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High School Student Outcome Expectations on Postsecondary Pathways in Two Regions of Virginia (Fundamental)

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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

Pre-College Engineering Education Division Technical Session 9

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Kai Jun Chew Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Kai Jun (KJ) Chew is a PhD candidate in the Virginia Tech Department of Engineering Education. In the past, he has been involved in the engineering education field by working with Dr. Sheri Sheppard, engaging in multiple projects, such as ABET accreditation, curriculum redesign and others.

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Holly M. Matusovich Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Dr. Holly M. Matusovich is a Professor in the Department of Engineering Education. She is current the Assistant Department Head for Undergraduate Programs and the former Assistant Department Head for Graduate Programs in Virginia Tech’s Department of Engineering Education. Dr. Matusovich is recognized for her research and practice related to graduate student mentoring. She won the Hokie Supervisor Spotlight Award in 2014, was nominated for a Graduate Advising Award in 2015, and won the 2018 Graduate Student Mentor Award for the College of Engineering. Dr. Matusovich has graduated 10 doctoral students since starting her research program in Spring 2009. Dr. Matusovich co-hosts the Dissertation Institute, a one-week workshop each summer funded by NSF, to help underrepresented students develop the skills and writing habits to complete doctorate degrees in engineering. Across all of her research avenues, Dr. Matusovich has been a PI/Co-PI on 12 funded research projects including the NSF CAREER Award with her share of funding be ingnearly $2.3 million. She has co-authored 2 book chapters, 21 journal publications and more than 70 conference papers. She has won several Virginia Tech awards including a Dean’s Award for Outstanding New Faculty, an Outstanding Teacher Award and a Faculty Fellow Award. She holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University, an M.S. in Materials Science from the University of Connecticut and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University.

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Cheryl Carrico P.E. E4S, LLC Orcid 16x16

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Cheryl Carrico is owner of E4S, LLC. Her current research focus relates to STEM career pathways (K-12 through early career) and conceptual understanding of core engineering principles. She is currently a Member-at-Large for the Pre-college Division of ASEE. Dr. Carrico's consulting company specializes in research, research evaluations, and industry consulting. Dr. Carrico received her B.S. in chemical engineering from Virginia Tech, Masters of Engineering from North Carolina State University, MBA from King University, and PhD in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. Dr. Carrico is a certified project management professional (PMP) and licensed professional engineer (P.E.).

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High school contexts and characteristics can lead to differing students’ perceptions, and subsequently, behaviors in terms of college enrollment. Existing literature has shown that there can be access inequity caused by high schools geographical and surrounding contexts, and such inequity can influence students’ postsecondary pathways. In particular, access inequity is salient in college engineering enrollment as students who successfully enroll in engineering tend to graduate from high schools that have sufficient supports and resources, such as offerings of advanced math, science and engineering courses, engineering and technology related events and others. Literature that address the problem are abundant; yet, studies that focus on understanding how high school contexts and characteristics influencing students’ perceptions on postsecondary pathways are not sufficiently studied. This study aims to begin to fill the research gap. Stemming from an overarching mixed-method research project that studies the possible gatekeepers that influence Virginia high school students’ decisions to enroll in engineering, this qualitative study focuses on understanding differences of students’ expectations of engineering postsecondary pathways of two case sites located in different regions of Virginia. We root the study with the Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT) construct of outcome expectations, and plan to answer: How do student outcome expectations on postsecondary pathways in terms of engineering compare between high schools in different geographical regions of Virginia? We employ the secondary analysis methodology on the existing data set collected for the overarching project to answer the research question. We conduct a priori qualitative coding on the data set, which are interview transcripts with ten participants, six in one region and four in the other. These participants are teachers, school counselors and principals of the four different schools located in the two regions. Emerging themes from the coding process can illustrate the similarities and differences in student outcome expectations in terms of geographical differences. Preliminary results show there may be differences in student outcome expectations on engineering postsecondary pathways in different high schools located in the same region. Specifically, two high schools in the more urban region (assumption of more resources) observe different student outcome expectations, with one leaning heavy toward four-year going while the other has more loosely defined pathway expectations. This observation is similar to the two high schools that are located in a more rural region (assumption of less resources) of Virginia. This preliminary finding potentially illustrates the nuances of access inequity in high schools as regions that are expected to have more resources may still experience unequal access among high schools within the region.

Chew, K. J., & Matusovich, H. M., & Carrico, C. (2021, July), High School Student Outcome Expectations on Postsecondary Pathways in Two Regions of Virginia (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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