July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
Studies of engineering education culture describe an expectation of harshness coupled with continuous struggles throughout the educational experience . The rigor and selectivity of engineering programs perpetuates a “meritocracy of difficulty”  where student success can be interpreted as “being able to take it” . Heavy workloads and high expectations create an environment of “suffering and shared hardship” or boot camp mentality . This negative culture has been described as particularly unwelcoming to groups underrepresented in engineering [3, 4] . Despite intense efforts over the last few decades, representation in engineering does not match the population, with participation rates varying by engineering discipline. Despite the importance of culture in recruitment and retention in engineering programs, limited work has analyzed the differences in culture across engineering disciplines. In this project, we sought to bridge this research gap to identify features of disciplinary subcultures in engineering. The goal of this analysis is to explore how mental health, perceptions of inclusion, and engineering identity differ by department. This work is part of a larger mixed methods study that seeks to understand the role of mental health in engineering culture. We surveyed over 1,000 undergraduate engineering students across 11 departments. The survey included measures of engineering identity, intention to pursue an engineering career, self-reported stress, anxiety, depression, and perceptions of inclusion. The Kolmogorov-Smirnov and Shapiro-Wilk tests for normality found the data to not be normally distributed and indicated the data were suitable for nonparametric analysis. A Kruskal-Wallis test was performed for each factor grouping by department to identify if there was a difference of average factor rankings between departments and Chi-square tests were conducted to test for association between departments and self-reported mental health measures. Average rankings for engineering career, department caring, department pride, and diversity were found to be significantly different between multiple departments. Anxiety, stress, and depression rankings were found to not vary significantly between any of the departments. Engineering identity was significant before adjustment between some departments, but no difference between departments were significant when adjusted by the Bonferroni correction. Overall, these results suggest that engineering disciplines have distinct cultures and that engineering departments can influence perceptions of inclusion.
Miller, I., & Cross, K. J., & Jensen, K. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Departmental Analysis of Factors of Engineering Culture Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38137
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