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Do I Think I’m an Engineer? Understanding the Impact of Engineering Identity on Retention

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

ERM Technical Session 9: Persistence and Retention

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

17

DOI

10.18260/1-2--32674

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32674

Download Count

210

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Paper Authors

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Bryce E. Hughes Montana State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9414-394X

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Bryce E. Hughes is an Assistant Professor in Adult and Higher Education at Montana State University, and holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Organizational Change from the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as an M.A. in Student Development Administration from Seattle University and a B.S. in General Engineering from Gonzaga University. His research interests include teaching and learning in engineering, STEM education policy, and diversity and equity in STEM.

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William J. Schell IV P.E. Montana State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-8626-1671

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William J. Schell holds a Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering – Engineering Management from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and M.S. and B.S. degrees in Industrial and Management Engineering from Montana State University (MSU). He is Associate Professor in Industrial and Management Systems Engineering and Associate Director of the Montana Engineering Education Research Center at MSU with research interests in engineering education and the role of leadership and culture in process improvement. His research is supported by the NSF and industry and has received numerous national and international awards. He is an elected Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Management and serves as an Associate Editor for both the Engineering Management Journal and Quality Approaches in Higher Education. Prior to his academic career, Schell spent 14 years in industry where he held leadership positions focused on process improvement and organizational development.

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Brett Tallman P.E. Montana State University

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Brett Tallman is currently a Doctoral student in Engineering at Montana State University (MSU), with focus on engineering leadership. His previous degrees include a Masters degree in Education from MSU (active learning in an advanced quantum mechanics environment) and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell. Prior to his academic career, he worked in the biotech (Lead Engineer), product design, and automotive (Toyota) sectors for 14 years, and is a licensed Professional Engineer. He has also taught high school and attended seminary. You can find more of his engineering education work at educadia.org or on his YouTube channel.

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Romy Beigel Montana State University

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Romy Beigel is a senior at Montana State University pursuing a B.S. in Industrial and Management Systems Engineering and a B.A. in Honor's Liberal Studies. Romy is a member of IISE, Alpha Pi Mu, and the Montana State Women in Engineering Advisory Board. Her previous professional experience includes an internship with The Boeing Company and undergraduate research work with the Space Science and Engineering Lab at Montana State.

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Emma Annand Montana State University

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Emma Annand is striving for a B.S. in Industrial and Management System Engineering at Montana State University – Bozeman. Emma is a research assistant for MSU's NSF supported engineering leadership identity development project. She is also the fundraising team lead for MSU's chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB@MSU). Over the summer of 2018, Emma traveled with EWB@MSU to Khwisero, Kenya to implement a borehole well at a primary school there. During the summer of 2019, Emma will once again travel to Khwisero – this time to assess for a structure at a secondary school.

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Monika Kwapisz Montana State University

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Monika Blue Kwapisz (they/them) is an undergraduate at Montana State University studying Industrial and Management Systems Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. Monika is the president of MSU's Out in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (oSTEM) chapter, a cross-country ski coach, and an avid outdoors-person.

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Abstract

National reports have indicated colleges and universities need to increase the number of students graduating with engineering degrees to meet anticipated job openings in the near-term future. Fields like engineering are critical to the nation’s economic strength and competitiveness globally, and engineering expertise is needed to solve society’s most pressing problems. Yet only about 40% of students who aspire to an engineering degree follow the path to complete one, and an even smaller percentage of those students continue into an engineering career. Underlying students’ motivation to transform their engineering interest into an engineering career is the psychological construct of engineering identity. Engineering identity reflects the extent to which a person identifies with being an engineer. Previous research has focused on experiences or interventions that promote engineering identity, and some qualitative work has suggested students who are retained in engineering experience differences in engineering identity, but little research has tested the relationship between retention and engineering identity, especially modeling change in engineering identity over four years of college. The data for this study were taken from the 2013 College Senior Survey (CSS), administered to students at the end of their fourth year of college by the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) at the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. Students’ responses to CSS items were then matched to their responses to the Freshman Survey (TFS), also administered by CIRP, at the very beginning of their first year of college. For this study, all students who indicated their intended major as engineering at the start of college constituted the sample, which included 1205 students at 72 universities. The dependent variable is a dichotomous variable indicating if students marked engineering as their major at the end of the fourth year of college. The main independent variable of interest in this study is engineering identity. Engineering identity was computed using exploratory factor analysis with three items from the CSS indicating the importance to students of becoming an authority in their chosen field, being recognized for contributions to their field, and making theoretical contributions to science. Hierarchical generalized linear modeling with robust standard errors was used to model engineering retention as the dependent variable was dichotomous in nature and the data were “nested” in structure (students nested within universities). Control variables include a pretest of engineering identity from the TFS, college experiences known to predict retention and other outcomes in engineering, demographic variables, precollege academic preparation, choice of engineering major, academic and social self-concept at college entry, and institutional characteristics. In the final model, engineering identity was a significant predictor of engineering retention, controlling for all other factors including the engineering identity pretest.

Hughes, B. E., & Schell, W. J., & Tallman, B., & Beigel, R., & Annand, E., & Kwapisz, M. (2019, June), Do I Think I’m an Engineer? Understanding the Impact of Engineering Identity on Retention Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32674

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