June 22, 2008
June 22, 2008
June 25, 2008
Women in Engineering
13.283.1 - 13.283.12
Challenges and Benefits of Running a Multi-institutional Recruitment and Retention Engineering Program
Low enrollment of underrepresented minority (URM) and female students in engineering is of national concern. In 2002, six colleges at the four year and community college level, along with several other key institutions collaborated to form the Northwest Engineering Talent Expansion Partnership (NW-ETEP). The main goal of the project is to increase the number of URMs and females who earn undergraduate engineering degrees, but it also provides a unique opportunity to discuss the challenges and benefits of multi-institutional research. Collaborative research and evaluation is becoming common practice amongst those interested in the underrepresentation of URMs in science and engineering 1. While the concept and benefits of coalitions are well accepted, the challenges of multi-institutional analysis are often undiscussed 3. This exploratory paper will discuss the challenges and rewards of participating in a multi-institutional collaboration.
The findings from this paper will add to the scant literature focusing on the challenges of multi- institutional collaborations. Moreover, this paper specifically addresses the challenges of collaborative efforts for those interested in recruitment, retention, and assessment. Since multi- institutional research and evaluation are becoming frequent, it is important to address this gap in the literature as well as provide a model and guidance for future collaborative efforts.
Coalitions are touted as best practice when it comes to redesigning how engineering education is delivered, especially to diverse student populations1. Among the benefits of multi-institutional efforts are the opportunities to synthesize knowledge, resources, and efforts for a common goal 1, 3, 6, 8, 10 . Coalitions have had many successes, but also present some difficulties. The literature, including a typology of collaborations is reviewed in more detail in the “Findings” section below.
NW-ETEP collaborations yielded the similar obstacles identified within the literature: dissemination, geographical challenges, and the demand of additional responsibilities 1, 3, 6, 8, 10. Even though the challenges were similar, the extent is not as pervasive as previous findings. Because of study limitations, such as numbers of participants and location, our findings are not generalizable. However, our study replicates the same difficulties that other studies have found, suggesting that our findings have some merit and may provide conditions that will alleviate the challenges of multi-institutional collaborations.
One of the significant contributions of this paper is how adapting relationship styles can reduce dissemination challenges 8. Another feature of this paper is to extend our understanding of the difficulties of geographical diversity, as well as suggest how geographical distances can be closed through structured communication. The challenges of additional duties are discussed, but suggestions for future research are made. Lastly, this paper adds to the literature of collaborative research by exploring some of the challenges of the evaluation research in a collaborative environment.
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