June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
In recent years, there has been increasing interests backed by research, public policy, national initiatives, and funding to increase the number and diversity of engineering college graduates. Although more students from underrepresented groups are completing bachelor's degrees in engineering, these groups are not pursuing graduate degrees or professions in an engineering field. Whether focusing on retaining students or employees, studies have shown that engagement is a key indicator of retention. A recent study has linked in- and out-of-class activities that students experience during college to their engagement in the workplace and their overall well-being after college. However, when compared to students of other majors, engineering students are less likely to participate in extracurricular activities. By understanding students’ perceived benefits and motivations for pursing out-of-class activities, we can begin to understand how these activities bolster student engagement in and outside of the classroom, which in turn can lead to increased retention rates of underrepresented groups in engineering. The purpose of this exploratory case study is to gain a deeper understanding of undergraduate engineering student engagement from the perspective of underrepresented groups. This research sought to understand how “fun” manifests itself in the lives of underrepresented students and how “fun” is linked to student engagement in in- and out-of-class activities. This case study used semi-structured interviews to investigate two students’ (one Hispanic male and one White female) meaning of “fun” as they described their participation in-class and out-of-class activities. The interviews were conducted, transcribed, and analyzed using a version of whole text analysis and inductive coding. The major theme that emerged was the importance of fun when participating in both in-class and out-of-class activities. Fun in out-of-class activities was associated with the development of a well-rounded engineer who can effectively manage the dynamics of work/life balance. The interview participants described in-class fun they provided examples of when they participated in deep-learning experiences that increased their levels of engagement. This research contributes a different perspective on engineering engagement in higher education and supports the value of out-of-class activities in the development of underrepresented engineering student. Analysis of perceptions of the two interview participants suggest that the idea of “fun” in the lives of underrepresented, undergraduate engineering students is an interesting and relevant topic for future research with the potential to increase graduation and retention rates.
Purchase, J. M., & Simmons, D. R. (2017, June), Exploring the Meaning of Fun: A Missed Opportunity to Retain Underrepresented Groups in Engineering? Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28339
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