Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Identity influences who people think they are, what they think they can do and be, and where and with whom they think they belong. In education, identity is a determining factor in one pursuing, persisting, and persevering in a field. In engineering, it has been shown to be an important factor in attracting and retaining underrepresented minorities. This paper presents preliminary results from an identity study of mechanical engineering students.
All undergraduate students enrolled in the mechanical engineering program at a private, mid-sized university were invited to participate. The program utilizes a cohort model where all students at each level (freshmen, etc.) take at least one of their courses together. One of the authors not teaching any of these courses visited each cohort’s classroom. Students were invited to access the Qualtrics survey using their devices (phone, laptop, etc.). If they gave consent they continued on past the first screen to the survey questions. These included 5 demographic questions (age, year in school, whether a transfer student, and perceived gender and ethnicity) and the 37-item revised Engineering Student Identity Survey (ESIS-2). The ESIS-2 includes such questions as, “I think about the fact I am an engineering student,” and, “I feel strong ties to other engineering students.”
75 students participated. Each group showed ESIS-2 scores above the scale midpoint and juniors and seniors showed stronger total ESIS scores than freshmen and sophomores. These results serve as students’ baseline engineering identities. As we revamp our mechanical engineering program it is important to pay attention to how identities, especially those of the underrepresented, are affected by the changes made.
Going forward we will monitor both changes to the program and to student identities through continued use of the ESIS and through other tools. What we learn will lead to a clearer understanding of the changes that promote engineering identities, particularly in women, and how such identities affect students’ sense of belonging in a program and their persistence in the major.
This project was funded by a grant from NSF’s Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE) through IUSE/PFE: RED.
Cook, K. E., & Han, Y., & Shuman, T. R., & Mason, G., & Turns, J. A. (2018, June), Board 114: Work-in-Progress: Engineering Identity across the Mechanical Engineering Major Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29884
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