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Scaffolding Student Success: Developing a Culturally Responsive Approach to Support Underrepresented Minorities in Engineering Undergraduate Research

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Eleazar Marquez Rice University

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Eleazar Marquez is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Rice University.

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Samuel Garcia Jr. NASA EPDC

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Dr. Samuel García Jr. is an Education Specialist at NASA's Kennedy Space Center and Assistant Professor of Practice for the LBJ Institute for Education and Research. Dr. García helps facilitate professional development to both formal and informal STEM educators utilizing NASA resources with a specific focus on Culturally Responsive Pedagogy. He also works with faculty serving in Minority Serving Institutions in developing STEM educational tools and resources for teachers to implement in their classrooms. Dr. García’s research agenda is geared towards community and educational change by creating healthy, equitable, and culturally responsive learning environments for traditionally underserved populations. Dr. García. earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Texas Río Grande Valley, formerly University of Texas Pan American and holds a doctorate degree in School Improvement from Texas State University.

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In this research study, a scaffolding technique is implemented in undergraduate research to cultivate and enhance engineering related aptitudes and stimulate additional experience that will allow underrepresented minority students to fully engage in communication and leadership roles post-graduation. Developing and supporting the growth of underrepresented minorities as leaders who make significant innovative contributions to the global and interconnected scientific society requires awareness of contextual issues that shape their educational experiences and a commitment to enact on a framework that blends technical, communication, and leadership skills in undergraduate engineering education. In the context of this four year study, a total of sixteen engineering students conducting undergraduate research participated. The faculty advisor served as the ‘more knowledgeable other’ who strategically implemented five technical aspects or ‘scaffolds’ to enhance technical knowledge, leadership, cognitive and communication skills: literature review, design, implementation, testing, and research. In this regard, student enhance their technical knowledge by applying engineering principles and developing new methods to solve research problems, whereas leadership, cognitive, and communication skills are instilled through character adaptability between team members, decision-making, team management, and collaboration. Results indicate that students developed in the following areas: establishing commitments, constant communication, managing tasks simultaneously, working with a range of ideas, and sharing responsibilities.

Marquez, E., & Garcia, S. (2021, July), Scaffolding Student Success: Developing a Culturally Responsive Approach to Support Underrepresented Minorities in Engineering Undergraduate Research Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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