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Powerful Change Attends to Power Relations

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count

6

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37590

Download Count

43

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Paper Authors

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Susannah C. Davis University of New Mexico Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4610-8052

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Susannah C. Davis is a research assistant professor at the University of New Mexico. She holds a Ph.D. and M.Ed. from the University of Washington and a B.A. from Smith College. Her research explores how postsecondary institutions, their faculty, and their administrative leaders navigate organizational change and reform efforts and learn in the process. Her current research focuses on how institutions of higher education create more equitable and inclusive policies, practices, and climates, as well as how systems of power shape reform efforts.

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Nadia N. Kellam Arizona State University

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Nadia Kellam is Associate Professor in the Polytechnic School of the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at Arizona State University (ASU). She is a qualitative researcher who primarily uses narrative research methods and is interested more broadly in interpretive research methods. In her research, Dr. Kellam is broadly interested in developing critical understandings of the culture of engineering education and, especially, the experiences of underrepresented undergraduate engineering students and engineering educators. In addition to teaching undergraduate engineering courses and a graduate course on entrepreneurship, she also enjoys teaching qualitative research methods in engineering education in the Engineering Education Systems and Design PhD program at ASU. She is deputy editor of the Journal of Engineering Education.

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Vanessa Svihla University of New Mexico Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4342-6178

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Dr. Vanessa Svihla is a learning scientist and associate professor at the University of New Mexico in the Organization, Information and Learning Sciences program and in the Chemical and Biological Engineering Department. She served as Co-PI on an NSF RET Grant and a USDA NIFA grant, and is currently co-PI on three NSF-funded projects in engineering and computer science education, including a Revolutionizing Engineering Departments project. She was selected as a National Academy of Education / Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow and a 2018 NSF CAREER awardee in engineering education research. Dr. Svihla studies learning in authentic, real world conditions, specifically on design learning, in which she studies engineers designing devices, scientists designing investigations, teachers designing learning experiences and students designing to learn.

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Bala vignesh Sundaram Arizona State University, Polytechnic campus

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Bala Vignesh Sundaram is a PhD student in Engineering Education Systems and Design department in Arizona State University. His research interest is in exploring the potential benefits of teacher empathy in engineering classrooms.

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Jemal Bedane Halkiyo Arizona State University

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Jemal Halkiyo is a PhD student in Engineering Education Systems and Design at Arizona State University. Mr. Halkiyo Bachelor of Science from Hawassa University, and Masters of Science in Civil Engineering from Arba Minch University, both in Ethiopia. Mr. Halkiyo uses mixed methods to study his primary research interest: broadening the participation of Engineering Education in Ethiopian universities to increase the diversity, inclusivity, equity and quality of Engineering Education. He studies how different student-groups such as women and men, rich and poor, student from rural and urban, technologically literate and less literate can have quality and equitable learning experiences to not only thrive in their performances.

In doing so, he focuses on Engineering education policies and practices in teaching learning processes, assessments, laboratories and practical internships. Mr. Halkiyo has been teaching different Civil Engineering courses at Bule Hora University, Ethiopia, where he also served as a department head, and conducts various research and community projects.

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Abstract

While changing engineering departments to become more inclusive and equitable is a common goal, research repeatedly confirms that such change is rare. Notably, change efforts commonly fail in higher education institutions (Kezar 2011), and this failure is typically attributed to faculty resistance, ineffective leadership, competing values, and conservative traditions (Klempin and Karp 2018). Recent nationwide National Science Foundation-funded efforts to revolutionize engineering departments provide insight into the salience of power dynamics as drivers of or barriers to equitable, lasting change. We interviewed members of these change teams to understand the challenges they encountered and how they navigated these. Using an intersectionality framework (Collins & Bilge, 2016) we explored four lenses on power relations: (1) from a structural lens, we see that policies may affect individuals differently based on their social and role identities; (2) from a cultural lens, ideas and culture organize power, often blinding those with privilege from noticing bias; (3) from a disciplinary lens, people train and coerce each other to behave in certain ways and to sustain norms; and (4) from an interpersonal lens, we see that an individual’s social (e.g., gender, ethnicity) and role (career, position, voluntary memberships) identities can shape how they experience bias. Using these lenses, we characterized ways members positioned themselves in relation to change efforts and the degree to which they held substantive power or were endangered through their participation. In many cases, disciplinary norms revealed clashes between the original structures and cultures, and the sought-after changed structures, cultures, and disciplinary practices. For some, such clashes revealed a veneer of change progress; for others, clashes served as inflection points. We share strategies for deliberately engaging power relations in change projects.

Davis, S. C., & Kellam, N. N., & Svihla, V., & Sundaram, B. V., & Halkiyo, J. B. (2021, July), Powerful Change Attends to Power Relations Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37590

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