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Engaging Women Engineering Undergraduates as Peer Facilitators in Participatory Action Research Focus Groups

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

17

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37049

Download Count

78

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Paper Authors

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Susan Thomson Tripathy University of Massachusetts Lowell Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-5359-6045

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Dr. Susan Thomson Tripathy received a Ph.D. in Anthropology from Harvard University in 1989. Her doctoral research was funded by a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation grant, and utilized ethnographic fieldwork in rural Bihar, India, to analyze the politics and artistic development of a local dance form. From 1995-2007, Tripathy taught behavioral sciences at Middlesex Community College (MCC), where she was an active participant and researcher in MCC’s extensive community service-learning program. In 2007, she became the Director of Research at Germaine Lawrence, a residential treatment center for adolescent girls in Arlington MA, focusing on program evaluation and outcomes after discharge. Since 2011, Dr. Tripathy has been teaching in the Sociology department at University of Massachusetts Lowell. She received teaching awards for applied and experiential learning in 2013 and 2014, was promoted to Associate Teaching Professor in 2018, and received the UMass Lowell Teaching Excellence Award in Sociology in 2018. From 2016-2019, Dr. Tripathy was the Director of the Bachelor of Liberal Arts program, an interdisciplinary major with an enrollment of 250 undergraduate students. During 2018-2020, she collaborated with Dr. Kavitha Chandra to utilize participatory action research (PAR) as an evaluation approach for the Research, Academics, and Mentoring Pathways (RAMP) summer program for first-year women engineering students.

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Kavitha Chandra University of Massachusetts Lowell

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Kavitha Chandra is the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering in the Francis College of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. She directs the Research, Academics and Mentoring Pathways (RAMP) to Success program that aims to establish successful pathways to graduate school and interdisciplinary careers for new undergraduate students. Dr. Chandra’s research interests include design of data-driven stochastic models for applications in acoustics, communication networks and predictive analytics in education.

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Hsien-Yuan Hsu University of Massachusetts Lowell Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-2155-2093

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Dr. Hsien-Yuan Hsu is an Assistant Professor in Research and Evaluation in the College of Education at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. Dr. Hsu received his PhD in Educational Psychology from Texas A&M University and has a background of statistics education. He works closely with researchers in STEM to pursue high quality of STEM education for future researchers. He is currently participating in an NSF-funded grant (#1923452) to spearhead research into middle school students’ digital literacies and assessment. Recently, Dr. Hsu has received a seed grant at UML to investigate how undergraduate engineering students’ digital inequalities and self-directed learning characteristics (e.g., self-efficacy) affect their learning outcomes in a virtual laboratory environment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Hsu’s research interests include advanced quantitative design and analysis and their applications in STEM education, large-scale assessment data (e.g., PISA), and engineering students’ perception of faculty encouragement and mentoring.

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Yanfen Li University of Massachusetts Lowell Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-9465-7147

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Yanfen Li is an Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. She received her PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. Her current research is in engineering education with a focus on curriculum development and retention of female and minority students in
engineering.

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Diane Reichlen University of Massachusetts Lowell

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Diane Reichlen is a successful engineering executive with extensive experience in motivating and inspiring engineers to be innovative, collaborative, and to use critical thinking skills. She has over 20 years of experience leading engineering teams in Computer Information Technology and Management. Diane was VP of Engineering at Dell Technologies from 2013 to 2018, where she led all quality engineering activities for their market leading Enterprise Storage and Software Solutions. Prior to Dell, Diane held several leadership positions for cybersecurity engineering teams. She served as VP of Engineering at CA Technologies from 2007 to 2013 where she led the Identity Management engineering team for their Security Software and Products organization. Prior to CA, Diane served as Director of Engineering at Symantec from 1997 to 2007. At Symantec she led the Norton 360 engineering team and was responsible for all engineering activities related to the delivery of Symantec’s consumer security suite which included software to protect against viruses, spyware, malware, phishing, trojan horses and other online threats. She also directed the activities of the development team who converted a software Firewall/VPN product into a market leading Unified Threat Management appliance which included Antivirus and Content Filtering.

Diane Reichlen is effective at creating and mobilizing large, geographically dispersed teams to meet the demands of competitive and aggressive engineering deliverables. Strengths include the ability to recognize the unique talents each engineer has, and how best to exploit those talents in order to bring success.

Diane holds a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Computer Science from Boston College.

Diane is on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/dianereichlen

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Abstract

The enrollment of females in engineering degree programs has not significantly improved for several decades. Nationally, the percentage of females enrolled in engineering degree pathways in four-year public universities has remained in the 15 – 20% range and that number for females who are also students of color is around 5%. With major efforts and financial resources having been applied to address this problem, there is currently a need to carefully identify and assess strategies and models that have demonstrably contributed to the persistence of women in engineering degree pathways. Among such models are the inclusion of counter spaces in STEM environments for underrepresented groups, peer mentors and mentoring opportunities as well as the students’ own agency in creating environments that promote belonging and success in the program. This study is part of a longitudinal effort at a public university in New England that begins with a summer program offered to incoming female students in engineering majors and continues with opportunities and support for the participants to become engaged as peer mentors and focus group facilitators in subsequent years. Using the results of a survey on student experiences in engineering majors administered to all students in their junior and senior years, we analyze the responses from participants in the summer program with those from students who did not have this opportunity. We also analyze the agency of those who have participated in the summer program with respect to their engagement in mentoring, leadership roles and efforts in recruiting students and facilitating focus groups. We will use a participatory action research (PAR) approach to examine how student-driven program evaluation processes can be used to formulate action steps for program change and increase sense of belonging, personal agency, and engineering identity among engineering undergraduates.

Tripathy, S. T., & Chandra, K., & Hsu, H., & Li, Y., & Reichlen, D. (2021, July), Engaging Women Engineering Undergraduates as Peer Facilitators in Participatory Action Research Focus Groups Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37049

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