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Influences for selecting engineering: Insights on access to Social Capital from two case studies

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4 Author(s)
Trenor, J.M. ; Dept. of Eng. & Sci. Educ., Clemson Univ., Clemson, SC ; Yu, S.L. ; Waight, C.L. ; Zerda, K.S.

This paper employs the theory of social capital to explore the educational experiences and academic career decisions of engineering undergraduates. Two case studies are presented from a larger mixed-methods project which investigated the experiences of ethnically and socio-economically diverse female engineering students at an urban research university. Participants completed an online survey, which included items about reasons for selecting engineering and information sources utilized in doing so. Additionally, semi-structured interviews explored participantspsila perceived supports and barriers for college and career plans. Triangulation of survey and interview data yielded insights regarding the relations between social capital and studentspsila academic and career decision making processes. While both participants first became interested in engineering during middle school, their reasons for entering the field and access to information about engineering were very different. The social capital inequity apparent in these cases can be attributed in part to parental educational attainment and occupation.

Published in:

Frontiers in Education Conference, 2008. FIE 2008. 38th Annual

Date of Conference:

22-25 Oct. 2008