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ERIC Number: ED551408
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 167
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-2677-7683-9
Influences on Low-SES First-Generation Students' Decision to Pursue Engineering
Strutz, Michele Louise
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Purdue University
"The ability of this nation to provide a growing economy, strong health and human services, and a secure and safe nation depends upon a vibrant, creative, and diverse engineering and science workforce" (Blue, et al., 2005, p.4). To contribute to technological advancements, engage in global collaboration, solve complex problems, encourage a more socially just profession, and respond to the predicted shortage of American engineers, it is necessary for this nation's engineering workforce and university student bodies to be more diverse in its racial, gender, and socioeconomic (SES) representation. The lack of representation in SES is the focus of this research. The purpose of this qualitative study is to give low-SES first-generation students an opportunity to share their stories about the influences that prompted them to choose to study engineering. The research question this study addresses is: "What are the lived experiences that influenced low-SES first-generation students to pursue engineering study?." This study used a phenomenological inquiry approach, purposive criterion sampling, and descriptive and topical coding. Interviews were semi-structured, and consisted of open-ended questions. Transcripts were coded to identify general and unique themes that resulted in four assertions. These low-SES first-generation students were influenced to pursue engineering study by 1) elements of engineering experienced in informal learning settings; 2) their self-identified attributes and interests, and their advanced skills; 3) their understanding of the image of the field of engineering; and 4) STEM-knowledgeable individuals who offered encouragement, support, and perspective. These assertions led me to conclude that low-SES first-generation students who make it to college to study engineering are similar to their higher-SES peers, but low-SES students cannot have any other setbacks besides being low-SES and still be successful in engineering. I also observed that these four assertions seem to be related to forms of capital. All of these participants were eager to spend time sharing their story with me. They expressed appreciation that I cared about the influences that affected their journey to engineering and that I wanted to research their lived experiences. I was honored to act as the phenomenologist in understanding the influences on these students in their pursuit of engineering study. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A