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Familial Influence on the Choice to Study Engineering: Insights from a Cross-University Study.

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Conference

2022 First-Year Engineering Experience

Location

East Lansing, Michigan

Publication Date

July 31, 2022

Start Date

July 31, 2022

End Date

August 2, 2022

Conference Session

Technical Session T1B

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Full Papers

Page Count

10

DOI

10.18260/1-2--42224

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/42224

Download Count

211

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Paper Authors

biography

Amanda Marie Singer Michigan Technological University

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Amanda Singer is a PhD student in the Department of Engineering Education at the Ohio State University. Prior to attending OSU, she received a B.S. and M.S. in environmental engineering from Michigan Technological University. Her current research interests include understanding engineering identity and motivation in first-generation college students, online learning pedagogy, and service learning projects.

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Katrina L Carlson Michigan Technological University

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Katrina is an educator with more than 30 years in the K-12 and Special Education systems. She has taught at the elementary level, in CTE with HS students, and most recently was an administrator in Special Education overseeing curriculum, assessments, and Professional Development for a staff of over 40. She is currently working with a team of researchers, two professors and a PhD student, on First Year Engineering experiences. She is a PhD student in Applied Cognitive Sciences and Human Factors at Michigan Technological University. Her interests include Learning Theory, self-efficacy, 3D spatial visualization, Women in Engineering, and GRIT.

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Akua B. Oppong-Anane Montana Technological University

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Akua Oppong-Anane is an Assistant Professor of Freshman Engineering at Montana Technological University. She holds a bachelor's degree in Chemical Engineering, a master's degree in Chemistry and a doctoral degree in Environmental Engineering Sciences. Her research areas are in groundwater contamination at landfill sites, advising and retention of first year engineering students.

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Michelle E Jarvie-Eggart P.E. Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Jarvie-Eggart is a registered professional engineer with over a decade of experience as an environmental engineer. She is an Assistant Professor in the Engineering Fundamentals department at Michigan Technological University. Her research interests include online learning, CS/programming education, and service learning.

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Sarah Tan Michigan Technological University

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Sarah Tan is a Research Assistant Professor in the Pavlis Honors College at Michigan Technological University. She received a MBA degree and a Ph.D. degree in Applied Cognitive Sciences and Human factors Program both from Michigan Tech. Her research program involves using complementary methods (e.g., statistical modeling and analytics, psychological assessment) to evaluate how individual differences are important and impact behaviors at a cultural, social, and behavioral level. She has served as a project evaluator in the multiple NSF funded projects.

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Abstract

This complete research paper investigates familial influence on student engineering major choice. Within the engineering education literature body, motivation to study engineering has been linked to a variety of factors including interest in the field, competence in math and science, strong problem-solving skills, and the promise of career security. Familial influence, specifically that of parents and siblings, has also been tied to the choice to study engineering within student reflections in the literature. Occupational inheritance of careers is well documented, where parents influence their childrens’ career choice, resulting in parents and children in the same career field. Previous work [BLINDED] at a single Midwestern STEM-focused university indicated that the presence of engineers within a students’ family may influence career choice, especially within daughters of female engineers. This study seeks to expand that work by gathering data across two universities to further explore the influence of familial engineers on the career choice of engineering students. At the conclusion of the Fall 2020 semester, 94 students enrolled in the First Year Engineering Program at [BLINDED] university and [BLINDED] university were administered a survey. This survey, adapted from the authors’ previous work, aimed to understand what factors influence students' choice to pursue engineering. Students were asked to respond to a series of multiple choice questions regarding familial occupations and links to engineering or other STEM fields. To add richness to the results of the multiple choice questions, open-ended, reflection-style prompts asking students to describe what motivated them to study engineering were added to the survey. Through methods of analytic induction, student reflections to these prompts were analyzed using coding techniques to identify emergent themes. The resulting themes were aggregated into overarching categories and are presented below.

Amongst student reflections, the most prevalent factor in motivating students to study engineering was previous experience in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.) Students' reflections also highlight interest in the field of engineering, strong “engineering” skills (problem solving, designing, building), and the promise of career stability as being key factors influencing their decision. Less prevalent within the open-ended student responses is the influence of family, mentors, and institutions. Few student responses reflect familial influence as a factor contributing to their motivation to study STEM. However, when considered in context with student responses to the multiple choice questions, an interesting picture arises. Of the 94 students surveyed across both institutions, 27 (29%) students reported at least one family member or mentor in engineering and 62 (67%) reported at least one in either engineering or another STEM field. This paper presents an investigation into these relationships, presenting implications for future work to understand how and whether students recognize influences of familial engineers on their motivation to major in engineering.

Singer, A. M., & Carlson, K. L., & Oppong-Anane, A. B., & Jarvie-Eggart, M. E., & Tan, S. (2022, July), Familial Influence on the Choice to Study Engineering: Insights from a Cross-University Study. Paper presented at 2022 First-Year Engineering Experience, East Lansing, Michigan. 10.18260/1-2--42224

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