First-year engineering programs provide a unique context for students to establish engineering communities and establish their engineering identities. Yet, little is known about how these experiences compare to those students who start in discipline specific programs. More broadly, even less is known about how first-year experiences differ for students from regional campuses or transfer students. This project aims to better understand how the first-year experiences of these students from various pathways affect their development across their college career. We specifically focus on their engineering communities and engineering identities using Communities of Practice as our theoretical lens.
To date, we have completed a series of three baseline surveys related to engineering communities and identity across the first-year engineering experience. This information was used to inform the development of an interview protocol related to engineering communities and engineering identity. That protocol was used during our first of three rounds of interviews which were conducted in Spring 2018. During that time, we interviewed 29 students from three Institutions who represent a variety of first-year engineering pathways (e.g., transfer students, regional campus students, students from discipline specific programs, students from first-year engineering program, etc.). These interviews are being analyzed and will serve as a starting point for our round two interviews, which will be conducted in Spring 2019. The round two and three interviews will be conducted with the same participants so we can understand their identity development through communities of practice over their time as they complete their engineering degree program.
The insights from this project will allow us to better understand the long-term impacts of first-year engineering experiences on engineering communities and students’ engineering identity. We expect that there will be common trajectories for development for some students but that others will have unique developmental experiences that contribute to their individual views of themselves as engineers.
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