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SoCap (Martin) Research Group Projects

Project Title: Who's Not at the Table?: Building Research Capacity for Underserved Communities in Engineering

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation

Summary: This project builds capacity to conduct formal research in broadening participation of underserved groups. We will hold a working conference of multiple stakeholder groups to serve as a national research agenda for broadening engineering participation by those self-identifying as persons with disabilities; veterans; low income/first-generation persons (LIFG); and persons of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) identity. We will “bring to the table” scholars, practitioners, policy makers, and other thought leaders from diverse fields at the conference. Participants will identify existing research and frame new research possibilities regarding engineering participation by persons from these underserved communities. Outcomes will include a website with useful links, proceedings of the conference, a webinar and a white paper that summarizes challenges and opportunities identified during the workshop.

Participants: Shannon Stefl, Sheryl Burgstahler (University of Washington), Amy Slaton (Drexel University)

Project Title: Exploring Non-Normative Forms of Capital, Wealth and Knowledge Used by Engineering Students

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation

Summary: This research aims to illuminate how differences from the engineering cultural norm result in models of success that students can use to persist and succeed in engineering study. We are collecting a “series of singular testimonies,” a methodological adaptation of Peggy McIntosh’s “serial testimony” technique in which recent graduates discuss unearned advantages and disadvantages. By applying the asset-based frameworks of Community Cultural Wealth and Funds of Knowledge to elucidate the experiences of underrepresented and marginalized students in engineering, we expect that this research will allow for more inclusive forms of capital, wealth, and knowledge to be recognized and valued in engineering education.

Participants: Aubrie Pfirman, Shannon Stefl, Rachel Anderson, Freddy Paige, Sam Newton (undergraduate researcher)

Project Title: CAREER: Influence of Social Capital on Under-Represented Engineering Students’ Academic and Career Decisions

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation

Summary: The goal of this research is to develop a conceptual model describing how engineering undergraduates develop, access and activate education-related social capital in making decisions to enter and persist in engineering. Using the social capital framework, we specifically aim to identify and characterize the potentially distinct mechanisms by which underrepresented students, including first generation college students, utilize social ties that link them to knowledge-based and institutional resources related to engineering. We collected data at five U.S. institutions, including over 1,400 participants completing our online “Name and Resource Generator” and nearly 50 in-depth interviews. Our findings differentiate network characteristics (size, strength of ties, heterophily), access to embedded engineering-related resources, alters (individuals providing resources), and differences in purposeful activation of resources based on generational status in college. These results represent a significant theoretical contribution that engineering education stakeholders can use to enhance outreach, recruitment and retention efforts to help grow and diversify the field.

Participants: Aubrie Pfirman, Lindsey Cain, Matthew Miller, Gerarodo Santana (undergraduate researcher)

Project Title: Developing Engineer of 2020 Traits: How do Non-Curricular Activities Impact African American Students?

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation

Summary: This qualitative research study is a collaborative effort between Clemson (lead institution) and Virginia Tech. The purpose of this research is to develop a theory, inductively grounded in data and deductively compared to extant literature, describing how African American engineering students and alumni construct meaning related to membership experiences in non-curricular organizations and how they develop the skills identified by the National Academy of Engineering in The Engineer of 2020. To do this, we focus on non-curricular organizations—activities outside of the degree-granting engineering curricula: specifically, the National Society for Black Engineers (NSBE), Black Greek-letter organizations (BGOs), and Minority in Engineering Programs (MEPs). The contributions of this research will deepen our understanding of the learning experiences and retention of African American students in engineering study and the workforce.

Participants: Stacey Garrett (Ph.D. student in College of Education), Lamonda Pete (undergraduate researcher), Shannon Stefl, Jamora Hamilton (former undergraduate researcher); Stephanie Adams (Virginia Tech)

Project Title: Collaborative Research: Systematic Review of Studies to Improve Success in STEM Degree Programs of Hispanic Students Matriculating through Two-year Institutions

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation

Summary: This collaborative research between Clemson, University of Texas-Austin and Texas A&M (lead institution) will develop theory to promote existing effective interventions and guide design and development of new interventions to support Hispanic STEM student transfer. First, we are using established systematic review procedures to synthesize primary studies of Hispanic transfer students, Hispanic Serving Institutions STEM transfer students, and Hispanic STEM students. Then, will employ procedures adapted from qualitative research specifically for systematic reviews to synthesize these sources into a comprehensive framework on which future interventions and research studies can build.

Participants: jared halter, Jeff Froyd (Texas A&M), Maura Borrego (UT-Austin)