July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Motivation This complete research paper will describe how low-income, high-achieving engineering students develop their engineering identity. In recent years, engineering identity has focused on many schools of engineering in research and praxis. Experiences shape the engineering identity of students in high school STEM-related classes; understanding how students self-identify and are identified as engineers holds promise for addressing minoritized students’ underrepresentation in the field. This paper focuses on students’ engineering identity development after one year of engineering school. Context This study is part of a longitudinal five-year project investigating low-income, high-achieving students’ engineering identity development. All of the students in the study are part of a program that provides financial, academic, professional, and social support. More about this program can be found in [Blinded for Submission]. Students were deemed low-economic status based on their unmet needs, which are determined through FAFSA’s Estimated Family Contribution. The high-achievement status was determined by using a combination of students’ high school GPA and SAT/ACT scores, where the student’s high school GPA was weighted more heavily. More about this determination can be found in [Blinded for Submission]. Conceptual Framework This study was guided by an integrated engineering identity conceptual framework—the science identity model (Carlone and Johnson, 2007), the model of multiple dimensions of identity (Abes et al., 2007), and aspects of community-based dimensions of engineering identity (Revelo Alonso, 2015). In this integrated model, there are four interrelated dimensions of science identity combined with other identities (e.g., gender, religion, ethnicity) that students develop in a fluid and dynamic way that shapes their engineering identity. Methods This longitudinal study aims to answer the following research question: How do low-income, high-achieving students develop their engineering identity after one year of undergraduate studies? Data Ten semi-structured interviews were conducted in the spring of 2019. The interviews lasted an average of 25 minutes each. The interview protocol had eight main questions with related follow-up questions that focus on self-recognition as engineers, recognition by others as engineers, engineering skills, feelings of competence, and access and presence of an engineering community. Questions about other identities influencing their engineering identity were asked.
Analysis This paper focuses on the qualitative part of the study. The interviews were analyzed by the authors using MAXQDA software. All the authors analyzed the interviews individually using deductive coding analysis guided by the framework and a codebook from the baseline interviews with the same cohort of students, as reported in [Blinded for Submission]. The authors performed two cycles of group coding to achieve consensus on instances and the meaning of codes. In the second cycle of coding, we began discussing patterns in the data, developing categories and discussing nuances in the categories created. Thus far, we have started to develop themes around these categories and connect these to past literature. Preliminary Results The following preliminary results show that all dimensions of engineering identity (i.e., community, recognition, performance, and competence) played a role in the student’s engineering identity development. As reported in [Blinded for Submission], all students recognized themselves as engineers or as aspiring engineers before college. After one year of college, only half of the students interviewed recognized themselves as engineers. Nevertheless, all students except one felt competent in their pursuit of an engineering degree. Family and peers serve as the primary sources of recognition for these students. Notably, people who are deemed experts in the field (e.g., engineering faculty) are missing sources of recognition in the students’ engineering trajectories. For students who identified as women, they mention clear intersections of gender identity and engineering identity. Lastly, two major influences for students’ engineering identity development were their socioeconomic status and their family. Implications The change in the students’ narratives as engineers at the end of their first year in college indicates the learning and growth that have taken place. The preliminary results show that these students have development in their engineering identity with regards to competence, performance of engineering skills. Intersections of identity development for women, with regards to gender and engineering, seem to be critical: at this stage students embrace and rationalize this intersection from an asset-based perspective. This study has implications for engineering educators and administrators to structure support programs to aid in the development of students’ engineering identity.
Omitoyin, J. A., & Revelo, R. A., & Bilgin, B., & Darabi, H., & Nazempour, R. (2021, July), Low-Income, High-Achieving Students and Their Engineering Identity Development After One Year of Engineering School Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37470
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