Project

Infrastructures and identities in engineering school

Goal: Studying the organizational infrastructure of a prominent engineering school, and how that infrastructure works to produce students as particular kinds of people.

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Frederick A. Peck
added 7 research items
Situated learning theory proposed the notion of legitimate peripheral participation as central to a newcomer’s trajectory toward membership in a community of practice. Left underdeveloped were questions of legitimacy was conferred or denied. The work of Leigh Star points to ways of addressing these questions by considering the relation between trajectories of membership—the adoption of and conferral of identities upon newcomers—and trajectories of naturalization—particularly in the contingent process of taken-for-grantedness of classification systems. This article examines how category work around the issue of calculus-readiness, tied to a longstanding identification of engineering with mathematic, shapes the activity of students, staff, and faculty involved in a diversity program in a prestigious U.S. college of engineering. The specific focus is on how an orientation to calculus-readiness organized trajactories for students in the program. The interplay of trajectories of membership and trajectories of naturalization is illustrated through the case of one student’s struggles for legitimacy within the program and the college.
The University of Colorado Boulder Engineering GoldShirt Program was created and launched in 2009, with the aim of providing an alternative pathway to and through university engineering programs. Using an Inclusive Excellence framework, the program provides a system of initiatives to broaden the participation of students traditionally underrepresented in engineering. The Engineering GoldShirt Program is committed to a researchpracticeresearch cycle. This paper focuses on the implementation of research driven program changes in one facet of the Engineering GoldShirt Program— the Explorations through Physics course—an essential first year preparatory course preceding calculus-based physics. Results from our work demonstrate the need to combine and carefully weigh quantitative and qualitative research results real-time to make well-informed and timely programmatic decisions that directly impact student performance and retention. We advocate for engineering colleges to move away from single intervention approaches for bolstering diversity to systems approaches that encompass myriad academic, social and engineering identity development components to attract and retain underrepresented students in engineering.
Frederick A. Peck
added a project goal
Studying the organizational infrastructure of a prominent engineering school, and how that infrastructure works to produce students as particular kinds of people.