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Fostering an Asset Mindset to Broaden Participation through the Transformation of an Engineering Diversity Program

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Action on Diversity - Supporting Students at Multiple Levels

Tagged Topics

Diversity and ASEE Diversity Committee

Page Count

28

DOI

10.18260/1-2--28380

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/28380

Download Count

197

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Paper Authors

biography

Beverly Louie University of Colorado, Boulder

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Beverly Louie is the Director for Teaching and Learning Initiatives in the Broadening Opportunities through the Leadership and Diversity (BOLD) Center in The University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. She holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemical engineering from CU, and a D.Phil. in mechanical engineering from the University of Oxford, England. Louie’s research interests are in the areas of engineering student retention and performance, women’s success in engineering, diversity, teaching effectiveness, and collaborative learning.

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Beth A Myers University of Colorado Boulder

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Beth A. Myers is the Director of Assessment and Accreditation at the University of Colorado Boulder. She holds a BA in biochemistry, ME in engineering management and PhD in civil engineering. Her interests are in quantitative and qualitative research and data analysis as related to equity in education.

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Janet Y Tsai University of Colorado Boulder Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-2917-0367

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Janet Y. Tsai is a researcher and instructor in the Engineering Plus program at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research focuses on ways to encourage more students, especially women and those from nontraditional demographic groups, to pursue interests in the field of engineering. Janet assists in recruitment and retention efforts locally, nationally, and internationally, hoping to broaden the image of engineering, science, and technology to include new forms of communication and problem solving for emerging grand challenges. A second vein of Janet's research seeks to identify the social and cultural impacts of technological choices made by engineers in the process of designing and creating new devices and systems. Her work considers the intentional and unintentional consequences of durable structures, products, architectures, and standards in engineering education, to pinpoint areas for transformative change.

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Tanya D Ennis University of Colorado Boulder

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TANYA D. ENNIS is the current Engineering GoldShirt Program Director at the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. She received her M.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and her B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Her career in the telecommunications industry included positions in software and systems engineering and technical project management. Tanya most recently taught mathematics at the Denver School of Science and Technology, the highest performing high school in Denver Public Schools. Tanya is currently a PhD candidate in the School of Education at the University of Colorado Boulder studying learning science and human development.

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Abstract

Engineers in the United States typically earn salaries that comfortably sustain families and lead to higher societal status and engagement. But, less than equitable participation by women and underrepresented populations means lower earning potentials and views from the sidelines instead of contributing to efforts to solve the world’s great technical and societal challenges. The efforts to increase the diversity of engineers therefore must address the recruitment of individuals from underserved and underrepresented communities and creating more inclusive college climates that support diverse student success. A robust example of a multifaceted diversity program is found in the XXXX program, located in a large western public university, ZZZZ. Among the first universities to establish diversity programming, XXXX now uses a comprehensive approach to engage and support the success of women, underrepresented minority, first-generation and low income engineering students. Its YYYY program is the first of its kind in the country that creates a pathway to and through engineering for next-tier students. Historically, many such engineering diversity programs, as demonstrated in XXXX’s past, have had a piecemeal approach—often due to limited resources or segmented responsibilities—leading to mixed results. Moreover, some pervasive issues limited programmatic success, such as a “remedial” mentality about diverse students that maintained a climate of stereotype threat. While safe environments could be found within the diverse student organizations, lack of cohesion and administrative commitment led to their disconnection from the college and its diversity programs. Few faculty members were engaged with underrepresented students or the diversity organizations, disengaging them from the real academic experiences of diverse students. The confluence of these and other factors instilled an unwelcoming, isolating climate.

Ready for a step-change in the growth of underrepresented students in engineering, ZZZZ implemented several impactful changes, starting with dedicated, upper-level leadership. It then integrated the disparate programmatic elements into the XXXX program with one focused goal: to graduate—not simply support—increasing numbers of diverse engineers. Using recent education and diversity research literature and results, XXXX examined its existing activities for mission alignment and results and reformulated, optimized or discarded as needed. Relationships were formed across the campus, with increased participation by faculty and industry representatives. A mindset based on cohesion and underscored by analysis for continuous improvement took hold and guides the programming.

XXXX’s new recruitment efforts since its inception have boosted the representation of first-year women by 62% and underrepresented minority students by 184%. XXXX monitors student perceptions about recruiting, programming and the community space through mixed-methods surveys, focus groups and ethnographic qualitative research methods. Results help document key student issues, including positive feedback on dedicated safe space within the center in the evenings for diversity student group usage. However, recent college climate surveys indicate that underrepresented minority students in the College feel marginalized and/or less valued based on their social identities when compared to responses from their majority peers. This mixed set of results, based on various information types and sources, inform XXXX’s actions, reminding it that this important work effort must be continued.

Louie, B., & Myers, B. A., & Tsai, J. Y., & Ennis, T. D. (2017, June), Fostering an Asset Mindset to Broaden Participation through the Transformation of an Engineering Diversity Program Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28380

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