CBE Seminar Series Speaker: Jerrod Henderson
Photovoice: Visualizing Engineering Identity Experiences of Sophomore Students
Abstract: Researchers have shown that students are most likely to leave engineering undergraduate programs during their first two years. Justifiably, several studies have investigated engineering student persistence and attrition, especially during the first year, and then informed the development of interventions to address the challenges. While those interventions have improved freshmen retention in some institutions, less has been published on the impacts of these interventions on the sophomore student experience. In this study, we examined the experiences of sophomore engineering students and explored how these experiences relate to their identities as engineers. We conducted this study using photovoice, a methodology/intervention in which participants submit photographs to help describe their experiences and give recommendations on improving their experiences and resolving their concerns. Four participants submitted three sets of pictures (at the beginning, middle, and end of the semester) and participated in focus groups. We analyzed data using thematic analysis. We inductively determined three themes: on the frame, out of focus, and prefigures. Through empowering participants to co-construct the knowledge, we were able to see what interest, competence, and recognition as engineers looked like from the student’s perspectives. Participants grappled with the tension between their personal, social, and engineering identities. Photovoice empowered them to author and illustrate that they could exist beyond the murky middle. This work has the potential to yield practical solutions that institutional stakeholders can implement, such as intentionally creating cultures of well-being, self-reflection, and belonging.
Biography: Dr. Jerrod A. Henderson (“Dr. J”) is an Assistant Professor in the William A. Brookshire Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering in the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston (UH). Dr. Henderson is the immediate past Director of the Program for Mastery in Engineering Studies (PROMES, pronounced “promise”), a program aimed at increasing engineering student achievement, engagement, and graduation rates. His research group seeks to understand engineering identity trajectories and success mechanisms throughout lifespans using action-based participatory research and novel methodologies such as photovoice, IPA, and draw-an-engineer and the development of research-informed interventions to improve student success. He was most recently recognized by INSIGHT Into Diversity Magazine as an Inspiring STEM Leader, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences (LAS) Outstanding Young Alumni Award, Career Communications Group with a Black Engineer of the Year Award for college-level promotion of engineering education and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2023 to advance his work that centers engineering identities of Black men in engineering.
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