Classroom Practices that Support Minoritized Engineering Students' Sense of Belonging (Research)

Arielle Marie Rainey, Dina Verdín, Jessica Mary Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

Abstract

Establishing and sustaining a sense of belonging is a necessary human motivation with particular implications for student learning, including in engineering. Students who experience a sense of belonging are more likely to display intrinsic motivation and establish a stronger sense of identity and persistence. It is important, however, to distinguish different domains of belonging, such as belonging to one's university, belonging to a major, and belonging in the classroom setting. Our study examines if and how faculty support efforts contribute to diverse students' sense of belonging in the classroom setting. Specifically, we sought to answer the following research questions: Which faculty support efforts promote a sense of classroom belongingness? Do faculty support efforts differentially promote a sense of classroom belongingness for students based on their demographic characteristics? Data for this study was collected in the Fall of 2018, across ten institutions, n = 819. We used the Faculty Support items from the STEM Student Perspectives of Support Instrument developed from Lee's model of co-curricular support to answer our research questions. Demographic categories were created to understand if and how faculty support efforts differentially promote a sense of belonging for minoritized students compared to their counterparts. Multiple regression analysis was conducted to examine the faculty support efforts that fostered a sense of belonging in the classroom. Interaction effects were included to understand how faculty support efforts affected classroom belongingness for the students in the demographic groups we identified. Minoritized women were less likely to feel a sense of belonging in the classroom when compared to majoritized men. Neither groups of women believed that their instructors wanted them to succeed, thus negatively impacting their classroom belongingness. There were, however, faculty support efforts that positively contributed to a sense of belonging in the classroom for minoritized women, including instructors' availability, knowing that they could ask instructors for help in course-related material, and when instructors fostered an atmosphere of mutual respect. Additionally, minoritized women felt a sense of classroom belonging when they could capitalize on their previous experiences to scaffold their learning. Our findings highlight classroom practices and strategies faculty can use in the classroom to support minoritized women's sense of belonging. These practices and strategies will be a crucial resource for engineering educators and administrators who seek to improve the field's retention of minoritized and women students. Whereas efforts have been made to recruit minoritized students into engineering, our study points to a clear and crucial role for faculty to play: they can support minoritized students by fostering a sense of belonging in engineering classrooms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jul 26 2021
Event2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2021 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jul 26 2021Jul 29 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)

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