Diversifying Voices in Engineering

A joint study examines the various factors that contribute to Latinx students' participation engineering programs

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As universities nationwide strive to include more diverse perspectives in their academic programming, one cohort of students has proven especially driven to help shape the future. A study co-authored by DU's Patton Garriott and partner scholars from institutions such as the University of North Dakota sought to understand the socioeconomic and cultural factors that drive the persistence of Latinx students in engineering programs at white- and Hispanic-serving centers of higher learning.

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About the Project

Using the consensual qualitative research method, the team of researchers sought to deepen the understanding of the forces that encourage participation in engineering programs by undergraduates of Latinx heritage. The study focused on five areas of influence: institutional conditions, additive intersectional burdens, personal and cultural wealth, coping skills, and engineering identity.

Engaging directly with the participating students, the scholars asked respondents about how they face a varying range of external stress factors. The students revealed their personal strategies for overcoming adversity as engineering students of Latinx descent, offering insight into how their personal traits and cultural experiences played into their persistence in these academic programs.

While the study found that the home institutions of these students are generally positive environments for their success in engineering programs, many Latina students experienced gendered racism, reinforcing the need for further study of these programs and how they engage with students. The study also shows that supportive institutional conditions, personal and cultural assets, and adaptive coping strategies were effective predictors of Latinx student persistence.

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Patton Garriott

An associate professor of counseling psychology at DU's Morgridge College of Education, Patton Garriott specializes in research focusing on the success of underrepresented groups in the higher education sphere. His work has been funded by the National Science Foundation, and he has also explored issues of race and racism in higher education.