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Board 124: Interpersonal Interactions that Foster Inclusion: Building Supports for Diversity in Engineering Teams

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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

11

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29906

Download Count

33

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Paper Authors

biography

Héctor Enrique Rodríguez-Simmonds Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Raised in South Florida, born in Mexico. Half Colombian and half Mexican; proud Mexilombian. Héctor acquired an MS in Computer Engineering and is currently pursuing a PhD in Engineering Education, both from Purdue University. His research interests are in investigating the experiences of LGBTQ+ students in engineering, tapping into critical methodologies and methods for conducting and analyzing research, and exploring embodied cognition.

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Nelson S. Pearson University of Nevada, Reno

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Nelson Pearson is an Ph.D. student at the University of Nevada, Reno. His research interest includes, social networks and the integration of diverse populations, engineering culture as well as engineering pedagogy. His education includes a B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Nevada, Reno.

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Benjamin P. Jackson Purdue University

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Tara C. Langus University of Nevada, Reno

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Tara C. Langus is a doctoral student pursuing her degree in STEM Education at the University of Nevada, Reno (UNR). She received her BS/MS in Biology from UNR where she studied insect immunology and chemical ecology. She has five years of teaching experience and currently serves as the instructor for the Women in Science & Engineering Program (WiSE), an academic based resource and professional development program for first year women in STEM. Her research interests include pre-service science teacher education, curriculum development, STEM identity, and K-12 outdoor science education. She is currently working on research projects focused on student attitudes towards diversity in engineering and the retention of women in STEM.

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Justin Charles Major Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/https://0000-0002-3111-8509

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Justin C. Major is a first-year Engineering Education Ph.D student and National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow at Purdue University. Justin has two bachelor’s degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Secondary Mathematics Education from the University of Nevada, Reno, and during his undergraduate education, he focused on K-12 Engineering Education. Justin's research and service focuses on the experiences and development of low-socioeconomic students as an often understudied population. Justin has served as the ASEE Student Division Co-Program Chair and is a current Director of Special Projects for the Educational Research & Methods Division.

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Adam Kirn University of Nevada, Reno

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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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Allison Godwin Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) 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 is the recipient of a 2014 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Educational Research and Methods Division Apprentice Faculty Grant. 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 2016 New Faculty Fellow for the Frontiers in Engineering Education Annual Conference. She also was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow for her work on female empowerment in engineering which won the National Association for Research in Science Teaching 2015 Outstanding Doctoral Research Award.

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Abstract

Teaming is a core part of engineering education, especially in the first and last years of engineering when project work is a prevalent focus. The literature on the effects of working in diverse teams is mixed. Negative findings include decreased affect, increased frustration, and sustained conflict in teams. Positive findings include increased productivity, production of high quality products, and divergent-thinking and idea generation. Given these mixed findings, it becomes important to not only understand the practical outputs of working in diverse teams, but also how the experience of working in diverse teams influences whether students see themselves as engineers and whether or not they feel they belong in engineering.

Our project, Building Supports for Diversity through Engineering Teams, investigates how students’ attitudes towards diversity influence how students experience work in diverse teams through addressing two main research questions: 1) What changes occur in students’ diversity sensitivity, multicultural effectiveness, and engineering practices as a result of working in diverse teams? 2) How do students’ perceptions of diversity, affect, and engineering practices change because of working on diverse teams? Using a multi-method approach, we deployed survey instruments to determine changes in student’s attitudes about teaming, diversity sensitivity, and openness attitudes. We also observed students working in teams and interviewed these students about their perceptions of diversity and experiences in their teams.

Preliminary results of the quantitative phase show that variance in students’ attitudes about diversity significantly increase over the semester, further reflecting the mixed results that have been seen previously in the literature. Additionally, Social Network Analysis was used to characterize the social structure practices of a multi-section, large-enrollment first-year engineering course. This reveals the underlying social structure of the environment, its inclusiveness, and how diverse students work with others on engineering. Initial results indicate that students are included in social networks regardless of gender and race. Preliminary results of the qualitative phase, using Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis, have yielded relationships between student’s definitions, valuation, and enactment of diversity in engineering spaces. Individual student’s incoming attitudes of diversity and previous experiences interact with practical needs in first-year engineering classrooms to create different microclimates within each team. These microclimates depict tensions between what instructors emphasize about diversity, stereotypes of engineering as focused on technical instead of social skills, and pragmatic forces of “getting the job done.”

This knowledge can help explain some of the complexity behind the conflicting literature on diversity in teams. Ultimately, this research can help us understand how to build inclusive and diverse environments that guide students to learn how to understand their own complex relationship, understanding, and enactment of diversity in engineering. By understanding how students make sense of diversity in engineering spaces, educators and researchers can figure out how to introduce these concepts in relevant ways so that students can inclusively meet the grand challenges in engineering. This curriculum integration, in turn, can improve team interactions and the climate of engineering for underrepresented groups.

Rodríguez-Simmonds, H. E., & Pearson, N. S., & Jackson, B. P., & Langus, T. C., & Major, J. C., & Kirn, A., & Godwin, A. (2018, June), Board 124: Interpersonal Interactions that Foster Inclusion: Building Supports for Diversity in Engineering Teams Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29906

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