Engineering faculty perceptions of diversity in the classroom

Kelly J. Cross, Stephanie Cutler

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


Broadening participation and enhancing diversity remains a challenge in STEM disciplines. Many universities have strategic diversity plans; however, very few include an assessment of program success or utilize faculty as a primary vehicle to achieve the desired outcomes. Previous work suggests faculty play a key role in promoting diversity in higher education and creating an inclusive environment in the classroom. Few studies have explored faculty perceptions of their role in promoting diversity and a single study identified factors that contribute to faculty applying strategies to promote diversity concepts within the course content. Additionally, previous research has highlighted the need for departmental and institutional support for faculty interested in adopting teaching practices that promote diversity and inclusion. Therefore, it is important that we understand the motivations and supports needed for STEM faculty to include diversity concepts in the classroom to promote inclusivity. The guiding research questions for the current study are: 1) What perceptions do faculty hold about diversity and inclusion? 2) How do faculty's personal experience with diversity and inclusion impact how they integrate diversity and inclusion in their classroom? 3) How can we effectively use professional development to aid faculty in creating more inclusive environment for diverse learners? The data reported here is from the pilot for a larger case study design informed by institutional change models and faculty motivation. Taking lessons from recent engineering education research that describes strategies that encourage faculty to adopt instructional innovations, we paralleled our research to capture faculty practices for implementing diversity concepts into engineering course content. The pilot included 10 engineering faculty participants representing all faculty ranks and both research and teaching tenure tracks. The participants completed a short survey with multiple open-ended questions, followed by individual interviews exploring responses and allowing further clarification. The faculty came from two large research intensive universities with strong engineering reputations (five from each university). The survey was administered through a commercially available data collection software program and the individual interviews were audio recorded. The results from this initial pilot study discuss how our faculty participants defined diversity and inclusion, the resources they view as important to promoting diversity and inclusion, how their personal experiences inform their views on diversity and inclusion in the classroom, and what they would look for in professional development around diversity and inclusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 24 2017
Event124th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Columbus, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2017Jun 28 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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