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People Matter: The Role of Peers and Faculty in Students' Academic Engagement

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Best of NEE

Tagged Division

New Engineering Educators

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.977.1 - 24.977.14



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Paper Authors

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Melani Plett Seattle Pacific University


Denise Wilson University of Washington

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Denise Wilson received the B.S. degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, Stanford, CA, in 1988 and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, in 1989 and 1995, respectively. She received the M.Ed. from the University of Washington in 2008.
She is currently an Associate Professor with the Electrical Engineering Department, University of Washington, Seattle, and she was previously with the University of Kentucky, Lexington, in a similar position from 1996 to 1999. Her research interests in engineering education focus on the role of belonging, self-efficacy, and other non-cognitive factors on success and persistence. She is also managing director of Coming Alongside, a non-profit environmental health services organization.

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Rebecca A. Bates Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Cheryl Allendoerfer University of Washington

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Diane Carlson Jones Ph.D University of Washington


Tamara Floyd-Smith Tuskegee University

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Tamara Floyd-Smith is a Professor of Chemical Engineering, 3M Scholar and Adjunct Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Tuskegee University.

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Nanette M. Veilleux Simmons College

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Caitlin Hawkinson Wasilewski Seattle Pacific University

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   People Matter: The Role of Peers and Faculty in Students’ Academic EngagementNew engineering educators are often told to implement evidence-based teaching practices. Thispaper presents findings from an engineering education study that suggests best practices that canimprove the teaching and learning experience in engineering classrooms.Over the past four years we have been exploring the role of a student’s connection to communityin his/her engagement of academics, both in terms of behaviors and emotions. At five verydifferent universities, we have conducted faculty and student interviews, student focus groups,classroom observations and student surveys using multi-phased exploratory sequential andexplanatory sequential mixed methods approaches. Analysis of this rich data set has resulted inthe following findings which are relevant for engineering faculty regarding teaching courses. a) A student’s sense of belonging in classes and major are important for academic engagement and other positive outcomes. b) Faculty and peer support are related to a student’s sense of belonging at multiple levels. c) Faculty behaviors can have an influence on student academic engagement, using even interventions (actions) that have a low impact on faculty. d) Although lecture still predominates in the engineering classroom, a modified lecture style is common that enables greater student academic engagement and faculty interaction. e) Informal academic communities, especially lab groups, study groups, and faculty-led groups, are valuable to student engagement (for most students). Providing space and opportunity to form productive groups is key to successful community building for engineering students. f) Non-academic communities (e.g. extracurricular activities) can also support student engagement through self-efficacy. The role of these communities differs for high self- efficacy students than for low self-efficacy students. This paper and presentation will explore these findings in more detail. Both the paper and presentation will also include practical interventions (actions) that faculty can readily implement with the goal of increasing student academic engagement.

Plett, M., & Wilson, D., & Bates, R. A., & Allendoerfer, C., & Jones, D. C., & Floyd-Smith, T., & Veilleux, N. M., & Wasilewski, C. H. (2014, June), People Matter: The Role of Peers and Faculty in Students' Academic Engagement Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22910

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