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Including Alice: Uncovering the Narrative of One Student’s Experience at the Intersection of International Student Status and Mental Health

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2021 CoNECD


Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day

Publication Date

January 24, 2021

Start Date

January 24, 2021

End Date

January 28, 2021

Conference Session

CoNECD Session : Day 3 Slot 7 Technical Session 2

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Submissions

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Paper Authors


Maimuna Begum Kali Florida International University

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Maimuna Begum Kali is a Ph.D. student in the Engineering and Computing Education program at Florida International University (FIU), in the School of Universal Computing, Construction, and Engineering Education (SUCCEED). She completed her B.Sc. in Computer Science and Engineering at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) in Bangladesh. She began her Ph.D. study in Computer Science but changed her program to Engineering and Computing Education a year later. Her research interests include exploration of marginalized engineering students' experience, hidden identity, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI), and STEM Education.

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Stephen Secules Florida International University Orcid 16x16

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Stephen is an Assistant Professor Engineering and Computing Education at Florida International University. He has a prior academic and professional background in engineering, having worked professionally as an acoustical engineer. He has taught a number of courses on engineering and education, including courses on engineering design, systems in society, and learning theories. Stephen's research interests include equity, culture, and the sociocultural dimensions of engineering education.

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Cassandra J. McCall Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Dr. Cassandra McCall is an assistant professor in the Engineering Education Department at Utah State University. Her primary research interests include professional identity formation in undergraduate civil engineering students, grounded theory methods, and theory development. Her current work includes the exploration of professional identity formation in civil engineering students who experience disabilities and the ways in which this identity is influenced by students’ academic relationships, events, and experiences. Dr. McCall holds B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology.

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Background: Several known unknowns of inclusion, including international student and mental health concerns, are rarely spoken about in diversity and inclusion topics. Faculty development resources for inclusion are limited and narrating student experiences could help faculty empathize with and understand their students better. Purpose: We share life stories of one minoritized student’s experience in engineering education. Within each story, we incorporate aspects of student identity and faculty interactions to help uncover new insights about inclusion in engineering education. Methodology: We conducted one-on-one interviews with six minoritized undergraduate students as a part of a larger pilot study. This paper centers on the story of one participant, Alice, a Latina international student who experiences mental health struggles. Through narrative and discourse analysis techniques, we synthesized three key stories for our analysis. Findings: Story 1 centers on Alice’s identity as an international student and faculty microaggressions regarding international status. Story 2 centers on Alice’s diagnosed anxiety and challenges with requesting accommodations from faculty. Story 3 centers on Alice’s experiences with a medical emergency and the faculty’s treatment of students’ personal lives. Implications: This paper has implications for faculty members, including differentiating the intent the faculty member perceives from the enactment of the events that occur and from the often outsized impact that small moments can have on minoritized individuals. We suggest that inclusive communication and acts of perspective taking can help faculty members proactively create inclusive classrooms that make it easier for students’ to bring their whole selves to engineering.

Kali, M. B., & Secules, S., & McCall, C. J. (2021, January), Including Alice: Uncovering the Narrative of One Student’s Experience at the Intersection of International Student Status and Mental Health Paper presented at 2021 CoNECD, Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day .

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