June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Minorities in Engineering
26.1291.1 - 26.1291.19
Qualitative Study of First-Generation Latinas: Understanding their Motivation for Seeking an Engineering Degree AbstractOverview: Latina undergraduates pursuing an engineering degree continue to be anunderrepresented group in four-year universities. Compared to their male counterparts, fewerwomen enter the field of engineering; in addition, fewer are also retained. Furthermore, a dearthof underrepresented students such as Latino/as and first-generation college students enter orremain in the field of engineering. The need for increased gender and racial/ethnic representationin engineering is important because it allows for the production of a wider range of innovativeproducts that take into consideration different dimensions of identity. Recent studies demonstratethat Latinas who are enrolled in the field of engineering and remain in this major possess highlevels of persistence. Purpose: Due to the importance of increasing and retaining racial and genderdiversity in this important field, my research seeks to examine what motivates first-generationLatinas in engineering at an urban public university to pursue engineering and why they persist inthis field. Previous research has investigated the experiences of first-generation students broadlywithout distinguishing specific populations or their choice of study. In addition, several studiesinvestigate why first-generation and underrepresented students drop out of college; some havefound that it is due to an unclear purpose for college, adjustment issues to the college environment,and feelings of isolation. Methods: This work is novel as I seek to understand the perspective offirst-generation Latina engineering students through qualitative in-depth interviews and throughanalyzing their narratives. This research advances the field by elucidating the reasons why Latinaschoose engineering as their major and why they choose to continue in this field, using AchievementGoal Theory (AGT) as the theoretical framework. This theory presumes that goals are cognitiveaccounts a person tries to accomplish and one’s purpose or reasons for doing the task. Results:Although further research is needed to learn more about what specific strategies promotepersistence in engineering for underrepresented students, using this theoretical framework, myresearch found that participants showed a higher sense of purpose, not only in mastery andperformance, but also in a sense of self-reliance and intellectual self. Contribution: This researchserves as a point of departure towards evolving the field of engineering into a more desirable majorfor first-generation Latina women, and underrepresented women more generally.
Verdin, D., & Godwin, A., & Morazes, J. L. (2015, June), Qualitative Study of First-Generation Latinas: Understanding Motivation for Choosing and Persisting in Engineering Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24628
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