June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
A much acknowledged and discussed problem within education has been the lack of engineering and STEM student retention. Data shows that in regard to numbers of women and minorities, this issue is even greater. However, while it has been an identified topic for several years, it tragically continues unceasingly. There is a repetitive cycle of an underrepresentation of minorities and women in the engineering and STEM fields combining with a lower sense of belonging because of being underrepresented. This trend leads to lower interest and retention, and so goes the cycle. Studies have shown that even the ambient environment can signal belongingness, or a lack thereof, to outside groups that do not meet the cultural stereotypes. To challenge this dilemma in an engineering makerspace and initiate change, this study will investigate the effect of nonverbal cues in an engineering makerspace environment to address the issue of underrepresentation and retention.
Makerspaces on college campuses are steadily growing in popularity and are frequently where students may prototype personal and class projects and utilize resources such as 3D printers, laser etchers, CNC machines, sewing machines, embroiderers, silk-screening, and other tooling/crafting machinery. While these machines that are available for engineering students to use in the makerspace are not intended to be gender/racially biased, the presence of equipment may signal that some students’ prior experiences are more highly valued than others. Further, makerspaces reporting user demographics have not been equally balanced in usage rates by gender. A hypothesis is that the imbalance is due to ambient identity cues which do not accurately portray a fully representative population. With the unveiling of a new makerspace in the recently completed Engineering and Science building, this study seeks to capitalize on the opportunity to implement targeted studies through the use of inclusive posters on the walls, student works’ displays, and descriptive text in project manuals. This paper presents the initial stages of this project that collects data on maker stereotypes and develops a survey to measure the effect of makerspace environment on the sense of student belonging.
Hotchkiss, S. A., & Talley, K. G., & Londa, M., & Talley, A. (2019, June), Do I Belong in a Makerspace?: Investigating Student Belonging and Non-verbal Cues in a University Makerspace Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32673
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