‘I Feel Like Forest Gump:’ Mixed-Race Native American Students Find Community in a College of Engineering

Defining, achieving and retaining diversity in undergraduate education continues to be an important focus of research, policy and programmatic efforts in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) community.1-8 The Research Institute for STEM Education contributes to this discourse by identifying factors contributing to the successful completion of an engineering degree at a predominately white, research institution by under-represented and under-served minority students. Additionally, we seek to differentiate the strategies and obstacles affecting the success of students from various ethnicities and backgrounds. To achieve our goals, African American, Hispanic American, Asian American and Native American undergraduate engineering students are interviewed using theoretically grounded qualitative methods.9 As part of the broader project (NSF-DUE 0431642), different members of our interdisciplinary team analyze and report on strands and themes specific to one of four under-represented or under-served populations 10-12 as well as themes that lend themselves to cross group analysis.13-16
This paper reports on experiences of mixed-race Native American undergraduate students in multiple engineering disciplines. The coding of qualitative data generated from 29 ethnographic interviews brought forth certain unanticipated phenomenon.

Available from: ASEE Archive

Foor, C. E. and R. L. Shehab (2009). ‘I Feel Like Forest Gump:’ Mixed-Race Native American Students Find Community in a College of Engineering. Proceedings of 2009 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, TX.

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