Salt Lake City, Utah
June 23, 2018
June 23, 2018
July 27, 2018
Educational Research and Methods
This research paper investigates how Hispanic engineering undergraduate students develop their identity as engineers. Identity is emerging as a potential lens for predicting student persistence in engineering. Hispanic engineering students are of particular interest due to their underrepresentation in the field and prior engineering identity studies. In particular, we seek to understand which factors may influence Hispanic students’ engineering identity development. We begin by answering the following research questions:
1. How do the engineering identity, extracurricular experiences, post-graduation career plans, and familial influence of Hispanic students attending a Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) differ from those of Hispanic students attending a Predominantly White Institution (PWI)? 2. How do the same measures differ for Hispanic students attending a PWI from those of non-Hispanic white students at that PWI? 3. How do the same measures differ for Hispanic students attending an HSI from those of non-Hispanic white students at that HSI?
To do so, we used a quantitative assessment approach to measure engineering identity, extracurricular experiences, post-graduation career plans, and familial influence of Hispanic undergraduates. To assess engineering identity development, we administered an online survey to students at The University of Texas at Austin (the PWI) and The University of Texas at El Paso (the HSI). This survey instrument, validated previously, asks participants to respond to a series of Likert-style and multiple-choice questions related to their intentions to persist in an engineering field. This instrument also includes a direct measure of engineering identity and items related to indirect measures of engineering identity; including constructs of engineering performance/competence, interest, and recognition. Further, we asked questions regarding participants’ demographic information and family backgrounds, such as mother’s educational level. We also surveyed students’ engineering experience, such as participation in engineering-related student organizations.
A total of 765 mechanical engineering undergraduate students completed the survey in the 2016-2017 academic year. T-tests and two-sample proportion Z-tests of independence were used to compare differences in survey responses between the HSI and PWI students. To address the first research question, we analyzed the responses from Hispanic students at both institutions (n=429). The results suggest that Hispanic HSI students exhibited a stronger engineering identity, greater interest in engineering, and stronger desire to work in an engineering job after graduation, as compared to PWI Hispanic students. PWI Hispanic students, however, exhibited higher rates of participation in engineering-related student organizations. For the second research question, we ran similar analyses comparing Hispanic and non-Hispanic white students from PWI (n=411). The only statistically significant difference between the groups to emerge was the mothers’ education level, which was higher for non-Hispanic students. To address the third research question, we ran similar analyses comparing Hispanic and non-Hispanic white students from HSI (n=354). No statistically significant differences emerged between Hispanic and non-Hispanic white students. Ultimately, this analysis may suggest that interventions targeted at raising student interest and connection to the profession may have a greater likelihood of impacting the engineering identity development of Hispanic students. Future studies will build on this work to develop models for predicting engineering identity development of Hispanic students.
Kendall, M. R., & Choe, N. H., & Denton, M., & Borrego, M. J. (2018, June), Engineering Identity Development of Hispanic Students Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. https://peer.asee.org/30411
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