June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
This Complete Research paper describes how we identified diverse student assets and redesigned a first year course to develop professional engineering identity. Despite many efforts to diversify engineering, first-generation college attendees, non-traditional students, and students from groups typically underrepresented in engineering are still less likely to persist. We see introductory-level engineering courses as having the potential to play a critical role at universities like ours that serve a large percentage of such students. With this purpose in mind, we redesigned an introductory chemical engineering course at a research university that is minority-serving. Participants included students enrolled in two sections of the original course (n=117) and one section of the redesigned course (n=53). Data include pre/post surveys of student beliefs about design and interviews. We coded student responses and interviews to understand how they perceived the original and redesigned course. We conducted a repeated measures ANOVA to examine the effect of redesigning the course on student understanding of design as an iterative process. Students in the original course reported a neutral/unsure stance when asked if design is a linear process, and by the end of the course tended to agree that it is a linear process. In contrast, students in the redesigned course tended to begin the course reporting that design is a linear process, but shifted to a more neutral stance by the end of the course. Students in the redesigned course reported significantly more positive and also more specific reflections about the design challenges in the redesigned course. They more commonly described active roles, positioning themselves as doing engineering. We argue the design challenges provided an opportunity for students to begin developing professional engineering identities without sacrificing their existing identities.
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