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Board 48: Dynamics of Researcher Identity and Epistemology: The Development of a Grounded-theory Model

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

8

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32358

Download Count

6

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Paper Authors

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Courtney June Faber University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Courtney is a Research Assistant Professor and Lecturer in the Cook Grand Challenge Engineering Honors Program at the University of Tennessee. She completed her Ph.D. in Engineering & Science Education at Clemson University. Prior to her Ph.D. work, she received her B.S. in Bioengineering at Clemson University and her M.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University. Courtney’s research interests include epistemic cognition in the context of problem solving, and researcher identity.

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Lisa Benson Clemson University

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Lisa Benson is a Professor of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University, and the Editor of the Journal of Engineering Education. Her research focuses on the interactions between student motivation and their learning experiences. Her projects focus on student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers and scientists, development of problem solving skills, self-regulated learning, and epistemic beliefs. She earned a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Vermont, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Clemson University.

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Rachel Louis Kajfez Ohio State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9745-1921

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Dr. Rachel Louis Kajfez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University. She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from Ohio State and earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. Her research interests focus on the intersection between motivation and identity of undergraduate and graduate students, first-year engineering programs, mixed methods research, and innovative approaches to teaching.

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Marian S. Kennedy Clemson University

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Marian Kennedy is an Associate Professor within the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at Clemson University. Her research group focused on the mechanical and tribological characterization of thin films. She also contributes to the engineering education community through research related to undergraduate research programs and navigational capital needed for graduate school.

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Dennis M. Lee Clemson University

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Dennis M. Lee is a doctoral candidate in the Engineering and Science Education Department at Clemson University. He received his BA and MS in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Prior to his studies at Clemson University, he taught introductory biology at Tri-County Technical College in Pendleton, SC. His research interests include the development of researcher identity and epistemic cognition in undergraduate STEM students.

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Anne Marguerite McAlister University of Virginia

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Anne McAlister is a research assistiant in the Curriculum and Instruction department in the Curry School of Education at University of Virginia. She earned her BS in Chemical Engineering from The Ohio State University.

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Karina Sylvia Sobieraj Ohio State University

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I am a third year Biological Engineering Student pursuing a minor in Biomedical Engineering. I am active in many clubs on campus including Make a Wish and the Society of Women Engineers and I am also an undergraduate researcher for en engineering education research group.

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Teresa Porter Ohio State University

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Alessandra St. Germain Clemson University

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Senior mechanical engineering undergraduate at Clemson University. Currently doing research for SPRITE, Student's Perceptions of Researcher Identity and Transformative Epistemologies.

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Guoyong Wu Clemson University

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Guoyong Wu is currently pursuing his Ph.D. in education at Clemson University. His research interests are second language acquisition, second language identity and second language socialization.

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Abstract

Studies on undergraduate research experiences (UREs) have shown that these programs lead to positive gains including increased retention in STEM majors, clarification of career goals, establishment of collegial working relationships, increased understanding of how science research is done, increased ability to work and think independently from faculty, and increased problem-solving skills. Because of these gains, URE has been identified as a high-impact educational practice. Unfortunately, many undergraduate students are not able to reap the benefits of authentic research experiences due to curricular limitations, exclusive criteria for participating in UREs, and conflicts with work schedules or family responsibilities. This work (funded by an NSF-REE) seeks to understand how undergraduate students in UREs develop their researcher identities and build their engineering knowledge to propose effective practices that can be integrated into engineering courses and curricula.

The first two phases of this multi-institution project focused on answering our overall research question: How do undergraduate engineering students develop their identities as researcher and their ways of knowing engineering through research experiences? This paper focuses on the final stages of Phase 2: the development of a grounded-theory conceptual model.

In Phase 2, we conducted 22 interviews with participants from six institutions, recruited from students who completed a survey in Phase 1. All interview transcripts were coded using the coding scheme that was initially developed from open ended questions in the survey. From the coded transcripts, we developed structured memos that included a participant description, summary of salient concepts from theoretical frameworks and/or themes, and connections to other participants (cross-case analysis). These structured memos served as the data set that was used to develop our conceptual model showing how researcher identity and epistemic thinking (e.g. beliefs about knowledge, processes for generating knowledge, and justification of processes) emerge through participants’ experiences in UREs.

The process of developing our grounded-theory conceptual model from our structured memos started with four coders independently reading a subset of memos to develop an initial list of potential themes. Each coder further refined their themes by testing their salience across participants. Once each coder finalized their own core set of themes, a single list of emerging themes was generated by coders combining and refining their individual lists. This process lead to the generation of six final themes: independence, response to failure, nature/dimensions of research, personal gains from research, social aspects of research, and outcomes of research.

The coding, memos, and themes laid the groundwork for our research team to collaboratively develop and visualize our conceptual model based on the key components of a grounded theory. Each of us brought our knowledge of the data and our own expertise in the theoretical constructs that guided our work. Once we constructed our conceptual model, we assessed its validity by testing it with individual cases from our data, allowing us to refine the model and the language used to label key components. Our poster will document this process and provide the first presentation of the model.

Faber, C. J., & Benson, L., & Kajfez, R. L., & Kennedy, M. S., & Lee, D. M., & McAlister, A. M., & Sobieraj, K. S., & Porter, T., & St. Germain, A., & Wu, G. (2019, June), Board 48: Dynamics of Researcher Identity and Epistemology: The Development of a Grounded-theory Model Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32358

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