Understanding engineering identity through structural equation modeling


Understanding students' self-ascribed engineering identity may be one way to understand engineering choices and to help recruit new students to the engineering pipeline. In our framework, identity is composed of students' perceptions of their performance/competence, recognition, and interest in a domain. This paper outlines the creation of a model of engineering choice based on this framework. The data utilized in this analysis come from the nationally-representative Sustainability and Gender in Engineering (SaGE) survey. Distributed during the fall of 2011, the survey was completed by 6,772 college students across the United States enrolled in first-year English courses. A structural equation model was built using previously validated constructs of mathematics, physics, and general science identities. These three constructs predict an engineering identity which, in turn, influences the choice of engineering in college. The model is a step towards a better understanding of the choice of an engineering major in college.


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