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Inner Engineering: A Multiphase Mixed Methods Study Evaluating the Utility of Mindfulness Training to Cultivate Intrapersonal and Interpersonal Skills among First-year Engineering Students

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Background – Among influential education reports, there is clear consensus that an expansive range of intrapersonal (e.g. self-regulation) and interpersonal competencies (e.g. empathy) highly influence educational and career success. Research

Background – Among influential education reports, there is clear consensus that an expansive range of intrapersonal (e.g. self-regulation) and interpersonal competencies (e.g. empathy) highly influence educational and career success. Research on teaching and learning these competencies is limited in engineering education.

Purpose/Hypothesis – This dissertation study explores the impacts of a mindfulness training program on first-year engineering students and aims to understand potential impacts on the development of intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies.

Design/Method – A four-session mindfulness-based training program was designed, developed, and facilitated to cultivate intrapersonal and interpersonal competencies. This study employed a multiphase mixed method design in which quantitative and qualitative data was collected from a total of 35 different students through a post survey (n=31), 3-month follow-up survey (n=29), and interviews (n=18). t-tests were used to evaluate the statistical significance of the program and a rigorous thematic analysis process was utilized to help explain the quantitative data.

Results – The results suggest that the majority of students became more mindful, which led to improved intrapersonal competencies (i.e. self-management, critical-thinking, focus, resilience, and well-being) and interpersonal competencies (i.e. empathy, communication, teamwork, and leadership).

Discussion / Conclusions – The study provides compelling evidence that mindfulness training can support the development of intrapersonal and interpersonal skills among engineering students, which can support their overall academic experience, as well as personal and professional development. Future design and development work will be needed to evaluate the integration and scalability potential of mindfulness training within engineering programs.

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Date Created
  • 2019

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Re-thinking Engineering Doctoral Students’ Sense of Belonging: In Consideration of Diversity in Citizenship and Interpersonal Interactions

Description

A defining feature of many United States (U.S.) doctoral engineering programs is their large proportion of international students. Despite the large student body and the significant impacts that they bring

A defining feature of many United States (U.S.) doctoral engineering programs is their large proportion of international students. Despite the large student body and the significant impacts that they bring to the U.S. education and economy, a scarcity of research on engineering doctoral students has taken into consideration the existence of international students and the consequential diversity in citizenship among all students. This study was designed to bridge the research gap to improve the understanding of sense of belonging from the perspective of international engineering doctoral students.

A multi-phase mixed methods research approach was taken for this study. The qualitative strand focused on international engineering doctoral students’ sense of belonging and its constructs. Semi-structured interview data were collected from eight international students enrolled at engineering doctoral programs at four different institutions. Thematic analysis and further literature review produced a conceptual structure of sense of belonging among international engineering doctoral students: authentic-self, problem behavior, academic self-efficacy, academic belonging, sociocultural belonging, and perceived institutional support.

The quantitative strand of this study broadened the study’s population to all engineering doctoral students, including domestic students, and conducted comparative analyses between international and domestic student groups. An instrument to measure the Engineering Doctoral Students’ Quality of Interaction (EDQI instrument) was developed while considering the multicultural nature of interactions and the discipline-specific characteristics of engineering doctoral programs. Survey data were collected from 653 engineering doctoral students (383 domestic and 270 international) at 36 R1 institutions across the U.S. Exploratory Factor Analysis results confirmed the construct validity and reliability of the data collected from the instrument and indicated the factor structures for the students’ perceived quality interactions among domestic and international student groups. A set of separate regression analyses results indicated the significance of having meaningful interactions to students’ sense of belonging and identified the groups of people who make significant impacts on students’ sense of belonging for each subgroup. The emergent findings provide an understanding of the similarities and differences in the contributors of sense of belonging between international and domestic students, which can be used to develop tailored support structures for specific student groups.

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Date Created
  • 2020