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Board 12: CAREER: Characterizing Latent Diversity Among a National Sample of First-year Engineering Students

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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

9

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32207

Download Count

8

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Paper Authors

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Allison Godwin Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-0741-3356

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Allison Godwin, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research focuses what factors influence diverse students to choose engineering and stay in engineering through their careers and how different experiences within the practice and culture of engineering foster or hinder belongingness and identity development. Dr. Godwin graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education. Her research earned her a National Science Foundation CAREER Award focused on characterizing latent diversity, which includes diverse attitudes, mindsets, and approaches to learning, to understand engineering students’ identity development. She has won several awards for her research including the 2016 American Society of Engineering Education Educational Research and Methods Division Best Paper Award and the 2018 Benjamin J. Dasher Best Paper Award for the IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference. She has also been recognized for the synergy of research and teaching as an invited participant of the 2016 National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium and the Purdue University 2018 recipient of School of Engineering Education Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching and the 2018 College of Engineering Exceptional Early Career Teaching Award.

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Brianna Shani Benedict Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Brianna Benedict is a Graduate Research Assistant in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She completed her Bachelor's and Master's of Science in Industrial and Systems Engineering at North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University. Her research interest focuses on interdisciplinary students' identity development, belongingness in engineering, and recognition.

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Dina Verdín Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/https://0000-0002-6048-1104

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Dina Verdín is a Ph.D. Candidate in Engineering Education and M.S. student in Industrial Engineering at Purdue University. She completed her B.S. in Industrial and Systems Engineering at San José State University. Dina is a 2016 recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship and an Honorable Mention for the Ford Foundation Fellowship Program. Her research interest focuses on changing the deficit base perspective of first-generation college students by providing asset-based approaches to understanding this population. Dina is interested in understanding how first-generation college students author their identities as engineers and negotiate their multiple identities in the current culture of engineering.

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Aaron Robert Hamilton Thielmeyer

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Aaron Thielmeyer is a mechanical engineering undergraduate student at Purdue University.

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Rachel Ann Baker

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Jacqueline Ann Rohde Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Jacqueline A. Rohde is a first-year graduate student at Purdue University as the recipient of an NSF Graduate
Research Fellowship. Her research interests in engineering education include the development student identity and
attitudes, with a specific focus on the pre-professional identities of engineering undergraduates who join non-
industry occupations upon graduation.

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Abstract

Engineering culture often supports limited ways of thinking and being an engineer. The result of this culture is that only particular types of students are recognized as an engineer, and the process of educating engineers homogenizes rather than diversifies the students’ skills and potential for innovation. This process of homogenization develops engineering graduates that are more alike in their problem-solving approaches, ways of thinking, and identities as engineers than as unique innovators. Students who do not conform to this mold of “being an engineer” are often alienated from engineering, do not develop engineering identities, and leave engineering, which reduces the much needed human potential for innovation. This project responds to these challenges by characterizing and empirically understanding how to support innovative mindsets and engineering identity. These underlying attitudes, beliefs, and mindsets are termed latent diversity, which are attributes that are present as potential sources for innovation but are not visible or actualized. The overall project answers three research questions (RQs): 1) What kinds of diversity of thought, innovation mindsets, and attitudes are present in engineering students?; 2) How do undergraduate students with latent diversity form engineering identities within an engineering community of practice over time?; and 3) What support, both inside and outside of the classroom, can be provided to promote inclusion of students with latent diversity in engineering? The outcomes of this work will help create more inclusive college classrooms that accept a wider set of students and produce engineers who can adopt various perspectives for innovative problem solutions.

In the past year, we have begun the second phase of our research to administer a national survey instrument to characterize latent diversity of first-year engineering students (RQ1). We administered 3,855 paper-based surveys at 32 ABET-accredited institutions to understand students’ underlying attitudes mindsets, and beliefs. These surveys were digitized and cleaned of indiscriminate responses using attention check questions within the survey instrument for a total of 3,711 students’ responses. We used Topological Data Analysis (TDA) to understand the data structure of the students’ responses. TDA provides a “map” of connected data progressions rather than attempting to break datasets into distinct (or probabilistic) groups. We found six distinct data progressions, A-F, as well as a sparse group of students whose responses were not similar to the majority. We used these progressions to identify and recruit students who are attitudinally and demographically diverse for phase three (RQ2). This executive summary will provide a description of the results of our TDA. Our future work focuses on recruiting students to participate in longitudinal interviews and journaling activities to understand how latent diversity informs students’ identity trajectories and development throughout their engineering education. Our findings-to-date show a wide range of latent diversity among students entering engineering programs. This work highlights the importance of identifying alternative ways students can be recognized as an engineer and form enduring engineering identity. More importantly, this research begins to provide practical findings to help educators support diverse mindsets in engineering classrooms.

Godwin, A., & Benedict, B. S., & Verdín, D., & Thielmeyer, A. R. H., & Baker, R. A., & Rohde, J. A. (2019, June), Board 12: CAREER: Characterizing Latent Diversity Among a National Sample of First-year Engineering Students Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32207

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