Collaborative Research: "I AM an engineer!" Assessing Engineering Identity, Its Development, and Its Contribution to Retention among Engineering College Students
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This Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) project conducted at the Texas A&M University System and Old Dominion University will help to improve retention of students in engineering by studying the development of engineering identity among engineering college students in their first two years of study. Engineering student retention must be improved in engineering programs across the country. Understanding the extent to which engineering identity is related to student retention, producing valid and reliable quantitative measures of engineering identity and related constructs, and examining the extent to which student participation in professional development activities influence changes in engineering identity during the first two years of college will be a contribution of this project that every engineering program can apply.As an Exploration project in the Engaged Student Learning program, this research contributes specifically to the body of literature on student retention and engineering identity and also has substantial potential to generate and to inspire future research in engineering identity. The project objectives are to: validate a measure of engineering identity; examine the extent to which engineering identity changes during the first two years of college; assess the extent to which engaging in professional development activities is related to engineering identity; and examine links between engineering identity and retention among engineering students. This project will establish a concise, valid, and reliable measure of engineering identity that will enable large-scale assessment, thereby facilitating future research and interventions concerning identity and retention among engineering students. The findings of this project will inform the broader literature on the retention of college students in science, technology, engineering and math. Additionally, the research findings will have implications for the career identity and professional development literatures, especially pertaining to the pre-entry phase of the career pathway.