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Intersectionality of Non-normative Identities in the Cultures of Engineering

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Conference

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016

ISBN

978-0-692-68565-5

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session II

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

19

DOI

10.18260/p.25448

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/25448

Download Count

172

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Paper Authors

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Adam Kirn University of Nevada, Reno

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Adam Kirn is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at University of Nevada, Reno. His research focuses on the interactions between engineering cultures, student motivation, and their learning experiences. His projects involve the study of student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers, their problem solving processes, and cultural fit. His education includes a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a M.S. in Bioengineering and Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education from Clemson University.

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Allison Godwin Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-0741-3356

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Allison Godwin, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research focuses what factors influence diverse students to choose engineering and stay in engineering through their careers and how different experiences within the practice and culture of engineering foster or hinder belongingness and identity development. Dr. Godwin graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education. She is the recipient of a 2014 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Educational Research and Methods Division Apprentice Faculty Grant. She also was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow for her work on female empowerment in engineering which won the National Association for Research in Science Teaching 2015 Outstanding Doctoral Research Award.

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Lisa Benson Clemson University

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Lisa Benson is an Associate Professor of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University, with a joint appointment in Bioengineering. Her research focuses on the interactions between student motivation and their learning experiences. Her projects involve the study of student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers and scientists, and their problem solving processes. Other projects in the Benson group include effects of student-centered active learning, self-regulated learning, and incorporating engineering into secondary science and mathematics classrooms. Her education includes a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Vermont, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Clemson University.

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Geoff Potvin Florida International University

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Jacqueline Doyle Florida International University

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Hank Boone University of Nevada, Reno

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Hank Boone is a Graduate Research Assistant and Masters Student at the University of Nevada, Reno. His research focuses on First Generation engineering college students' engineering identity, belongingness, and how they perceive their college experience.He is also on a National Science Foundation project looking at non-normative engineering students and how they may have differing paths to success. His education includes a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from University of Nevada, Reno.

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Dina Verdín Purdue University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/https://0000-0002-6048-1104

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Dina Verdín is an Engineering Education graduate student at Purdue University. She completed her undergraduate degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering at San José State University. Her research interest focuses on the first-generation college student population, which includes changing the perspective of this population from a deficit base approach to an asset base approach.

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Abstract

Traditionally, engineering culture has limited rather than fostered diversity in engineering. To address this persistent issue, we examine how diverse students identify with engineering and navigate the culture of engineering. We define diversity not by making a priori categorizations according to traditional demographic information (e.g., race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.), but instead by investigating the variation in students’ attitudinal profiles on a host of affective measures. Using these measures, we develop an identification of large, “normative” groups of engineers as well as “non-normative” students who emerge as having distinct attitudinal profiles. This mixed methods study investigates the intersectionality of engineering students' personal identities to understand: How do non-normative groups in engineering form an engineering identity and navigate a culture dominated by limited diversity?

The focus of this paper is on the first phase this project, in which students' identities, motivation, psychological traits, perceived supports and barriers to engineering, and other background information is being quantitatively assessed. Pilot survey data were collected from participants enrolled in second semester first-year engineering programs across three institutions (n=374). We used topological data analysis (TDA) to create normative and non-normative attitudinal profiles of respondents. As a relatively new and powerful set of analytic methods, TDA clusters variegated data to understand an underlying structure, or topology, which emerges from the data. Our preliminary results show definite patterns which we then break down according to students' self-identified demographics. Additionally, a subset of participants who completed our quantitative instrument were interviewed about their experiences in and identification with engineering (n=7). Initial qualitative data analysis indicate that students who reside at intersectional boundaries of diversity have difficulty finding similar role models in engineering and often find themselves expending additional effort when compared to their peers to establish themselves in both engineering and non-engineering communities. Results of this quantitative and qualitative work were used to further refine the quantitative instrument that is to be used in subsequent phases of the project.

Addressing student perceptions that they do not fit in engineering can begin to staunch the exodus of talented individuals from engineering majors. The use of practical methods in this study to understand students' identities as they relate to engineering can be used to attract more students into engineering. An increase in the number of students in engineering will help initiate a much-needed shift toward a more innovative approaches to engineering solutions than may be develop by traditional “normative” groups. We are refining our quantitative instrument to identify and measure engineering students' attitudinal profiles and the underlying analytic techniques. The next phases of the study will assess the target population of engineering students across four institutions in a large-scale quantitative analysis of students’ attitudinal profiles (n ~ 2000). Once student clusters are established, exemplar students from each will be longitudinally tracked via qualitative interviews to elucidate the ways in which students navigate engineering cultures.

Kirn, A., & Godwin, A., & Benson, L., & Potvin, G., & Doyle, J., & Boone, H., & Verdín, D. (2016, June), Intersectionality of Non-normative Identities in the Cultures of Engineering Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25448

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