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Board 138: Increasing Impact of the Hidden Curriculum: Exploring Student Outcomes from Out-of-Class Activities

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


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

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Paper Authors


Denise Rutledge Simmons P.E. Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Denise R. Simmons, Ph.D., PE, LEED-AP, is an assistant professor in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction and in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, and an affiliate faculty of the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in civil engineering and a graduate certificate in engineering education – all from Clemson University. She has over 10 years of experience working for energy companies and as a project management consultant. Her research contributes to the advancement of labor and personnel issues in engineering broadly and specifically in the construction industry through two research areas: untangling the complex relationship between activities people become involved in — operationalized as engagement — and the technical and professional outcomes gained — operationalized as competencies. The broader impact of this work lies in achieving and sustaining productive, diverse and inclusive project organizations composed of engaged, competent people. Dr. Simmons’ research is supported by awards from NSF, including a CAREER award. She oversees the Simmons Research Lab (, which is home to a dynamic, interdisciplinary mix of undergraduate and graduate students and a post-doctoral researcher from various colleges and departments at Virginia Tech who work together to explore engineering and construction human centered issues with an emphasis on understanding difference and disparity.

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Cassandra J. Groen Virginia Tech

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Dr. Cassandra Groen is a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Engineering Education and the Myers-Lawson School of Construction at Virginia Tech. Her primary research interests include professional identity formation in undergraduate civil engineering students, grounded theory methods, and theory development. Her current work includes the exploration of professional identity formation in civil engineering students who experience disabilities and the ways in which this identity is influenced by students’ academic relationships, events, and experiences. Dr. Groen holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.

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Existing literature has shown that out-of-class activities provide undergraduate students with significant learning experiences that positively impact their academic and career pathways. However, despite these positive impacts, undergraduate engineering students are less likely to take advantage of such experiences than their non-engineering counterparts. This lack of participation in out-of-class activities is problematic for the retention of a talented and diverse engineering workforce; student participation in out-of-class activities has been shown to promote persistence toward graduation and entrance into the engineering workforce, particularly for women and other underrepresented groups in engineering.

In this paper, we provide a brief overview of work conducted to-date as part of a project funded by the National Science Foundation titled, “Investigating Co-Curricular Participation of Students Underrepresented in Engineering.” The purpose of this mixed methods study is to explore the influence of out-of-class activity participation on underrepresented students’ persistence, learning outcomes, and workforce entry. Here, we present findings from two quantitative studies that utilize the Postsecondary Student Engagement (PosSE) Survey to 1) examine the popularity of specific out-of-class activities and outcomes; and 2) identify the incentives for and barriers to participation. To highlight programmatic implications of this work, we then introduce the Building Undergraduate Interventions for Learning and Development (BUILD) Model, which can serve as a design framework for the modification and implementation of out-of-class interventions intended for undergraduate engineering students. We conclude this paper with a discussion of areas for continued work to increase the impact of out-of-class activities as a hidden curriculum.

Simmons, D. R., & Groen, C. J. (2018, June), Board 138: Increasing Impact of the Hidden Curriculum: Exploring Student Outcomes from Out-of-Class Activities Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29935

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