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Work in Progress: Building Community, Providing Scholarships, Developing Leaders: Recruiting and Retaining Underrepresented Students in Engineering and Computer Engineering Departments

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Insights for Teaching ECE Courses

Tagged Division

Electrical and Computer

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Kent A. Crick Iowa State University Orcid 16x16

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Kent Crick is currently in his third year as a graduate student at Iowa State University. He is currently a PhD candidate in Counseling Psychology and conducts research in self-determination as it relates to student and faculty motivation and well-being. Prior to attending Iowa State, he obtained a Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Indianapolis. He then worked as a research coordinator for the Diabetes and Translational Research Center at the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis, IN for three years.

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Matthew T. Seipel Iowa State University

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Lisa M. Larson Ph.D. Iowa State University


Mack Shelley Iowa State University Orcid 16x16

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Mack Shelley holds the titled position of University Professor of Political Science, Statistics, and School of Education. He currently serves as Chair of the Department of Political Science. His research and teaching focuses on public policy. He has extensive experience with grants- and contracts-funded research and evaluation for federal and state agencies, and for nonprofit organizations.

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Building Community, Providing Scholarships, Developing Leaders: Recruiting and Retaining Underrepresented Students in Engineering and Computer Engineering Departments (WIP) The underrepresentation of women and people of color in engineering is well documented in the literature (Lent et al., 2005). Women constitute 47% of the overall workforce but only 28% of jobs in science and engineering belong to women. This deficit is particularly noticeable in the fields of computer science and engineering as women comprise just 26% of the computer science workforce and hold only 15% of engineering positions. This gender divide begins to emerge at the undergraduate level, as women earn only 19% and 18% of bachelor’s degrees awarded in engineering and computer science, respectively (National Science Board, 2018). In an effort to close this divide, a multidisciplinary S-STEM: Scholarships for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math National Science Foundation (NSF) program was undertaken to recruit, retain, and develop leadership skills in underrepresented students majoring in electrical and computer engineering (ECpE) at a large Midwestern university. Participants in the program were underrepresented students in STEM fields who received scholarship funding and were required to participate in learning communities promoting professional development and leadership. Students were also required to participate in NSF-mandated scholarship-related studies. It was expected that students enrolled in the program would obtain higher grade point averages (GPA) than a matched control group compiled of ECpE peers. Cohorts of students were enrolled in the program on an annual basis. Demographic and motivation data were collected annually from all scholars in the program using a Qualtrics survey distributed to students via email. Scholars’ GPAs and the matched control students’ GPAs were obtained from the Office of the Registrar at the university. Student GPAs for the two groups were compared using an independent samples t-test which allows one to assess for the possibility of significant mean differences in the average scores between two independent groups. Results indicated that after 1 year in the program, the mean cumulative GPA of program scholars (M = 3.30, SD = .56) did not significantly differ from that of the control group (M = 3.00, SD = .85; t = -.85, p = .40). However, the cumulative mean GPA of the scholars after 2 years in the program (M = 3.34, SD = .53) was significantly higher than that of the matched control students (M = 2.83, SD = .83; t = -3.28, p = .002). The current literature indicates a lack of diversity in STEM fields. Findings from the current investigation indicate scholarship funding as well as departmental support designed to enhance the learning experience of underrepresented students (e.g., learning communities, dedicated space, regular meetings with faculty, and leadership training) may result in prolonged enhancement of academic performance for these students. Further, such programming may render the learning space more welcoming and supportive of underrepresented students and thereby enhance their academic performance and ECpE interest in a manner that facilitates retention of such students within these White male-dominated majors. We prefer a poster.

Crick, K. A., & Seipel, M. T., & Larson, L. M., & Shelley, M. (2020, June), Work in Progress: Building Community, Providing Scholarships, Developing Leaders: Recruiting and Retaining Underrepresented Students in Engineering and Computer Engineering Departments Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35617

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