June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Educational Research and Methods
26.405.1 - 26.405.12
Evidence-Based Practice: Continuously Improving a Diversity- Bolstering System through Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative XYZ Program FacetsFor 30 years, U.S. colleges of engineering have created specialized programs committed toattracting and retaining diverse populations of engineering students. Focused primarily on singleinterventions, these programs have produced significant assessment and research results, yetnational achievement in broadening participation in engineering has remained relatively flat.Pathways to and through engineering programs appear blocked to students fromunderrepresented groups; potential remedies remain unclear. This paper challenges the notionthat single “silver bullet” approaches can sufficiently expand access pathways. We posit thatholistic investigations, characterizing the multi-faceted components of a broadeningparticipation system, are key to successfully increasing diversity in engineering.For five years we have investigated and honed an inclusive excellence1 system aimed atbroadening the participation of underrepresented students. A main facet of this system is theEngineering XYZ Program. This paper focuses on the mixed-method research process used toassess and continuously redesign academic components of the model at the core of the system,specifically three science, math and engineering design foundation courses.We compare both quantitative and qualitative student results in three access pathways: direct-admit to the engineering major of student choice (including an “open option” route); the XYZEngineering performance-enhancing year program; and a new pre-engineering program. Direct-admit students are “traditional” students who are admitted to the engineering college the firstyear. XYZ students are also admitted to the engineering college if they agree to participate in theperformance enhancing year Engineering XYZ Program. Pre-engineering students are arts andsciences majors who are provided guidance and support to earn their way to engineeringadmission over two to four semesters.Three courses common to many direct-admit XYZ and pre-engineering students are the First-Year Engineering Projects course, the new Precalculus for Engineers, and Engineering Physics.The qualitative and quantitative student outcomes in each of the three different access pathwayshave been assessed in each course and are shared in this paper.Various qualitative methods were employed, including ethnographic fieldwork, indirectobservations in courses and learning communities, focus-groups and ethnographic interviews.Constant comparative analysis, involving concurrent engagement in data collection and analysis,served as the primary analytic approach for the ethnographic data. The analysis of earlyfieldwork led to a preliminary grounded theory, which in turn led to further fieldwork to refinethe theory through multiple iterative cycles.Simultaneous quantitative methods employed included tracking student performance variables,pre- to post-test analysis using t-tests and repeated measure ANOVA, predictive analyses such asexhaustive CHAID, multiple regression and correlational analyses. 1 Inclusive excellence refers to creating pathways to and through engineering that promote success for a highly diverse student body throughlearning communities, engaging academics and innovative policies.Courses were continuously adjusted real-time during and between semesters to optimize studentlearning outcomes and experience. We highlight how the resulting suite of qualitative andquantitative results provide a complex picture of the student experience, facilitating rapid cyclingof the continuous improvement process. In just five years, the Engineering XYZ Program hasbecome a mainstay of the access, retention and performance components of the inclusiveexcellence system, and has dramatically shifted the engineering college’s diversity throughexcellence outcomes.Results from both qualitative and quantitative research suggest that when compared to direct-admit and pre-engineering students, some unique curricular and sociocultural components of theXYZ Program contribute to the success of the diverse students. These elements, and the specificmethods used to reveal the critical factors, will be detailed in the final paper.
Sullivan, J. F., & Myers, B. A., & O'Connor, K., & Peck, F. A., & Ennis, T. D., & Stites, N. A., & Louie, B., & Cafarella, J., & Kotys-Schwartz, D. A. (2015, June), Continuously Improving a Diversity-Bolstering System through Integrating Quantitative and Qualitative Engineering GoldShirt Program Facets Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23744
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