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Board 107: Explaining Choice, Persistence, and Attrition of Black Students in Electrical, Computer, and Mechanical Engineering: Award #EEC-1734347 - Year 1

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

10

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32179

Download Count

10

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Paper Authors

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Catherine Mobley Clemson University

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Catherine Mobley, Ph.D., is a Professor of Sociology at Clemson University. She has over 30 years experience in project and program evaluation and has worked for a variety of consulting firms, non-profit agencies, and government organizations, including the Rand Corporation, the American Association of Retired Persons, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. Since 2004, she been a member of the NSF-funded MIDFIELD research project on engineering education; she has served as a Co-PI on three research projects, including one on transfer students and another on student veterans in engineering.

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biography

Catherine E. Brawner Research Triangle Educational Consultants

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Catherine E. Brawner is President of Research Triangle Educational Consultants. She received her Ph.D.in Educational Research and Policy Analysis from NC State University in 1996. She also has an MBA from Indiana University (Bloomington) and a bachelor’s degree from Duke University. She specializes in
evaluation and research in engineering education, computer science education, and technology education. Dr. Brawner is a founding member and former treasurer of Research Triangle Park Evaluators, an American Evaluation Association affiliate organization and is a member of the American Educational Research Association and American Evaluation Association, in addition to ASEE. Dr. Brawner is also an Extension Services Consultant for the National Center for Women in Information Technology (NCWIT) and, in that role, advises computer science and engineering departments on diversifying their undergraduate student population. She remains an active researcher, including studying academic policies, gender and ethnicity issues, transfers, and matriculation models with MIDFIELD as well as student veterans in engineering. Her evaluation work includes evaluating teamwork models, statewide pre-college math initiatives, teacher and faculty professional development programs, and S-STEM programs.

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Marisa K. Orr Clemson University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-5944-5846

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Marisa K. Orr is an Assistant Professor in Engineering and Science Education with a joint appointment in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Clemson University. Her research interests include student persistence and pathways in engineering, gender equity, diversity, and academic policy. Dr. Orr is a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award for her research entitled, “Empowering Students to be Adaptive Decision-Makers.”

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Rebecca Brent Education Designs, Inc

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Rebecca Brent is President of Education Designs, Inc., a consulting firm located in Chapel Hill, N.C. She is a certified program evaluator and a faculty development consultant. Brent received her B.A. from Millsaps College in Jackson, Miss., her M.Ed. from Mississippi State University, and her Ed.D. from Auburn University. She was an Associate Professor of education at East Carolina University before starting her consulting firm in 1996.

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Cindy Waters Naval Surface Warfare Center

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Her research team is skilled matching these newer manufacturing techniques to distinct material choices and the unique materials combination for specific applications. She is also renowned for her work in the Engineering Education realm working with faculty motivation for change and re-design of Material Science courses for more active pedagogies

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Abstract

The objective of this project is to identify policies and practices that lead to increased persistence and graduation as well as attrition for Black students in Electrical Engineering (EE), Computer Engineering (CpE), and Mechanical Engineering (ME) and to make actionable recommendations for policy makers regarding best practices. Building on prior work that demonstrated the impacts of gender and race on academic trajectories for engineering as a whole and electrical/computer engineering (ECE) and ME in particular, our transformative mixed-methods project responds to calls for more cross-institutional qualitative and longitudinal studies of minorities in engineering education. The study will investigate the following overarching research questions:

1. Why do Black men and women choose and persist in, or leave, EE, CpE, and ME? 2. What are the academic trajectories of Black men and women in EE, CpE, and ME? 3. In what ways do these pathways vary by gender or institution? 4. What institutional policies and practices promote greater retention of Black engineering students?

Our project will explore the different disciplinary cultures of EE, CpE, and ME as these fields provide a sharply contrasting picture of engineering matriculation, persistence, and attrition for Black students. EE is one of the largest and oldest engineering disciplines, dating back to the 1880s. CpE is frequently combined with EE in a single department, but it has much different student demographics and outcomes. Both EE and CpE attract an above average percentage of Black males and females compared to other engineering disciplines. ME dates back to the 19th century and is currently the largest engineering discipline, awarding 23.8% of engineering degrees in the U.S. and Canada in 2015. ME attracts a smaller percentage of Black engineering students, but is better at retaining them (especially females) to graduation.

Our mixed-methods approach combines the quantitative power of large sample sizes available from the Multi-Institution Database for Investigating Engineering Longitudinal Development (MIDFIELD) and the qualitative richness of 80 in-depth interviews and detailed content analysis of institutional policies and contexts at four institutions. This approach will allow for the development of the thematic rigor necessary to advance theoretical understanding of engineering education for underrepresented minorities (URMs). We will draw on the theoretical frameworks of intersectionality, critical race theory, and community cultural wealth to guide our research and interpret our findings.

In the first year, we will report preliminary results from a scan of the policies and programs in place for Black students in these majors, a topline summary of interviews with persisters and switchers in these majors, and preliminary quantitative analysis of outcomes for Black students in these majors from the MIDFIELD database.

Mobley, C., & Brawner, C. E., & Orr, M. K., & Brent, R., & Waters, C. (2019, June), Board 107: Explaining Choice, Persistence, and Attrition of Black Students in Electrical, Computer, and Mechanical Engineering: Award #EEC-1734347 - Year 1 Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32179

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