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Engineering Pathways from High School to Workplace: A Review of the Literature

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Conference

2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Student Division (STDT) Technical Session 5: Motivation and Support for Success

Tagged Division

Student Division (STDT)

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

28

DOI

10.18260/1-2--43335

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/43335

Download Count

115

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Paper Authors

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D'Andre Jermaine Wilson-Ihejirika University of Toronto, Canada

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D’Andre Wilson-Ihejirika is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto within the Institute for Studies in Transdisciplinary Engineering Education & Practice (ISTEP). Prior to that she worked for many years as an engineer and project manager in the Oil & Gas industry. She is originally from Nassau, Bahamas, and completed her B.Eng in Chemical Engineering at McGill University and her MASc. from the Centre for Management of Technology and Entrepreneurship (CMTE) at the University of Toronto. She also currently sits as the President of the Board for BrainSTEM Alliance and is the Executive Director of Work Integrated Learning at the Calgary Economic Development.

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Qin Liu University of Toronto, Canada

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Dr. Qin Liu is a Senior Research Associate with the Institute for Studies in Transdisciplinary Engineering Education and Practice (known as ISTEP), Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, University of Toronto, Canada. Her research areas include engineering student experiences and outcomes, including competency development and educational / career pathways, and scholarship of teaching and learning.

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Joanna Meihui Li University of Toronto, Canada

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Joanna Li is an engineering physics student at the Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, University of Toronto, Canada. She enjoys learning about physics models and simulations. Outside of her studies, she is interested in education research and development directed towards improving the learning experiences of engineering students.

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Mustafa Nisar University of Toronto, Canada

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Mustafa Nisar is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, where he is pursuing a degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering. He is passionate about robotics and AI, as well as STEM education. Mustafa is currently working as a research assistant at the Institute for Studies in Transdisciplinary Engineering Education & Practice, where he is gaining practical experience in the field. His ultimate goal is to develop and conduct appropriate experimentation, analyze and interpret data, and use engineering judgment to draw conclusions. He also hopes to instruct the next generation of engineers with the skills he has learned. In his free time, Mustafa enjoys volunteering as a mentor and tutor to inspire others to pursue their goals in engineering and STEM education.

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Jiawen Lin University of Toronto, Canada

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A student from the University of Toronto majoring in Industrial Engineering

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Abstract

Background Engineering disciplines and careers have been continuously shifting over the past decades. The options for students to navigate through their student experiences into their careers are numerous and varied. Increased understanding of these various student pathways can help us better advise students and better design the student experience to support students preparing for their careers.

Purpose The purpose of this review was to attempt to answer two main research questions: 1) What does the literature tell us about the potential types of engineering student pathways and how are those types characterized? 2) What are the influencing factors for a student taking one of those types of engineering student pathways?

Design/Method This literature review was framed by three developmental theories —“life span, life space” theory (Super, 1980), Relational Developmental Systems Theory (Lerner et al., 2013) and Social Cognitive Career Theory (Lent, 1994). The “life span, life space” theory conceptualizes life into distinct life phases while the “Relational Development Systems” theory proposes that differences in time and place can contribute to plasticity across the life span. Social Cognitive Career theory posits that learning experiences can influence self-efficacy and outcome expectations, which ultimately influences interests, goals and career choice actions. These learning experiences are in turn influenced by personal and contextual affordances. Combining these three theories we define a conceptual framework that shapes our literature review. We map the student pathway across four life stages: high school (HS), HS-PSE transition, postsecondary education (PSE), PSE-Workplace transition. We examine each phase for individual-context relations and identify differences in personal and contextual factors for each phase. Lastly, we identify different learning experiences and choices identified in the literature at each phase to characterize the process towards a student pathway. A literature search was done in a variety of scholarly databases including Compendex, Scopus, Web of Science and others, using keywords such as ‘engineering’, ‘student pathway’, and ‘career’. We included in our review peer-reviewed journal articles as well as reports by engineering accreditation agencies and professional associations, and excluded any newspaper or magazine articles. We also limited our scope to the life phases described above, and excluded literature focused on elementary school or younger, as well as literature focused on influencing factors and learning experiences that took place after the PSE-Workplace transition. Results The findings from the current literature primarily show two main typologies for engineering student pathways, and this being primarily characterized by outcome, i.e. choice in PSE major or career, and whether that choice is ‘engineering-related’ or ‘non-engineering related’. The literature shows that types of learning experiences can vary across each life phase which can impact these choices, and that pathways can differ based on personal factors (e.g. demographics such as gender and race) and contextual factors (e.g. available support systems).

Contributions While this paper is limited by its defined scope, it will help define the space for the research area of career pathways of engineering students. This foundational work will pave the way for empirical studies that can examine matters of interest in each of the five life stages that have shaped engineering students’ career development, either toward the engineering profession or other paths.

Wilson-Ihejirika, D. J., & Liu, Q., & Li, J. M., & Nisar, M., & Lin, J. (2023, June), Engineering Pathways from High School to Workplace: A Review of the Literature Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--43335

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2023 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015