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Board 121: Exploring Hypotheses Regarding Engineering Graduate Students’ Identities, Motivations, and Experiences: The GRADs Project

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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

DOI

10.18260/1-2--32213

Permanent URL

https://strategy.asee.org/32213

Download Count

132

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Paper Authors

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Heather Perkins North Carolina State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-8757-0545

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Heather entered the Applied Social and Community Psychology program in the fall of 2014, after completing her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Cincinnati. She has participated in various research projects examining the interaction between stereotypes and science interest and confidence, their influence upon womens’ performance in school and the workplace, and their presence in the media and consequences for viewers. Her primary research interest is science identity, STEM education, and participation in online communities.

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Matthew Bahnson North Carolina State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-0134-0125

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Matthew Bahnson is a doctoral student at North Carolina State University in Applied Social and Community Psychology. His research interests include engineering identity, diversity, bias, stereotypes, and STEM education. He works with Dr. Cheryl Cass at NCSU.

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Marissa A. Tsugawa University of Nevada, Reno Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-6009-8810

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Marissa Tsugawa is a graduate research assistant studying at the University of Nevada, Reno in the PRiDE Research Group. She is currently working towards a Ph.D. in Engineering Education. She expects to graduate May of 2019. Her research interests include student development of identity and motivation in graduate engineering environments and understanding creativity in engineering design processes.

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Derrick James Satterfield University of Nevada, Reno

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Derrick Satterfield is a Ph.D. student in Engineering Education and Chemical Engineering at the
University of Nevada, Reno. He graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in May 2017,
and plans to pursue a career in academia in the future. His research interests are in graduate student
attrition rates within academia, engineering identity development and the factors that influence decision making on persistence.

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Adam Kirn University of Nevada, Reno Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-6344-5072

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Adam Kirn is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at University of Nevada, Reno. His research focuses on the interactions between engineering cultures, student motivation, and their learning experiences. His projects involve the study of student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers, their problem solving processes, and cultural fit. His education includes a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a M.S. in Bioengineering and Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education from Clemson University.

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Cheryl Cass SAS Institute

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Cheryl Cass is a Senior Global Academic Program Manager in the Education Division at SAS Institute. She also holds a position as Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at North Carolina State University where she spent more than seven years as a teaching professor and Director of Undergraduate Programs.

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Abstract

This project (#EHR-1535453 and 1535254) was developed with a goal of exploring engineering graduate students’ (EGSs’) identities, motivations, and experiences. Although there is a growing literature base and increasing awareness regarding the importance of identity and motivation for engineering students, much of it has focused on the undergraduate population. We plan to continue developing this knowledge and begin addressing issues unique to EGSs. Three phases were planned: an initial qualitative phase to explore existing constructs in a new population (complete), a quantitative phase to administer a nationally representative survey (complete), and a final qualitative phase to more deeply explore the quantitative findings (in progress). This paper will review the research findings that have emerged from all three phases - with special attention to the recent quantitative phase - as guided by our three central research questions:

1. What are the identity and motivation profiles of engineering doctoral students, which are based on previous academic and research experiences in STEM? 2. How does the STEM community influence identity formation and motivational goal setting processes of engineering doctoral students? 3. How do these processes related to identity formation and motivation influence engineering graduate student retention, productivity, and the pursuit of doctoral-level engineering careers?

The first phase of the project explored these research questions via in-depth interviews with EGSs. Through the use of Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, we addressed aspects such as EGSs’ identity formation processes, the role of the past and future in EGS motivation, and the role EGSs’ communities and experiences played in their development as engineers. The results of this work informed phase two’s survey development, which concluded in June 2018. Phase two included the development and analysis of a pilot survey (administered to approximately 300 EGSs) and the administration of a comprehensive survey to a nationally representative population (final sample size is approximately 2300 EGSs). The final survey included Likert-type questions to explore constructs of identity and motivation; to explore graduate experiences, a variety of questions queried participants about the length of time in their program, their teaching and research experiences, and their peer and advisor relationships. A comprehensive demographics section was included so that could develop a more nuanced understanding of the EGS population and the identities they bring with them when enrolling in graduate programs.

In this paper, we will summarize survey results, presenting an overview of our quantitative findings. Additionally, progress and preliminary findings from the third and final phase of the project will be presented in brief. This third phase will use interviews with participants to explore quantitative findings in more depth, as well as continuing to develop hypotheses and further our knowledge of EGSs’ identities, motivations, and experiences. Ultimately, the goal of this project is to enhance our understanding of EGSs, a previously understudied population and to develop findings that can be used by graduate programs and advisors to improve EGSs’ experiences and outcomes.

Perkins, H., & Bahnson, M., & Tsugawa, M. A., & Satterfield, D. J., & Kirn, A., & Cass, C. (2019, June), Board 121: Exploring Hypotheses Regarding Engineering Graduate Students’ Identities, Motivations, and Experiences: The GRADs Project Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32213

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: © 2019 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