By some estimates, roughly half the students that initially enroll in an engineering program change their major. Attempts to fix this "leaky pipeline" rarely address the fact that the culture, rather than academics, may be driving students away. As they form their professional identity, students ask themselves, "What are the attributes inherent in being an engineer?" Far too often, the answer to that question is defined by outdated ways of knowing, thinking, and doing. Thus, to expand the profession, there is a need to identify and understand the impact of social-engineering norms in university programs. Reshaping Norms serves to address this need by studying the impacts of a series of classroom pedagogies, strategies, and initiatives aimed at:
• creating an inclusive classroom community; and
• incorporating relevancy into course activities.
The research plan is guided by the following questions:
• To what extent do Reshaping Norms classroom interventions affect underrepresented students’ engineering identity?
• To what extent do the Reshaping Norms classroom interventions affect underrepresented engineering students’ self-efficacy in engineering?
This two-year project will be designed and implemented over three iterations (alpha, beta, and gamma), employing an outcome-focused approach consistent with the tenets of design-based research. Data collected during the alpha and beta iterations will be analyzed to assess the effectiveness of the intervention tools, determine evidence of growth of students’ interest and/or self-efficacy, inform revisions to subsequent interventions, and inevitably, to develop a full quasi-experimental pilot study (gamma iteration). The pilot study will include data collection from both intervention and control courses within two separate sections of an introductory engineering course. To answer the research questions, the study will couple qualitative data with the quantitative results of two previously tested instruments: 1) one to measure engineering identity, and; 2) one to measure self-efficacy toward the field of engineering. Upon conclusion, this study will generate new findings about the formation of engineering students’ identity as it relates to their feelings of belonging in the profession.
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