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Board # 122 : The Impact of Community College Students’ Propensity for Innovation on Persistence in STEM Majors

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Gisele Ragusa University of Southern California

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Gisele Ragusa is a Professor of Engineering Education at the University of Southern California. She conducts research on college transitions and retention of underrepresented students in engineering and also research about engineering global preparedness and engineering innovation. She also has research expertise in STEM K-12 and in STEM assessment. She chairs USC's STEM Consortium.

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John Brooks Slaughter P.E. University of Southern California

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A former Director of the National Science Foundation, Chancellor of the University of Maryland,
College Park, and President of Occidental College, Dr. Slaughter has served for many years as a
leader in the education, engineering and scientific communities. He is well known for his
commitment to increasing diversity in higher education with a special focus on the STEM
A member of the National Academy of Engineering — where he has served on the Committee on
Minorities in Engineering, co-chaired its Action Forum on Engineering Workforce Diversity and
served two terms on the NAE Council — he is also the recipient of the Academy’s Arthur M.
Bueche Award in 2004. A Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the
Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE), and the American Academy of Arts and
Sciences, he was elected to the Tau Beta Pi honorary Engineering Society and was named Eminent
Member of the Eta Kappa Nu Honorary Electrical Engineering Association. He is a member of Phi
Beta Kappa and in1993, Dr. Slaughter was named to the American Society for Engineering
Education Hall of Fame and was the recipient of the society’s Centennial Medal. He received the
UCLA Medal of Excellence in 1989, was elected to the Kansas State University Engineering Hall of
Fame in 1990, received the Roger Revelle Award from the University of California, San Diego in
1991 and was named that institution’s Alumnus of the Year in 1982.
Dr. Slaughter, a licensed professional engineer, began his career as an electronics engineer at
General Dynamics and, later, served for 15 years at the U.S. Navy Electronics Laboratory in San
Diego, where he became head of the Information Systems Technology Department. He has also
been director of the Applied Physics Laboratory and professor of electrical engineering at the
University of Washington, Academic Vice President and Provost at Washington State University,
the Irving R. Melbo Professor of Leadership in Education at the University of Southern California
and, until his return to USC in January 2010, president and CEO of the National Action Council
for Minorities in Engineering, Inc. (NACME) from August 2000 to September 2009.
Among the boards of directors on which he has served are IBM, Northrop Grumman, Monsanto,
Baltimore Gas and Electric Co., Sovran Bank, Union Bank, Avery Dennison, Atlantic Richfield
(ARCO) and Solutia, Inc. He was appointed by President Jimmy Carter as Assistant Director and,
later, as Director of the National Science Foundation and by President George W. Bush to
membership on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).
Dr. Slaughter earned a Ph.D. in Engineering Science from the University of California, San Diego
(UCSD), an M.S. in Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and a B.S.
in Electrical Engineering from Kansas State University. He holds honorary degrees from 30
colleges and universities. Recipient of the first U.S. Black Engineer of the Year Award in 1987, Dr.
Slaughter was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr. National Award in 1997.
He and his wife, Dr. Ida Bernice Slaughter, herself an educational leader, have two children: a son,
John Brooks Slaughter II, D.V.M., and a daughter, Ms. Jacqueline Michelle Slaughter, a university
administrator and doctoral student in educational administration.

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Cathalina Juarez University of Southern California

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Cathalina Juarez is a Program Specialist in the Division of Engineering Education at the University of Southern California. She previously worked in outreach and recruitment at Minority-Serving Institutions for NASA internship, fellowship, and scholarship programs. She has nearly a decade’s worth of experience working with non-profits where she created and implemented yearly programs that focused on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). She received bachelor's degrees from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County - a B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and a B. A. in Psychology. She went on to receive a master's degree in Education from California State University, Long Beach where her research focus was women in engineering. In her spare time, she volunteers with local groups who focus their efforts on education for underserved communities.

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There is a critical need for more students with engineering and science majors to enter into, persist, and graduate from postsecondary institutions. Increasing the diversity in engineering and science is also a profound identified need. According to national statistics, the largest groups of underrepresented minority students in engineering and science attend United States public higher education institutions and in particular the community colleges. Recent research has indicated that students from these populations who are strong problem solvers, and who understand how to seek assistance and navigate college campuses, are most likely persist to degree completion. Accordingly, this research examined a sample of non-traditional college students enrolled in science and engineering programs in four urban community colleges to determine (a) the types and frequency of support practices they utilized, (b) how such practices influenced their achievement, persistence and transfer status to four-year colleges and universities, and (c) how in turn their propensity for innovation and creative problem solving affected such choices and persistence. The study analyzed the impact of pedagogical support practices—practices designed to foster successful transfer from community college to four-year colleges and universities, and how students’ innovative capability affected such transfer capacity. The goals were: (a) to understand whether particular pedagogical support practices were effective in offering non-traditional students a program that enabled them to remain in engineering and science majors and to transfer to a four-year college or university, and (b) to determine if students’ propensity for innovative problem solving influenced use of pedagogical practices and ultimately, transfer persistence. The research targeted four research questions: (1) What are the patterns of pedagogical practices that community colleges employ to enhance students’ transfer success in engineering and science? (2) How do students’ creative and innovative problem solving approaches influence the choices that they make in using pedagogical support practices? (3) What are the impacts of pedagogical practices and differences among pedagogical practices, on persistence toward students’ transfer to colleges and universities? (4) How do students’ creative and innovative problem solving approaches influence their persistence toward transfer to engineering and science programs at four-year universities? This research involves a two-stage study in which in stage one, the types of pedagogical support practices used in community colleges were analyzed and taxonomized. Results of this part of research led to the delineation and refining of three categories of pedagogical support: (1) College attending support, (2) Program planning and execution support, and (3) Classroom and program performance support. These categories led to development and refinement of a college level pedagogical practice taxonomy and inventory which was used in stage two of the research in which data was collected on 2476 community college students in STEM majors. The intent of stage two of the research is to determine the role of students’ creativity and propensity of innovation had on their persistence and the impact that use of particular pedagogical practices had on their persistence, creativity and propensity for innovation in STEM. Two structural equation models (SEMs) have been developed for data analyses with one containing grade point average (as a proxy for achievement) as the outcome of interest and the second with engineering creativity and propensity for innovation as the outcome of interest. These two models indicate that use of pedagogical practices impact students’ creativity and propensity for innovation and propensity for innovation impacts students’ achievement (with GPA as a proxy.) Notably, background characteristics also have impacts on the two outcomes of interest. This research informs community college faculty and student affairs personnel on which support practices best support students in STEM majors to transfer to colleges and universities and how students’ creativity and propensity for innovation affects such transfer persistence.

Ragusa, G., & Slaughter, J. B., & Juarez, C. (2017, June), Board # 122 : The Impact of Community College Students’ Propensity for Innovation on Persistence in STEM Majors Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27713

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