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Work in Progress: A Mixed Methods Approach to Better Understand Researcher Identity

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

ERM Technical Session 2: The Study of Identity in Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count

9

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/33583

Download Count

33

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Paper Authors

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Rachel Louis Kajfez Ohio State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9745-1921

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Dr. Rachel Louis Kajfez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University. She earned her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Civil Engineering from Ohio State and earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. Her research interests focus on the intersection between motivation and identity of undergraduate and graduate students, first-year engineering programs, mixed methods research, and innovative approaches to teaching.

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Dennis M. Lee Clemson University

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Dennis M. Lee is a doctoral student and Graduate Research Assistant in the Engineering and Science Education Department at Clemson University. He received his BA and MS in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Prior to his studies at Clemson University, he taught introductory biology at Tri-County Technical College in Pendleton, SC. His research interests include the development of researcher identity and epistemic cognition in undergraduate STEM students.

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Katherine M. Ehlert Clemson University

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Katherine M. Ehlert is a doctoral student in the Engineering and Science Education department in the College of Engineering, Computing, and Applied Sciences at Clemson University. She earned her BS in Mechanical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University and her MS in Mechanical Engineering focusing on Biomechanics from Cornell University. Prior to her enrollment at Clemson, Katherine worked as a Biomedical Engineering consultant in Philadelphia, PA. Her research interests include identity development through research experiences for engineering students, student pathways to engineering degree completion, and documenting the influence of co-op experiences on academic performance.

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Alessandra St.Germain Clemson University

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Senior mechanical engineering student at Clemson University. Currently doing research for SPRITE, Student Perceptions of Researcher Identity and Transformative Epistemologies.

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Lisa Benson Clemson University

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Lisa Benson is a Professor of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University, and the Editor of the Journal of Engineering Education. Her research focuses on the interactions between student motivation and their learning experiences. Her projects focus on student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers and scientists, development of problem solving skills, self-regulated learning, and epistemic beliefs. She earned a B.S. in Bioengineering from the University of Vermont, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Bioengineering from Clemson University.

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Elizabeth G. Creamer Virginia Tech

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Dr. Elizabeth G. Creamer is professor emerita, Educational Research and Evaluation in the School of Education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University where she taught graduate level courses in mixed methods research. She is the author of the 2018 SAGE textbook, An Introduction to Fully Integrated Mixed Methods Research.

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Marian S. Kennedy Clemson University

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Marian Kennedy is an Associate Professor within the Department of Materials Science & Engineering at Clemson University. Her research group focused on the mechanical and tribological characterization of thin films. She also contributes to the engineering education community through research related to undergraduate research programs and navigational capital needed for graduate school.

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Courtney June Faber University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Courtney is a Research Assistant Professor and Lecturer in the Cook Grand Challenge Engineering Honors Program at the University of Tennessee. She completed her Ph.D. in Engineering & Science Education at Clemson University. Prior to her Ph.D. work, she received her B.S. in Bioengineering at Clemson University and her M.S. in Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University. Courtney’s research interests include epistemic cognition in the context of problem solving, and researcher identity.

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Abstract

This Work in Progress (WIP) paper will detail a mixed methods approach to exploring undergraduate student researcher identity. In recent years, the notion of engineering identity has increased in popularity in engineering education research as a consideration for career choice and persistence in the field. While this explosion of engineering identity work has laid the foundation for a variety of perspectives on the topic, one area which has been less explored is mixed methods approaches to analyzing identity. Our work focuses on the concept of undergraduate research identity in engineering and explores students’ experiences through a quantitative survey and connected qualitative interviews. Our analysis aims to answer the research question: What are the differences between how students conceptualize their researcher identity in a survey and in interviews? With this information, we hope to better understand researcher identity and better support students in their career choices related to research.

Undergraduate research has been identified as a high impact practice, which has the potential to significantly enhance a student’s academic experience. However, little is known about the impact of these experiences on a student’s identity as a researcher. Through this multi-phased, multi-institution research project, we aim to better understand engineering students’ identity development with respect to their researcher identity. Our data set includes surveys and interviews with 20 undergraduate researchers. For this WIP, we are specifically analyzing the responses to the survey question “Do you see yourself as a researcher?” to which students could answer on an anchored scale of 1 to 7 with 1 being “No, not at all” and 7 being “Yes, very much.” We pair these results with interview questions aimed at understanding students’ current view of their researcher identity and their reasoning behind their survey choices. The interviews often led students to think more deeply about their researcher identity and delve into the ways their own skills and interests match or do not match their research mentors and colleagues.

Findings from our work include an overview about the similarities and differences between the survey and interview responses along with explanations to why some changes occurred from the perspective of the participants. Findings also include a categorization of research identity based on a continuum which developed through our mixed methods techniques. Additionally, this work explores the ways that a mixed method approach can reveal inconsistencies between qualitative and quantitative findings that provide insights from the data that would not be possible using quantitative or qualitative analyses alone.

Kajfez, R. L., & Lee, D. M., & Ehlert, K. M., & St.Germain, A., & Benson, L., & Creamer, E. G., & Kennedy, M. S., & Faber, C. J. (2019, June), Work in Progress: A Mixed Methods Approach to Better Understand Researcher Identity Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/33583

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