Date of Award
Morgridge College of Education, Higher Education
Cecilia M. Orphan
P. Bruce Uhrmacher
Chris A. Nelson
Arts-based research, Culturally responsive methodologies, Diversity, Engineering education, Neurodivergence, New materialisms
Despite decades of initiatives, engineering education continues to lack diversity. The proportion of women, BIPOC, LGBTQA+, low-income, first-generation, and disabled students in engineering education remains below national population levels. The culture of engineering is a barrier to increasing participation in engineering for students from these communities. The purpose of this dissertation study was to explore the experiences of underrepresented engineering students as they are socialized into the culture of engineering. I theorized a novel conceptual framework called creative materialism that combines culturally responsive methodologies, new materialist theory, and arts-based research methods. Two research questions were used to guide the study. First, how do underrepresented students experience the culture of engineering? Second, how did the unique creative materialist framework function to answer the first question? In-depth subjective research was conducted at the Colorado School of Mines from 2022 through March 2023 with three female students with multiple underrepresented social identities like their race, sexuality, first-generation and low-income status, and physical and learning disabilities. The methods included unstructured interviews, personal diaries, and creative practices of poetry, photography, drawing, and painting. A theme of visibility on a continuum of invisible to hypervisible emerged in the findings about the culture. The participants’ myriad social identities shaped their experiences in the culture and campus community, which also was influenced by how visible their various identities were to others. Importantly, the participants resisted the harmful impacts of the culture on their mental health and well-being by enacting self-care and sharing their struggles with peers. Surprise findings for the researcher and all three participants to the second research question about the creative materialism framework were new neurodivergent identities that were unknown before the study. A significant contribution of the study is providing a novel framework for uncovering the hidden stories of how underrepresented students experience the culture of engineering. These stories offer new perspectives to engineering educators and researchers to better understand how the culture must be transformed toward inclusivity and access if diversity is to be increased.
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Katherine A. Robert
Received from ProQuest
Robert, Katherine A., "The Vigor of Creative Materialism: Making the Hidden Stories of Underrepresented Engineering Students Visible" (2023). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 2317.
Higher education, Disability studies, Educational leadership