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Work in Progress: Early Exploration of Engineering Students' Perspectives about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in an Introductory Materials Science and Engineering Course

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

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July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

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Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 5

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Minorities in Engineering

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Aroba Saleem University of Florida Orcid 16x16

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Aroba Saleem received a B. Tech. degree, in Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, from the National Institute of Technology, Srinagar, India, M. Tech. degree, Materials Engineering, from Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Powai, Mumbai, India and Ph.D. degree, in Materials Engineering, from McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She joined the College of Engineering at the University of Florida in Fall 2019. She is currently working as a lecturer in the Department of Engineering Education and primarily teach courses in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. Her research focuses on Material Characterization, Non-Destructive Evaluation of Materials, and Engineering Education. Over the years, she has developed and taught courses in Materials Engineering.

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Sindia M. Rivera-Jiménez University of Florida

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Dr. Rivera-Jiménez is currently a Lecturer at the Department of Engineering Education and an affiliate faculty to the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering, University of Florida (UF). She has more than 10 years of teaching experience in Higher Education, including previous experience working as a community college and a food engineering instructor. In her current role, she works towards creating evidence-based teaching practices for chemical engineering design courses and local and national community outreach activities. Her research focuses on understanding the processes that contribute to the persistence and retention of underrepresented minorities in academic engineering programs during formal and informal educational experiences. She is particularly interested in studying collaborative environments, social perspectives, and inclusive practices in engineering design teams. Outside the classroom, she serves as a creator and facilitator of professional development workshops for industry and academia using blended instructional tools.

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Idalis Villanueva Alarcón University of Florida Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Villanueva is an Associate Professor in the Engineering Education Department at the University of Florida. Her multiple roles as an engineer, engineering educator, engineering educational researcher, and professional development mentor for underrepresented populations has aided her in the design and integration of educational and physiological technologies to research 'best practices' for student professional development and training. In addition, she is developing methodologies around hidden curriculum, academic emotions and physiology, and engineering makerspaces.

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Work in Progress: Early Exploration of Engineering Students' Perspectives about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in an Introductory Materials Science and Engineering Course

Aroba Saleem1,2, Sindia Rivera-Jimenez1, Idalis Villanueva1 1Department of Engineering Education, University of Florida 2Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Florida

Despite numerous efforts made by the engineering community, maintaining a diverse, equitable, and inclusive education environment still seems a distant goal. Persistently, nationwide reports and studies continue to point to the severe underrepresentation of marginalized and minoritized groups, especially women and African American students in engineering. Discrimination due to gender, race, ethnicity, religion, and other forms of identities, impedes the development and sustaining of diverse and inclusive educational environments, which affects student retention and graduation/completion rates. Providing equitable access to education and supporting tolerance and acceptance of those who are different can positively enhance student learning. This Work in Progress paper examines engineering student perspectives about diversity, inclusion, equity, and access at a Southeastern university in the United States. In this exploratory study, two questions around students’ notion of diversity and inclusion and its challenges in their learning, were developed. The survey was conducted among 300 undergraduate students (69% male and 31% female) in an Introductory Materials Science and Engineering course that consists of students from different fields of engineering. The class was a mix of Freshman (3%), Sophomore (8%), Juniors (43%), and Seniors (46%). The response rate of the survey was 83%. Preliminary findings suggest that while some commonalities were observed, students’ perspectives about the state of diversity and inclusion on their campus differed significantly. The majority of respondents were comfortable with the overall climate in the university and felt no or minimal need for any intervention, however, the other group of respondents shared a contradictory perspective and expressed a dire need for change. For example, many students commended the ethnic diversity among the student population whereas 4% of respondents expressed grave concerns about the lack of African American students on Campus. Interestingly, the demographic distribution of students revealed that African American students consisted of only 7% of the total students in the course. This indicates that the demographic distribution of students could explain the divergent views of students on diversity and inclusion. The findings from this study support the idea that students with different ethnic and social identities can have different views and experiences regarding diversity, inclusion, and equity in their campus. This study can help identify the challenges that need to be overcome in order to create a diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment.

Saleem, A., & Rivera-Jiménez, S. M., & Villanueva Alarcón, I. (2021, July), Work in Progress: Early Exploration of Engineering Students' Perspectives about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in an Introductory Materials Science and Engineering Course Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38145

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