While several studies have enlightened our understanding of the experiences of underrepresented students in engineering, less work has focused on understanding the different beliefs held by all students about diversity and inclusion in engineering. Because beliefs and attitudes are believed to directly impact behavior, it is imperative to understand students’ beliefs and attitudes about diversity and inclusion in engineering. The purpose of this paper is to contribute to our understanding of the values students’ hold about these topics. We developed close-ended items to measure students’ values on these topics, drawing upon Subjective Task Value (STV) constructs of Expectancy Value Theory (EVT) as well as collaborations with diversity office practitioners. In this paper, we discuss in detail the development of measures along with construct validation using several iterations of exploratory factor analysis, and the lessons we learned from this process.
Through data analysis, we concluded that many items on our instrument were highly correlated and thus the instrument is not suitable for confirmatory factor analysis. Instead, we offer pragmatic suggestions for refinement of the instrument. We recommend a deeper examination of the appropriateness of EVT for the research topic. We also recommend avoiding double-barreled questions, such as questions that include a dimension of diversity (e.g., race, gender) as well as a STV construct. Given the research topic, we discuss the possibility of social desirability response bias and recommend including a social desirability subscale in future iterations of item development. Lastly, we discuss implied assumptions of the item development to date, which may have wrongly supposed engineering students to have the same nuanced understanding of dimensions of diversity in engineering as researchers. With these suggestions, we aim to advance our study’s purpose, which is to develop measures of students’ values about diversity and inclusion in engineering. Through this study and future work, we strive to enlighten research- and practice-based efforts to engage students in the diversification and inclusivity of the engineering field, and prevent future researchers from making the same methodological mistakes.
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