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Development and Refinement of Interview Protocol to Study Engineering Students' Beliefs and Identities

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: Identity

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Amy Kramer P.E. Ohio State University

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Amy Kramer is a graduate student and research associate at The Ohio State University in the Department of Engineering Education. She earned a B.S. and M.S. in Civil Engineering from The Ohio State University in 2010 and 2013, respectively. Most recently she worked as a structural engineering consultant in Columbus, OH where she specialized in the design of reinforced concrete and steel structures. Her current research interests in Engineering Education include engineering identity, beliefs about smartness, diversity and inclusion, and engineering culture.

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Emily Dringenberg Ohio State University

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Dr. Dringenberg is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Ohio State University. She holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering (Kansas State '08), a M.S. in Industrial Engineering (Purdue '14) and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education (Purdue ’15). Her team, Beliefs in Engineering Research Group (BERG), utilizes qualitative methods to explore beliefs in engineering. Her research has an overarching goal of leveraging engineering education research to shift the culture of engineering to be more realistic and inclusive--especially with regard to beliefs about decision making, smartness, and the causes of race- and gender-based minoritization. In general, she is always excited to learn new things and work with motivated individuals from diverse backgrounds to improve the experiences of people at any level in engineering education.

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Rachel Louis Kajfez Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Rachel Louis Kajfez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University. She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from Ohio State and earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. Her research interests focus on the intersection between motivation and identity of undergraduate and graduate students, first-year engineering programs, mixed methods research, and innovative approaches to teaching.

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Despite decades of research, the underrepresentation of non-male, and non-white individuals in engineering continues to be a critical problem. A widespread and commonly accepted approach to recruit and retain diverse individuals is to provide multiple pathways into engineering degree programs, such as offering introductory courses at community colleges or regional campuses. Although these pathways are intended to promote diversity, they are similar in structure to the educational tracking practices common within the K-12 context that extant research has shown often work to perpetuate social inequalities. Students in less prestigious tracks have lower educational aspirations and less favorable self-beliefs. As such, the objective of this research is to understand undergraduate engineering students’ beliefs and identities with respect to smartness and engineering from different institutionalized educational pathways. In our executive summary and poster, we report on the pilot phase of the project consisting of nine semi-structured one-on-one interviews with first-year engineering students across three different institutionalized educational pathways as well as the development and refinement of the interview protocol.

The pilot interview protocol was initially development to access the main constructs of interest for this research, beliefs about engineering and smartness as well as identity with respect to engineering and smartness. After the pilot interviews were completed, we utilized an interview protocol refinement approach and determined that the most insufficient portion of our initial protocol was the portion designed to have participants relate their engineering identity to their identity as smart (or not). As such, follow up questions were added to the protocol to provide clarity.

The refined interview protocol will be used during the next phase of the study. The full study will include interviews with 30 participants across six different pathways to understand how participation in different institutionalized pathways relates to students’ experiences, beliefs, and identities. These participants will be interviewed up to three times to follow their development as they transition beyond introductory engineering courses regardless of if they continue with the engineering or not. Our work will provide valuable insights into the complex beliefs and identities about engineering and smartness of students participating in different institutionalized pathways into engineering. Ultimately, we believe our findings will inform the ways in which this common structural approach to broadening participation is enacted in engineering.

Kramer, A., & Dringenberg, E., & Kajfez, R. L. (2020, June), Development and Refinement of Interview Protocol to Study Engineering Students' Beliefs and Identities Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34443

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