July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Educational Research and Methods
This research paper investigates the relationship between race/ ethnicity, gender, first generation college student status and engineering identity using cross-sectional data from early-career engineering majors.
Measures of engineering identity are increasingly used in models of engineering education to evaluate how identity contributes to success and persistence of engineering students. Engineering identity is generally assumed to contribute to educational success, with stronger engineering identity leading to persistence. At the same time, data clearly shows that persistence of engineering students varies by race/ethnicity and gender.
Given these previous findings, we would expect to find that engineering identity will vary by race/ ethnicity, gender, and first generation status. Yet, relatively little work has quantitatively compared how engineering identity differs across racial/ ethnic groups and gender. While researchers are increasingly trying to gain a better understanding of engineering identity among Latina students, for example, the literature has not yet adequately accounted for how Latina students differ from their non-Hispanic white peers. This works seeks to address that gap in the literature with an exploration of the ways that race/ethnicity, gender, and first generation status work together to impact engineering identity among early-career engineering students at four public Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) in the Southwestern United States.
We conducted surveys as part of a longitudinal study on STEM education. Data discussed here comes from baseline surveys of three cohorts of engineering students (N=475). Approximately two-thirds of the respondents were attending a traditional 4-year university while the remainder (N=159) were attending community college at the time of the survey. Approximately two-thirds of the respondents identified as Latinx, 27% identified as female, and 26.5% reported that they were first-generation college students.
While expectations were that engineering identity would vary by race/ethnicity and gender, preliminary analyses of our data unexpectedly reveal no significant differences between Latinx and White students in terms of their engineering identity and no significant differences in engineering identity between male and female students. Interactions between race/ethnicity and gender were also tested and yielded no significant differences between early-career Latinx and White students in terms of their engineering identity. Finally, students who reported that they will be the first in their family to get a college degree had significantly lower engineering identity scores (=-.422; p=.001). These results lead us to conclude that first generation status at HSIs may be more important than gender and race/ ethnicity in the development of engineering identity for early career students.
Arnett, S. M., & Way, S. M., & Ortiz, D. G., & Humble, L. B. B., & Martinez, A. D. (2021, July), Toward an Understanding of the Relationship Between Race/Ethnicity, Gender, First-generation Student Status, and Engineering Identity at Hispanic-serving Institutions Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37917
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