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Board 93: Student Career Decision Making Approaches and Development of Professional Engineering Trajectories

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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 Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Joyce B. Main Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) Orcid 16x16

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Joyce B. Main is Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She holds a Ph.D. in Learning, Teaching, and Social Policy from Cornell University, and an Ed.M. in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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Nichole Ramirez Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Nichole Ramirez is a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her Ph.D. in Engineering Education and M.S. in Aviation and Aerospace Management from Purdue University, and her B.S. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Alabama. In addition to cooperative education research, she also studied student choice and migration between engineering and technology. Currently, she is the Associate Director of Policy Analysis for the Multiple Institution Database for Investigating Engineering Longitudinal Development (MIDFIELD).

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Corey T Schimpf The Concord Consoritum Orcid 16x16

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This article describes the process through which engineering undergraduate students determine whether to participate in cooperative education programs, including how institutional factors influence their decisions. This study proposes a framework for understanding how students envision their career trajectory and continuing professional development. Qualitative data collected from 44 engineering sophomore students reveal that the decision making approaches entails consideration of two main factors: (1) logistics of the co-op program intersected with academic responsibilities, and (2) social influences including input from family, friends, and administrators and employers involved in the co-op placement process. Considering these factors, students’ choices involve how they envision their professional trjaectories. A conceptual framework is proposed which represent four broad personas: Explorer (seeks breadth of experiences), Reinforcer (seeks depth of experiences), Explorer/Reinforcer hybrids, and undecideds that illustrate the decision making process and factors. Stakeholders, including co-op employers and co-op administrators, can apply the findings to develop strategies to encourage students to participate in work experiences that best fits their career development approaches.

Main, J. B., & Ramirez, N., & Schimpf, C. T. (2018, June), Board 93: Student Career Decision Making Approaches and Development of Professional Engineering Trajectories Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30140

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