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Board 85: Engineering Prosocial Engagement in Electrical & Computer Engineering

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Brock J. LaMeres Montana State University

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Dr. Brock J. LaMeres is a Professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at Montana State University (MSU) and the Director of the Montana Engineering Education Research Center (MEERC). LaMeres is also the Boeing Professor at MSU where he is responsible for initiatives to improve the professional skills of engineering graduates. LaMeres teaches and conducts research in the area of computer engineering. LaMeres is currently studying the effectiveness of online delivery of engineering content with emphasis on how the material can be modified to provide a personalized learning experience. LaMeres is also researching strategies to improve student engagement and how they can be used to improve diversity within engineering. LaMeres received his Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder. He has published over 90 manuscripts and 5 textbooks in the area of digital systems and engineering education. LaMeres has also been granted 13 US patents in the area of digital signal propagation. LaMeres is a member of ASEE, a Senior Member of IEEE, and a registered Professional Engineer in the States of Montana and Colorado. Prior to joining the MSU faculty, LaMeres worked as an R&D engineer for Agilent Technologies in Colorado Springs, CO where he designed electronic test equipment.

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Jessi L. Smith University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

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Prosocial engagement lies at the intersection of social responsibility (i.e., evaluating the broader impacts of a one’s work on public welfare) and communal value (i.e., a person’s desire to work with and help others). Social responsibility and communal value and are intricately linked because the desire to work with and help others is in essence a microcosm of the desire to help society more broadly. Prosocial engagement is a key variable in understanding the formation of the engineering workforce because it contributes simultaneously to the recruitment and retainment of talented students and shapes the culture of the engineering workforce to one that holds public welfare paramount. Work in the area of goal congruity theory has shown that most students want careers that afford prosocial value. However, electrical and computer engineering (ECE) is stereotyped as a career that does not provide opportunities to work with and help others. Instead ECE is stereotype as a career that affords agency (i.e., power, prestige, wealth) but consists mainly of working in isolation. This “incongruity” may help to explain why certain demographics don’t choose ECE as a degree path and also why those that do opt out before graduation. This paper presents work that was funded by the National Science Foundation’s Research Initiation in Engineering Formation (RIEF) where the stereotypes about the ECE profession and the students’ personal trait endorsements were measured. Data in a cross-sectional study revealed that first-year students had higher prosocial affordance beliefs about the ECE profession than senior-year students. Data also revealed that prosocial affordance beliefs predicted persistence intensions of first-year students more so than agency beliefs. This paper presents the results of a pilot intervention that aims to increase the prosocial affordance beliefs about the ECE profession using 3-minute video assignments. Similar interventions in the biological sciences had shown that communication assignments that force the student to think about the communal value of the field allow them to build lasting beliefs about the profession. In this study, a pilot intervention is tested to see if these video assignments can have the same effect within ECE.

LaMeres, B. J., & Smith, J. L. (2019, June), Board 85: Engineering Prosocial Engagement in Electrical & Computer Engineering Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32444

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