Examining Gender Inclusivity through Sense of Belonging in a Summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program at a Large Research University

Shawna Dory, Luis Roberto Delgado, Stephanie Cutler, Sarah E. Zappe, Esther Gomez, Stephanie Butler Velegol

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


This mixed-methods study describes the examination of women students' sense of belonging in the Summer 2022 NSF-funded Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program in a chemical engineering department at a large, Research 1 (R1) university. In addition to learning technical research skills through the REU program, REU administrators hoped to promote and assess a host of educational and psychosocial skills, including the interest and motivation for participating in undergraduate research, the likelihood of attending graduate school, engineering growth mindset, sense of belonging, and creative identity. To measure any potential changes in participants in these areas from before to after participating in the REU, evaluators conducted both pre- and post-surveys and individual interviews with the participants. With the mentioned host of learning outcomes associated with participating in the REU, there was a direct benefit of increased learning outcomes to those who participated in the REU. The sense of belonging (Belongingness) scale utilized in the post-survey was analyzed to determine how men and women identifying students experienced belongingness during the REU program. Belongingness was analyzed due to its close association to student retention and persistence, with a greater sense of belonging contributing to higher retention rates. This study assessed specifically women identifying students' experiences and used men students as a comparison group in the quantitative survey section only. The individual, qualitative interviews focused only on the women-identifying students' interview data. Results showed that women students experienced a lower rate of belongingness than their men student counterparts, based both on the Belongingness scale data and the coded interview data.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 25 2023
Event2023 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - The Harbor of Engineering: Education for 130 Years, ASEE 2023 - Baltimore, United States
Duration: Jun 25 2023Jun 28 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Engineering

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