August 23, 2022
June 26, 2022
June 29, 2022
As is the case with other STEM disciplines, a consistent challenge within electrical and computer engineering (ECE) is increasing the enrollment and matriculation of people from under-served and underrepresented communities. Though there have been numerous initiatives throughout the years, ECE undergraduate education still struggles with compositional diversity. Part of addressing the challenge of compositional diversity (in addition to equity and inclusion) is understanding the importance of factors such as sense of belonging, identity, and representation to students.
Belonging, or how students perceive campus support, connection, and being valued, is a key factor in college students’ success. Belonging is positively associated with students’ transition to college, retention, persistence, and self-efficacy. Additionally, a sense of belonging is key to one connecting to their classmates, their community, and eventually their profession. This sense of belonging is not only invaluable to fostering connection and identity, it is also key to motivation and resilience. Lack of belonging negatively impacts students’ academic performance as well as their engineering identity. Therefore, it is very important for engineering departments to foster a sense of belonging for students to be able to identify with engineering and be successful in college.
This study examines the significance of sense of belonging within an ECE department at a research intensive university in the Southeastern United States through the analysis of over twenty podcast interviews. At the university of interest, of the over more than 300 ECE graduates, 32.1% are women, 18% of the students are Asian, 5% are Hispanic, and 3% are Black. Sense of belonging is especially critical in educational contexts where students feel marginalized, such as students of color and women in STEM, where they are underrepresented. Our research questions were: a) What evidence do we find of a sense of belonging and its assumptions within this context? and b) What is the relationship between sense of belonging and social identities within this context?
We used an iterative process of document analysis that combined elements of content analysis, where we organized data related to our research question and theoretical framework, and thematic analysis, where we identified emerging patterns. Our data sources included transcripts from a series of podcast interviews. The podcast was created to highlight the experiences and voices of students, faculty, staff, and administrators within an ECE department that may not have previously been at the forefront of the department.
Our findings indicate that sense of belonging is greatly impacted by how an individual interacts with their environment. We offer recommendations from our study and the literature on ways that faculty, administrators, and advisors can build more inviting environments that promote sense of belonging for a broader range of students.
Lyles, C., & McNair, L., & Koonce, T., & Burns, E., & Patrick, A. (2022, August), Work-in-Progress: Sense of Belonging Among Underrepresented Voices in ECE Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. https://peer.asee.org/40717
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2022 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015