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Exploring the Effects of a Targeted Program on Student Social Capital

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Student Engagement, Socioemotional Needs, and Social Support During Pandemic

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Anastasia Marie Rynearson Campbell University Orcid 16x16

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Anastasia Rynearson is an Assistant Professor at Campbell University. She received a PhD from Purdue University in Engineering Education and a B.S. and M.Eng. in Mechanical Engineering at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Her teaching experience includes outreach activities at various age levels as well as a position as Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering Department at Kanazawa Technical College and Future Faculty Fellow teaching First-Year Engineering at Purdue University. She focused on integrated STEM curriculum development as part of an NSF STEM+C grant as a Postdoctoral Research Assistant through INSPIRE in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University Her current research interests focus on early P-12 engineering education and identity development.

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Jacqueline Gartner Campbell University

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Jacqueline Gartner is an Assistant Professor at Campbell University in the School of Engineering, which offers a broad BS in engineering with concentrations in chemical and mechanical.

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Michele Miller Campbell University

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Dr. Michele Miller is a Professor and Associate Dean at Campbell University. Prior to joining Campbell in 2017, she was a professor of mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech. She received undergraduate and graduate degrees in mechanical engineering from Duke and NC State, respectively. Her research interests include engineering education and precision manufacturing.

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This study focuses on a new engineering program in a rural, liberal arts university. The engineering program has a number of veteran, underrepresented minority, transfer, and nontraditional students. Many students are also first-generation college students. The institution and engineering program matriculate a number of under-served populations, students who may have needs that are not well understood in the typical engineering education literature. Due to the unique nature of this program, exploring the social capital networks of the students in the first four years of the program will offer insight into the students in this context. This study will use Lin’s model of social capital as a framework. Social capital can be defined as the resources that are gained from relationships, or “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. The knowledge that is found within a student’s social network are a form of capital. Students must not only have people within their network that provide cultural, economic, and human capital, but also be able to access those resources and be able to purposely activate those resources. The instrument used in this survey is based on Martin’s work with the Name and Resource Generator as adapted by Boone in work focusing on first-generation college students. In this instrument, students are asked to name up to eight people who have had an influence on their engineering-related decisions. They are asked to provide some background on each person, including their relationship, what they know of the person’s career and educational background, and how long they have known this person. Students may offer as little as one or as many as eight influencers. Additionally, students are asked to list relationships of people who have provided them with a number of resources related to engineering knowledge, activities, and advice. The department and especially the first-year curricular requirements and extracurricular offerings have been designed using a community of practice model. It is hoped that as part of the focus on creating this community within engineering that all students’ networks will expand to include faculty, peers, and others within the engineering community of practice. Faculty and peers within the school of engineering will be identified and will be an additional focus of this study. At this time, analysis has begun on a subset of the survey responses. Initial results are consistent with social capital literature, finding that first-generation college students are more likely to have smaller networks focusing on family, with one student in the study listing a single person as having an impact on their engineering decisions. Most students have also listed at least one faculty or peer at the university as well. Results presented will include typical network analysis to understand how the students in this unique context compare to published studies. We will also generate map of student networks focusing on department-specific connections including peers and faculty. Additional results of interest include discrepancies between the interview and the follow-up survey.

Rynearson, A. M., & Gartner, J., & Miller, M. (2021, July), Exploring the Effects of a Targeted Program on Student Social Capital Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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