Asee peer logo

Developing an Instrument of Classroom Social Engagement

Download Paper |


2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Problem Solving, Adaptive Expertise, and Social Engagement

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Nathaniel Hunsu University of Georgia

visit author page

Nathaniel Hunsu is currently an assistant professor of engineering education at the University of Georgia. He is affiliated with the Engineering Education Transformational Institute and the school electrical and computer engineering at the university. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in electronic and computer engineering from the Lagos State University in Nigeria, a Masters in Project management from the University of Sunderland, and a PhD in Educational Psychology from Washington State University. His research interests include learning and cognition, students’ engagement, and the assessment of learning and students engagements, in engineering classrooms. His expertise also include the development and validation of measurement inventories, systematic reviews and meta-analysis, and quantitative research designs.

visit author page


Denise Rutledge Simmons P.E. Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Denise R. Simmons, Ph.D., PE, LEED-AP, is an assistant professor in the Myers-Lawson School of Construction and in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, and an affiliate faculty of the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. She holds a B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. in civil engineering and a graduate certificate in engineering education – all from Clemson University. She has over 10 years of experience working for energy companies and as a project management consultant. Her research contributes to the advancement of labor and personnel issues in engineering broadly and specifically in the construction industry through two research areas: untangling the complex relationship between activities people become involved in — operationalized as engagement — and the technical and professional outcomes gained — operationalized as competencies. The broader impact of this work lies in achieving and sustaining productive, diverse and inclusive project organizations composed of engaged, competent people. Dr. Simmons’ research is supported by awards from NSF, including a CAREER award. She oversees the Simmons Research Lab (, which is home to a dynamic, interdisciplinary mix of undergraduate and graduate students and a post-doctoral researcher from various colleges and departments at Virginia Tech who work together to explore engineering and construction human centered issues with an emphasis on understanding difference and disparity.

visit author page


Shane A. Brown P.E. Oregon State University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Shane Brown is an associate professor and Associate School Head in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Oregon State University. His research interests include conceptual change and situated cognition. He received the NSF CAREER award in 2010 and is working on a study to characterize practicing engineers’ understandings of core engineering concepts. He is a Senior Associate Editor for the Journal of Engineering Education.

visit author page


Olusola Adesope Washington State University

visit author page

Dr. Olusola O. Adesope is an Associate Professor of Educational Psychology and a Boeing Distinguished Professor of STEM Education at Washington State University, Pullman. His research is at the intersection of educational psychology, learning sciences, and instructional design and technology. His recent research focuses on the cognitive and pedagogical underpinnings of learning with computer-based multimedia resources; knowledge representation through interactive concept maps; meta-analysis of empirical research, and investigation of instructional principles and assessments in STEM.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Student engagement plays a pivotal role in the formation of engineers because it is central to many significant predictors of the academic and career success of engineering students. Research has shown that the kind of social interactions that students maintain with peers and instructors within their academic community influence their connectedness and social capital. Students’ social capital impacts their access to resources that are vital to academic success, and may eventually affect their sense of belonging, resilience and grit, and the need to put in the effort needed for academic career success. Besides the importance of social networks and capital to students’ engagement and academic achievement, research on social engagement has received renewed interest lately due to advances in methodologies of social network analysis. These studies are enabled by measurement instruments that purport to assess indicators of social engagement in the classroom.

Although increased interest in social engagement is commendable, the data driving this research has mostly relied on analysis of the frequency of social interactions observed among students. While such analyses provide useful metrics for understanding social engagement, they are limited in helping researchers understand the underlying reasons for these engagement activities. To fill this gap, we are developing an instrument of social engagement that uses constructs of social capital, engagement and social networks to explicate the richer context of student social engagement as it relates to their interpersonal interactions with peers and faculty. In the current proposal, we present a psychometric study of a section of the instrument.

Five hundred and thirty four participants completed a social network instrument that assessed their interaction with peers, graduate assistants, and instructors based on 11 items created to assess three constructs of social engagement: value, reciprocity and conduit of belonging. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to examine the structural validity and reliability of the hypothesized construct.

An initial factor analysis showed that our data did not support the three factor-model we hypothesized (CFI = .841, RMSEA = .161). The final model indicates that the data from students’ responses only supported a 2-factor model with 7 items (CFI = .986, RMSEA = .089). Internal reliability of the two-scales were .94 and .89 Cronbach’s alpha. The full paper will discuss scale revision.

Hunsu, N., & Simmons, D. R., & Brown, S. A., & Adesope, O. (2018, June), Developing an Instrument of Classroom Social Engagement Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30298

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2018 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015