July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
NSF Grantees Poster Session
To better support a wide-range of engineering students, it is critical to understand how dissimilar First-year Engineering (FYE) experiences impact students pursuing degrees through various engineering pathways. FYE experiences serve as a foundation for success in engineering degree programs by introducing students to the field of engineering, helping students become acclimated to engineering at their chosen undergraduate institution, and more. Accordingly, experiences gained through differing engineering pathways (e.g., FYE programs, transfer programs, major specific courses, etc.) can impact student’s community and engineering identity development in different ways during the first year and beyond. Nationally, there is no standard format, content, or timing with regard to FYE experiences. However, engineering education researchers have created a few ways of classifying FYE differences. We use those existing FYE classifications to identify diverse engineering pathways and understand how those pathways impact engineer formation with respect to participation in engineering communities and developing engineering identities. The knowledge our work is generating is critical because participation in engineering communities and a strong engineering identity are positively related to student retention. Through our research, the engineering education community, and especially FYE administrators and instructors, will be better able to support and retain a wide range of engineering students.
Our research question is “How do divergent FYE experiences affect engineering identity and community?” This study is a collaborative research project funded by NSF through the Division of Engineering Education and Centers. The collaboration is between two universities which employ different FYE experiences (common first-year program and direct matriculation approaches). Additionally, students from two additional institutions (a regional campus with common FYE program and an engineering branch campus with post-general education FYE structure) were included in the study. Students pursuing engineering through all these different pathways were interviewed longitudinally over three years, starting the year after their FYE experience. Initial interviews were conducted in 2018, and subsequent interviews were conducted in 2019 and 2020. A total of 29 students were interviewed (some were interviewed all three times and others were only interviewed once or twice). In this paper, we will highlight the experiences of 13 students for whom we have three interviews. All interviews were transcribed and coded using a codebook focused on community and identity. Analysis is ongoing to ensure that emergent themes capture the longitudinal nature of the participants' experiences.
Through this research, we seek to provide insight into differences and similarities across FYE experiences related to community and identity. Our aim is to identify and better understand the key longitudinal impacts of different FYE pathways. We expect there to be commonalities among students following similar pathways into engineering education. However, we aim to acknowledge students’ unique experiences and provide recommendations on how to better support those who have a non-traditional path to and through engineering programs.
Williams, S., & Clark, A. M., & Doty, A. N., & Kajfez, R. L., & Mohammadi-Aragh, M. J. (2021, July), Preliminary Themes about Engineering Identity and Community Developed from Longitudinal Interviews Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37594
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