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Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop (2014)

Chapter: APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS

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Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×

APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS

To prepare for the workshop, attendees were surveyed in advance and asked to answer eight questions ranging from why past attempts to enhance racial and ethnic diversity in engineering had not succeeded to why there aren’t more summer programs or research assistantships for students from underrepresented minority populations. These questions were developed after analyzing a preliminary survey of a smaller number of attendees that helped crystallize the main issues.

About the Surveys

Attendees’ views and insights on challenges to increasing racial and ethnic diversity in engineering education were explored via two pre-workshop surveys. The first survey asked attendees (n=17) to define impediments to implementing established best practices and previous recommendations for increasing diversity in engineering education, and to identify barriers to removing them. The answers were analyzed and consolidated into a number of factors impeding diversity. A second survey was then sent in which respondents (n=33) rated these factors by importance and relative difficulty in addressing, and also indicated which stakeholder (academia, government, foundations, or associations) bears primary responsibility for addressing each factor.

Survey Results

The results of the second survey were analyzed and are presented below. For each of the eight questions, the tables list the emerging impeding factors ranked in descending order by their mean importance scores, ranging from 4-Very Important to 1-Not Important. The other two columns show the relative difficulty of addressing the factor and whose responsibility it is to address it. The last table lists common factors across all eight questions.

A perceived lack of financial support and resources surfaced in the answers to many of the questions, as it often does. Survey respondents also tended to see this issue as one of the hardest to address. In general they saw it as the responsibility of government, rather than academia, foundations, or associations, to meet this need.

On other issues, however, there was a clear call to academia to address nagging problems hindering diversification. For example, when respondents were asked what prevents colleges and universities from maintaining a statistical equivalence in the retention, persistence, and graduation rates of minority and majority students with similar academic and socioeconomic profiles, they identified educational institutions themselves as the best place to address five factors ranging from a lack of social integration and student support services to the lack of standardized metrics.

No fewer than 10 contributing factors were offered in response to a question about why more doctoral institutions don’t include more underrepresented minorities in STEM as research assistants, from too few students in the pipeline to competition from foreign students.

Some themes recurred in answers to different questions. These included a lack of institutional incentives, cultural stereotypes and insufficient cultural competency, and the limited availability of qualified staff and faculty.

Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×

Q1. Why were past recommendations on mechanisms to enhance racial and ethnic diversity in engineering not implemented; i.e., what factors impeded the implementation of such prior recommendations?

Importance
(mean)
4 = very important
1 = not important
Difficulty of
addressing
(mean)
4 = extremely
challenging
1 = very easy
Who should address it?
(percentage of responses)
Academia Government Foundations Associations
Limited financial support and resources 3.45 2.78 10% 71% 10% 10%
Not enough underrepresented students entering the pipeline, especially at the graduate level 3.39 3.21 36% 58% 3% 3%
Lack of institutional incentives 3.09 2.38 58% 29% 10% 3%
Low priority and lack of institutional motivation, will, and commitment 3.07 2.58 88% 3% 3% 6%
Cultural stereotypes, insufficient cultural competency, and lack of cultural sensitivity training 3.06 3.00 78% 0% 3% 19%
Resistance to change 2.91 3.00 94% 3% 0% 3%
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×

Q2. What barriers, if any, do colleges and universities face in strengthening the institutional receptivity towards a more diverse student body in engineering and science?

Importance
(mean)
4 = very important
1 = not important
Difficulty of
addressing
(mean)
4 = extremely
challenging
1 = very easy
Who should address it?
(percentage of responses)
Academia Government Foundations Associations
Limited financial support and resources 3.30 2.66 16% 81% 3% 0%
Lack of diversity among faculty themselves 3.21 3.09 71% 16% 7% 7%
Cultural stereotypes, insufficient cultural competency, and lack of cultural sensitivity training 3.00 2.70 90% 3% 3% 3%
Lack of social integration efforts and student support services 3.00 2.19 87% 3% 3% 7%
Lack of institutional incentives 2.88 2.24 58% 23% 16% 3%
Supreme Court rulings 2.45 2.84 7% 81% 7% 7%
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×

Q3. What impedes colleges and universities from creating targeted outreach and recruitment activities that constitute a coordinated “feeder system” for higher education institutions to help cultivate underrepresented minority students?

Importance
(mean)
4 = very important
1 = not important
Difficulty of
addressing
(mean)
4 = extremely
challenging
1 = very easy
Who should address it?
(percentage of responses)
Academia Government Foundations Associations
Engagement, cooperation, and linkages with community colleges and high schools 3.42 2.38 81% 10% 7% 3%
Limited financial support and resources 3.33 2.72 13% 68% 19% 0%
Low priority and lack of institutional motivation, will, and commitment 3.27 2.88 91% 6% 3% 0%
Lack of institutional incentives 3.06 2.58 63% 22% 13% 3%
Availability of qualified staff and faculty 3.03 2.63 94% 3% 3% 0%
Cultural stereotypes, insufficient cultural competency, and lack of cultural sensitivity training 3.00 2.82 78% 0% 0% 22%
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×

Q4. What prevents colleges and universities from maintaining a statistical equivalence in the retention, persistence, and graduation rates of minority and majority students with very similar academic and socioeconomic profiles?

Importance
(mean)
4 = very important
1 = not important
Difficulty of
addressing
(mean)
4 = extremely
challenging
1 = very easy
Who should address it?
(percentage of responses)
Academia Government Foundations Associations
Socioeconomic disparities among students 3.26 3.27 15% 48% 22% 15%
Bad alignment between systems and lack of coordinated efforts 3.19 2.87 59% 38% 0% 3%
Limited financial support and resources 3.19 2.83 14% 72% 14% 0%
Lack of social integration efforts and student support services 3.19 2.47 100% 0% 0% 0%
Lack of institutional incentives 3.00 2.42 63% 13% 20% 3%
Cultural stereotypes, insufficient cultural competency, and lack of cultural sensitivity training 2.81 2.77 83% 0% 0% 17%
Lack of a standardized set of metrics for retention and graduation 2.23 2.62 55% 31% 3% 10%
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×

Q5. What precludes colleges and universities from implementing widespread summer programs in STEM that target underrepresented minority high school students?

Importance
(mean)
4 = very important
1 = not important
Difficulty of
addressing
(mean)
4 = extremely
challenging
1 = very easy
Who should address it?
(percentage of responses)
Academia Government Foundations Associations
Limited financial support and resources 3.67 2.45 14% 43% 43% 0%
Low priority and lack of institutional motivation, will, and commitment 3.40 2.72 89% 4% 4% 4%
Engagement, cooperation, and linkages with community colleges and high schools 3.37 2.31 71% 18% 0% 11%
Availability of qualified staff and faculty 3.03 2.42 100% 0% 0% 0%
Liability and legal aspects of recent youth policies regarding equal opportunity 2.67 2.68 30% 67% 0% 4%
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×

Q6. What inhibits colleges and universities from increasing the recruitment, preparation, professional development, and retention of well-qualified elementary and secondary teachers in STEM who are prepared to teach diverse students?

Importance
(mean)
4 = very important
1 = not important
Difficulty of
addressing
(mean)
4 = extremely
challenging
1 = very easy
Who should address it?
(percentage of responses)
Academia Government Foundations Associations
Negative views of the teacher profession and lower salaries 3.39 3.29 15% 48% 11% 26%
Lack of institutional incentives 3.17 2.68 70% 22% 4% 4%
Availability of qualified staff and faculty 3.16 2.72 76% 17% 3% 3%
Longer-term hiring strategies 3.11 2.74 63% 26% 4% 7%
Lack of partnerships with professional development schools 2.68 2.43 63% 7% 7% 22%
Low standards of teacher education accreditation 2.61 2.90 30% 44% 0% 26%
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×

Q7. What constrains the ability of doctoral institutions to include more underrepresented minorities in STEM as research assistants?

Importance
(mean)
4 = very important
1 = not important
Difficulty of
addressing
(mean)
4 = extremely
challenging
1 = very easy
Who should address it?
(percentage of responses)
Academia Government Foundations Associations
Not enough underrepresented students entering the pipeline, especially at the graduate level 3.40 3.19 63% 20% 10% 7%
No commitment from faculty 3.23 2.81 50% 27% 20% 3%
Lack of diversity among faculty themselves 3.13 3.11 47% 30% 13% 10%
Fewer mentors and sponsors for minority students 3.13 2.63 43% 33% 17% 7%
Insufficient information on graduate schools for first-generation doctoral students 2.93 2.12 40% 27% 20% 13%
Limited financial support and resources 2.90 2.65 33% 40% 10% 17%
Engagement, cooperation, and linkages with community colleges and high schools 2.90 2.38 37% 33% 13% 17%
High selectivity of some schools 2.73 2.69 23% 47% 10% 20%
No cross-departmental support structure 2.59 2.44 21% 38% 21% 21%
Competition for foreign students 2.41 2.24 21% 35% 10% 35%
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×

Q8. Why has removing impediments to broadening participation of domestic racial and ethnic minorities been such a challenge?

Importance
(mean)
4 = very important
1 = not important
Difficulty of
addressing
(mean)
4 = extremely
challenging
1 = very easy
Who should address it?
(percentage of responses)
Academia Government Foundations Associations
Quality of high schools in areas with diverse populations 3.47 3.62 63% 22% 16% 0%
Limited financial support and resources 3.31 2.82 56% 25% 13% 6%
Lack of substantial, sustained, and coordinated pressure throughout all parts of the education system 3.25 3.21 53% 22% 22% 3%
Socioeconomic disparities among students 3.13 3.14 38% 44% 13% 6%
Lack of institutional incentives 3.09 2.62 34% 44% 19% 3%
Lack of involvement of university and colleges in K-12 3.06 2.76 44% 25% 25% 6%
Rising tuition of higher education 3.03 3.29 34% 38% 25% 3%
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×
Importance
(mean)
4 = very important
1 = not important
Difficulty of
addressing
(mean)
4 = extremely
challenging
1 = very easy
Who should address it?
(percentage of responses)
Academia Government Foundations Associations
Availability of qualified staff and faculty 2.88 2.79 25% 44% 25% 6%
Lack of learning communities that address a holistic approach to college retention 2.88 2.48 28% 38% 28% 6%
A difficult curriculum heavy on math that is a challenge for underrepresented students 2.74 3.00 32% 23% 32% 13%
Cultural stereotypes, insufficient cultural competency, and lack of cultural sensitivity training 2.69 2.79 19% 34% 44% 3%
Standardized testing 2.66 2.86 13% 53% 22% 13%
Liability and legal aspects of recent youth policies regarding equal opportunity 2.23 2.70 13% 20% 43% 23%
Ineffective ranking systems for colleges and universities 1.90 2.62 10% 19% 23% 48%
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×

Common factors across questions. Blank items indicate “not applicable.”

Average importance rates across questions
4 = very important; 1 = not important
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Q6 Q7 Q8
Limited financial support and resources 3.45 3.30 3.33 3.19 3.67 2.90 3.31
Lack of institutional incentives 3.09 2.88 3.06 3.00 3.17 3.09
Cultural stereotypes, insufficient cultural competency, and lack of cultural sensitivity training 3.06 3.00 3.00 2.81 2.69
Availability of qualified staff and faculty 3.03 3.03 3.16 2.88
Engagement, cooperation, and linkages with community colleges and high schools 3.42 3.37 2.90
Low priority and lack of institutional motivation, will, and commitment 3.07 3.27 3.40
Not enough underrepresented students entering the pipeline, especially at the graduate level 3.39 3.40
Lack of social integration efforts and student support services 3.00 3.19
Socioeconomic disparities among students 3.26 3.13
Lack of diversity among faculty themselves 3.21 3.13
Liability and legal aspects of recent youth policies regarding equal opportunity 2.67 2.23
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×
Page 28
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×
Page 29
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×
Page 30
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×
Page 31
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×
Page 32
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×
Page 33
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×
Page 34
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×
Page 35
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×
Page 36
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×
Page 37
Suggested Citation:"APPENDIX C: HIGHLIGHTS OF PRE-WORKSHOP SURVEYS." National Academy of Engineering. 2014. Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education: Summary of a Workshop. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18847.
×
Page 38
Next: APPENDIX D: HIGHLIGHTS OF BREAKOUT SESSIONS AND THEIR PLENARY REPORTS »
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Surmounting the Barriers: Ethnic Diversity in Engineering Education is the summary of a workshop held in September 2013 to take a fresh look at the impediments to greater diversification in engineering education. The workshop brought together educators in engineering from two- and four-year colleges and staff members from the three sponsoring organizations: the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Engineering and the American Society for Engineering Education.

While the goal of diversifying engineering education has long been recognized, studied, and subjected to attempted interventions, progress has been fitful and slow. This report discusses reasons why past recommendations to improve diversity had not been adopted in full or in part. Surmounting the Barriers identifies a series of key impediments, including a lack of incentives for faculty and institutions; inadequate or only short-term financial support; an unsupportive institutional and faculty culture and environment; a lack of institutional and constituent engagement; and inadequate assessments, metrics, and data tracking. The report also shares success stories about instances where barriers to diversity have been identified and surmounted, and the resources that could enable real solutions to implement steps toward progress.

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