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Broadening the Participation of Rural Students in Engineering: Exploring Community Perspectives

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Pre-college Engineering Education Division Technical Session 11

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

13

DOI

10.18260/1-2--34230

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/34230

Download Count

101

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Paper Authors

biography

Stacey L. Vaziri Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Stacey Vaziri is a PhD candidate in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She received her M.S. in Materials Engineering from Purdue University and her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from North Carolina State University. Her research interests include access to higher education and broadening participation in engineering.

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Marie C. Paretti Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-2202-6928

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Marie C. Paretti is a Professor of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she directs the Virginia Tech Engineering Communications Center (VTECC). Her research focuses on communication in engineering design, interdisciplinary communication and collaboration, design education, and gender in engineering. She was awarded a CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation to study expert teaching in capstone design courses, and is co-PI on numerous NSF grants exploring communication, design, and identity in engineering. Drawing on theories of situated learning and identity development, her work includes studies on the teaching and learning of communication, effective teaching practices in design education, the effects of differing design pedagogies on retention and motivation, the dynamics of cross-disciplinary collaboration in both academic and industry design environments, and gender and identity in engineering.

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Jacob R. Grohs Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Jacob Grohs is an Assistant Professor in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech with Affiliate Faculty status in Biomedical Engineering and Mechanics and the Learning Sciences and Technologies at Virginia Tech. He holds degrees in Engineering Mechanics (BS, MS) and in Educational Psychology (MAEd, PhD).

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Liesl M. Baum Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Dr. Liesl Baum is the Associate Director for Professional Development at the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. She is a former middle school teacher and spent seven years teaching in Virginia public schools. Her research interests and goals are to develop a frame of mind that allows for creativity to develop among students and faculty of all levels. She works with university faculty to identify and build teaching strategies that encourage creativity for learning. Her research and work interests remain across the full realm of education and preparing educators to design and develop teaching and learning opportunities that encourage students to take risks, inquire across multiple disciplines, and participate in grand challenges. Liesl received her B.S. in Middle Education and M.S. in Educational Technology, both from Radford University. She received her doctorate in instructional design and technology from Virginia Tech.

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Marlena McGlothlin Lester Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Marlena McGlothlin Lester is the Director of Advising for the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She leads the undergraduate advising team and oversees the advising process for all General Engineering students. She is responsible for the development of a hands-on, minds-on orientation model for all first-year engineering students, the creation of a comprehensive engineering major exploration tool, Explore Engineering, and enhancement of the academic planning resources available for first-year engineering students. Marlena strives to transform the advising experience for students and advisors through communication, collaboration, and consistency.

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Phyllis Leary Newbill

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Dr. Phyllis Newbill is the Outreach and Engagement Coordinator at the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) at Virginia Tech. She serves as the liaison between the university and the Science Museum of Western Virginia and directs the Virginia Tech Science Festival. She has worked in science education at preschool, high school, university, and adult education levels. She has both formal and informal instructional experience. Her research interests include museum learning, science education, critical and creative thinking, outdoor education, gender issues in education, rural education, and incorporating the arts into standards-based instruction. She received a double B.S. in Geology and English from Radford University in 1998. She received her M.S. In Environmental and Engineering Geosciences from Radford University in 2001. She earned her Ph.D. from Virginia Tech in Instructional Design and Technology in 2005. Phyllis has worked with ICAT and its prototypes since 2007.

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Abstract

Interest in increasing both the number and diversity of students enrolling in engineering has resulted in significant research on students’ career choice decisions. Notably, however, while general trends have emerged, many of the models that have been developed focus on majority students. But an increasing body of work on students from a variety of specific demographic groups highlight unique socio-cultural experiences that influence individuals’ career choice decisions. Most relevant to this study, literature on rural students suggests that the lack of high-level STEM courses in rural schools and a desire to stay close to home played key roles in limiting students’ consideration of engineering as a potential career. However, little work has explored how rural communities support and promote engineering as a career choice for their students. Therefore, this study explored the ways in which rural communities provide support to help students make fully informed decisions about engineering as a college major.

The findings presented here come from Phase 2 of a three-phase study exploring engineering career choice among rural students. Using interview and focus group data collected from current engineering students in Phase 1, Phase 2 turned to community members, including high school personnel, local industry leaders, members of local governments, and members of key community organizations (e.g., 4-H). Using interviews with 16 participants across 3 communities, we address the following question: What beliefs, experiences, and practices characterize community members or organizations who support or encourage rural students to choose engineering?

The interviews explored the participants’ perceptions of their community overall, resources that helped students explore postsecondary options, barriers students faced to enrolling in postsecondary education/engineering, understanding of engineering as a field both generally and for students from that community, and ways [University Name] can be a better community partner and fulfill its mission as a public institution. This project aims to broaden participation in engineering by gaining a holistic understanding of the communities that effectively support engineering major choice for rural students and provide contextual methods of increasing support for students from these rural areas.

Vaziri, S. L., & Paretti, M. C., & Grohs, J. R., & Baum, L. M., & McGlothlin Lester, M., & Newbill, P. L. (2020, June), Broadening the Participation of Rural Students in Engineering: Exploring Community Perspectives Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34230

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