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A Systematic Review of the Intersections of Engineering Identity and Financial Need Literature

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2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 14, 2019

Start Date

April 14, 2019

End Date

April 22, 2019

Conference Session

Track: Special Topic - Identity Technical Session 9

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Special Topic: Identity

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Paper Authors


Maria Luz Espino M.A. Iowa State University

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Maria Luz Espino, M.A. is a doctoral student and graduate research assistant in the Higher Education Administration program at Iowa State University. She holds a Masters degree in Educational Policy and Leadership from Marquette University and a Bachelors degree in Community and Nonprofit Leadership and Gender and Women Studies from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She investigates issues of college access and retention of first-generation low-income students, especially within Community colleges and four-year institutions, through the college students' intersections of gender, race, and sexuality.

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Sarah Rodriguez Iowa State University

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Sarah Rodriguez, PhD, is an assistant professor of Higher Education at Iowa State University. Dr. Rodriguez’s research addresses issues of equity, access, and retention for Latina/o students in the higher education pipeline, with a focus on the intersections of gender and race/ethnicity for Latinas in STEM. She has experience coordinating large-scale interdisciplinary research projects focused on engineering and other STEM disciplines which have been sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Dr. Rodriguez has also worked with the project Engaging Latino Students for Transfer and College Completion a national initiative focused on helping institutions strengthen Latina/o student engagement, transfer, and college completion. She has also served as a New Mathways Project Mentorship Program Coach for the Charles A. Dana Center, supporting college implementation of multiple mathematics pathways, acceleration to complete college level math courses quickly, and intentional use of strategies. Dr. Rodriguez has presented at conferences at the national, regional, and local levels and authored journal articles, book chapters, policy briefs, and other publications on Latina/o student success.

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To address the need for a high-quality, diverse engineering workforce, it is imperative that students from all socio-economic levels can access and complete engineering degrees. However, students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds and students with financial need may experience difficulty seeing themselves as engineers. Previous literature has documented the challenges of engineering students; yet, little research has connected the concepts of engineering identity and financial need.

This systematic literature review focused on engineering identity and its connection to student financial need. After an exhaustive review of peer-reviewed materials from 2000-Present, the researchers found few studies that connected concepts of engineering identity and financial need. The majority of existing studies which connect these concepts are focused on traditional-aged, full-time, undergraduate students at four-year institutions. The existing studies focus less on the engineering identity experiences of post-traditional students (25+, working full-time, financially independent, or military) and of graduate students or those situated at community colleges or private institutions. In addition, these studies do not fully explore the intersecting identities (e.g. race/ethnicity, LGBT, gender) of engineering students from varying socio-economic levels.

The absence of a robust grouping of studies connecting these topics emphasizes the need to more fully understand engineering identity through the lens of financial need and expand how scholars investigate these concepts. If engineering education scholars fail to consider engineering identity from a variety of student standpoints, including those from all socio-economic backgrounds, our understanding will remain limited.

Ultimately, this work will provide a more robust understanding of the connections and gaps in the engineering identity and financial need literature as well as support new directions for future scholarship, policy, and practice.

Espino, M. L., & Rodriguez, S. (2019, April), A Systematic Review of the Intersections of Engineering Identity and Financial Need Literature Paper presented at 2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity , Crystal City, Virginia.

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