Students' Perspective on the Purposes of Engineering Higher Education: A longitudinal qualitative case study of the U.S. and England

dc.contributor.authorAbdalla, Alaaen
dc.contributor.committeechairPitterson, Nicoleen
dc.contributor.committeememberAshwin, Paulen
dc.contributor.committeememberCase, Jennifer Margareten
dc.contributor.committeememberMurzi Escobar, Homero Gregorioen
dc.contributor.departmentEngineering Educationen
dc.date.accessioned2023-08-29T08:00:39Zen
dc.date.available2023-08-29T08:00:39Zen
dc.date.issued2023-08-28en
dc.description.abstractUniversity education across history and contexts aimed for a myriad of purposes, from the advancement of knowledge to educating citizens and contributing to the social good. With the rise of universities functioning in a market economy, and navigating higher education institutions' public role, some of the university purposes are constantly debated, and often without accounting for the students' perspectives. The purpose of this qualitative multi-case study is to explore the students' perspectives on the purpose of enrolling in a higher education institution and obtaining an engineering higher education degree. Each case is focused on a higher education institution, for a total of four institutions across the U.S. and England. The embedded units of analysis focus on twenty (20) undergraduate chemical engineering students' narratives from the time they enroll in those institutions to the time they graduate to answer the following two main research questions: RQ 1: What are the perspectives of undergraduate engineering students towards the purpose of higher education? RQ 2: How, if at all, do undergraduate engineering students' perspectives of the purpose of higher education change throughout their degree? The Capabilities Approach is used as the main theoretical framing. The framework is concerned with the question of what a person is able to do and be. It also provides a perspective on thinking about the purposes of education in terms of instrumental, intrinsic, and social values. Results show a variety of perspectives and reasons why students pursue an engineering degree, mainly expressed in terms of career-driven purposes and personal-driven purposes. Fulfilling being good at math and science, seeking a job for purposes beyond individualistic reasons, and personal growth were some of the common purposes mentioned by the students. In addition, more students than not maintained a fixed perspective throughout their undergraduate years. This research is set to address the problem of the neglect of the students' voices in the literature and to address the lack of research on longitudinal studies, higher education, and capabilities approach within the engineering education space.en
dc.description.abstractgeneralUniversity education across history and contexts aimed for a myriad of purposes, from the advancement of knowledge to educating citizens and contributing to the social good. With the rise of universities functioning in a market economy, and navigating the institutions' public role, some of the university purposes are constantly debated, and often without accounting for the students' perspectives. The purpose of this dissertation is to explore the students' perspectives on the purpose of enrolling in a higher education institution and obtaining an engineering higher education degree. I focused my study on four institutions across the U.S. and England. Within each institution, I interviewed undergraduate chemical engineering students from the time they started their degree till the time they graduated to answer the following main research question: RQ: What are the perspectives of undergraduate engineering students towards the purpose of higher education? To help position the study, I used the Capabilities Approach framework. The framework is concerned with the question of what a person is able to do and be. It also provides a perspective on thinking about the purposes of education in terms of different values including seeking knowledge for the sake of knowledge and helping in the community. Results show a variety of perspectives and reasons why students pursue an engineering degree. Fulfilling being good at math and science, seeking a job for purposes beyond individual reasons, and personal growth were some of the common purposes. In addition, more students than not maintained a fixed perspective on why they chose to enroll in university throughout their undergraduate years. This research is set to amplify students' voices and add to longitudinal research studies in the engineering education literature space.en
dc.description.degreeDoctor of Philosophyen
dc.format.mediumETDen
dc.identifier.othervt_gsexam:38240en
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10919/116149en
dc.language.isoenen
dc.publisherVirginia Techen
dc.rightsIn Copyrighten
dc.rights.urihttp://rightsstatements.org/vocab/InC/1.0/en
dc.subjectCapabilities approachen
dc.subjecthigher educationen
dc.subjectqualitative case studyen
dc.subjectlongitudinal engineering educationen
dc.titleStudents' Perspective on the Purposes of Engineering Higher Education: A longitudinal qualitative case study of the U.S. and Englanden
dc.typeDissertationen
thesis.degree.disciplineEngineering Educationen
thesis.degree.grantorVirginia Polytechnic Institute and State Universityen
thesis.degree.leveldoctoralen
thesis.degree.nameDoctor of Philosophyen

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