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Beyond Persistence: Graduate School Aspirations of Hispanic Engineering Students at HSIs

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Conference

2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Preparing Minority Students for Undergraduate and Graduate Research

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count

10

Page Numbers

24.228.1 - 24.228.10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/20119

Download Count

28

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Paper Authors

biography

Lorraine N. Fleming Howard University

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Dr. Fleming is the chair of the 2015 Middle States Accreditation Periodic Review and led the university’s Middle States Accreditation Self-Study Task Force in 1999.
She is currently the interim dean of the College of Engineering, Architecture, and Computer Sciences and a professor and former chair of the Department of Civil Engineering at Howard University. She is a licensed professional engineer, who, since joining the Howard faculty in 1985, in addition to leading the university’s Middle States Accreditation Self-Study Task Force in 1999, has led a number of research and intervention initiatives to attract and retain African American students in the STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and improve the quality of engineering education for Howard undergraduates.
Dr. Fleming is the founder and director of the HUSEM (Howard University Science, Engineering, and Mathematics) program, and serves as the principal investigator and director of the National Science Foundation- funded Global Education, Awareness, and Research Undergraduate Program (GEAR-UP), which provides STEM undergraduates with research opportunities abroad as well as exposure to engineering research in an international setting. She is a fellow of the American Society of Civil Engineers, a commissioner of the Engineering Accreditation Commission of the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, and a member of the American Society for Engineering Education and Tau Beta Pi, the national engineering honor society.
She earned her doctorate in civil engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. She holds a Master of Science degree from the George Washington University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering at Howard University. She is the author of several engineering publications including articles in peer-reviewed engineering education journals.

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Silas E. Burris Howard University

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Silas E. Burris is third year Developmental/Experimental Psychology doctoral student at Howard University. His research interests include the development of cognitive and comprehension processes in children from underrepresented populations, narrative comprehension processing, narrative media types, and the external validity of psychological research.

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Kalynda Chivon Smith Howard University

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Howard University in Washington, D.C., and her B.A. in Psychology and English from Truman State University in Kirksville, MO. Dr. Smith has managed a three year longitudinal NSF-funded research project across four campuses, which has included collecting, analyzing/interpreting and reporting data through article writing and conference presentation. She has also taught various psychology courses.

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Leonard Bernard Bliss

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Inez N. Moore Howard University

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Inez Moore, MEd is a doctoral student in the Educational Psychology Program at Howard University. Currently, Ms. Moore is a Graduate Assistant for the Howard University Science, Engineering, and Mathematics (HUSEM) program. There, she engages in research focusing on STEM Education and issues surrounding retention. Her research interests include college access, STEM education and retention, race and culture, achievement, and human subjects protection.

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Fabiana Bornmann

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Abstract

Beyond Persistence: Graduate School Aspirations of Hispanic Engineering Students at HSIsHispanic students at HSIs (Hispanic Serving Institutions) continue to persist and aspire towardsgraduate degrees in STEM fields, despite solemn predictions about their outcomes. Althoughthey are the largest non-dominant racial group in the United States, Hispanics areoverwhelmingly underrepresented in post-secondary educational settings (Sciarra & Whitson,2007). This lack of Hispanic presence is prevalent in academic STEM (science, technology,education, and mathematics) fields, from undergraduates to doctoral degree holders. Thepresence and persistence of these students has been well-documented in an effort to identifyfactors contributing to this disparity. Studies have suggested the cultural value of “familisimo”(Saenz & Ponjuan, 2009), student debt (Malcom & Dowd, 2012), limited guidance (Crisp et al.,2009), and limited knowledge of the application process (Ramirez, 2011) may act as primarydeterrents for Hispanic students considering graduate degrees. As part of a three-yearinvestigation of these factors that encourage such persistence, this study examines theperspectives of Hispanic engineering students during their undergraduate experience.Engineering majors (n=38) at two HSIs were interviewed about their university experience andpost-graduation aspirations. At the conclusion of their sophomore year, 26 students wereconsidering graduate school in addition to the workforce. Of those, 15 (10 males; 5 females)were determined to attend an academic graduate program immediately following graduation.This study combines interview data from the students’ sophomore and junior years to describesignificant changes in post-graduation aspirations and identify protective factors that encouragethese students to persist. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to examine externalinfluences on major selection. Student responses were transcribed and coded for thematicelements using NVivo 9 software. Content analysis of the transcriptions was used to identifycommon themes across student interviews. Potential external factors such as family and facultysupport of career-related decisions, professional organization membership (e.g. ASCE, IEEE),engineering family members, and student internship experience were also examined for theircorrelational value with post-graduate aspirations.Preliminary findings suggest sophomores involved in professional organizations were mostlikely to still consider graduate degrees at the end of their junior year. Interestingly, sophomoreswho originally were not members of professional organizations later joined at least oneorganization as juniors, and half of those already holding organizational memberships increasedtheir number of professional memberships. The final sample of juniors (n=11) intending topursue graduate degrees found one student aspiring towards a doctoral degree, five studentsspecified master’s degrees, and five were undecided on degree level. Our findings suggest theremay be protective factors found in early student membership of professional organizations.These organizations provide socially supportive environments and resources to underclassmen.Our preliminary findings are unique in that few other external factors significantly affected post-graduation decisions. Specifically, it was anticipated that family-related influence would havethe greatest contribution to Hispanic students’ decisions. However, neither family support norengineer relatives had a significant effect on graduate degree aspirations. This suggestsprofessional organizations provide an influential support system and guidance for undergraduatesmaking career decisions.ReferencesCrisp, G., Nora, A., & Taggart, A. (2009). Student characteristics, pre-college, college, and environmental factors as predictors of majoring in and earning a STEM degree: An analysis of students attending a Hispanic Serving Institution. American Educational Research Journal, 46(4), 924-942.Malcom, L. E. & Dowd, A. C. (2012). The impact of undergraduate debt on the graduate school enrollment of STEM baccalaureates. The Review of Higher Education, 35(2), 265-305.Ramirez, E. (2011). “No one taught me the steps”: Latinos' experiences applying to graduate school. Journal of Latinos and Education, 10(3), 204-222.Saenz, V. B. & Ponjuan, L. (2009). The vanishing Latino male in higher education. Journal of Hispanic Higher Education, 8(1), 54-89.Sciarra, D. T. & Whitson, M. L. (2007). Predictive factors in postsecondary educational attainment among Latinos. Professional School Counseling, 10(3), 307-316.

Fleming, L. N., & Burris, S. E., & Smith, K. C., & Bliss, L. B., & Moore, I. N., & Bornmann, F. (2014, June), Beyond Persistence: Graduate School Aspirations of Hispanic Engineering Students at HSIs Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/20119

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