June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Minorities in Engineering
26.284.1 - 26.284.15
Black Buoyant Believers in Engineering Abstract In order for the nation to maintain a competitive edge internationally and continue contributing significant advances in science and engineering, it is imperative that we invest in developing and educating a talented pool of racial and ethnic minority students who make up a steadily increasing proportion of the populace. Despite this urgent need, underrepresented minorities (URMs) such as Blacks and Latinos make up only 710% of the science and engineering workforce.1 In addition, URMs are more likely to switch to nonSTEM majors than their White peers and much less likely to complete their degree within 6 years.24 These jarring statistics suggest an urgent need to intervene and create pathways to success for URMs majoring in science and engineering. Understanding the factors that influence the success of STEM students who fit this demographic profile is a national imperative and may be the key to addressing the projected science and engineering shortages in the U.S. labor market.56 Scholars have previously examined the role of several psychological factors (e.g., selfefficacy) in minority student success in STEM fields.78 However, additional work is necessary to better understand the multiple pathways to success (or failure) available to URM students. The need for such work is particularly salient for Black students who often receive negative information related to their academic abilities which affects socialpsychological wellbeing (i.e., selfefficacy) and ultimate achievement.9 The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the narratives of Black engineering students to understand the role of academic selfefficacy and student resiliency. The study draws on Strayhorn’s ‘buoyant believers’ framework to describe Black students’ experiences in engineering fields and to explain the role of selfefficacy and resiliency in their success.10 The framework offers practitioners, faculty, and staff who work with minority engineering students guidance for addressing the challenges students face and direction for helping those students to overcome those challenges. Importantly, this framework allowed the researchers to go beyond typical explanations for racial disparities in student success (e.g., lack of precollege preparation or interest) to provide new insights into Black student success in engineering during college. For this study, indepth interview data from 30 Black students majoring in engineering or engineeringrelated fields were analyzed through the lens of the ‘buoyant believers’ framework. The buoyant believers framework is a typology that encompasses students’ academic selfefficacy and resiliency in an effort to describe students and to guide our understanding of students’ college experiences. Results can be summarized in one of four categories including: (a) students who are confident and resilient, (b) students who are confident but lack resiliency, (c) students who lack confidence but exhibit resiliency, and (d) students who are neither resilient nor confident. Each category is associated with particular student characteristics and college outcomes. Strategies to ensure student success can be tailored to fit the needs of students in alignment with their placement in the ‘buoyant believers’ typology. Building on the utility of the buoyant believers typology, we describe strategies related to mentoring, modeling, enrichment activities, and curriculum mastery recommended for the success of each respective student “type” that will prove useful to faculty,staff, and practitioners who work with Black engineering students. Bibliography  National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, 2011.  Center for Institutional Data Exchange and Analysis. (2000). 19992000 Science, math, engineering, and technology (SMET) retention report. Norman: University of Oklahoma.  Mendez, G., Burkirk, T. D., Lohr, S., & Haag, S. (2008). Factors associated with persistence in science and engineering majors: An exploratory study using classification trees and random forests. Journal of Engineering Education, 97(1), 5770.  National Science Board. (2006). Science and engineering indicators 2006 (Two volumes). Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation.  May, G. S., & Chubin, D. E. (2003). A retrospective on undergraduate engineering success for underrepresented minority students. Journal of Engineering Education, 92(1), 2739.  White House. (2014). Progress report on coordinating federal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Retrieved from http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/microsites/ostp/STEMED_FY15_Final.pdf  MacPhee, D., Farro, S., & Canneto, S. (2013). Academic self efficacy and performance of underrepresented STEM majors: Gender, ethnic, and social class patterns. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy, 13(1), 347369.  Museus, Palmer, Davis, & Maramba (2011). Racial and ethnic minority students' success in STEM education. Hoboken: New Jersey: JosseyBass, 2011.  Steele, C. M., & Aronson, J. (1995). Stereotype threat and the intellectual test performance of Blacks. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 69(5), 797.  Strayhorn, T. L. (2012). Challenges of Black College Students: New Insights for Policy, Practice, and Research responds to Fleming’s prescient, even prophetic, pronouncement. The Evolving Challenges of Black College Students: New Insights for Policy, Practice, and Research, 201.
Long, L. L., & Kitchen, J. A., & Henderson, T. S. (2015, June), Black Male "Buoyant Believers" in Engineering and Engineering-related Fields Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23623
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