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Applying Self-authorship Theory among Chinese Engineering Doctoral Students in U.S. Institutions

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Future Career and Professional Success for Graduate Students

Tagged Division

Graduate Studies

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.190.1 - 24.190.11



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Paper Authors


Jiabin Zhu Shanghai Jiao Tong University

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Jiabin Zhu, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education in Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. She obtained a B.S. in physics from East China Normal University, a M.S. in optics from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a second M.S. in biomedical engineering and a Ph.D. in engineering education from Purdue University. Her primary research interests relate to the development of engineering students’ professional skills, the assessment of teaching and learning in engineering, and the cognitive development of graduate and undergraduate students.

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Qunqun Liu Shanghai Jiao Tong University

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Qunqun Liu is a graduate student in the Graduate School of Education at Shanghai Jiao Tong University. She obtained a B.S. in public administration from China Agricultural University. Her current interest focuses on the cognitive development of engineering graduate students.

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Monica Farmer Cox Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Monica F. Cox, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the School of Engineering Education and is the inaugural director of the College of Engineering’s leadership minor at Purdue University. She also serves as the executive director of the International Institute for Engineering Education Assessment (i2e2a). She obtained a B.S. in mathematics from Spelman College, a M.S. in industrial engineering from the University of Alabama, and a Ph.D. in leadership and policy studies from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. Her teaching interests relate to the professional development of graduate engineering students and to leadership, policy, and change in STEM education. Primary research projects explore the preparation of graduate students for diverse careers and the development of reliable and valid engineering education assessment tools. She is a NSF Faculty Early Career (CAREER) and Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) recipient.

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Applying Self-authorship Theory among Chinese Engineering Doctoral Students in U.S. InstitutionsAbstract: Many international students came to the U.S. to pursue academic degrees each year.Among these students, Chinese students rank top in the number of doctorate recipients in scienceand engineering fields. Despite the prominent representation of Chinese students among thescience and engineering doctoral students in U.S. institutions, however, these Chinese scientistsand engineers are understudied compared to their U.S.-born peers in their cognitive andpsychosocial development. In this study, we applied the self-authorship theory among sixteenChinese engineering doctoral students in U.S. institutions. Self-authorship theory represents an integrated perspective that examines an individual’sdevelopment toward self-authorship in three dimensions, i.e. the Epistemological, Intrapersonal,and Interpersonal dimensions (Baxter Magolda, 2001 and 2008). An individual gradually movesfrom a dualistic way of knowing to a contextual and evaluative manner of knowing(Epistemological dimension), from relying on an external authority to relying on one’s ownvalues and beliefs (Intrapersonal dimension), and from trying to acquire external approval tobetter relating to others through a process of mutual negotiations (Interpersonal dimension). Thistheory has been built upon over four decades of prior research within the field of epistemologicaldevelopmental studies (Perry, 1970; Belenky, et al. 1986; Kuhn, 1991; Baxter Magolda, 1992;King and Kitchner, 1994). The appeal for students to develop towards self-authorship, especiallyto develop the contextual or evaluative way of knowing, has shown its impact on the teachingand learning in engineering education (Pavelich and Moore, 1996; Felder and Brent, 2004;Sattler, Turns and Mobrand, 2012). Using this theory, we strive to understand the Chinese engineering doctoral students’development towards self-authorship. Participants in this study have been identified to exhibitcontextual knowing in the Epistemological dimension through prior research (xx, 2013 removedfor blinded review). The goal of this study lies on exploring students’ development in theIntrapersonal and Interpersonal dimensions and the relationship with the development in theEpistemological dimension. Our preliminary results based on qualitative data suggest that thesestudents have also progressed toward self-authorship in these two dimensions. Specific examplesof students’ demonstrations of self-authorship in these two dimensions will be provided. Futurework includes exploring factors that can contribute to students’ development towards self-authorship.Reference:Baxter Magolda, M. B. (1992). Knowing and Reasoning in College: Gender-Related Patterns in Students’ Intellectual Development. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.Baxter Magolda, M. B. (2001). Making their own way: Narratives for transforming higher education to promote self-development. Sterling, VA: Stylus.Baxter Magolda, M. B. (2008). The evolution of self-authorship. In Khine, M.S. (ed.), Knowing, Knowledge and Beliefs: Epistemoloigcal Studies across Diverse Cultures. New York: Springer.Belenky, M. F., Clinchy, B. M., Goldberger, N. R., and Tarule, J. M. (1986). Women's ways of knowing: the development of self, voice and mind. New York: Basic Books.Felder, R.M., and Brent, R. (2004). The Intellectual Development of Science and Engineering Students. 1. Models and Challenges, Journal of Engineering Education, 93(4), 269–277.King, P. M., and Kitchener, K. S. (1994). Developing reflective judgment: Understanding and promoting intellectual growth and critical thinking in adolescents and adults. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Kuhn, D. (1991). The skills of argument. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.Pavelich, M.J., and Moore, W.S. (1996). Measuring the effect of experiential education using the Perry model, Journal of Engineering Education, 85(4), 287–292.Perry, W. G. (1970). Forms of intellectual and ethical development in the college years: A scheme. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.Sattler, B., Turns, J., and Mobrand, K. A. (2012). Supporting self-authorship development: The contribution of preparedness portfolios. 2012 Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education, San Antonio, TX.Xx, xx (2013) removed for blinded review

Zhu, J., & Liu, Q., & Cox, M. F. (2014, June), Applying Self-authorship Theory among Chinese Engineering Doctoral Students in U.S. Institutions Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20081

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