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Understanding Students’ Perceptions of Dimensions of Engineering Culture in Ecuador

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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

Cultural Issues in Engineering: International Division Technical Session 2

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Miguel Andres Guerra Universidad San Francisco de Quito

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Professor at Universidad San Francisco de Quito USFQ in Civil Engineering and Architecture

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Homero Murzi Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Homero Murzi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He holds degrees in Industrial Engineering (BS, MS), Master of Business Administration (MBA) and in Engineering Education (PhD). Homero has 15 years of international experience working in industry and academia. His research focuses on contemporary and inclusive pedagogical practices, industry-driven competency development in engineering, and understanding the barriers that Latinx and Native Americans have in engineering. Homero has been recognized as a Diggs scholar, a Graduate Academy for Teaching Excellence fellow, a Diversity scholar, a Fulbright scholar and was inducted in the Bouchet Honor Society.

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Johnny C. Woods, Jr. Virginia Tech Orcid 16x16

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Johnny C. Woods, Jr. is a PhD Student in Higher Education at Virginia Tech (VT), Virginia. He obtained his Master in Educational Foundations from Makerere University and a Bachelor in Sociology from A.M.E. Zion University College. Prior to joining Virginia Tech, he served in several administrative capacities in higher education in Liberia for approximately 11 years. He currently serves as a Graduate Research Assistant in the Department of Engineering Education at VT. His research interests are: Immigrants in STEM, migration and immigration issues in education, and Quality Assurance.

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Abram Diaz-Strandberg Virginia Tech

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There is significant engineering education research in the United States on understanding disciplinary engineering culture. Although culture is a complex phenomenon, understanding aspects of it, especially at the disciplinary level, is important to identify paths to improve engineering education in general. For example, understanding how students’ perceive different aspects of their engineering major and their identity formation as engineers can help us understand how to develop effective pedagogical and curricular interventions that help students become effective practicing engineers ready to adapt to the challenges of the contemporary workforce. Understanding disciplinary culture in engineering is also important in order to attract and retain more underrepresented populations into engineering. However, in Latin America, and in Ecuador specifically, there has not been much research in engineering education focused on understanding how students perceive the different patterns of cultural traits in engineering majors. The purpose of this study is to explore how students in civil, environmental, electronics, industrial, and mechanical engineering perceive different dimensions associated with culture.

Specifically, we are using Sharma (2010) instrument, developed to measure constructs associated with culture. Sharma’s work was based on Hofstede’s theory of dimensions of national cultures (power distance, uncertainty avoidance, individualism, masculinity) (Hofstede, 2003), a very well-known theory used to measure culture in different contexts around the world. While Hofstede’s theory is correlational rather than causal, we argue that a better understanding of disciplinary culture from the perspective of characteristics aligned with aspects of the discipline will be valuable to get an initial understanding of students’ perceptions. Data were collected from 75 students during the Fall semester 2019. The students are from the polytechnic college at a liberal arts university in Ecuador. The survey was translated into Spanish and was reviewed by several native Spanish speakers. We piloted the survey with several students. The survey was administered online. Results provide preliminary information on how students perceive aspects of culture like uncertainty avoidance, individualism, power distance, and masculinity. We discuss the relationship of these constructs with aspects of the engineering program. Implications for research and practice are provided

Guerra, M. A., & Murzi, H., & Woods, Jr., J. C., & Diaz-Strandberg, A. (2020, June), Understanding Students’ Perceptions of Dimensions of Engineering Culture in Ecuador Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35429

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