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Understanding How Engineering Identity and Belongingness Predict Grit for First-Generation College Students

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Conference

2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference

Location

Crystal City, Virginia

Publication Date

April 29, 2018

Start Date

April 29, 2018

End Date

May 2, 2018

Conference Session

First-Generation Track - Technical Session IV

Tagged Topics

Diversity and First Generation

Page Count

17

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/29589

Download Count

170

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Paper Authors

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Dina Verdín Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/https://0000-0002-6048-1104

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Dina Verdín is a Ph.D. candidate in Engineering Education and M.S. student in Industrial Engineering at Purdue University. She completed her B.S. in industrial and systems engineering at San José State University. Dina is a 2016 recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship. Her research interest focuses on changing the deficit-based perspective of first-generation college students by providing asset-based approaches to understanding this population. Dina is interested in understanding how first-generation college students author their identities as engineers and negotiate their multiple identities in the current culture of engineering.

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Allison Godwin Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) 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 on 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. Her research earned her a National Science Foundation CAREER Award focused on characterizing latent diversity, which includes diverse attitudes, mindsets, and approaches to learning, to understand engineering students’ identity development. She is the recipient of a 2014 American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) Educational Research and Methods Division Apprentice Faculty Grant. She has also been recognized for the synergy of research and teaching as an invited participant of the 2016 National Academy of Engineering Frontiers of Engineering Education Symposium and 2016 New Faculty Fellow for the Frontiers in Engineering Education Annual Conference. 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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Adam Kirn University of Nevada, Reno

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Adam Kirn is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at the University of Nevada, Reno. His research focuses on the interactions between engineering cultures, student motivation, and their learning experiences. His projects involve the study of student perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes toward becoming engineers, their problem-solving processes, and cultural fit. His education includes a B.S. in biomedical engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, M.S. in bioengineering, and Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education from Clemson University.

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Lisa Benson Clemson University

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Lisa Benson is a Professor of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University, with a joint appointment in Bioengineering. Her research focuses on the interactions between student motivation and their learning experiences. Her projects involve the study of student perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes toward becoming engineers and scientists, and their problem-solving processes. Other projects in the Benson group include effects of student-centered active learning, self-regulated learning, and incorporating engineering into secondary science and mathematics classrooms. Her education includes a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Vermont, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Bioengineering from Clemson University.

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Geoff Potvin Florida International University

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Abstract

Increasing the participation of underrepresented students, including first-generation college students, in engineering plays a central role in sustaining the U.S. research and innovative capacity. Diversity continues to be recognized as an asset in engineering, and as the demographics of the domestic population continues to shift, the source of engineering workforce must shift as well to include more diverse individuals. However, we also know that the culture of engineering has an implicit assumption about who can be and who is recognized as an engineer. Whereas enculturation in to the engineering community of practice requires that students take on roles, behaviors, and attitudes that are defined and shared within the community, there is also a complex relationship between participation in a community of practice and identity. Diverse students must not only author an identity as an engineer but also must grapple with how that identity, historically constructed as white and masculine, becomes a part of how they see themselves. Prior research has found that students come into engineering with a moderate engineering identity. These students have begun the process of seeing themselves as engineers by choosing engineering as their college major. The role identity of an engineer has been measured through three constructs i.e., interest in the subject, recognition by others, and beliefs about one’s performance/competence. In this study, we seek to understand how these measures of identity predict students’ grit. Previous research studies have demonstrated that grit, a personality trait, is predictive of academic retention, grade point average, and educational attainment. Grit is defined as perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Specifically, grit: persistence of effort was found to be a significant predictor of 1- and 2-year engineering retention, after controlling for GPA. However, the equity of this measure for underrepresented students has also been questioned. In this research study, we examine how first-generation college students’ engineering identity and sense of belongingness in engineering serve as mediators for students’ grit in order to understand how this popular measure might play into students’ persistence of effort and consistency of interest. We used data from a large-scale survey, Intersectionality of Non-normative Identities in the Cultures of Engineering (InIce). InIce was completed by 2,916 first-year engineering college students enrolled in four institutions across the United States—72% non-first-generation college students, 20% first-generation college students, and 8% who did not report. The survey measured attitudinal profiles of belongingness in engineering, identity constructs, grit, and demographic information. We used structural equation modeling to test the hypothesis that engineering identity constructs and belongingness serve as mediators for students measures of grit: persistence of effort and grit: consistency of interest. Results support previous structural model of engineering identity for the first-generation college student population. Engineering identity was found to have a positive direct effect on students sense of belongingness. Both engineering identity and belongingness have a positive direct effect on grit: consistency of effort. However, engineering identity and belongingness were not significant predictors of grit: consistency of interest. Additionally, belongingness is also a mediator between engineering identity and grit: persistence of effort. These results begin to uncover how grit is not a stand-alone measure, that is, some students have it while others do not. Grit: persistence of effort, for first-generation college students, is present when they see themselves as the kinds of people that can do engineering and feel a sense of belongingness within the field. The results of this work may highlight ways to support grit development in first-generation college students.

Verdín, D., & Godwin, A., & Kirn, A., & Benson, L., & Potvin, G. (2018, April), Understanding How Engineering Identity and Belongingness Predict Grit for First-Generation College Students Paper presented at 2018 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity Conference, Crystal City, Virginia. https://peer.asee.org/29589

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