July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Educational Research and Methods
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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