August 23, 2022
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ERM: Mentoring for Everyone! And Let's talk about Graduate Students
This work-in-progress paper explores how goal-setting theory and future time perspective can be used to investigate how engineering doctoral students set and act upon future career goals. While graduate education serves an opportunity to develop specialized domain expertise, national reports in STEM fields show that students and employers alike believe there is misalignment between the reality and expectations of how prepared students are for their future careers. Other literature similarly discusses an incongruity between traditional concepts of graduate education with the transferrable skills required to thrive as future thought leaders. In an effort to understand engineering graduate students’ perceptions of career preparation, the purpose of this study is to examine how engineering doctoral students talk about their future career goals using an interpretative phenomenology-informed approach to directed content analysis. Findings from this work come from semi-structured interviews with fifteen engineering doctoral students across multiple institutions. This work is framed using two theoretical lenses of achievement motivation: goal setting theory and future time perspective. Goal setting focuses on how goals are developed and maintained while future time perspective examines how developed future goals influence decisions in the present. By using these theories of motivation together, the individual and systemic factors that influence doctoral student goal development, persistence, and professional development are illuminated. Preliminary analysis of the interview data indicates that four goal-setting constructs—goal commitment, strategy, feedback and supervisory support, and organizational support— may adequately describe the systemic influences on students’ experiences, career planning, and career preparation while also indicating where meaningful change can occur. Plans for future work include integrating the goal-setting constructs with an existing future time perspective survey to generate a diagnostic tool that examines the individual and systemic influences on engineering doctoral student career planning and preparation that can guide students, faculty, and administrators in support of professional development of engineering doctoral students aligned with the needs of future careers.
Satterfield, D., & Parker, M., & Bahnson, M., & Perkins, H., & Tsugawa, M., & Cass, C., & Scalaro, K., & Kirn, A. (2022, August), Unpacking Engineering Doctoral Students’ Career Goal Setting and Future Time Perspectives Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/40738
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