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“I Don’t Like Thinking About this Stuff”: Black and Brown Student Experiences in Engineering Education

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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

LEES 2: Stories of Intersectionality and Institutional Marginalization

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Paper Authors

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Janelle Grant


Stephanie Masta Purdue University at West Lafayette (PPI)

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Member of the Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians and an Associate Professor at Purdue University. My research centers on issues of equity for Brown and Black students within educational spaces within the United States. I am also interested in academic colonialism and the relationship between settler colonial ideology and academic practices in colleges and universities. I am also highly invested in graduate student development.

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Darryl Dickerson Florida International University


Alice Pawley Purdue University at West Lafayette (COE)

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Alice Pawley (she, her) is a Professor in the School of Engineering Education and an affiliate faculty member in the Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies Program and Environmental and Ecological Engineering at Purdue University. Prof. Pawley's goal through her work at Purdue is to help people, including the engineering education profession, develop a vision of engineering education as more inclusive, engaged, and socially just. Her research group's diverse projects and members are described at She was a National Academy of Engineering CASEE Fellow in 2007, received a CAREER award in 2010 and a PECASE award in 2012 for her project researching the stories of undergraduate engineering women and men of color and white women, and received the Denice Denton Emerging Leader award from the Anita Borg Institute in 2013. She has been author or co-author on papers receiving ASEE-ERM’s best paper award, the AAEE Best Paper Award, the Benjamin Dasher award, and co-authored the paper nominated by the ASEE Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for ASEE Best PIC Paper for 2018. More recently, she received her school’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring, Award for Leadership, and a 2019 award from the College of Engineering as an Outstanding Faculty Mentor of Engineering Graduate Students. In 2020 she won the Sterling Olmsted Award from the Liberal Education/Engineering and Society Division of ASEE. She was president of Purdue’s chapter of the American Association of University Professors for 2020-22. She helped found, fund, and grow the PEER Collaborative, a peer mentoring group of early career and recently tenured faculty and research staff primarily evaluated based on their engineering education research productivity.

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Matthew Ohland Purdue University at West Lafayette (COE)

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Matthew W. Ohland is Associate Head and the Dale and Suzi Gallagher of Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He has degrees from Swarthmore College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Florida. He studies the longitudinal study of engineering students and forming and managing student teams and with collaborators has been recognized for the best paper published in the Journal of Engineering Education in 2008, 2011, and 2019 and from the IEEE Transactions on Education in 2011 and 2015. Dr. Ohland is an ABET Program Evaluator for ASEE. He was the 2002–2006 President of Tau Beta Pi and is a Fellow of the ASEE, IEEE, and AAAS.

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In this paper, we discuss the results from our study on the experiences of first-year Black and Brown engineering students in engineering teams. This work is part of ongoing research on identifying teams engaging in marginalizing behaviors against minoritized (race, gender, LGBTQ identity, nationality) students. Using a diary study methodology, we explore the team experiences of Black and Brown students by examining two research questions: 1) what does racial marginalization look like within engineering classrooms where teamwork is a primary feature and 2) what experiences from the dairies inform researchers and faculty about participants’ experiences and personal knowledge of how race and racism operates in teams. We identified two central themes: 1) participants often avoided conversations when race could be a potential topic, and 2) participants believed that racism was a normal part of teams (in both the classroom and workplace). Participants explained that even if race was not explicitly discussed during their group work, they sensed that implicit bias and discrimination were affecting their experience. Further, when we asked participants how to increase support related to their teaming experience, they reported feeling unsure of what can be done to eliminate behaviors of racism and marginalization from engineering education. The participants expressed that change needed to happen so that other Black and Brown students are welcomed into the field, but that no one on campus (peers, faculty, and staff) has asked them about ideas for change. This diary study provides important insights into how Black and Brown engineering students contextualize their experience with marginalizing behaviors in teams.

Grant, J., & Masta, S., & Dickerson, D., & Pawley, A., & Ohland, M. (2022, August), “I Don’t Like Thinking About this Stuff”: Black and Brown Student Experiences in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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