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Board 18: Engineering Doctoral Students’ Motivations and Identities: Understandings and Implications

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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

6

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29975

Download Count

22

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Paper Authors

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Cheryl Cass North Carolina State University

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Cheryl Cass is a teaching associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at North Carolina State University where she has served as the Director of Undergraduate Programs since 2011. Her current research focuses on the intersection of science and engineering identity in post-secondary and graduate level program, and she is a previous recipient of the ERM division's Apprentice Faculty Grant.

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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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Marissa A. Tsugawa-Nieves University of Nevada, Reno

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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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Heather Lee 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

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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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Rebecca Mills University of Nevada, Reno

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I am an undergraduate research assistant studying Chemical Engineering with an emphasis in Biomedical Engineering.

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Amber B. Parker North Carolina State University

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Amber Parker is an undergraduate student at North Carolina State University pursing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. She plans to attend Graduate School to obtain a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology upon graduating from NC State.

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Abstract

The purpose of this project is to improve understanding of how graduate student experiences influence engineering identity formation and goal setting processes. Our mixed-methods study is guided by the following research questions: RQ1: What are the identity and motivation profiles of engineering doctoral students, which are based on previous academic and research experiences in STEM? RQ2: How does the STEM community influence identity formation and motivational goal setting processes of engineering doctoral students? RQ3: How do these processes related to identity formation and motivation influence engineering graduate student retention, productivity, and pursuit of doctoral level engineering careers? We have completed Phase 1 of our study which involved, a qualitative interpretative phenomonological analysis of engineering graduate students’ experiences, as discussed in focus groups and interviews. The goal of the analysis was to understand the lived engineering experiences of the students and the meaning found in these experiences within the context of the project’s focus on identity and motivation. The results of this work have also begun to address RQ3 through student discussion of experience within graduate programs, with faculty, and concerns of balancing multiple identities. Phase 2, which is currently in progress, involves the development and national distribution of a survey to engineering graduate students, with a goal of collecting 5000 responses. Specifically, we developed novel Likert-type survey measures of graduate student future time perspectives, identities, identity based motivations, and experiences to begin establishing items that reflect graduate student experiences. Pilot surveys were distributed to students at two institutions, and we conducted exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses to assist with survey validation as well as the item cutting process. The final survey will be distributed nationally from November 2017 through March 2018. The results of this and future work will outline the institutional features that may be forcing qualified students to the make the difficult decision to leave their graduate programs. Our results point to the need for exploration of student relationships with multiple institutional agents including but not limited to their advisors, classmates, and lab mates. Our work with graduate students’ identities, as engineers, students, and members of their peer and family groups, has expanded the conversation about STEM identities by stepping outside of the traditional undergraduate classroom where these discussions are typically situated. By focusing on a population that is studying advanced STEM concepts, and is in the process of crafting and enacting sophisticated and multifaceted identities, we can learn more about how engineering identities develop when students are active, efficacious, and engaged, areas which traditional engineering classrooms are generally seeking to improve. At the same time, we can observe students as they begin negotiating their personal and professional responsibilities, and thus can begin to determine when, where, and why students and early-career professionals struggle. By better understanding engineering graduate student development we can explore ways to provide targeted and efficient support to graduate students and new professionals.

Cass, C., & Kirn, A., & Tsugawa-Nieves, M. A., & Perkins, H. L., & Bahnson, M., & Mills, R., & Parker, A. B. (2018, June), Board 18: Engineering Doctoral Students’ Motivations and Identities: Understandings and Implications Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/29975

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