Differential experiences of women and minority engineering students in a cooperative education program

Academic Article

Abstract

  • Although slight gains have been made in attracting women and minority students to the field of engineering, the differences are not great enough to meet current economic demands [National Academy of Sciences (2007). Rising above the gathering storm: Energizing and employing America for a brighter economic future, Washington, DC: National Academies Press]. Therefore, it has become imperative that colleges and universities increase efforts to both recruit and retain these students who express interest in the STEM fields [National Science Foundation (2006), Women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in science and engineering, NSF 4-311, Arlington, VA: NSF]. In engineering, one promising venue for students to gain professional experience as part of their undergraduate training is through cooperative education (co-op). However, there is a dearth of information in the research literature regarding how co-op programs can be structured to address the needs of diverse students. There is consensus, however, about one aspect of addressing the needs of diverse students, namely, mentoring and role models are key strategies for success. In this study, a mixed methods design was used to examine students' perceptions of mentoring in a cooperative education program in a southeastern university. Using Noe's [Noe, R. (1988). An investigation of the determinants of successful assigned mentoring relationships. Personnel Psychology, 1, 457-479] mentoring functions scales, which described psychosocial and career-related support, research findings indicated a statistically significant difference between gender and the psychosocial aspect of mentoring. Analysis of the qualitative data further confirmed differences in cooperative education experiences with respect to both gender and ethnicity. © 2008 by Begell House, Inc.
  • Authors

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Fifolt MM; Abbott G
  • Start Page

  • 253
  • End Page

  • 267
  • Volume

  • 14
  • Issue

  • 3