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Understanding the Impact of Institutional Supports on the Motivation, Belonging, Identity Development, and Persistence of Engineering Students

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


S. Patrick Walton Michigan State University

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S. Patrick Walton is the Associate Chair and C. Robert and Kathryn M. Weir Endowed Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at Michigan State University. He received his bachelors in chemical engineering from Georgia Tech, and then attended MIT where he received his masters and doctoral degrees. After a post-doc at Stanford University, he joined MSU in 2004 where his research is focused on the development of novel therapeutic and diagnostic technologies based upon the unique physical and chemical properties of nucleic acids. He is also engaged in studying engineering student persistence and success through the lens of motivation. He has been recognized for his accomplishments in both teaching and research, receiving the MSU Teacher-Scholar award, the College of Engineering Withrow Teaching Excellence Award and being named an MSU Lilly Teaching Fellow and MSU's Undergraduate Research Faculty Mentor of the Year.

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Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia Michigan State University

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Dr. Lisa Linnenbrink-Garcia is a professor of Educational Psychology in the Department of Counseling, Educational Psychology, and Special Education at Michigan State University. She received her Ph.D. in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her research focuses on the development of achievement motivation in educational settings and the interplay among motivation, emotions, and learning, especially in STEM fields.

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This NSF PFE-RIEF project is giving the PI an immersive, two-year experience working on social science research that will inform the design and implementation of institutional supports that encourage engineering student persistence. The PI and Mentor are collaboratively leading paper and proposal submissions derived from and in support of research on academic and co-curricular interventions that encourage engineering students’ motivation, belonging, and identity development. The ongoing work is assessing changes in these psychological processes over the course of students’ undergraduate careers and determining if changes in these processes mediate changes in student persistence and success.

The project is structured to educate the PI in the psychological knowledge base and instruments related to student motivation, identity development, and sense of belonging. The project is structured to allow the PI to work directly with the Mentor to build foundational knowledge of the psychological literature, collect and analyze longitudinal data on changes in psychological processes over the undergraduate career of two student cohorts, and develop new project foci based on the ongoing collaboration between the PI and Mentor. Specific training efforts include discussion of the relevant literature, analysis of data, preparation of journal and conference publications, and development of grant proposals for future research endeavors. The PI mentoring program has been structured to provide a first year of immersion followed by a second year of application of the acquired skills. To date, our research has focused on multiple factors associated with engineering student success. These include understanding the utility of standardized tests and high school GPA for predicting student persistence and examining the role of career fair participation in enhancing student motivation and persistence. Results from these studies to date will be described. The results of this research will be broadly applicable to engineering programs, all of which would benefit from a better understanding of how to allocate resources to best support student success. The PI anticipates continuing research on designing institutional supports to encourage student persistence and success throughout the rest of his career.

Walton, S. P., & Linnenbrink-Garcia, L. (2021, July), Understanding the Impact of Institutional Supports on the Motivation, Belonging, Identity Development, and Persistence of Engineering Students Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37969

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