New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session
Given the diverse backgrounds of veterans, their increasing numbers, and the growing national demand for engineers, the timing is ideal to study the conditions under which student veterans pursue engineering education and the factors that support their success. This project aims to address gaps in the literature on student veterans in engineering through a comparative case study across four institutions: University of San Diego (USD), North Carolina State University (NCSU), Purdue University, and Clemson University. Our research questions include:
1. Why do veterans pursue a Bachelor’s degree in engineering? 2. How do military experiences shape student veterans’ educational experiences? 3. What are the experiences of student veterans in engineering education? 4. How do institutions support veterans in engineering education?
Our research plan incorporates content analysis of academic policies that student veterans encounter, interviews with key informants on each campus, focus group interviews with student veterans, and in-depth student interviews to elicit rich narratives. The theoretical framework builds on Tinto’s student integration model and Schlossberg’s adult transition theory. This study has potential for broad systemic impact by diversifying pathways to and through engineering programs, and in capitalizing on the informal and real-world experiences of engineering student veterans.
During the first phase of the grant, our team developed protocols for key informant interviews and interviewed 23 key informants at our institutions. We identified three themes that shape student veteran experiences on these campuses: the presence/absence of key student policies; student support services; and gaps in the provision of such services. At each institution, there has been a heightened emphasis placed on improving services for veterans and the policies that provide the framework for these services. We also identified a few challenges faced and assets brought by student veterans to campus from the perspective of administrators.
We have worked extensively with our distinguished External Advisory Board (EAB) to inform and refine our method. For example, based on their feedback, our qualification survey for our focus group participants was redesigned to be shorter and to use more appropriate military terminology. The student focus groups began in Fall 2015 at USD, NCSU, and Purdue and will continue into Spring 2016 at Clemson.
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