June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
Educational Research and Methods
26.1552.1 - 26.1552.14
Disciplinary Differences in High School Experiences and Influence on Engineering Identity and Possible SelvesFrequently in education research, students interested in engineering are treated as a monolith.Prior research shows that disciplinary differences are present in students, even early in theircollege careers. Differences include students career outcome expectations, achievementmotivation, beliefs about sustainability, high school subject-related identities, and beliefs aboutthe impact engineering can have on the world. Students' self-identification with engineering isvitally important to their recruitment and retention into engineering. Recent calls from the U.S.President have emphasized the need for one million new STEM graduates in the next decade tomaintain the country's global competitiveness. Understanding how differences in students' highschool experiences and interests can predict differences in engineering disciplines and students'identification with engineering can begin to address this need.We utilized the framework of possible selves to examine students' self-beliefs of who they arenow and who they could be in the future as predicted by high school experiences. Possibleselves represent individuals' ideas of who they might become, who they would like to become,and who they wish to avoid becoming, and thus provides a conceptual link between students'current identities, motivation, and future role identities. Understanding the future component ofstudent self-concept can provide insight into students' goals and engineering trajectories.This work focuses on addressing two research questions: 1) Are there disciplinary differences instudents' prior high school extracurricular experiences and interests? and 2) How do theseexperiences affect students' engineering identity now and in the future? To answer thesequestions, we compared students in different engineering disciplines at the start of theirengineering studies. The data for this work comes from a nationally representative survey,distributed in Fall 2013, of 15,847 students from 27 different institutions across the U.S. Byidentifying students intending to major in seven different disciplines (bio/biomedical, chemical,civil, electrical, environmental, industrial, and mechanical engineering) for a total of 2,007students interested in an engineering career, we show the variation in the type of studentsmajoring in different engineering disciplines early in their college careers.Regression analysis was used to study how students' high school experiences and interestsdiffered between engineering disciplines. Gender differences were also examined to see if aparticular interest was more or less important for women in their disciplinary choices. Anotherregression examined if these experiences predicted an engineering identity currently and in thefuture. Students who were interested in tinkering, chemistry, engaging with the natural world,and participating in science competitions were more likely to have defined engineeringperceptions now and in the future. Significant disciplinary differences were also seen forstudents engaging in a variety of high school experiences and interests. For example, chemicalengineering students were more likely than other engineers to have positively engaged withchemistry, participated in science groups or competitions, and been interested in talking aboutscience. Gender differences were found for female students in biomedical, electrical, civil,chemical, and environmental engineering disciplines.
Godwin, A., & Sonnert, G., & Sadler, P. M. (2015, June), The Influence of Out-of-school High School Experiences on Engineering Identities and Career Choice Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24889
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