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What is the Relationship between Mindset and Engineering Identity for First Year Male and Female Students? An Exploratory Longitudinal Study

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Women in Engineering Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Women in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Heather Lysbeth Henderson West Virginia University

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With a background in English, philosophy, science, and all levels of education, Heather is currently a doctoral student in curriculum and instruction and educational psychology. She is interested in psychological barriers affecting retention and success for students. Having been raised by an engineer, this project is close to her heart.

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Karen E Rambo-Hernandez West Virginia University Orcid 16x16

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Karen E. Rambo-Hernandez is an assistant professor of educational psychology in the department of Learning Sciences and Human Development in the College of Education and Human Services at West Virginia University. In her research, she is interested the assessment of student learning-particularly the assessment of academic growth, issues related to diversity and inclusion, advanced statistical modeling, and the evaluation of curricular change.

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Christina Paguyo Colorado State University

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Christina H. Paguyo, PhD, is a postdoctoral fellow in the College of Engineering at Colorado State University. Her research interests focus on mixed methods approaches for designing and examining educational environments grounded in research, theory, and equity. She has co-authored peer-reviewed articles published in the Peabody Journal of Education and the Encyclopedia of Diversity in Education.

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Rebecca A Atadero Colorado State University

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Rebecca Atadero is an associate professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at Colorado State University, specializing in structural engineering. She conducts research on the inspection, management and renewal of existing structures, and on engineering education.

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Only 5% of full professors in engineering are women, despite a nearly gender equal amount of graduates from doctoral programs in STEM (Shen, 2013). Students possessing an entity mindset (e.g., intelligence based on genetics) versus incremental mindset (e.g., intelligence based on effort and hard work) are more likely to disengage when confronted with highly challenging coursework (Robins & Pals, 2002). Gender has been shown to moderate the relation between entity orientation and attributions to class difficulty for women and not males (Robins & Pals, 2002). Also, students who identify strongly as engineers are more likely to persist and become engineers, and women are more likely to have less confidence in their abilities than men, reducing the likelihood of women persisting in engineering. The purpose of this study is to explore whether entity or incremental mindsets influence a student’s engineering identity over time and see if this relationship differs by gender.

Engineering students, 266 male and 131 female, in three sections of first year engineering classes engaged in multiple activities to encourage students to embrace the need for diversity in engineering and promote inclusive behaviors within engineering. The purpose was to help all students broaden their conception of who could be an engineer and promote inclusive behaviors. We hypothesized that women with incremental mindsets would be more likely to identify as engineers over the course of the semester. Students were surveyed at 5 time points using scales to measure entity and incremental mindsets and engineering identity (Dweck & Leggett,1988; Estrada et al., 2011). We will model the data using multilevel modeling with repeated measures (level-1) nested within persons (level-2). At level 1, we will use entity and incremental mindset as time-varying covariates. At level 2, we will predict the level-1 intercepts and slopes from the overall means of students and gender.

Henderson, H. L., & Rambo-Hernandez, K. E., & Paguyo, C., & Atadero, R. A. (2017, June), What is the Relationship between Mindset and Engineering Identity for First Year Male and Female Students? An Exploratory Longitudinal Study Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--29117

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