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Board 136: Preliminary Validity Evidence for a Brief Measure of Engineering Identity

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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 Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

7

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29932

Download Count

22

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Paper Authors

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Debra A. Major Old Dominion University

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Debra A. Major, Professor & Eminent Scholar at Old Dominion University (ODU), earned her Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Michigan State University. Her research broadly focuses on how people successfully enact their careers and overcome barriers to career success. Dr. Major’s current research focuses on work-family conflict and coping and the barriers encountered by women and ethnic minorities pursuing careers in science, technology, education, and mathematics (STEM). Her work has received continuous funding from the National Science Foundation for 15 years, and she has led numerous multidisciplinary and multi-institutional research teams. She presently serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Journal of Management, Journal of Business and Psychology, and Journal for Occupational Health Psychology. Dr. Major is Associate is Associate Dean in the College of Sciences at ODU. She is fellow of the American Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the Society for the Psychology of Women.

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Katelyn R. Reynoldson M.S. Old Dominion University

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Katelyn is a third-year doctoral student in Dr. Debra Major’s Career Development Lab (CDL). Katelyn received her Master's degree in Psychology with a concentration in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Old Dominion University in 2018. As a research assistant and lab manager in the CDL, she is working on several projects examining undergraduate students with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) majors and what factors impact persistence in these majors, particularly for groups underrepresented in STEM (i.e., women and minorities).

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Xiaoxiao Hu Old Dominion University

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Xiaoxiao Hu is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at Old Dominion University. She received her PhD in Industrial/Organizational psychology from George Mason University. Her primary research areas are on affective experience and relational dynamics in the workplace. She also does research on psychometric and measurement issues as well as cross-cultural comparisons between the East and the West. Her work has appeared in journals including Journal of Organizational Behavior, Journal of Vocational Behavior, and Work & Stress. She currently serves on the editorial board of Journal of Business and Psychology.

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Seterra D. Burleson Old Dominion University

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Seterra is a second-year doctoral student in the Industrial-Organizational Psychology program at Old Dominion University. In 2013, she graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in Psychology. She is currently working as a research assistant in the Career Development Lab under Dr. Debra Major, and she has contributed to several projects concerning the underrepresentation of women and minorities in science, technology, engineering, and math from undergraduate careers into the workforce. Her current research interests include leadership, gender and cultural differences, and work-life balance.

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Kristi J. Shryock Texas A&M University

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Dr. Kristi J. Shryock is an Associate Department Head and Associate Professor of Instruction in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Texas A&M University. She received her BS, MS, and PhD from the College of Engineering at Texas A&M. Kristi works to improve the undergraduate engineering experience through evaluating preparation in mathematics and physics, incorporating active learning into the classroom, engaging her students with interactive methods, and evaluating how engineering identity influences retention.

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Abstract

Considering national initiatives to increase the overall number of engineering graduates, improving the persistence of students to remain in engineering disciplines through to graduation has become a pivotal strategy. Although lack of interest or ability has been used to explain why some leave engineering prior to graduating, the degree to which engineering becomes central to a student’s self-concept (i.e., engineering identity) has been supported as a better explanatory factor in retention-related outcomes. The focus of this paper is the development of a concise quantitative instrument that measures undergraduate students’ engineering identity, thus allowing for further understanding of engineering retention through identity. Survey responses from participants entering and throughout their first year of an undergraduate engineering program at a large southeastern university were used to develop and validate the 5-item measure.

In developing the measure, eleven identity items either adapted from the career identity literature or generated for this project were evaluated. First-semester survey responses to these items were analyzed to determine which items were most suitable to include in a 5-item measure of engineering identity. An exploratory factor analysis indicated that the identity items represented a single construct, a finding that was confirmed with confirmatory factor analyses (CFA). The identity measure was reduced to five items by using CFA modification indices, examining factor loadings, and emphasizing items from the existing literature. Finally, two other survey samples were used to validate the 5-item measure, including a sample of participants entering the engineering program and a sample of second-semester engineering students. Fit indices for the 5-item measure were satisfactory for all samples, and Cronbach’s alpha for the identity measure was above recommended levels for all three samples.

Convergent validity was demonstrated by significant positive correlations between the 5-item identity measure and each of the three dimensions of embeddedness (fit, links, and sacrifice). Discriminant validity was demonstrated through nonsignificant correlations between identity and participant SAT scores. Lastly, predictive validity was demonstrated through significant relationships between identity and major satisfaction one semester later. Predictive validity was further demonstrated with retention data; identity measured upon entry and after one semester in the engineering program was significantly negatively related to first-year engineering retention. Discriminant, convergent, and predictive validity for the 5-item measure will continue to be assessed as longitudinal data are gathered regarding student engineering identity in their second year in the engineering program.

The paper describes progress to date in the validation of this measure, future steps, and the potential utility of the measure. Having a concise, validated measure of identity will be valuable for quick assessment of student engineering identity and gaining further understanding of retention in engineering disciplines. This work was supported by a National Science Foundation IUSE grant.

Major, D. A., & Reynoldson, K. R., & Hu, X., & Burleson, S. D., & Shryock, K. J. (2018, June), Board 136: Preliminary Validity Evidence for a Brief Measure of Engineering Identity Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29932

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: © 2018 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