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Research on Innovation and Creativity in Higher Education in Engineering and Science for Community Colleges

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1333.1 - 26.1333.17



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Paper Authors


Gisele Ragusa University of Southern California

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Gisele Ragusa is a Professor of Engineering Education at the University of Southern California. She conducts research on college transitions and retention of underrepresented students in engineering and also research about engineering global preparedness and engineering innovation. She also has research expertise in STEM K-12 and in STEM assessment. She chairs USC's STEM Consortium.

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Research on Innovation and Creativity in Higher Education in Engineering and Science for Community CollegesThere is a critical need for more students with engineering and science majors to enter into, persist, andgraduate from postsecondary institutions. Increasing the diversity in engineering and science is also aprofound identified need. According to national statistics, the largest groups of underrepresented minoritystudents in engineering and science attend America’s public higher education institutions and in particularthe community colleges. Recent research has indicated that students from these populations who arestrong problem solvers, and who understand how to seek assistance and navigate college campuses, aremost likely persist to degree completion. Accordingly, this research seeks to examine a sample of non-traditional college students enrolled in science and engineering programs in four urban communitycolleges to determine (a) the types and frequency of support practices they utilize, (b) how such practicesinfluence their achievement, persistence and transfer status to four year colleges and universities, and (c)how in turn their propensity for innovation and creative problem solving affects such choices andpersistence. The study analyzes the pedagogical practices—practices designed to foster successful transferfrom community college to four-year colleges and universities and how students’ innovative capabilityinfluences such transfer capacity. The goals are: (1) to explore the pedagogical practices used to supportnon-traditional students in community colleges to inform persistence, (2) to understand whether suchpractices are effective in offering non-traditional students a program that enables them to stay inengineering and science majors and to transfer to a four year college or university, and (3) to determine ifstudents’ propensity for innovative problem solving influences use of pedagogical practices andultimately, transfer persistence. The research targets five research questions: (1) What are the patterns ofpedagogical practices that community colleges employ to enhance students’ transfer success inengineering and science? (2) Are there discernable profiles of non-traditional students enrolling inengineering and science majors in community colleges that utilize these pedagogical practices? (3) Howdo students’ creative and innovative problem solving approaches influence the choices that they make inusing pedagogical support practices? (4) What are the impacts of pedagogical practices and differencesamong pedagogical practices, on persistence toward students’ transfer to colleges and universities? (5)How do students’ creative and innovative problem solving approaches influence their persistence towardtransfer to engineering and science programs at 4-year universities? This research project studies an area and group of students that have been historicallyunderstudied, community college students in engineering and science. It builds upon the researchers’current studies of STEM pathways and students’ propensity for innovation, both of which are researchareas recognized as areas that engineering education must cultivate in students. The RICHES project alsoprovides rigorous empirical research on students who have been traditionally underrepresented in highereducation research, thereby advancing the knowledge to higher education research communities.

Ragusa, G. (2015, June), Research on Innovation and Creativity in Higher Education in Engineering and Science for Community Colleges Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24670

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