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A Two-step Model for the Interpretation of Meaningful Recognition

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Undergraduate Students' Development of Computational and Programming Skills

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Kelsey Scalaro University of Nevada, Reno

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Kelsey completed her Bachelor's in mechanical engineering at the University of Nevada and then worked in the aerospace industry for a few years. She has since returned to school and is working on her Master's in mechanical engineering alongside her Ph.D. in engineering education at the University of Nevada, Reno. Her research interests are engineering identity and construction for undergraduate, graduate, and career engineers with an emphasis on the construct of recongition.

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Indira Chatterjee University of Nevada, Reno

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Indira Chatterjee received her M.S. in Physics from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio in 1977 and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah in 1981. Indira is Associate Dean of Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. As Associate Dean she oversees undergraduate and graduate education in the college including recruitment, retention, career placement and advising. She serves as chair of the College of Engineering curriculum committee and is a member of the university curriculum committee. Indira has been a faculty member at the University of Nevada, Reno since 1988. She has been primary mentor to several graduate students who are well placed in industry and academics. Her research areas include: Numerical and experimental bioelectromagnetics, and engineering education. Over the past 33 years she has brought in over $6 million in research funding from the National Science Foundation, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Johns Hopkins University, National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and private industry. She is a senior member of the IEEE, and a member of the ASEE, Bioelectromagnetics Society and Society of Women Engineers. She serves on the editorial board of the Bioelectromagnetics Society.

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Ann-Marie Vollstedt University of Nevada, Reno

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Ann-Marie Vollstedt is a lecturer for the Dean's Office at the University of Nevada, Reno. Dr. Vollstedt completed her dissertation at the University of Nevada, Reno, which focused on exploring the use of statistical process control methods to assess course changes in order to increase student learning in engineering. Dr. Vollstedt teaches courses in engineering design as well as statics and continues to conduct research in engineering education.

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Jeffrey C. LaCombe University of Nevada, Reno


Adam Kirn University of Nevada, Reno Orcid 16x16

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Adam Kirn is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education at University of Nevada, Reno. His research focuses on the interactions between engineering cultures, student motivation, and their learning experiences. His projects involve the study of student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers, their problem solving processes, and cultural fit. His education includes a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a M.S. in Bioengineering and Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education from Clemson University.

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The purpose of this research paper is to explore how undergraduate engineering students’ perceptions of meaningful recognition change as their engineering identity develops.

Understanding shifts in students’ recognition beliefs allows for institutional and programmatic changes to support engineering identity development. In the performance/competence, interest, and recognition (PCIR) identity framework, recognition is highly predictive of students’ engineering role identity: a conception of self which influences students’ learning, their experiences in college, motivation, and persistence. Previous research indicates that broad perceptions of recognition change throughout a traditional 4-year college engineering program. Despite its importance in engineering identity development, little is known about how students’ perceptions of recognition sources change over time. A nuanced look at different sources of recognition (e.g. peer, family, and faculty) is necessary to cultivate curriculum and resources that best support student identity development. This research seeks to evaluate how the established sources of recognition identified in previous work change in value as students navigate their collegiate experience.

This paper focuses on the qualitative results of an ongoing mixed-methods project at a large western land grant university. This study explores the experiences of a cohort of 16 high-achieving, low-income engineering students from varying gender, racial, and educational backgrounds as they navigate college. At the time of the study, participants had completed their first year and participated in two focus groups. In these focus groups, open-ended guiding questions prompted participants to reflect on their motivation, identity, success, and involvement in the cohort in the past, present, and future to best capture changes over time. This work focused on the following questions: Do you see yourself as an engineer? Do others see you as an engineer? Who? How do you know? Has this changed since last semester? Transcripts were analyzed using directed qualitative content analysis (DQlCA) employing an inductive-descriptive first pass followed by a second deductive thematic analysis pass. Identified themes and codes were leveraged in the second focus group to capture the evolution of students’ recognition beliefs.

Results indicated that within the first year of studies, participants became more selective regarding who is qualified to recognize them as engineers. Initially, participants appeared to value recognition from a broad range of sources, but then narrowed recognition sources based on participants’ perceptions of the source’s engineering knowledge and experience. The described devaluing of meaningful recognition occurred within family and peer groups, while recognition from engineering faculty continued to be highly valued. This refinement of recognition sources may explain other research that documents a reduction of engineering identity and recognition beliefs as students enter their second year of college. Future work will examine the reasons for change in recognition sources and evaluate whether recognition varies between different social identities. By understanding how students value recognition sources, we can redesign our educational environments to support engineering identity development.

Scalaro, K., & Chatterjee, I., & Vollstedt, A., & LaCombe, J. C., & Kirn, A. (2021, July), A Two-step Model for the Interpretation of Meaningful Recognition Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36626

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