467918 Tapping into Diverse Student Assets to Enhance Design Framing Ability and Professional Identity Formation

Monday, November 14, 2016: 9:59 AM
Continental 2 (Hilton San Francisco Union Square)
Jamie Gomez, Chemical and Biological Engineering, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Vanessa Svihla, Organization, Information & Learning Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Abhaya Datye, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Center for Microengineered Materials, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM, Victor Law, Organization, Information and Learning Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque and Sophia Bowers, Organization, Information and Learning Sciences, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM

Students entering engineering schools generally have a very limited understanding of what engineers do in their careers. Students often do not know the interesting work that lies ahead, hence they may drop out of engineering when they encounter the difficult math and science courses in their early years in college. This dropout rate disproportionately impacts those underrepresented in engineering because they may not have family members who are engineers and who can help them gain an appreciation for engineering careers. To address this problem, the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering (CBE) at the University of New Mexico (UNM), which serves a very diverse population, is introducing 'Design Challenge Modules' in two core classes. A tailored approach for repeated exposure to engineering design practices that seeks to connect diverse student assets with engineering identity is presented in this study. Preliminary evidence for characterizing student assets was provided by means of surveys, videos, interviews, artifacts of design work, and measures of design framing ability in the first two core undergraduate chemical engineering courses at UNM. The research focuses on the engineering design experience by which students engage in a continuous habit of thought followed by action, scaffolding towards their professional identity. A design challenge was implemented whereby students participated in framing the problem and generating solutions to the task that was then assessed and open-coded using mixed methods research to track the framing ability.

Women were considerably more likely than men to view design as a co-evolutionary process, t (122) = 2.69, p<0.01. It was also found that first generation college students were significantly more likely to agree that design is a learning activity than their traditional peers, t (113)= 2.50, p<0.05. A comparison of urban and rural student population groups revealed that students from rural communities were more likely to frame the problem using chemical engineering principles. Together, these findings support the premise that constraints in engineering design can extend beyond the technical to student assets. Regression analysis was also used to assess variance in student design solutions. Students who lack pre-college engineering design exposure and who rated their academic ability lower in introductory courses tended to generate solutions based on divergent problem framing if they viewed constraints as part of the creative endeavor rather than an obstacle. This finding suggests a critical need for engineering faculty to tap into student assets indiscriminately as undergraduates form their professional identity. Success in engineering is impacted by student background characteristics which in turn influence self-efficacy beliefs and their desire to persist along an engineering career pathway.

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See more of this Session: Diversity and Inclusion in the Classroom
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