USING NARRATIVE ENQUIRY TO INVESTIGATE THE DEVELOPMENT OF STUDENTS’ ENGINEERING IDENTITY IN A DEGREE APPRENTICESHIP
DS 110: Proceedings of the 23rd International Conference on Engineering and Product Design Education (E&PDE 2021), VIA Design, VIA University in Herning, Denmark. 9th -10th September 2021
Editor: Grierson, Hilary; Bohemia, Erik; Buck, Lyndon
Author: Liquete, Elena (1); Dekoninck, Elies (2); Wisker, Gina (2)
Institution: 1: The Dyson Institute; 2: University of Bath
Section: Innovation and Creativity in Design and Engineering Education
DOI number: 10.35199/EPDE.2021.20
Every year, around 35% of engineering graduates (mainly female and ethnic minority graduates) in the UK choose roles outside engineering (EngineeringUK 2019) . Given that engineering as a profession struggles to attract recruits, this represents a significant loss of qualified talent the profession can ill afford. A possible reason why engineers choose not to practice after qualifying may be that they have not developed a professional engineering identity during their engineering education. Eliot and Turns (2011)  define professional identity as ‘personal identification with the duties, responsibilities, and knowledge associated with a professional role’. Engineering identity is the extent to which students identify themselves as engineers. Research shows that engineering identity is an important indicator of persistence in both engineering education and the engineering profession (Godwin, 2016)  (Beam et al 2009)  (Cech et al 2011) . The purpose of this research is to find ways of reducing the number of engineers who graduate and then don’t practice, by identifying ways in which they can better develop their engineering identity during their studies. The findings presented in this paper are surprising in that they show that the four years of a degree apprenticeship seemed to have had little impact on students who already had either low or high identification with engineering. Engineering educators should consider how the development of an engineering identity can be supported in engineering degrees.
Keywords: Engineering identity, engineering education, identity theory, degree apprenticeships.