2019 CoNECD - The Collaborative Network for Engineering and Computing Diversity

Understanding International Engineering Doctoral Students’ Sense of Belonging Through Their Interpersonal Interactions in the Academic Community

Presented at Track: Graduate - Technical Session 9

Keywords: Graduate, Race/Ethnicity, Engineering

A defining feature of many U.S. doctoral engineering programs is their large proportion of international students. According to Weidman’s graduate socialization model, this diversity in nationality (and associated languages, cultures, etc.) can make interactions between students of different nations (including domestic students) more challenging. Supporting these claims are recent findings showing: 1) engineering doctoral students reported a relatively lower sense of belonging within their academic department compared to students in other disciplines, and 2) differences in sense of belonging were reported between domestic and international students.

Sense of belonging is a key indicator of a student’s academic integration and persistence intentions. It also serves as a measure of the perceived inclusiveness of an academic unit. Most research on sense of belonging in engineering education focuses on undergraduate students and rarely considers nationality.

This paper aims to address this gap and advance understanding around international doctoral students’ sense of belonging. Interviews of N = 8 doctoral students at four different doctoral granting institutions in different regions within the US will be conducted using the Critical Incident Technique. Interviews will focus on eliciting attributes of interpersonal interactions with peers and faculty that are perceived to be positive and supportive among international engineering doctoral students. Data currently being collected will be analyzed using thematic analysis. The full paper will provide results, with a focus on implications for practitioners interested in improving the experience of international engineering doctoral students.

Authors
  1. Dr. Jennifer M. Bekki Arizona State University [biography]
  2. Dr. Nadia N. Kellam Arizona State University [biography]
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