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Work in Progress: Identifying Factors that Impact Student Experience of Engineering Stress Culture

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Creating a Supportive and Nurturing Academic Culture

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

8

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35645

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35645

Download Count

147

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Paper Authors

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Joseph Francis Mirabelli University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Joseph Mirabelli is an Educational Psychology graduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a focus in Engineering Education. His work focuses on mentorship, mental health, and retention in STEM students and faculty. He was awarded the NAGAP Graduate Education Research Grant award to study engineering faculty perceptions of graduate student well-being and attrition. Before studying education at UIUC, Joseph earned an MS degree in Physics from Indiana University in Bloomington and a BS in Engineering Physics at UIUC.

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Andrea J. Kunze University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Andrea Kunze is a PhD student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the Department of Educational Psychology. Prior to coming to UIUC, she completed a MS in Educational Psychology at NC State University, and a BS in Human Learning & Development at Georgia State University. Her research currently focuses on utilizing qualitative and mixed methodologies to explore people’s perceptions and experiences of the social environment in which they learn or work, and how it impacts their engagement and success.

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Julianna Ge Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-0084-951X

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Julianna Ge is a Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. At Purdue, she created and taught a novel course for undergraduate engineering students to explore the intersections of thriving, leadership, diversity and inclusion. As an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, her research interests intersect the fields of engineering education, positive psychology, and human development to understand diversity, inclusion, and success for undergraduate engineering students. Prior to Purdue, she received dual bachelor’s degrees in Industrial Engineering and Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her prior work experiences include product management, consulting, tutoring, marketing, and information technology.

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Kelly J. Cross University of Nevada, Reno

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Dr. Cross is currently an Assistant Professor in the Chemical and Materials Engineering Department at the University Nevada Reno. After completing her PhD in Engineering Education at Virginia Tech in 2015, Dr. Cross worked as a post-doctoral researcher with the Illinois Foundry for Innovation in Engineering Education and in the Department of Bioengineering with the Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) grant at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Cross' scholarship investigated student teams in engineering, faculty communities of practice, and the intersectionality of multiple identity dimensions. Her research interests include diversity and inclusion in STEM, intersectionality, teamwork and communication skills, assessment, and identity construction. Her teaching philosophy focuses on student centered approaches such as culturally relevant pedagogy. Dr. Cross' complimentary professional activities promote inclusive excellence through collaboration.

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Karin Jensen University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-9456-5042

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Karin Jensen, Ph.D. is a Teaching Assistant Professor in bioengineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research interests include student mental health and wellness, engineering student career pathways, and engagement of engineering faculty in engineering education research. She was awarded a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation for her research on undergraduate mental health in engineering programs. Before joining UIUC she completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Sanofi Oncology in Cambridge, MA. She earned a bachelor's degree in biological engineering from Cornell University and a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from the University of Virginia.

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Abstract

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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