July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
This work-in-progress paper is focused on studying the impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on engineering student sense of belonging at the XXXXX (XXXX) at the University of XX (XXX). In response to COVID-19, the vast majority of collegiate institutions have shifted most courses to remote and/or hybrid format, which may result in diverse engineering students facing a “triple threat” to their sense of belonging in engineering courses since STEM disciplines, minoritized student identity, and remote course formatting can all impede belonging. Diminished sense of belonging can impact retention and persistence of diverse students, potentially intensifying imbalances that already exist in STEM fields. Therefore, this project is designed to study the impact of the current, remote educational environments on diverse students in pandemic-modified engineering fundamentals courses.
This multi-phase (summer & fall 2020), concurrent, mixed-methods project design will address the following research questions: (a) How do historically underrepresented engineering students (specifically racially/ethnically underrepresented students, first generation, women, and students from low income backgrounds) perceive their sense of belonging in involuntary remote/hybrid courses and why? (b) What elements of remote/hybrid engineering courses are most influential for fostering belonging across the entire spectrum of engineering students? The project uses the concept of sense of belonging (measured with an existing 4-item scale for which the institution has historical engineering student responses), which is an empirically documented forecaster of student success, given that it also captures the relative connectedness or isolation especially minoritized students may feel in a discipline like engineering. In addition, because of the importance of examining sense of belonging in the context of a remote/hybrid course, the Community of Inquiry framework, designed to examine key elements of an online course, serves as a study framework (measured with an existing 34-item survey). Data collection includes surveys of first year engineering students, small focus groups with students from populations of interest, and course observation. The mixed methods design provides intellectual merit as it provides both examination of the overarching relationships among belonging, student identity, and course delivery as well as in-depth understanding of why and how elements of a course relate to students’ sense of belonging. Results from the study will be assessed via an existing interdisciplinary team studying engineering education. Prospective impacts of the findings from the study include the potential to help campuses mitigate potential threats facing diverse students currently in remote/hybrid courses due to the pandemic and to craft future online STEM courses that avoid such threats. This project is supported via an NSF RAPID award created by the IUSE program in the Division of Undergraduate Education (Education and Human Resources Directorate), using funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
Buckley, J. B., & Robinson, B. S., & Tretter, T., & Hammond, A., & Thompson, A., & Lewis, J. E. (2021, July), WIP: Impacts of COVID-19 on Diverse Engineering Students’ Sense of Belonging Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38089
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