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Effects of Research and Internship Experiences on Engineering Task Self-Efficacy on Engineering Students Through an Intersectional Lens

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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

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Abisola Coretta Kusimo Stanford University - Mechanical Engineering Dept.

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Abisola Kusimo received her bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering with minors in Rhetoric Communication, Engineering Leadership Development, and Technology Entrepreneurship from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2015. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Stanford with a focus on Additive Manufacturing in highly-constrained environments and is a National GEM Ph.D. Fellow, American Association of University Women (AAUW) Selected Professions Fellow, and an Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) Fellow. Abisola currently holds a year-long teaching assistant position for a graduate course on “Engineering, Design, Entrepreneurship and Innovation.” She has conducted both qualitative and quantitative research within a variety of fields in mechanical engineering as well as co-authored a journal article and conference paper. Abisola’s research interests include intersectionality, equity, and the accessibility of opportunities within engineering.

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Marissa Elena Thompson Stanford University

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Marissa Thompson is a second year Ph.D. student in the Sociology of Education program in the Stanford Graduate School of Education, and is also pursuing an M.A. in Sociology. Her research interests include access and equity in STEM education, quantitative education policy analysis, and higher education. She is a Stanford Graduate (SGF) Fellow, an Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Fellow, and an Enhancing Diversity in Graduate Education (EDGE) Fellow. Prior to Stanford, she graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.S.E. in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016.

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Sara A. Atwood Elizabethtown College

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Dr. Sara A. Atwood is an Associate Professor and Chair of Engineering at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. She holds a BA and MS from Dartmouth College, and PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Atwood’s research interests are in creativity, engineering design, first-generation and low-income students, internship experiences, and criterion-based course structures.

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Sheri Sheppard Stanford University

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Sheri D. Sheppard, Ph.D., P.E., is professor of Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University. Besides teaching both undergraduate and graduate design and education related classes at Stanford University, she conducts research on engineering education and work-practices, and applied finite element analysis. From 1999-2008 she served as a Senior Scholar at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, leading the Foundation’s engineering study (as reported in Educating Engineers: Designing for the Future of the Field). In addition, in 2011 Dr. Sheppard was named as co-PI of a national NSF innovation center (Epicenter), and leads an NSF program at Stanford on summer research experiences for high school teachers. Her industry experiences includes engineering positions at Detroit's "Big Three:" Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, and Chrysler Corporation.

At Stanford she has served a chair of the faculty senate, and recently served as Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Education.

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High-impact academic experiences, particularly research and internship experiences, have positive impacts for engineering students on engineering task self-efficacy (ETSE), a measure of students’ perception of their ability to perform technical engineering tasks. However, under-represented racial/ethnic minority students (URM) and women in engineering are found to have relatively lower self-perceptions across several academic and professional self-efficacy measures. Previous studies examined the impact of research and internship experiences on ETSE for students categorized by gender and URM status separately. The current study explores the impact of these experiences on ETSE for the intersection between these two identity categories.

This study found that both non-URM and URM women that participated in research and internship experiences had lower ETSE scores than non-URM and URM men, respectively. However, URM women that participated in both research and internship experiences had a statistically similar ETSE score to non-URM men that had not participated in either. This study uses multiple linear regression to measure the association between engineering internships and student’s reported ETSE (effects of participating in research were not found to be significant across identities). Preliminary findings indicate that differences in ETSE between internship participants and non-participants are highest for URM women when compared to their counterparts. Consistent with the literature, this research finds that there is a greater positive effect in ETSE scores, as a result of participation in both research and internship experiences, for URM women than their majority counterparts.

These preliminary results provide a foundation for further studies to causally investigate the link between academic experiences and self-efficacy levels for students who are underrepresented in engineering programs. Future implications of this work include the creation of targeted intervention efforts to increase support for all URM students’ access and participation in research and internship experiences. Additionally, this work seeks to challenge the bias towards monolithic interpretations of women and URM engineering students as separate categories and encourage intersectional perspectives when analyzing data to produce more inclusive results.

Kusimo, A. C., & Thompson, M. E., & Atwood, S. A., & Sheppard, S. (2018, June), Effects of Research and Internship Experiences on Engineering Task Self-Efficacy on Engineering Students Through an Intersectional Lens Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30363

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