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Exploring the complex relationship between engineering students’ math experiences and identity formation.

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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

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Jill Davishahl Western Washington University

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Jill Davishahl is Assistant Professor and First Year Programs Director in the Engineering + Design department at Western Washington University. Jill’s teaching, service, and research activities focus on enhancing the first year student experience by providing the foundational technical skills, student engagement opportunities, and professional skill development necessary to improve success in the major, with emphasis on supporting non-dominant student populations. Her current research focuses on creating inclusive and equitable learning environments through the development and implementation of strategies geared towards increasing student sense of belonging.

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Joseph Brobst Old Dominion University

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Previously a high school science teacher, I am now an educational research and program evaluation specialist located in the The Center for Educational Partnerships at Old Dominion University. Though I have been involved in a wide variety of projects and initiatives, common threads throughout my work have included STEM teacher professional development and broadening participation in STEM among individuals ranging from elementary school all the way through to higher education.

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Elizabeth Litzler University of Washington

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Elizabeth (Liz) Litzler, Ph.D., is the Director of the Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity (CERSE) at the University of Washington (UW) and an Affiliate Assistant Professor in UW Sociology. She was the 2020-2021 Chair of the ASEE Commission on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (CDEI). She is a former Board Member of Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN) and the recipient of the 2020 WEPAN Founders Award. She has led social science research projects such as the UW portion of NSF funded Revolutionizing Engineering Departments Participatory Action Research (REDPAR) and the Sloan funded Project to Assess Climate in Engineering (PACE). She also manages program evaluations that provide actionable strategies to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM fields. This includes evaluation of NSF ADVANCE, S-STEM, INCLUDES, and IUSE projects, and climate studies of students, faculty, and staff. Her social science research covers many topics and has used critical race theories such as Community Cultural Wealth to describe the experiences of systemically marginalized students in engineering.

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Andrew Klein Western Washington University Orcid 16x16


Sura Alqudah Western Washington University

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Sura Al-Qudah Holds a Ph.D. in Industrial & Systems Engineering from Binghamton University. She is a co-program director of the Manufacturing Engineering Program at Western Washington University. Dr. Al-Qudah is a Co-PI on a $1M S-STEM award number 1834139. In her role with the S-STEM grant, Dr. Al-Qudah assists in various tasks and activities such as recruitment and selection, program webpage development, and application material development. Co-PI Al-Qudah has a primary role assisting with the delivery of the Viking Launch bridge program through the Spatial Visualization workshop, the peer-mentoring organization and delivery, and the social gathering of the BEES scholars and their faculty mentors (both in-person and virtual).

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This paper shares the experiences of a group of S-STEM scholarship students as they progressed through their first year of undergraduate mathematics education including a math placement exam, a math focused bridge program, and calculus course(s). In addition, connections between student experiences and their math identity development were investigated with the goal of better understanding math identity formation. The authors used a mixed-methods approach to explore the math-related experiences of 12 students over the first year of participation in an NSF-funded S-STEM program. Data includes answers to select survey questions and transcripts of student focus groups. First, each student case was examined to see if/how their responses to math-related survey items changed between pre and post survey administrations. Of particular interest were responses to a math-identity related item, “I see myself as a math person.” Along with this, transcripts from focus group interviews were reviewed for quotes from these same students related to their math experiences, skill development, sense of math identity, and efficacy. Most students’ responses to the math identity survey item either remained the same or changed only slightly however, students’ focus group reflections on their math experiences were wide-ranging. The results of this study provide initial evidence that the summer bridge program is a positive experience for students, but the math placement exam is a barrier to the development of positive math identity, especially for underrepresented students.

Davishahl, J., & Brobst, J., & Litzler, E., & Klein, A., & Alqudah, S. (2022, August), Exploring the complex relationship between engineering students’ math experiences and identity formation. Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--41931

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: © 2022 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