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Minority/Multicultural Engineering Program Impact: A Student Perspective of Co-Curricular Support

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Assessing URM Programs Targeting the K-16 Continuum

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1157.1 - 26.1157.12



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Paper Authors


Walter C. Lee Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Walter Lee recently earned his PhD in engineering education at Virginia Tech, where he also served as a program assistant for the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity. His research interests include student retention & recruitment, diversity, motivation, and first-year experiences in engineering. Dr. Lee received an NSF-GRFP Fellowship in Spring 2012 focusing on how student support centers impact the experience of undergraduate engineering students, specifically women and underrepresented minorities. He received his M.S. in Industrial & Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech and his B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University.

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Holly M. Matusovich Virginia Tech

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Dr. Matusovich is an Assistant Professor and Assistant Department Head for Graduate Programs in Virginia Tech’s Department of Engineering Education. She has her doctorate in Engineering Education and her strengths include qualitative and mixed methods research study design and implementation. She is/was PI/Co-PI on 8 funded research projects including a CAREER grant. She has won several Virginia Tech awards including a Dean’s Award for Outstanding New Faculty. Her research expertise includes using motivation and related frameworks to study student engagement in learning, recruitment and retention in engineering programs and careers, faculty teaching practices and intersections of motivation and learning strategies. Matusovich has authored a book chapter, 10 journal manuscripts and more than 50 conference papers.

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MIND   Minority/Multicultural Engineering Program Impact: How Students Describe Their Perspective of Co-Curricular SupportAbstract  Student support centers (e.g., Minority Engineering Programs) are common approaches tosupporting underrepresented students in engineering colleges at large, 4-year, public, research-intensive universities. Despite the widespread adoption of these student support centers, researchhas not yet fully examined the function of these units with regard to influencing the institutionalexperience of undergraduate. While many researchers have investigated student support centerswith regards to academic impact (i.e., change in GPA and graduation rates), we know very littleabout how these centers directly influence the institutional experiences of undergraduatestudents. The purpose of this qualitative multicase study is to highlight the student perspective ofminority/multicultural engineering programs (MEPs). In particular, our overarching researchquestion is as follows: From the student perspective, what impact does an MEP have on theundergraduate experiences of engineering students from underrepresent populations?This study is part of larger project focused on the use of co-curricular support in engineeringcolleges. The data analyzed for this study is a subset of the data from the larger study that wascollected from two of the six universities – one focus group was conducted at University 1 andtwo focus groups were conducts at University 2. Focus groups were used to understand theoverall impact students believed that the MEP had on the experience of underrepresentedengineering students at their institution. In particular, we investigated the advantages to beinginvolved, the disadvantages to being involved, reasons students were involved, and reasonsstudents were not involved. While students did report primarily positive impacts, lessonspertinent to the negative impact a MEP can have on the student experience were also revealed.These findings will assist engineering colleges with offering student interventions that positivelyinfluence the undergraduate experience while mitigating unintended negative impacts. This studyis a step towards better understanding the use of co-curricular support to improve the institutionalexperience of undergraduate engineering students.

Lee, W. C., & Matusovich, H. M. (2015, June), Minority/Multicultural Engineering Program Impact: A Student Perspective of Co-Curricular Support Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24494

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