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Making Sense of Gender Differences in the Ways Engineering Students Experience Innovation: An Abductive Analysis

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Entrepreneurship & Engineering Innovation

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Paper Authors


Nicholas D. Fila Iowa State University

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Nicholas D. Fila is a postdoctoral research associate in Electrical and Computer Engineering and Industrial Design at Iowa State University. He earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering and a M.S. in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University. His current research interests include innovation, empathy, design thinking, and instructional design heuristics.

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Rachel E. Friedensen Iowa State University

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Dr. Rachel Friedensen is currently a postdoctoral research associate at Iowa State University. She recently received her Ph.D. in education leadership and policy with a specialization in higher education from University of Massachusetts Amherst. She also holds a masters degree in history from Western Michigan University and a bachelors degree in history from Bryn Mawr College. Her research interests include: underrepresented populations in STEM; student engineering identity development; institutional diversity and equity policy; history and theory of higher education.

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Mani Mina Iowa State University

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Mani Mina is with the department of Industrial Design and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Iowa State University. He has been working on better understanding of students' learning and aspects of technological and engineering philosophy and literacy. In particular how such literacy and competency are reflected in curricular and student activities. His interests also include Design and Engineering, the human side of engineering, new ways of teaching engineering in particular Electromagnetism and other classes that are mathematically driven. His education research and activities also include reframing and finding ways to connect Product Design and Engineering Education in synergetic ways.

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Benjamin Ahn Iowa State University

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The different experiences and outcomes of male and female students in engineering have long been a focus of engineering education research. For example, a recent phenomenographic study identified eight distinct ways that engineering students experienced innovation that increased in comprehensiveness (i.e., sophistication, complexity) across dimensions of innovation processes and innovation focus areas and found that female students were more likely to align with the most comprehensive ways of experiencing innovation. This paper sought to more thoroughly understand this finding through abductive analysis, a novel analytical framework that supports sense-making and theory generation based on unexpected findings. Abductive analysis follows an iterative cycle of generating hypotheses that could explain unexpected findings and exploring these hypotheses within the data, which will often result in new unexpected findings and refinement of hypotheses. The latest iteration adapted a professional identity development model and used critical incident technique to (1) understand how engineering developed more comprehensive ways of experiencing innovation and (2) how female and male students differed with respect to this development. Data included semi-structured interviews with 16 undergraduate engineering students (9 male, 7 female) from 9 different majors and with experience on 30+ unique innovation projects, and 122 critical incidents extracted from students' reports of their innovation experiences. Results indicate potential differences in the ways female and male participants engaged with professional activities, social networks, and sense-making around these experiences. This paper discusses these findings and discusses planned and potential follow-up investigations.

Fila, N. D., & Friedensen, R. E., & Mina, M., & Ahn, B. (2018, June), Making Sense of Gender Differences in the Ways Engineering Students Experience Innovation: An Abductive Analysis Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30784

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