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Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering: Students’ Perceptions of Learning and Engaging with Difference

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Conference

2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Diversity and Inclusion: Concepts, Mental Models, and Interventions

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/30340

Download Count

17

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Paper Authors

biography

Sean M. Eddington Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Sean Eddington is a doctoral candidate in the Brian Lamb School of Communication studying organizational communication. He earned his B.A. in History from Purdue University, and his M.S. from Northwest Missouri State University. Sean’s research interests exist at the intersections of organizational communication, online organizing, resilience, and gender. He has researched new engineering faculty experiences throughout their on-boarding process, and has been published in 2015 Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education along with his research team. Eddington has also served as a series editor, contributed to trade publications, and facilitated workshops all related to higher education administrators’ work experiences.

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Carla B. Zoltowski Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Carla B. Zoltowski is an assistant professor of engineering practice in the Schools of Electrical and Computer Engineering and (by courtesy) Engineering Education at Purdue University. She holds a B.S.E.E., M.S.E.E., and Ph.D. in Engineering Education, all from Purdue. Prior to this she was Co-Director of the EPICS Program at Purdue where she was responsible for developing curriculum and assessment tools and overseeing the research efforts within EPICS. Her academic and research interests include the professional formation of engineers, diversity and inclusion in engineering, human-centered design, engineering ethics, leadership, service-learning, and accessibility and assistive-technology.

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Andrew O. Brightman Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Andrew O. Brightman serves as Assistant Head for Academic Affairs and Associate Professor of Engineering Practice in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. His research background is in cellular biochemistry, tissue engineering, and engineering ethics. He is committed to developing effective pedagogies for ethical reasoning and engineering design and for increasing the diversity and inclusion of engineering education.

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Rucha Joshi Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Rucha received her BS in Biotechnology from Kolhapur, India and thereafter came to Vanderbilt University to work on her MS developing smart bio-materials for drug delivery applications. A biomedical engineer with expertise in biomaterials, tissue engineering, and drug delivery, Rucha is now pursuing post-doctoral research in biomedical engineering education. She is passionate about STEM pedagogy, design thinking, project-based learning and educational entrepreneurship.

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Patrice Marie Buzzanell Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Patrice M. Buzzanell is a Professor in the Brian Lamb School of Communication and the School of Engineering Education (courtesy) at Purdue University. Editor of three books and author of over 150 articles and chapters, her research centers on the intersections of career, gender communication, leadership, and resilience. Fellow and past president of the International Communication Association, she has received numerous awards for her research, teaching/mentoring, and engagement. She is working on Purdue-ADVANCE initiatives for institutional change, the Transforming Lives Building Global Communities (TLBGC) team in Ghana through EPICS, and individual engineering ethical development and team ethical climate scales as well as everyday negotiations of ethics in design through NSF funding as Co-PI. [Email: buzzanel@purdue.edu]

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David Torres Purdue University, West Lafayette

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David is a fourth year doctoral candidate in the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University pursuing a PhD in Organizational Communication with a minor in data analysis and research methodology. His research interests reside at the intersection of organizational communication, identity, design, and organizational ethics.

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Abstract

This project explores how engineering students understand diversity and inclusion within their engineering programs, and how these understandings are shaped by aspects of the environment in which they are situated. Our study is a component of a broader research project that is examining the seemingly intractable problems of diversity and inclusion that emerge through the converging threads of formation of professional identity and culture of engineering disciplines. In this study we utilized a qualitative analysis of interview data to explore the undergraduate students’ perceptions of diversity and inclusion within the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) at Purdue University [1]. Our interview draws upon cultural dimensions of engineering disciplines that encourage student to reflect upon and assess diversity and inclusion efforts within ECE [2]. To interrogate students’ perceptions of diversity and inclusion, we interviewed 13 current or past undergraduate ECE students. With nearly 40 percent of the undergraduate ECE students identifying as international students, such a significant international population poses tremendous learning opportunities as well as challenges related to diversity and inclusion. Thus, formal efforts within ECE have been made to bridge cultural differences, develop intercultural competencies, and promote inclusion of internationally and domestically diverse ECE members. However, these efforts have met with mixed results. Our analysis of the interview data suggests that these efforts often were not aligned with literature about how to successfully bridge culture differences in that they lacked an explicit focus on students’ understandings of diversity and inclusion, nor did they provide opportunities for students to reflect on their personal and educational experiences.

In what follows, we first examine the framing of scholarship about diversity and inclusion within engineering and then draw upon literature using Kolb’s experiential learning models to illuminate the transformational nature that reflection plays within establishing ways of viewing complex social problems. With this combination and reimagining of reflection as a pathway to more deeply understanding diversity and inclusion, we describe our research methods, data analysis, and the findings from our qualitative analysis. Finally, we conclude with a discussion of the tensions pertaining to difference and sameness that emerged through our analysis. Namely, formal efforts within ECE required both scaffolding and intentionality. Without proper facilitation, the central role that diversity and inclusion plays within professional formation appeared forced, created more cultural isolation, or students ignored these efforts altogether to complete assignments. We conclude by offering both theoretical and pragmatic implications for engineering curriculum.

Eddington, S. M., & Zoltowski, C. B., & Brightman, A. O., & Joshi, R., & Buzzanell, P. M., & Torres, D. (2018, June), Diversity and Inclusion in Engineering: Students’ Perceptions of Learning and Engaging with Difference Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30340

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