Testing for measurement invariance in engineering identity constructs for first-generation college students

Dina Verdín, Allison Godwin

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

3 Scopus citations


This work-in-progress research study examines the response patterns of first-generation college students (FGCS) to the engineering identity measures compared to non-first-generation college students (non-FGCS). This work answers the following research question, "Do FGC and non-FGC engineering students interpret the engineering identity measurement items in a conceptually different manner?" We explore if FGCS respond to engineering identity items similarly to non-FGCS and the fairness of using these instruments for FGCS to make claims about this group. The data for this work are from a survey instrument completed by 2, 916 first-year engineering college students from four U.S. institutions. We hypothesize that quantitative measures constructed for the general engineering student population (non-FGCS) may not function the same for a FGCS subpopulation in engineering. Using extensions to the confirmatory factor analysis, we tested for measurement invariance of engineering identity constructs between FGCS and non-FGCS. Our comparative analysis of FGCS and non-FGCS found weak measurement invariance within the engineering identity constructs (i.e. interest, recognition, and performance/competence) indicating a similar factor structure and factor loadings, but different uses of the identity item scale. This research raises questions on the use and fairness of normative measures in engineering education for populations that fall outside the majority engineering student population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFIE 2017 - Frontiers in Education, Conference Proceedings
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781509059195
StatePublished - Dec 12 2017
Externally publishedYes
Event47th IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2017 - Indianapolis, United States
Duration: Oct 18 2017Oct 21 2017

Publication series

NameProceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE
ISSN (Print)1539-4565


Other47th IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States


  • Confirmatory factor analysis
  • Engineering identity
  • First-generation college students

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Education
  • Computer Science Applications


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