June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
Minorities in Engineering
22.1722.1 - 22.1722.11
“Success is Different to Different People”: A Qualitative Study of How African American Engineering Students Define SuccessThere have been many calls to build the Nation’s STEM workforce by attracting and educatingmore students in academic STEM programs.1-4 Much of the emphasis has been placed onbuilding more diversity in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fieldsby focusing attention and resources towards building equitable representation of STEMgraduates among under-represented groups.2, 3, 5 One potential pitfall to establishing morediversity in STEM fields may be a lack of understanding of the differences among our under-represented and under-served groups. In particular, it may be important to understand whether ornot there are differences in how under-represented minority (URM) engineering students definepersonal success as compared to majority engineering students. Understanding these potentialdifferences may enable university administrators and faculty to educate and support thesestudents in relevant ways that enhance their ability to succeed.This analysis was drawn from a larger study that employed interdisciplinary, mixed-methods toidentify factors contributing to the successful retention and graduation of under-represented andunder-served minority engineering students at a predominately white research institution. URMengineering students participated in face-to-face interviews designed to engage them in reflectionand discussion of their lived experiences as engineering students. From this larger data set, ademographically diverse set of 20 African American engineering students were sampled toaddress the research questions: How does self-defined success relate to academic performance ofsuccessful African American engineering students? What demographic factors contribute to howsuccess is defined?Responses were thematically categorized, numerically analyzed, and viewed through the lensesof social-cognitive and goal theories to more easily interpret the influence of differentiatingfactors in students’ definitions of personal success. The majority of engineering students’definitions centered on graduating college, overall happiness, career, family, or money, and mostdefinitions contained multiple themes. Though there was no apparent relationship betweenacademic performance and the definitions of success, relationships related to gender, parentaleducation, community size, and engineering discipline appeared to emerge.  National Science Foundation, "The Science and Engineering Workforce: Realizing America's Potential," The Science and Engineering Workforce, Arlington, VA, 2003. National Science Foundation, "Moving Forward to Improve Engineering Education," 2007. National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, "NACME: Engineering Change 2007 Annual Report," 2007. May, G.S., and D.E. Chubin, "A Retrospective on Undergraduate Engineering Success for Underrepresented Minority Students," Journal of Engineering Education Vol. 92, No. 1, 2003, pp. 27-39. National Science Foundation, "Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering," Arlington, VA, 2007.
Hughes, Q. S., & Shehab, R. L., & Walden, S. E. (2011, June), “Success is Different to Different People”: A Qualitative Study of How African-American Engineering Students Define Success Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17291
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