In this Work in Progress paper, we present preliminary work exploring the intentions around diversity and inclusion of electrical and computer engineering faculty members in response to initiatives in the department related to inclusive teaching.
Due to the strong relationship between positive faculty-student interactions and student persistence, as well as the faculty’s role in shaping department climate, faculty development efforts around diversity and inclusion have huge potential for effectively transforming the inclusivity of engineering education. However, many engineering professors still do not see the relevance of diversity and inclusion to their jobs. As part of a larger study addressing diversity and inclusion in engineering through a design thinking approach, interviews were conducted with the faculty of an electrical and computer engineering (ECE) department at a large, research intensive university, which were aimed at assessing faculty perceptions of department culture, diversity and inclusion. Through thematic analysis of 11 such interviews, we found a lack of motivation among the faculty to take action to improve diversity and inclusion at their school. We framed our analysis with Fishbein and Ajzen’s “reasoned action model” for human behavior, which lists three factors necessary to develop an “intention” to take action--attitude, perceived norm, and perceived behavioral control--and found that these professors showed a lack of the latter two factors. They often believed that diversity and inclusion were neither inherent parts of their jobs, nor issues over which they personally had any control.
These observations inspired the creation of a “tip sheet”, as a tool for encouraging inclusive teaching in ECE, which was distributed to the faculty. This document included a collection of inclusive teaching ideas based on the research literature, along with messaging to address the two missing factors for intention by emphasizing the faculty’s impact on diversity and inclusion and how these issues fit into their everyday work.
Initial reactions to the tip sheet have inspired us to further investigate faculty intention around diversity and inclusion in the next phase of our research. Whereas the original interviews were broadly about department culture, the second phase of faculty interviews focus on the problems we identified by using the reasoned action model as a framework, and the tip sheet as an example intervention. Through interviews, we explore the faculty’s reactions to the tip sheet, specifically investigating its effects on the three factors for intention and the background factors from which they emerge, as defined in the literature on the reasoned action model. Interviews will be analyzed using a theoretical thematic analysis approach (Braun and Clarke, 2006). In this way, we can discover how an engineering faculty’s intention around diversity and inclusion manifests, functions, and changes, in order to develop more effective interventions in the future. In this Work in Progress paper, we present a summary of the previous findings, the study design and methods, and preliminary insights from the pilot interview.
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