June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session
26.1127.1 - 26.1127.16
Though engineering is often perceived as a pathway of upward mobility in the UnitedStates, very little is known about the experiences of undergraduate engineering studentswho come from low-income backgrounds or are the first in their families to attendcollege. The scant research that does exist about low income, first generation students(LIFGs) is grounded in a deficiency model, focusing on what these students lack. Ourproject breaks with the existing scholarship by identifying the ways in which LIFGknowledges and experiences outside the classroom, including the practical knowledgethey develop in their lives and at work, could offer innovative ways for all students todefine, solve and design for pressing engineering problems. Through ethnographic andcollaborative research with LIFGs at a public engineering university and a communitycollege, we identify students’ funds of knowledge, or the knowledge gained fromstudents’ family and cultural backgrounds, that is crucial to engineering innovation butneglected in the curriculum they encounter in college. These funds of knowledge includedefining and solving problems in the midst of financial and material scarcity; building,fixing, and adapting technical artifacts and systems; and empathizing with marginalizedgroups and communities. We suggest that these knowledges position LIFGs as effectiveinnovators of engineering design for community development, though few pursue thispath because of financial constraints. Finally, we identify future pathways of thisexploratory research, including a) an international collaboration investigating the role ofsocioeconomic class for teaching and learning about engineering design and communityengagement; b) a mentoring program between the engineering university and communitycollege under study, including a university outreach program to assist LIFGs enhancetheir résumés; and c) strategies to bring LIFG funds of knowledge into engineeringscience and design courses.
Smith, J. M., & Lucena, J. C. (2015, June), Making the Funds of Knowledge of Low Income, First Generation (LIFG) Students Visible and Relevant to Engineering Education Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24464
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