Understanding Engineering Students through the Lens of Identity Theory – Implications for Recruitment and Retention
- Dr. Olga Pierrakos (Department of Engineering, JMU, Principal Investigator)
- Dr. Heather Watson (Department of Engineering, JMU, Collaborator)
- Ms. TK Beam (School Psychology Program, JMU, Graduate Student)
- Ms. Erin Thompson (School Psychology Program, JMU, Graduate Student)
- Dr. Aditya Johri (Dept. of Engineering Education, Virginia Tech, Collaborator)
- Dr. Robin Anderson (Center for Assessment and Research Studies, JMU, Collaborator)
- Mr. Jesse Pappas (Dept. of Psychology, University of Virginia, Graduate Student Consultant)
- Ms. Michelle Beatty (Department of Engineering, JMU, Undergraduate Student)
- Ms. Leslie Bland (Department of Engineering, JMU, Undergraduate Student)
Our goal in this research is to study engineering students through the lens of identity theory. We are interested in better understanding what shapes the identity of engineering undergraduates, how they conceive of their multiple identities (self and social) and, more importantly, in this sea of identities, where their identity as engineers stand. We examine the role of identity both in the formation and development phases, when students begin to form an engineer identity and ultimately become engineers. Particularly for underrepresented students (women and minorities) in engineering, it is important to investigate and examine the multiple identities of these students with the aim to understand if their engineer identity is ever triggered or is as powerful as other identities. Also important is the process of identity formation and transformation across the undergraduate experience. For example, how might the progressive strength in identity be fostered or hindered in response to influencing factors, including social networks, social contexts, perceptions, values, etc.? Using a mixed-methods approach, we study freshman and senior engineering students at a variety of institutions by conducting interviews, questionnaires, and use of identity instruments. This research provides important implications for recruitment and retention of all engineering students, but particularly women and minorities, who are underrepresented in engineering.
Funding Source or Sponsor:
This project is supported by a National Science Foundation BRIGE award. (Grant No. EEC 0824337)
- Have a wonderful summer!
- 2013 Summer Session