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Preliminary Themes about Engineering Identity and Community Developed from Longitudinal Interviews

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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

7

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37594

Download Count

10

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Paper Authors

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Shaylin Williams Mississippi State University

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Shaylin Williams is invested in figuring out ways to improve the engineering education experience for future generations of engineers. She completed her Bachelor’s in General Engineering with a Business Administration Emphasis at the University of Mississippi in May 2020. As an undergraduate McNair Scholar, Shaylin participated in several research projects. She worked on two projects in a chemical engineering lab related to creating thermal barriers for food packaging and soil remediation. She also completed an REU project in the area of healthcare engineering at the University of Wisconsin- Madison. Shaylin is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Engineering Education at Mississippi State University. She is working on a partnered longitudinal study researching how varying first-year experiences (FYE) structures affect students’ engineering identities and involvement in communities of practice. Shaylin is interested in figuring out what contributes to engineering students getting the most out of their undergraduate programs and how programs can be better designed to cater to those needs.

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Abigail M Clark Ohio State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-2214-2160

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Abigail Clark is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University. She is currently advised by Dr. Rachel Kajfez, and is part of the RIME collaborative (https://u.osu.edu/rimetime). Her research interests include engineering identity development in K12 students, engineering education in informal settings, and women’s experiences in the engineering field. Prior to coming to Ohio State, Abigail worked as a researcher at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, OH. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Ohio Northern University and a master's degree in mechanical engineering from Ohio State

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Anastasia Nicole Doty Ohio State University

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Anastasia Doty is currently an undergraduate student at The Ohio State University. She is pursuing her B.S in Industrial and Systems Engineering and is currently an undergraduate research assistant within the Department of Engineering Education at Ohio State.

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Rachel Louis Kajfez Ohio State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9745-1921

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Dr. Rachel Louis Kajfez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University. She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from Ohio State and earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. Her research interests focus on the intersection between motivation and identity of undergraduate and graduate students, first-year engineering programs, mixed methods research, and innovative approaches to teaching. She is the faculty lead for the Research on Identity and Motivation in Engineering (RIME) Collaborative.

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Mahnas Jean Mohammadi-Aragh Mississippi State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-3094-3734

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Dr. M. Jean Mohammadi-Aragh is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Mississippi State University. Dr. Mohammadi-Aragh investigates the use of digital systems to measure and support engineering education. Current projects include leveraging writing to support programming skill development, using 3D weather visualizations to develop computational thinking skills for K-12 students, and exploring how instructors impact attention in large, computer-infused lectures. Dr. Mohammadi-Aragh also investigates fundamental questions about community, identity, messaging, and diversity, which are all critical to improving undergraduate engineering degree pathways.

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Abstract

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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