To make meaningful change in First-Year Engineering (FYE) related to pathways through 2- and 4-year colleges, change must be informed by research that identifies the impact of structure, content, and timing on community and identity. To understand and manage change, previous researchers have classified various FYE structures with respect to content areas and institutional policies for admittance into engineering majors. While classifications are helpful for organizational understanding, student perspectives must be monitored to craft impactful experiences as changes are implemented. Thus, there is a critical need to identify elements of structure, content, and timing that have positive and negative impacts on students’ community and identity as engineers.
This executive summary and poster will focus on the first year of a three-phase qualitative case study. It will include a three-part survey of students who enrolled in FYE courses in the fall of 2017, as well as the recruitment of students who were enrolled in FYE in the fall of 2016 for interviews regarding the impact FYE courses had on their identity and community development. Both identity and community are being examined through Lave and Wenger’s Community of Practice framework. The baseline survey will be administered at two large land grant universities and will be administered to approximately 2000 students. There will be three phases to the baseline survey. The first implementation will be administered at the beginning of fall semester, the second at the end of fall semester and, the third at the end of the academic year. This paper will report on the first two implementations of the survey. The results from the baseline survey will be analyzed using descriptive statistics and the results will be used to inform the development of the interview protocol. Additionally, students will be recruited for interviews. A recruitment survey will be sent out to all students who were enrolled in FYE courses in the fall of 2016, and from the respondents, students will be selected for interviews. Students will be selected in order to represent a broad range of engineering pathways, including traditional transfer students, campus change students, non-traditional students, and other unique pathways in addition to the typical pathways at each institution. These students will be interviewed again in subsequent phases of the project.
The information gathered during the first year of this project begins to illuminate the elements of FYE which are most impactful to community and identity development. This research will continue with further interviews of students, as well as focus groups with faculty and administrators that will be used to better understand and triangulate findings. These outcomes will have substantial impact on engineering education because they ensure that the changes made in FYE are positively impactful and help ensure the success of FYE students.
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