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This research aims to provide insight on the impact of course assignments on a students’ “engineering identity,” a term that aims to capture one’s sense of being an “engineering person” and belonging to the field of engineering. Past research has shown that a strong engineering identity and sense of belonging are important factors for students to persevere and thrive in engineering, both academically and professionally. Research suggests that underrepresented groups, such as women and racialized students, may feel less of a sense of belonging and identity within engineering. By understanding how first-year engineering instructors can build science identity among women and racialized students through the introduction of a community-based learning project, coursework and the curriculum can be structured in such a manner that supports the students’ sense of belonging and connection to the field of engineering. In the community-based learning course project, first-year University of Waterloo architectural, civil, environmental, and geological engineering students were required to teach mechanics concepts to Grade 7 and 8 students, while focusing on how engineers benefit society through these concepts. By encouraging students to make this connection, students should be more inclined to further pursue engineering once they realize the importance of it to society. At the end of the project, students were asked to reflect on their experiences using reflection reports and focus group discussions. The results illustrate a significant increase of interest, sense of belonging and confidence in their competent abilities from the engineering students, especially among females and racialized students.
Al-Hammoud, R., & Jonahs, A., & Pasalkar, V. (2022, August), Building Science Identity Among First-Year Engineering Students Through a Community-Based Project Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/41509
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