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Testing an Identity-Based Motivation Conceptual Framework for Engineering Graduate Students
Materials Science and Engineering
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National agencies called for student-centered science, technology, engineeringand mathematics graduate programs to transition from traditional socialization programs to student-centered programs. In engineering, student-centered graduate programs are needed as a engineering graduate students are leaving their graduate programs underprepared for the workforce. As such, graduate programs should align with their students’ professional needs to better prepare them for their future careers. To begin to address this issue, the purpose of my dissertation was to explore engineering graduate students’ motivations and identities which have been linked to persistence in undergraduate research. Particularly, I developed an identity-based motivation conceptual framework (IBMCF) that considers engineering graduate students’ past, present, and future in relation to their motivations and identities. As such, I designed this dissertation as a sequential developmental mixed-methods study that consisted of a quantitative phase that informed the qualitative phase. I tested this conceptual framework for generalizability using structural equation modeling in the quantitative phase. Results showed that my original IBMCF model did not fit well for all engineering graduate students but fit better for PhD students. As such, I designed the qualitative phase to determine transferability and further explore engineering PhD students’ graduate experiences to refine the IBMCF. I found that the framework transferred into the engineering PhD student sample while refining the IBMCF. I also found one new piece that added to the IBMCF. Finally, this study showed that engineering PhD students need student-centered programs to support their future career goals and professional identity development.