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Board 114: Community Cultures: Broadening Participation By Understanding How Rural Communities Support Engineering as a College Major Choice

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

6

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29883

Download Count

23

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Paper Authors

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Marie C. Paretti Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-2202-6928

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Marie C. Paretti is a Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she directs the Virginia Tech Engineering Communications Center (VTECC). Her research focuses on communication in engineering design, interdisciplinary communication and collaboration, design education, and gender in engineering. She was awarded a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation to study expert teaching in capstone design courses, and is co-PI on numerous NSF grants exploring communication, design, and identity in engineering. Drawing on theories of situated learning and identity development, her work includes studies on the teaching and learning of communication, effective teaching practices in design education, the effects of differing design pedagogies on retention and motivation, the dynamics of cross-disciplinary collaboration in both academic and industry design environments, and gender and identity in engineering.

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Jacob R. Grohs Virginia Tech

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Jacob Grohs is an Assistant Professor in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech with Affiliate Faculty status in Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics and the Learning Sciences and Technologies at Virginia Tech. He holds degrees in Engineering Mechanics (BS, MS) and in Educational Psychology (MAEd, PhD).

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William Michael Anderson Virginia Tech

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Marlena McGlothlin Lester Virginia Tech

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Marlena McGlothlin Lester is the Director of Advising for the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She leads the undergraduate advising team and oversees the advising process for all General Engineering students. She is responsible for the development of a hands-on, minds-on orientation model for all first-year engineering students, the creation of a comprehensive engineering major exploration tool, Explore Engineering, and enhancement of the academic planning resources available for first-year engineering students. Marlena strives to transform the advising experience for students and advisors through communication, collaboration, and consistency.

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Liesl M. Baum Virginia Tech

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Phyllis Leary Newbill Virginia Tech

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Dr. Phyllis Newbill is the Outreach and Engagement Coordinator at the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) at Virginia Tech. She serves as the liaison between the university and the Science Museum of Western Virginia and directs the Virginia Tech Science Festival. She has worked in science education at preschool, high school, university, and adult education levels. She has both formal and informal instructional experience. Her research interests include museum learning, science education, critical and creative thinking, outdoor education, gender issues in education, rural education, and incorporating the arts into standards-based instruction. She received a double B.S. in Geology and English from Radford University in 1998. She received her M.S. In Environmental and Engineering Geosciences from Radford University in 2001. She earned her Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in Instructional Design and Technology in 2005. Phyllis has worked with ICAT and its prototypes since 2007.

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Stacey L. Vaziri Virginia Tech

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Stacey Vaziri is a doctoral student in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She received her M.S. in Materials Engineering from Purdue University and her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University. Her research interests include access to higher education, broadening participation in engineering, and student success and retention.

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Abstract

This project is supported by an NSF BPE grant. Career choices, such as engineering, are influenced by a number of factors including personal interest, ability, competence beliefs, prior work-related experience, and financial and social supports. However, financial and social support, a particularly significant factor for rural students’ career decisions, is often overlooked in the literature exploring career choice. Moreover, little work has explored how communities serve as key influencers for supporting or promoting engineering as a career choice. Therefore, the goal of this study is to explore the ways in which communities provide support to students deciding to pursue engineering as a college major.

To better understand how students from selected rural area high schools choose engineering as a major, we conducted focus group discussions consisting of 4-6 students each from selected schools to talk collectively about their high school experiences and their choice to major in engineering. Choosing focus group participants from different schools enabled us to elicit tacit perceptions and beliefs that may not be evident when students from the same community talk with one another. That is, as students share their experiences across schools, they may recognize differences in their experiences that, though otherwise unconscious or unacknowledged, proved significant in their choice of college and major. We expect that certain community programs and the individuals involved will have some influence on students’ decisions to study engineering at [University Name].

We anticipate that the results will yield two key outcomes:

1. A holistic understanding of the communities that effectively support and encourage engineering major choice for rural students.

2. Locally driven, contextually relevant recommendations for policies and programs that would better enable economically disadvantaged, rural schools in southwestern Virginia to support engineering as a career choice for high school students.

By understanding the ways some economically-disadvantaged rural communities support engineering as a career choice and linking a broad spectrum of rural communities together around this issue, this project will broaden participation in engineering by increasing support for students from these areas. By shifting our focus from students to communities, this research broadens our understanding of career choice by capturing the perspectives of community members (including not only school personnel, but also community leaders, students’ families, business owners and others) who often play a key role in students’ decisions, particularly in rural communities. Our research will bring these voices into the conversation to help scholars learn from and respond to these essential community perspectives. In doing so, we will provide a more nuanced model of engineering career choice that can then be explored in other rural contexts. This work thus contributes to the research on career choice, rural education, and engineering education.

Paretti, M. C., & Grohs, J. R., & Anderson, W. M., & McGlothlin Lester, M., & Baum, L. M., & Newbill, P. L., & Vaziri, S. L. (2018, June), Board 114: Community Cultures: Broadening Participation By Understanding How Rural Communities Support Engineering as a College Major Choice Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29883

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015