Date

2014

Department

School of Education

Degree

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Chair

L. Daniele Bradshaw

Keywords

African-American, Education, Engineering, Persistence

Disciplines

African American Studies | Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Disability and Equity in Education | Education | Educational Psychology | Higher Education | Science and Mathematics Education | Student Counseling and Personnel Services | Women's Studies

Abstract

This transcendental phenomenological research study examined the perspectives and lived experiences of African-American female engineers related to the factors that led to their persistence to enter, persist through, and remain in the field. The study was guided by four research questions: (a) How do K-12 experiences shape African-American female engineers' decisions to enter the STEM field? (b) What persistence factors motivated African-American female engineers to enter the engineering profession? (c) What are the factors that shape African-American female engineers' persistence to progress through postsecondary engineering programs? (d) How do professional experiences shape African-American female engineers' persistence in the field? Cognitive interviewing techniques were used to validate data collection instruments. Interviews, focus groups, and timelines were used to collect data aimed at capturing the essence of the phenomenon of African-American engineers' persistence. The data was analyzed using Moustakas' (1994) phenomenological data analysis methods. The findings indicated that early academic experiences and achievement shaped participants' decision to enter the engineering field. Environmental factors, intrinsic motivation, support systems motivated participants to persist through postsecondary programs and to enter the engineering field. Further research is needed to examine the early academic experiences that encourage African-American females to enter engineering. In addition, research is needed to examine the barriers that lead to attrition of African-American females in engineering.