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Exploring the Association of a Cultural Engineering Student Organization Chapter with Student Success

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 6

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Darryl Dickerson Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Darryl A. Dickerson, PhD serves as Associate Director of the Minority Engineering Program at Purdue University and Chief Executive Officer of BioRegeneration Technologies. He received his PhD in 2009 from the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering where his research focused on the development of naturally-derived biomaterials specifically for the regeneration of interfaces between hard and soft tissues. Subsequently, he founded BioRegeneration Technologies to translate the benchtop work performed during his graduate studies to clinical practice. During his time as a graduate student, Dr. Dickerson gained significant management and leadership experience as a member of the Board of Directors (2004 – 2009) of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). His work with NSBE culminated in his service as President, Chairman of the Board, and Chief Executive Officer and the launch of the Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) program in 2007 – 2008. In 2012, he joined the staff of the Minority Engineering Program at Purdue and has since taken on the role of Associate Director. In this capacity, he manages the staff members in executing programming designed to transform the College of Engineering into a more diverse and inclusive environment by increasing enrollment, retention, and success of underrepresented minority students in engineering.

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Tasha Zephirin Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Tasha Zephirin is a Ph.D. Candidate in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She is a Graduate Assistant for the National Association of Multicultural Program Advocates (NAMEPA) Inc. and also serves as the Graduate Student Representative on the Purdue Engineering Advisory Council. Her research interests include exploring the role of noncurricular engineering education initiatives in the engineering experience, especially within and across cultural boundaries. Through this research, she aims to inform the development and evaluation of these initiatives in a variety of contexts.

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Astin [1] has suggested that a higher level of student involvement through out-of-class experiences promotes the development of better quality learning environment, an important aspect of promoting student success in engineering [2]. Student organizations are one avenue in which students become engaged in a campus and have a variety of foci including social, professional, and disciplinary among others. Within the engineering student organizations, some specifically target the retention and success of underrepresented minorities (URMs). These URM-affiliated organizations provide a community that promotes professional development while helping to address issues of isolation and inclusion which research has shown is especially important to URM student success.

Astin [1] specifically outlines participation in student organizations as one of five suggested metrics to measure student involvement. At X University, the URM affiliated student organizations help positively influence the other metrics: amount of energy devoted to studying, time spent on campus, interaction with faculty, and interaction with other students with support of the Minority Engineering Program office and programming. In addition, professional and leadership skills required for future careers are developed. While URM students are the majority in these organizations, having this culturally safe environment may translate into student involvement in the broader University community.

As part of MEP’s retention efforts, we advise and support URM-affiliated engineering student organizations as one avenue to ensure the academic success of our engineering undergraduate students. To better understand the role of participation in student organizations to student academic success, we will conduct an initial, exploratory study examining the correlation between the length of time the student was a paid member in a URM-affiliated organization (1 year and 2+ years) and their persistence and rates of degree completion (4, 5, or 6 years). This data will also be compared to URM students who were not a paid member. This study will provide a more rigorous assessment of student organization impact and help provide informed recommendations for out-of-class student experiences.

References [1] Astin, A. “Involvement: The Cornerstone of Excellence,” Change, July/August, 1985 [2] May, G. S., & Chubin, D. E. (2003). A retrospective on undergraduate engineering success for underrepresented minority students. Journal of Engineering Education, 92(1), 27 – 39.

Dickerson, D., & Zephirin, T. (2017, June), Exploring the Association of a Cultural Engineering Student Organization Chapter with Student Success Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28335

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