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Board 70: An Exploration of the Diverse Stories of Engineering Students at Community Colleges: Findings from Year One

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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


Audrey Boklage

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Audrey Boklage is a post-doctoral research assistant in the Polytechnic Engineering program at Arizona State University. She works under the mentorship of Associate Professor, Nadia Kellam. Her research focuses on STEM learning environments and the role of critical events in student learning. She is particularly interested in improving the culture and environment of undergraduate education experience for all students, particularly those from underrepresented groups. Audrey has expertise in qualitative research methods including exploratory case studies and narrative inquiry. She is currently exploring the culture and environments of university makerspaces and community colleges through student stories.

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Nadia N. Kellam Arizona State University

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Dr. Nadia Kellam is Associate Professor in the Polytechnic School of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University (ASU). Prior to joining the Polytechnic School, Dr. Kellam was an Associate Professor at the University of Georgia (UGA). Dr. Kellam is an engineering education researcher and a mechanical engineer. In her research, Dr. Kellam is broadly interested in developing critical understandings of the culture of engineering education and, especially, the experiences of underrepresented undergraduate engineering students and engineering educators. She is a qualitative researcher who uses narrative research methods to understand undergraduate student and faculty member’s experiences in engineering education. Dr. Kellam is interested in curricular design and has developed design spines for environmental and mechanical engineering programs when she was a faculty member at UGA, and recently helped design the EESD PhD program at ASU. She teaches design courses, engineering science courses, and graduate courses focused on qualitative research methods. She also serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Engineering Education.

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Anna Montana Cirell Arizona State University


Brooke Charae Coley Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus

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Brooke Coley, PhD is an Assistant Professor in Engineering at the Polytechnic School of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University. Intrigued by the intersections of engineering education, mental health and social justice, Dr. Coley’s primary research interest focuses on virtual reality as a tool for developing empathetic and inclusive mindsets. She is also interested in hidden populations in engineering education and innovation for more inclusive pedagogies. This past summer, Dr. Coley was awarded as an Apprentice Faculty Grant recipient by the Educational Research and Methods Division of the American Society for Engineering Education for her commitment to innovation in teaching and potential to make substantial contributions to engineering education. Prior to joining the Polytechnic School, Dr. Coley served as the Associate Director for the Center for Diversity in Engineering at the University of Virginia and as a policy fellow at the National Science Foundation.

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In this NSF-funded Research in the Formation of Engineering project, we are exploring the unique experiences of students from underrepresented groups at community colleges who have the opportunity to transfer to engineering programs. We are specifically investigating how their experiences in community college influence their plans for future education and careers. While the diversity of 4-year universities has remained stagnant, the diversity of community college student populations is actually increasing. Therefore, community colleges represent a potential source of talent for future engineers from diverse backgrounds. We are currently in the first year of data collection where we have piloted the study at one of the data collection sites. Five students from traditionally underrepresented groups in engineering have been interviewed. We use a narrative inquiry methodology to understand these students’ experiences at community colleges. This paper shares 3 lessons learned during this pilot phase of research, which include allowing sufficient time for institutional access, the criticality of a willingness to iterate on participant recruitment procedures, and the need for constant consideration of the broader political climate when recruiting participants.

Boklage, A., & Kellam, N. N., & Cirell, A. M., & Coley, B. C. (2018, June), Board 70: An Exploration of the Diverse Stories of Engineering Students at Community Colleges: Findings from Year One Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30092

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