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Work in Progress: Baseline Survey about Community and Identity

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

First-year Programs Division Postcard Session 2: Identity and Sense of Belonging

Tagged Division

First-Year Programs

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Paper Authors


Abigail M. Clark Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Abigail Clark is a graduate student at The Ohio State University. Prior to coming to OSU, she earned a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Ohio Northern University and spent several years working at Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio. Her research interests include women in engineering. She is currently a Master’s student in STEM Education and is planning to pursue a Ph.D. in Engineering Education.

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Rachel Louis Kajfez Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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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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Mahnas Jean Mohammadi-Aragh Mississippi State University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jean Mohammadi-Aragh is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Mississippi State University. Dr. Mohammadi-Aragh investigates the formation of engineers during their undergraduate degree program, and the use of computing to measure and support that formation. She earned her Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Virginia Tech. In 2013, Dr. Mohammadi-Aragh was honored as a promising new engineering education researcher when she was selected as an ASEE Educational Research and Methods Division Apprentice Faculty.

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This Work in Progress paper will describe a baseline three-part survey of first-year engineering (FYE) students completed as part of a multi-year collaborative research project focused on community and identity.

While many engineering students take a typical path through their education, which is often prescribed by their institution, there are numerous pathways to completing an engineering degree. Additionally, there are often many pathways through FYE at these institutions (e.g., taking an off-semester course, transferring from a different institution, completing a special set of transfer courses, completing a FYE experience in a department different than your major, etc.). Regardless of the path, engineering community and identity development impact both recruitment and retention of engineering students who are on common and unique journeys. To ultimately increase the numbers of graduating engineering students, we need to better understand these pathways and their effects on community and identity.

This study examines the communities and identity of FYE students scoped within Lave and Wenger’s Community of Practice framework. A three-part survey is being administered to gathered information regarding students’ communities of practice and future possible selves. For this Work in Progress paper, we are focusing on the results of the first survey and will present results for all three iterations of the survey in future publications. The questions in this baseline survey focused on confidence in choice of major and the impact of the FYE experience (program or discipline specific course). Students were asked to rate their level of agreement with statements such as “I am confident in my choice of major”, ”In the future, I will have a career that will directly relate to engineering”, “I plan to continue pursuing an engineering major”, “I have sufficient information to make an informed choice about a specific engineering major”, “Being good at engineering is an important part of who I am”, “I feel like a real part of my first-year engineering program”, “I am treated with as much respect as other students in my first-year engineering program”, “I think that I will do well my engineering-related courses this year” and “I am good at math, science, and engineering”. In addition, the students were asked to provide information about the groups, clubs, and organizations in which they participated during their FYE experience and prior to college. Demographic information, such as gender, major, and if students are first generation college students was also collected. This baseline survey was given to engineering students at two large land grant research focused universities. At both institutions, the survey was administered electronically to all FYE students who attended orientation. The survey was sent to approximately 800 FYE students at Institution 1 and approximately 1500 FYE students at Institution 2. The results of the survey were analyzed using descriptive statistics to better understand FYE students’ experiences and develop a future protocol.

This survey will help establish a baseline of identity and community development for FYE students. The survey is part of a multi-year project and this initial understanding will shape future interviews, allowing the impact of the FYE experience to be further explored. Ultimately, the larger study seeks to understand the impact various decisions made regarding FYE have on community and identity development as student move through multiple pathways. The baseline survey will guide the development of future aspects of this project while providing insights about FYE students’ expected communities and views of themselves.

Clark, A. M., & Kajfez, R. L., & Mohammadi-Aragh, M. J. (2018, June), Work in Progress: Baseline Survey about Community and Identity Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31271

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