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Engineering Students Conceptions of The Hidden Curriculum in Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Learning to Inform Practice

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 2

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Paper Authors


Cijy Sunny Baylor University

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Cijy Elizabeth Sunny, Ph.D. is an educator, research methodologist, and psychometrician who has applied her skills in quantitative, mixed methods, qualitative research, and psychometrics in the substantive areas of STEMM education research, medical education, engineering education, and more recently human trafficking, online abuse/support, and its impact on IT identity. She continues to invest her skills in discipline-specific STEMM education research and teaching.

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Idalis Villanueva University of Florida

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For the past 10 years, Dr. Idalis Villanueva has worked on several engineering education projects where she derives from her experiences in engineering to improve outcomes for minoritized groups in engineering using mixed-and multi-modal methods approaches. She currently is an Associate Professor in the Engineering Education Department at the University of Florida. In 2019, she received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) award for her NSF CAREER project on hidden curriculum in engineering. Dr. Idalis Villanueva has a B.S. degree is in Chemical Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayagüez and a M.S. and Ph.D. degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering from the University of Colorado-Boulder. Soon after, she completed her postdoctoral fellowship from the National Institutes of Health in Analytical Cell Biology in Bethesda, Maryland and worked as a lecturer for 2 years before transitioning to a tenure-track in engineering education. Her experiences as a first-generation engineer, Latinx, woman of color, introvert, and mother has shaped the lens and research-informed practical approaches that she uses in her research.

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While educators have continuously and arduously worked towards reforming the formal curriculum for scholarly gains, the hidden curriculum (HC) has a place of its own, garnering interest in academic institutions of higher education. HC consists of the unacknowledged and often, unintentional exclusionary systemic messages that are structurally supported and sustained. Due to the persistent influence of HC in helping establish the norm in educational and working environments, research in this topic is gaining prominence in fields like engineering. This paper contributes to the knowledge base by exploring the level of HC awareness (HCA) and the definitions that over 600 undergraduate engineering students across Hispanic-Serving and non-Hispanic Serving institutions ascribed to in their explanations of hidden curriculum. Using mixed-methods analysis, two-factor ANOVA was conducted on the quantitative items of HCA, at the intersection of self-identified gender and institutional type, followed by open and axial coding of the written definitions provided by the participants. Results suggest there were significant differences between HSIs and non-HSIs in their rating of the quantitative survey data with regards to their HCA. The responses to the open-ended question yielded four specific themes that showcased the predominant forms of HC assumptions that they ascribed to: (a) Confirmation of Existence of HC; (b) Attribution of HC to Cognitive Elements; (c) Attribution of HC to Socio-Humanistic Elements; and (d) Refusal of Existence of HC.

Sunny, C., & Villanueva, I. (2022, August), Engineering Students Conceptions of The Hidden Curriculum in Hispanic-Serving Institutions: Learning to Inform Practice Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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