Student support programs within colleges of engineering often aim to assist students during their transition from high school to college. While studies of this transition can characterize experiences that could support the design of these support programs, research commonly focuses on the broader student population, where engineering students are often the minority. To further improve student support programs in engineering, particularly those designed for students from traditionally underrepresented populations, additional research is needed to understand the transitional experiences of first-year engineering students. The purpose of this paper is to explore the applicability of a theoretical framework from adult development (i.e., Schlossberg’s Transition Theory) to examine the high school-to-college transition of engineering students from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups. In the work-in-progress paper, we describe the theoretical constructs that appear most applicable in this context as we begin coding data from a series of three interviews with each participant. Our results will advance the engineering education community’s understanding of the applicability of Transition Theory for examining the transitions of students into engineering and inform future work.
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