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Tolerance of Ambiguity, Development of Cognitive Models, and Engineering Identity

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Student Success, Learning Strategies, and Retention in the Aerospace Industry

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M. Javed Khan Tuskegee University

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Dr. M. Javed Khan is Professor and Head of Aerospace Science Engineering Department at Tuskegee University. He received his Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Texas A&M University, M.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from the US Air Force Institute of Technology, and B.E. in Aerospace Engineering from the PAF College of Aeronautical Engineering. He also has served as Professor and Head of Aerospace Engineering Department at the National University of Science and Technology,Pakistan. His research interests include experimental aerodynamics, aircraft design and engineering education.

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Chadia A. Aji Tuskegee University

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Chadia Affane Aji is a Professor in the Department of Mathematics at Tuskegee University. Dr. Aji received her Ph.D. and M.S. in Mathematics from Auburn University and a Bachelor in Chemical Engineering from Texas A&M University. Her research interests lie in the areas of numerical analysis, computational applied mathematics, complex analysis, and on improving students' learning in STEM disciplines. Dr. Aji is involved in retention activities at Tuskegee University. She helps designing strategies to assist incoming freshmen cope with first year mathematics classes. She developed teaching modules to improve students' learning in mathematics using technology.

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The cognitive models of students’ perceptions of the real world lie on a spectrum spanning a dualistic understanding of the worldview on one end and a relativistic view on the other end. Students who are dualistic in their understanding of concepts have difficulty in solving problems which do not lend themselves to a well-defined single answer or solution. One would therefore assume that engineering students would rapidly develop a relativistic understanding of the solution space. This developmental process would also manifest itself in the development of an engineering identity. The focus of the research presented in this paper is to determine the relationship of the cognitive models of the solution space, tolerance of ambiguity and the development of engineering identity. A cross-sectional study of the cognitive models of undergraduate students, their tolerance to ambiguity and perception of engineering identity was conducted at an historically black university. The modified Rydell-Rosen Ambiguity Tolerance (RRAT) survey instrument for tolerance of ambiguity and the Bateman-McDonald survey instrument for determining their location on the cognitive spectrum were used in this study. The students were also administered the Godwin Engineering Identity survey. Data analysis indicated that students’ tolerance of ambiguity increased on only few items of the RRAT. with the time spent in college. The analysis of the engineering identity indicated positive changes on several of the items of the instrument. This research is supported by NSF Grant# 1832041.

Khan, M. J., & A. Aji, C. (2020, June), Tolerance of Ambiguity, Development of Cognitive Models, and Engineering Identity Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35391

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