From Deficit Thinking to Counter Storying: A Narrative Inquiry of Nontraditional Student Experience within Undergraduate Engineering Education

Angela Minichiello
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Abstract


This paper reports on narrative inquiry research conducted with nontraditional undergraduates as they pursued a common goal of becoming engineers. Participants were enrolled in a two-year engineering transfer program offered in the evenings, via synchronous broadcast distance instruction, by a public, land-grant university situated in the western United States. The purpose of the research was to understand the experiences of nontraditional students during the two-year program, which they accessed at regional campuses within or near their local communities, and later as they transitioned to the four-year university campus located in another city away from these communities. In this paper, personal, social, and institutional tensions, arising from instances of deficit thinking and emerging from within the participants’ lived and told stories, are identified and examined. Despite deep, personal reactions to the bias they experienced, participants overcame perceptions of personal deficiency to pursue and achieve their goal of becoming engineers. Participant counter stories further revealed ways in which their unique life experiences alternately served to enhance and deepen their engineering education.


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References


Minichiello, A. (2018). From deficit thinking to counter storying: A narrative inquiry of nontraditional student experience in undergraduate engineering education. International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology (IJEMST), 6(3), 266-284. DOI: 10.18404/ijemst.428188


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