also present specific examples of certain unearned traits (such as economic status)that some participants simultaneously viewed as both advantages and disadvantages in pursuingtheir engineering education. We end with implications for using this method to illuminate visibleand invisible forms of privilege and oppression, underrepresentation, and marginalization thatundergraduates may experience during their engineering education.

Martin, J. P., & Pfirman, A. L., & Anderson, R. K., & Stefl, S. K., & Paige, F., & Cain, L. W. (2015, June), A Series of Singular Testimonies: A New Way to Explore Unearned Advantages and Unearned Disadvantages Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23449

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015