It's All About the Feels: How and Why Students' Feelings about their Engineering Program Change

Laura Hirshfield, Stacie Edington, Michael Dailey
2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access Proceedings   unpublished
Introduction How students feel about starting and being an engineering student will assuredly influence and, subsequently, be impacted by students' college experiences. A student who feels more positively about their experience in college (or in general) will probably be more likely to rate highly on many other aspects related to affect, such as confidence, self-efficacy, engagement, or persistence. Similarly, a student who feels negatively may be less likely to find community, succeed in their
more » ... coursework, or to persist in the engineering major. There are many tools related to gauging elements of students' affect that can be immensely useful in encouraging students and helping them succeed. However, simply gauging students' feelings may also give insight into their experiences as an engineering student. In this work, we focus on data that resulted from a larger study investigating students' perceptions of engineering, sense of belonging, and sense of community as they participate in a Common Read first-year program. In the study, incoming first-year students participated in a pre-and mid-summer survey and a post-program survey. A subset of these students also participated in focus groups, held with students of all levels who were prompted to reflect on their experiences starting college and participating in first-year programs. This study focuses on data gathered in the mid-summer survey and the focus groups, specifically, that gauged how students felt starting engineering college. The findings presented here aim to investigate how students feel as incoming first-year engineering students, and what elements of their experience may relate to those feelings. If we can better understand how students feel, we can better support and encourage them, and help them to develop more positive affect and to succeed more easily. The work presented here is guided by the following research questions: 1. How do incoming first-year students feel about starting engineering college? 2. How do engineering students describe their feelings about being accepted to and starting engineering college? 3. What aspects of the student experience do students identify as causing or relating to those feelings? Background
doi:10.18260/1-2--34888 fatcat:j5wobqskb5ernhcjy23idk7fou