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Critically Quantitative: Measuring Community Cultural Wealth on Surveys

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Assessing Hard-to-Measure Constructs in Engineering Education: Assessment Design and Validation Studies

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Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Daiki Hiramori University of Washington Orcid 16x16

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Daiki Hiramori is a Graduate Research Assistant at the Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity (CERSE) at the University of Washington. His research interests include quantitative methodology, queer and feminist studies, sexuality and gender stratification, demography of sexual orientation and gender identity, and Japanese society. In addition to an MA in Sociology and a Graduate Certificate in Feminist Studies from the University of Washington, he holds a BA in Sociology with a minor in Mathematics from International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan.

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Emily Knaphus-Soran University of Washington

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Emily Knaphus-Soran is a Senior Research Scientist at the Center for Evaluation and Research for STEM Equity (CERSE) at the University of Washington. She works on the evaluation of several projects aimed at improving diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM fields. She also conducts research on the social-psychological and institutional forces that contribute to the persistence of race and class inequalities in the United States. Emily earned a PhD and MA in Sociology from the University of Washington, and a BA in Sociology from Smith College.

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Elizabeth Litzler University of Washington

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Elizabeth Litzler, Ph.D., is the director of the University of Washington Center for Evaluation and Research for STEM Equity (UW CERSE) and an affiliate assistant professor of sociology. She has been at UW working on STEM Equity issues for more than 17 years. Dr. Litzler is a member of ASEE, 2020-2021 chair of the ASEE Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and a former board member of the Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN). Her research interests include the educational climate for students, faculty, and staff in science and engineering, assets based approaches to STEM equity, and gender and race stratification in education and the workforce. She was awarded the 2020 WEPAN Founders Award.

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Much of the educational research on diversity, equity, and inclusion in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields has taken a deficits-based approach, focusing on how students who are systemically marginalized based on racial and ethnic status lack the cultural resources valued by the dominant group that contribute to success in STEM. In recent years, however, there has been an increasing number of studies that employ the concept of community cultural wealth (CCW) proposed by a critical race scholar Tara J. Yosso (2005) to understand the persistence of marginalized students in engineering (For example, see Samuelson and Litzler 2016). The CCW framework identifies distinct cultural resources nurtured through families and communities that students who are systemically marginalized based on racial and ethnic status possess. Most of the existing literature on CCW exclusively utilizes qualitative methods, contributing to rich theory development and exploration of the lived experience of students from marginalized groups. In this project, we utilize a mixed-methods approach to develop a quantitative measure of CCW in order to develop a broader understanding of the extent to which students from marginalized groups possess the various dimensions of CCW and are able to activate/access CCW to succeed in STEM. In doing so, we answer to recent calls for an increased utilization of quantitative methods for examining critical race theory (CRT), or “QuantCrit” (Garcia et al. 2018).

Our study is conducted in collaboration with the Pacific Northwest Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (PNW LSAMP), an NSF-funded project to broaden participation of underrepresented undergraduate students in STEM. This study follows best practices for survey questionnaire design. First, we conducted literature review of the few existing survey instruments that attempt to measure CCW as well as literature review of CRT and its historical relationship with quantitative methods. Second, we interviewed 11 students across the PNW LSAMP alliance to help inform the development of our CCW scale. Third, six of these students participated in a follow-up cognitive interview which involved answering probing questions about the clarity and focus of survey questions. Fourth, we piloted our CCW survey questions on the 2020 annual student survey conducted every spring for program evaluation purposes. A total of 660 students agreed to participate in the educational research part of the survey.

We are currently in the process of analyzing survey data to refine and validate our CCW scale. In particular, while acknowledging the fact that each form of CCW is deeply intertwined with one another and no type of CCW exists in a silo, we ask questions such as: What does exploratory factor analysis suggest regarding the structure of the CCW scale? Do the results from confirmatory factor analysis statistically support the six-dimensional structure of CCW as proposed by Yosso (2005)? We consider that this work-in-progress paper has potential to illustrate how quantitative research may be used to empirically evaluate the claims of CRT and how CRT, in turn, may be used to inform quantitative research. We are especially seeking for feedback from critical race scholars.

Hiramori, D., & Knaphus-Soran, E., & Litzler, E. (2021, July), Critically Quantitative: Measuring Community Cultural Wealth on Surveys Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36880

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