Asee peer logo

WIP: Diversity and Inclusion Responses From an Introduction to Engineering Lecture and Lab

Download Paper |


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

First-Year Programs Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Jessica A. Kuczenski Santa Clara University

visit author page

Dr. Jes Kuczenski joined the engineering faculty at Santa Clara University in 2014. She obtained her M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame and her B.S. from Iowa State University all in Chemical Engineering. Dr. Kuczenski has been teaching since 2007 and focuses on courses which are commonly found in first years of an engineering education (e.g. introduction to engineering, engineering graphics, statics, and dynamics) or are heavily based in engineering design.

visit author page


Laura Doyle Santa Clara University

visit author page

Dr. Laura Doyle is a lecturer in the Civil Engineering & General Engineering Departments at Santa Clara University. Before coming to SCU, Laura was a post doctoral scholar for the John Muir Institute of the Environment at University of California, Davis where she used multi-dimensional models to examine water quality of the San Francisco Bay Delta system. She earned her masters and doctoral degrees in environmental fluid mechanics at UC Davis

visit author page

Download Paper |


Motivation, Introduction and Background During the fall quarter of 2019, the engineering diversity clubs at [our university] hosted a STEM diversity forum for STEM faculty a. At the forum, individuals participated in both small and large discussion groups to discuss case studies that emerged from a similar forum for students. The case studies addressed 3 separate issues students at [our university] have encountered as undergraduate engineering students: - Racial discrimination in lab - Sexist comments during office hours - Imposter syndrome

During the discussions, the Introduction to Engineering course was proposed as one place to address some of these issues. Faculty in charge of the course decided to incorporate small, incremental changes to the course with the goal of increasing first year students’ understanding of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) issues without impacting the overall learning outcomes of the course. These changes included: - Creation of a pre-class/-lab assignment - In-class/-lab discussions - Collaborative creation of team and Class/Lab Rules

At the core of these course additions were case studies related to diversity and inclusion issues presented at the STEM diversity forum. Students were tasked to read the case studies, reflect on question prompts including their ideas towards the creation of team or class rules that could be put in place to prevent the situation or what action they would take if they witness similar situations on their own team or another team. Discussions during class resulted in at least one refined rule, norm or action presented to the class and recorded on a physical or virtual white board.

Methods Student reflections were submitted via our Learning Management System. These were read, common themes and phrases were identified, then themes were grouped and counted for each instance of an identified theme.

In-class discussions resulted in class presentation of new norms, rules, or actions that could be taken to prevent the case-study scenarios or help their teams be more inclusive, respectful, and effective. Faculty members recorded notes during the discussion and also reviewed written responses that were recorded via physical white boards or Google Jam Boards. Again, themes were identified and instances of a theme were counted.

Results A number of themes emerged from student reflection submissions. The major topics that emerged include: - Mindsets that lead to discrimination - Mindsets that students should have to prevent discrimination, - Rules and procedures for engineering labs to prevent discrimination, and - Actions students would take if they witness discrimination.

Students made numerous recommendations for rules and procedures that could be put in place to help curb the scenarios presented in the case studies. These ranged from school wide recommendations, including requiring gender tolerance meetings for all engineering students, to recommendations for a specific lab or class. As examples, responses included team rules that can be implemented including assigning leadership roles, team building that includes identifying your own and teammates strengths and weaknesses, and several mentioned communication as an important tool in preventing discrimination. Students also remarked on actions that could be taken if they witness or experience direct discrimination. These fell into two main categories: informing the instructor and interfacing with other students.

When the case studies were discussed in class or lab, as part of teams, larger groups or with the entire class, different suggestions and themes emerged for each case study, some of which overlapped with themes from the student reflections, though some new ideas also emerged. This paper will present case-study specific student themes and suggestions learned from these discussions and the resulting presentations of class rules/norms.

Conclusion Overall, students were very engaged in the case-study discussions and had quality ideas, recommendations, and actions that they felt would prevent or improve the case-study scenarios. This discussion was worthwhile for students, teaching assistants and professors. It was great to start the conversation with first year students and it gave everyone a common language to use to discuss issues that arise throughout the quarter.

Kuczenski, J. A., & Doyle, L. (2021, July), WIP: Diversity and Inclusion Responses From an Introduction to Engineering Lecture and Lab Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38078

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2021 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015