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Interactions with Faculty and Engineering Self-efficacy Among Underrepresented Engineering Persisters

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2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference


Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 29, 2018

Start Date

April 29, 2018

End Date

May 2, 2018

Conference Session

Undergraduate Track - Technical Session V

Tagged Topics

Diversity and Undergraduate Education

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Paper Authors

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Monica Evette Allen University of North Carolina, Charlotte


Sandra Loree Dika University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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Dr. Sandra Dika is Associate Professor of research methods in the Department of Educational Leadership at UNC Charlotte. Her current research is focused on college access and success for underrepresented and underserved student groups in higher education.

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Brett Tempest University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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Brett Quentin Tempest is an Associate Professor of civil and environmental engineering at University of North Carolina, Charlotte. His primary research area is in construction materials with special emphasis on concretes and incorporation of wastes and combustion residues in high performance structural materials.

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Miguel A. Pando University of North Carolina, Charlotte

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Dr. Miguel A. Pando is currently an Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC), and was previously an Associate Professor of Civil Engineering at the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM). In addition to his research in Geotechnical Engineering on the topics of soil-structure interaction and engineering characterization of geomaterials, Dr. Pando has been actively involved in teaching and mentoring students at both UPRM and UNCC, including 14 undergraduate civil engineering students through the NSF Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program. Examples of his recent and ongoing engineering education research projects include the development of a Bridge to the Doctoral Program to attract Latinos to geotechnical earthquake engineering (NSF-NEES), use of a multi-institutional classroom learning environment for remote geotechnical engineering education (NSF-TUES), as well as a mixed methods study of the role of student–faculty relationships in the persistence and retention of underrepresented minority students in engineering (NSF-RIGEE). For the past three years, he has co-led the “Engineering for Development Workers” summer study abroad course at UNCC, focused on undertaking Civil Engineering projects in rural communities in Andean Peru.

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Theoretical frameworks on persistence and success in higher education emphasize the important role of student-faculty interaction, and research on student success in engineering education has supported this notion. The current study examined survey questionnaire data from a sample of engineering persisters (juniors and seniors) at a diverse urban research institution in the Southeastern US (n=275) to understand the relationship of student-faculty interaction and perceived relationship quality with perceived engineering self-efficacy. Students were asked to indicate frequency of types of interactions with faculty (e.g., discuss plan of study; discuss future career plans), perceptions of faculty support, extent to which they experienced negative attitudes from faculty, whether they draw on connections with faculty to be successful, and level of confidence in approaching faculty for assistance. Engineering self-efficacy (e.g., succeed in engineering curriculum; excel in engineering major) and career outcome expectations (e.g., degree will allow well-paying job; will be treated fairly on job) were assessed using items from a published instrument on engineering self-efficacy, and both scales demonstrated internal consistency. Overall, students who reported more frequent interactions with faculty (more than once), and lower perceived negative attitudes from faculty indicated higher levels of engineering self-efficacy; while perceived positive relationships, confidence in approaching faculty, and drawing on connections with faculty had low but statistically significant correlations with both engineering self-efficacy and engineering career outcome expectations. Further, we examined results for sub-groups of specific underrepresented students (women; transfer students; first-generation students; underrepresented racial/ethnic minority) and report those results in the full paper. The findings underline the importance of interactions with engineering faculty and perceptions of positive and supportive relationships for self-efficacy and persistence in engineering. Implications for future research and practice to foster student-faculty interaction in engineering are discussed.

Allen, M. E., & Dika, S. L., & Tempest, B., & Pando, M. A. (2018, April), Interactions with Faculty and Engineering Self-efficacy Among Underrepresented Engineering Persisters Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia. 10.18260/1-2--29550

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