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Features of Identity-based Engineering Leadership Instruction

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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

LEAD Technical Session 1: Fostering Leadership Identity Development and DEI in Engineering Students and Professionals

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Paper Authors


Brett Tallman Montana State University - Bozeman

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Brett Tallman is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at University of Texas, El Paso studying faculty agency development at HSIs. He received his doctorate in Engineering from Montana State University (MSU), with focus on engineering leader identity development. His previous degrees include a Masters degree in Education from MSU (active learning in an advanced quantum mechanics environment) and a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Cornell. In addition to his academic career, he has worked in the biotech (Principal Engineer), product design, and automotive (Toyota) sectors for two decades as a licensed Professional Engineer. He has also taught high school and attended seminary. When not in the office, you can find him in the mountains of Bozeman or working on his engineering education side projects at or on his YouTube channel.

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Bryce Hughes Montana State University - Bozeman

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Bryce E. Hughes is an Associate Professor in Adult and Higher Education at Montana State University, and holds a Ph.D. in Higher Education and Organizational Change from the University of California, Los Angeles, as well as an M.A. in Student Development Administration from Seattle University and a B.S. in General Engineering from Gonzaga University. His research interests include teaching and learning in engineering, STEM education policy, and diversity and equity in STEM. He is currently Principal Investigator on an NSF CAREER funded project examining the experiences of LGBTQ students in STEM.

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Robert Carson Montana State University - Bozeman

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William Schell Montana State University - Bozeman

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While engineering students are predominately trained for individual technical capability, society’s biggest engineering challenges require collaborative teams of technical experts. These challenges require both technical and professional skills, such as leadership. One approach that has shown increasing promise in understanding the complex, dynamic, and personal characteristics of engineering leadership development is identity. Identity, or how a person positions oneself—and is positioned by others— in the world, has been shown to lead to the motivation and persistence essential for success in long-term goals. However, operationalizing identity to concretely cultivate engineering leadership in the classroom has not yet seen widespread success. This study seeks to identify features of identity-based instruction that effectively impact engineering leader development in the classroom.

This research paper utilized a systematic literature review approach to identify features of identity-based instruction. Instructional features in the literature were reviewed through the lenses of four identity frameworks: personal (self-authorship), professional (community of practice), leadership (leadership identity development), and engineering (performance, interest, recognition) identities.

Nine instructional features that support engineering leadership identity development emerged in the literature: values, language, reflection, authentic experiences, scaffolding, group learning, diverse perspectives, technical skills, and social skills. Four of these instructional features emerged as having prominent impact on improving engineering education approaches: values, language, reflection, and group learning. These findings provide preliminary guidance on how to support engineering leader identity growth in the classroom. Moreover, these instructional features are discussed in terms of identity development processes that they support, providing educators with formalized frameworks through which they can better understand their own programs and curricula. Finally, these findings provide rich insight into identity-based instruction and support the Design and Assess strategic initiatives of the LEAD division.

Tallman, B., & Hughes, B., & Carson, R., & Schell, W. (2022, August), Features of Identity-based Engineering Leadership Instruction Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--41332

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