Photovoice: Visualizing the Experiences and Assets of Engineering Students




Degree completion of engineering students is a national concern, and research points to the first few years as points of departure. We used photovoice, participatory action-based research to illuminate the experiences of sophomore-level engineering students. Using thematic analysis and assets-based Community Cultural Wealth as our framework, we developed two themes: #relax, relate, release, and leaning into social networks. Photovoice is a promising method that empowered students to use resiliency to navigate their educational trajectories.

Author Biographies

Abdulmaliq Abdulsalam

Abdulmaliq Abdulsalam is a doctoral student in chemical engineering at the University of Houston. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemical engineering. He is a two-term teaching assistant for the Chemical Processes course for second-year chemical engineering students. He is interested in exploring learning mechanisms and methods to support students to persist and succeed in engineering education. He also researches phase behavior and structure-property relationships in polymer blends and composites.

Brian McGowan, American University

Brian McGowan, PhD, is a Provost Associate Professor of Education and Associate Director in the Center for Teaching, Research, & Learning at American University. His research examines Black college men’s experiences navigating postsecondary environments and Black faculty experiences in the classroom. He is a co-principal investigator of a $1.3 million National Science Foundation award, “Examining Blackness in Postsecondary STEM education through a multidimensional-multiplicative lens,” and is the research lead for the Mid-Atlantic region.

Kristin L. Schaefer

Kristin L. Schaefer, PE, is pursuing her mechanical engineering doctorate at the University of Houston with research interests in STEM education. She earned her BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering from Texas A&M University. Her Texas teacher certification enables her to teach about design, engineering, and manufacturing to students of all ages in various places with a broad spectrum of learning preferences: from preschool to senior mechanical engineering undergraduates.

Joan Wawire

Joan Wawire earned her bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering at the University of Houston. As an undergraduate research assistant in the Henderson Research Group, she worked on research projects involving visualizing student engineering identities using photovoice.

Jerrod A. Henderson, University of Houston

Jerrod A. Henderson, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Houston. His work focuses on the idiographic experiences of engineering and K-12 students and their families, with an emphasis on Black men in engineering. He is also the co-founder of St. Elmo Brady STEM Academy, an intervention aimed at introducing diverse students to engineering. He has been most recently recognized as a Black Engineer of the Year for college-level promotion of education.





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