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The Development of a Measure of Engineering Identity

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Conference

2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016

ISBN

978-0-692-68565-5

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Engineering Cultures and Identity

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic

ASEE Diversity Committee

Page Count

16

DOI

10.18260/p.26122

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/26122

Download Count

922

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Paper Authors

biography

Allison Godwin Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-0741-3356

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Allison Godwin, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research focuses what factors influence diverse students to choose engineering and stay in engineering through their careers and how different experiences within the practice and culture of engineering foster or hinder belongingness and identity development. Dr. Godwin graduated from Clemson University with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education. She is the recipient of a 2014 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Educational Research and Methods Division Apprentice Faculty Grant. She also was an NSF Graduate Research Fellow for her work on female empowerment in engineering which won the National Association for Research in Science Teaching 2015 Outstanding Doctoral Research Award.

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Abstract

This research paper describes the recent development of items to measure post-secondary students’ engineering identity. Engineering identity is a particular type of role identity that students authoring during their experiences in an engineering community of practice, typically in college. Engineering identity has been shown as a significant indicator of educational and professional persistence in multiple quantitative and qualitative studies. These prior investigations of engineering identity have focused on whether students consider or see themselves as an engineer and the culture and qualities that students cite are needed to be an engineer. Other work has focused on the discourse students use to develop and identify as engineers in practice. However, these studies have not focused on the internal states that impact students’ perceptions of their own engineering role identity.

Measures of subject-related role identities in physics and math have been developed from research on the underlying constructs of identity in science education. The items for these measures capture three constructs of identity: students’ interest in the subject, students’ feeling of recognition by others, and students’ beliefs about their performance/competence in the subject area. In prior studies with late secondary and early post-secondary students, participants did not distinguish between performance beliefs (e.g., believing that they can do well in a particular subject) and competence beliefs (e.g., believing that they can understand a particular subject); therefore, performance/competence beliefs are measured as a single construct. These validated measures have been successful in predicting STEM career choices including physics, math, and engineering. Based on these measures of identity, literature on engineering identity, and my prior work on understanding engineering choice and belongingness through students’ science and math identities at the transition from high school to college, I developed a set of new engineering identity measures that capture and overall identification as an engineer, future engineering career identification, and students’ engineering-related interest, recognition, and performance/competence beliefs.

I conducted a pilot survey of 371 first-year engineering students at three institutions within the U.S. during the spring semester of 2015. An exploratory factor analysis (EFA) was performed to examine the underlying structure of the piloted questions about students’ engineering identity. The measures loaded on three separate constructs that were consistent with the hypothesized constructs of interest, performance/competence and recognition.

The developed items were used in a subsequent study deployed in the fall semester of 2015 that measured more than 2500 first-year engineering students’ attitudes and beliefs at four institutions within the U.S. The data on engineering identity measures from this second survey were analyzed using confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The results indicated that the developed measures do extract a significant portion of the average variance in the latent constructs and the internal consistency of the measures (Cronbach’s α) falls within the acceptable and better range. The development of these items provides ways for engineering education researchers to more deeply explore the underlying self-beliefs in students’ engineering identity formation through quantitative measures with strong evidence for validity.

Godwin, A. (2016, June), The Development of a Measure of Engineering Identity Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26122

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