Engineering and Physics Faculty Research and Publications


From outsider to advocate: The experience of shame as a minority student in engineering education

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Conference Proceeding

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This full research paper presents the findings of an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) study of a student's experience of shame in an engineering program. Our overarching research question is: How do students from underrepresented gender and racial backgrounds psychologically experience shame in the context of engineering education? This paper presents the findings from the IPA study of an American Indian, female student who majored in computer engineering at a faith-based, teaching-focused university. We carefully delineate her experience in order to maximize her voice throughout the findings. The findings demonstrate that the participant, pseudonym Mano, interprets current events within her engineering experience in relation to messages and events associated with her community prior to entering the space. As she begins to process, she experiences the phenomenon of shame and begins to question her belonging in engineering. However, Mano's education is also impacted by messages that empower her to persist as a minority. From this perspective, she makes choices to be a representative and advocate for other underrepresented minority students. Mano's case presents a powerful example of the experience of a minority student within engineering and the underlying structures that shape the path that she had to navigate in order to be an engineer.


This paper was presented by Mackenzie B. Sharbine at the 2020 IEEE Frontiers in Education (FIE) Virtual Conference which was held October 21-24, 2020.

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