Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Liberal Education/Engineering & Society
In this work-in-progress research paper, we explore how the culture of undergraduate students' departments or fields can have far-reaching effects on their success and experiences. Engineering culture has been previously described as unique compared to other disciplines, where heavy workloads and high expectations create an environment of “suffering and shared hardship” (1). This negative culture has been described as particularly unwelcoming to women and minorities (2, 3) and may result in exacerbated difficulties for underrepresented groups in engineering. For these reasons, we propose that it will be critical to understanding not only how students perceive this culture but also to understand the factors that impact student experiences of engineering culture. The current work is part of a larger study to understand students’ experiences of the Engineering Stress Culture (ESC). We have previously described correlative relationships between measures of engineering identity, inclusion, and mental health problems for engineering undergraduate students. Through qualitative interviews, the current project seeks to explore characteristics of these relationships and describe how students perceive stress as a part of engineering culture. We interviewed thirty undergraduate engineering students who reported particularly high or low levels of engineering identity relative to their other students in their department. The interviews were designed based on the quantitative survey results to understand how students describe the relationships between stress, anxiety, and depression, engineering identity, and inclusion. The objective of the interviews was to understand how engineering students experience stress and whether they perceive stress as part of their discipline. Additional interview questions asked students to define characteristics of both engineering students and students in their discipline, as well as characteristics for a successful student in engineering and in their discipline. In order to understand how students cope with stress, the interviews asked students about coping strategies they define as both health and unhealthy, and asked students about their experiences using campus resources and interacting with faculty and peers on issues related to mental health. Lastly, the interviews asked students to describe stress in engineering and how it impacts their individual experience. Through thematic analysis of interview transcripts, the current project seeks to identify factors that mediate engineering students’ perceptions of identity, stress, and inclusion. This analysis identifies discipline and department-specific attributes that contribute to engineering student identity, stress, and perceptions of inclusion. Further, the analysis illuminates the relationships between these dimensions and will synthesize how these experiences are part of a greater ESC. Study design, pilot results, and preliminary data collection procedures are presented.
Mirabelli, J. F., & Kunze, A. J., & Ge, J., & Cross, K. J., & Jensen, K. (2020, June), Work in Progress: Identifying Factors that Impact Student Experience of Engineering Stress Culture Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35645
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