Participate in this research study!

If you have questions about this project or would like to participate, please don’t hesitate to call our lead researcher – Dr. Pawley can be reached at [email protected].

The Learning From Small NumbersProject is a project that aims to help engineering educators learn about the lived experiences of underrepresented students in undergraduate engineering programs. There are still only small numbers of white women and students of color (including African American students, Latin@/Chican@ students, Native American students, and multiethnic students) getting bachelors degrees in engineering in the US, even compared to the general population and populations of college students. We want to listen to the stories of students of color and white women to find out key aspects of institutions they have interacted with that might help us think differently about why there are such small numbers.

We are a diverse group of researchers who try to think differently about “problems” engineering education research. We use our collective background in women’s studies, sociology, education, and engineering to articulate new metaphors for engineering education researchers to think about.

We have talked with respected community, organization, and research leaders to develop an interview process that is respectful and protects those who share their stories with us. To this end, we would like to answer some specific questions about this research.

Whose research is this?

One could say that this research is Alice Pawley’s, as the initial conceiver of the research questions and methods. One could also say that this research belongs to the people who participate in it, including the storytellers and testimonial tellers, and to the community of people who see themselves reflected in its outcomes. But we will say instead that we, the research team, are committed to collaboratively owning and sharing this research.

Who owns the research?

Many groups have ownership stakes in this research. The National Science Foundation has a partial stake because it has funded it. The organizations we have partnered with to recruit participants have a partial stake because they are invested in the wellbeing of their membership. The individuals who are interviewed have a significant stake because the data is formed from their own words and experiences. We the team have a partial stake because we have committed our ideas, time and other resources to see the research through.

Whose interests does the research serve?

The research serves the interests of multiple groups. It should primarily serve the interests of people who participate in the interviews, whether they use their interview for storytelling or testimonial. However, it also serves the lead researcher’s interests – Alice Pawley’s interests – as she is hoping it will allow her to provide new critique of engineering education practice and philosophy informed by critical and feminist theory.

Who will benefit from the research?

The research team are planning this research so that both student participants — those who have their stories recorded and then shared back with them — will benefit, as this may prompt them to share stories with their friends, family and community, if they haven’t done so already, as will students of color

Who has designed its questions and framed its scope?

The research team has designed the questions and scope, in consultation with our circles of advisors, and organizations’ community members, elders, and leadership.

Who will carry the research out?

Our research team will do most of the research, but hope that people who choose to participate will also contribute through reviewing their stories and our analyses.

Who will write it up?

Our team will write up the results, checking our analyses past our advisors and the organization community members.

How will its results be disseminated?

It will be disseminated through conference talks, seminars, journal papers, magazine articles, and through methods discussed by our advisors and organization community members. It will also be disseminated through the experiences of the people who participate in the storytelling.

Who is part of the research team?

Alice L. Pawley, a white woman from Wisconsin who now works at Purdue University, directs this research and will conduct the interviews. Her parents immigrated to the US from England, went to college and graduate school, and are now retired from being professors at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has a younger sister and brother. She went to school in Montreal, Canada in chemical engineering, and at UW-Madison in industrial engineering and women’s studies.

Canek Phillips is a 30-year-old mixed race man, which he struggles to define within the terms of Anglo and Latin American-Indian heritage. Canek is a graduate student at Purdue University in the School of Engineering Education, having received a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Rice University and an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Colorado State University before arriving.

What are the benefits and risks to me if I participate?

There are no direct benefits to you regarding your participation in this study. You will receive a copy of the video from your interview and a transcript of your interview to keep in your personal records. You might find value in sharing your story with the interviewer as a reflective experience.  You will also receive $30 upon completion of the interview in recognition of your time.

Risks of participating may include:

  • Reliving of painful experiences through sharing them in the interview
  • Being identified by peers or elders, including professors or administrators who read or see dissemination products from this project;
  • Hostility experienced from peers or elders who learn from means other than the research team that the participant participated, and who disapprove.

If you have questions about this project or would like to participate, please don’t hesitate to call our lead researcher – Dr. Pawley can be reached at [email protected].

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