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Measuring the Impact of Extra-/Co-Curricular Participation on Professional Formation of Engineers

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Mechanical Engineering Division (MECH) Technical Session 14: Curriculum and Course Assessment in and Outside the Classroom

Tagged Division

Mechanical Engineering Division (MECH)

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Paper Authors

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Aimee Monique Cloutier Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology


Holly M. Matusovich Virginia Tech

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Dr. Holly Matusovich is the Associate Dean for Graduate and Professional Studies in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech and a Professor in the Department of Engineering Education where she has also served in key leadership positions. Dr. Matusovich is recognized for her research and leadership related to graduate student mentoring and faculty development. She won the Hokie Supervisor Spotlight Award in 2014, received the College of Engineering Graduate Student Mentor Award in 2018, and was inducted into the Virginia Tech Academy of Faculty Leadership in 2020. Dr. Matusovich has been a PI/Co-PI on 19 funded research projects including the NSF CAREER Award, with her share of funding being nearly $3 million. She has co-authored 2 book chapters, 34 journal publications, and more than 80 conference papers. She is recognized for her research and teaching, including Dean’s Awards for Outstanding New Faculty, Outstanding Teacher Award, and a Faculty Fellow. Dr. Matusovich has served the Educational Research and Methods (ERM) division of ASEE in many capacities over the past 10+ years including serving as Chair from 2017-2019. Dr. Matusovich is currently the Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Advances in Engineering Education and she serves on the ASEE committee for Scholarly Publications.

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Carol Geary Virginia Tech

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Carol Geary is a fourth-year Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. Her interests include co-curricular support, mentoring, and peer mentoring.

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Natali C. Huggins Virginia Tech

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Natali Huggins is a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Virginia Tech. She holds a master's in public administration from the National Experimental University of Táchira in Venezuela. In addition, she has several years of experience in higher education administration and internal audit in Venezuela. Her international experience brings global and multicultural perspectives to her views as a researcher and practitioner. Natali's research interests include diversity equity and inclusion in graduate education, students' journey, motivation, and socialization. She is particularly interested in understanding and supporting international and Latinx graduate students' agency and persistence to navigate higher education in the United States.

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While most current research on teaching and learning is conducted in the classroom, evidence suggests that the quality of a student’s learning is also affected by experiences outside of the classroom (i.e., extra-/co-curricular experiences). Engineering students have available to them a rich variety of learning opportunities outside of the classroom – such as competition teams, undergraduate research experiences, and service-learning organizations – which reinforce and strengthen the knowledge they gain through engineering coursework while enhancing their self-efficacy in academic and engineering skills. The goal of this project is to determine which features of engineering students’ professional formation are impacted by their participation in engineering-focused extra-/co-curricular activities – specifically, competition teams, undergraduate research, and service-learning organizations. The first phase of this study, reported in this paper, involves the implementation of an electronic survey to measure the impact of engineering-focused extra-/co-curricular activities on students’ academic achievement and self-efficacy. Academic achievement is measured using questions from the Statics Concept Inventory [1], and self-efficacy is measured using a series of questions from self-efficacy survey items [2] that ask students to rate on a six-point Likert scale their capability in (a) specific engineering skills such as working with machine and engineering design, and (b) general engineering coursework. Based on the results from the survey administered to junior and senior mechanical engineering students at two universities and the two-sample t-test with a 95% confidence interval analysis, this study demonstrated that students who had participated in any engineering-focused extra-/co-curricular activity had a higher mean in each survey item. Showing that engineering students’ engagement in engineering extra- and co-curricular activities enhance confidence and reinforcing academic and professional skills by strengthening the knowledge they gain through engineering coursework.

Cloutier, A. M., & Matusovich, H. M., & Geary, C., & Huggins, N. C. (2023, June), Measuring the Impact of Extra-/Co-Curricular Participation on Professional Formation of Engineers Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--43598

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