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Professional Identity Formation and Development in HBCU Construction Students

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

ConstDiv Technical Session 3 - Social & Leadership

Tagged Division

Construction Engineering

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Paper Authors


Andrea Nana Ofori-Boadu North Carolina A&T State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Andrea N. Ofori-Boadu is an Assistant Professor of Construction and Construction Management with the Department of Built Environment within the College of Science and Technology at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (NCA & T). Her research interests are in bio-derived cement replacement materials, delivery of sustainable built environments, and professional identity development in architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) students.

In February 2019, Andrea received the prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER award to research professional identity development processes in undergraduate AEC women. She has also received grants from East Coast Construction Services, Engineering Information Foundation, and the National Association of Home Builders. Dr. Ofori-Boadu was selected to participate in the 2019 QEM-NSF INCLUDES summit. In 2018, she was selected as a 2018 National Science Foundation - NC A & T ADVANCE IT Faculty Scholar. She also received the 2018 CoST Teaching Excellence Merit Award. Dr. Ofori-Boadu received both the 2017 NC A & T - CoST Rookie Research Excellence Award and the 2017 North Carolina A & T State University (NCAT) Rookie Research Excellence Award. Under her mentorship, Dr. Ofori-Boadu’s students have presented research posters at various NCAT Undergraduate Research Symposia resulting in her receiving a 2017 Certificate of Recognition for Undergraduate Research Mentoring. In 2016, her publication was recognized by the Built Environment Project and Asset Management Journal as the 2016 Highly Commended Paper. Andrea has served as a reviewer for the National Science Foundation (NSF), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and several journals and conferences.

In 2015, Dr. Ofori-Boadu established her STEAM ACTIVATED! program for middle-school girls. She also serves as the Executive Vice-President of Penuel Consult, Incorporated. She is married to Victor Ofori-Boadu and they are blessed with three wonderful children.

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Victor Ofori-Boadu Penuel Consult Inc.

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Victor Ofori-Boadu is a seasoned Strategic Business Analytics Consultant and the President of Penuel Consult Inc. He holds two Master’s Degrees in Agricultural Economics and Accounting. He has a wide range of experience in market research, advance analytics, measurements, evaluation and monitoring and business intelligence. Victor has worked on several research and business projects that have resulted in grants, publications, and presentations. The dissemination of his research findings have contributed to the implementation of agricultural outreach programs and policies that have been of benefit to stakeholders.

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Iyshea Borders-Taylor

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Iyshea Borders-Taylor, more commonly known as Iyshea Borders, is a biomedical engineering student at the University of North Carolina A&T State University. Ms. Borders is scheduled to graduate in May of 2021.

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Lewis Waller


Paul Akangah North Carolina A&T State University Orcid 16x16

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P. Akangah is an Assistant Professor of Instruction at the North Carolina A&T State University. He earned his B.S. degree from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science & Technology, Kumasi, Ghana, MS (Energy Engineering, 2005) from The Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden, and Ph.D. (Mechanical Engineering, 2011) from the North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, NC. Dr. Akangah is currently teaching at the North Carolina A&T State University. His interests are in engineering pedagogy, thermal management, and advanced composites materials. Dr. Akangah may be reached at

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Abstract: Workforce shortages, lack of diversity, and challenging student transitions from college into the construction profession remain a huge concern. There is the need for construction educators to target, attract, and prepare minority students who persist into construction professional roles and contribute to industry advancements. Identity theories emphasize that students’ lived experiences shape their professional identity development processes and career decisions; and, in the long-term, influence students’ persistence and career success. Construction students with strong professional identities are likely to persist and have smoother transitions into construction professions (CPs). However, little is known about the lived experiences of construction students, particularly students at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs); and, how these experiences influence their construction professional identity development (CPID). Consequently, the purpose of this research was to gain insights into HBCU students’ lived experiences and how their CPID evolved across four educational stages. Using a self-reporting survey instrument in a mixed methods approach, 45 HBCU construction students described experiences that influenced their CPID and rated their own CPID using a five-point Likert scale. Data analysis involved weighted means and descriptive analysis of frequently occurring words and emerging thematic categories. T-tests were used to assess the statistical significance of differences existing between different categories of students.

Results showed that across the four educational stages, seven thematic categories (technology, engineering, science, fine/performing arts, sports, arts, and non-degree) of evolving career interests emerged from the data analysis. Majority of CP career decisions occurred at the middle-school age, making it a critical time to introduce age-appropriate construction learning opportunities. The six thematic categories that emerged from students’ reasons for switching career interests were psychological, experiential, academic, physical, social, and economic; and these reasons corresponded with the educational stages. While pre-college reasons for switching career interests were mostly associated with new knowledge and experiences, college reasons were associated with barriers that hindered students’ progression. HBCU construction students had positive perceptions of their own CPID with a high sense of belonging, self-efficacy, and self-recognition. CPID was neither gender nor classification dependent. However, it was most influenced by personal, academic, and industrial experiences. Furthermore, students indicated a strong preference for hands on activities, industry connections, and instructor preparation because these enhanced their CPID.

Empirical findings provide insights into CPID to inform educational practices and policies for the early targeting, attraction, preparation, and persistence of construction students, particularly at HBCUs. In the long term, effective practices and policies could increase the quantity and quality of CPs towards a more competent and diverse workforce for the development of 21st century built environments.

Ofori-Boadu, A. N., & Ofori-Boadu, V., & Borders-Taylor, I., & Waller, L., & Akangah, P. (2019, June), Professional Identity Formation and Development in HBCU Construction Students Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33196

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