Focus on Methods: Developing Stories for an Ecological Belonging Intervention in Engineering

Linda DeAngelo
Associate Professor
University of Pittsburgh

Our grant – Course-based Adaptations of an Ecological Belonging Intervention to Transform Engineering Representation at Scale” uses an ecological belonging intervention approach that requires one-class or one-recitation/discussion session to implement and has been shown to erase long-standing equity gaps in achievement in introductory STEM courses. However, given the wide social and cultural heterogeneity across US university contexts (e.g., differences in regional demographics, history, political climates), it is an open question if and how the intervention may scale. This project brings together an interdisciplinary team across three strategically selected universities to design, test, and iteratively improve an approach to systematically identify which first and second year courses would most benefit from the intervention, reveal student concerns that may be specific to that course, adapt the intervention to address those concerns, and evaluate the universality versus specificity of the intervention across university contexts. This systematic approach also includes persuasion and training processes for onboarding the instructors of the targeted courses. The instructor onboarding and the intervention adaptation processes are guided by a theory-of-action that is the backbone of the project’s research activities and iterative process improvement. A synergistic mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods is used throughout the study.In this poster, we describe our theoretical framing of this ecological belonging intervention and the current efforts of the project in developing customized student stories for the intervention. We have conducted focus groups across each of the partner institutions (University of Pittsburgh, Purdue University, and University of California Irvine). We describe the process of developing these contextually relevant stories and the lessons learned about how this ecological belonging intervention can be translated across institutional contexts and for various STEM majors and systemically minoritized populations. The results of this work can provide actionable strategies for reducing equity gaps in students’ degree attainment and achievement in engineering.


Allison Godwin, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN; Kevin Binning, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Natascha Buswell, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA; Erica McGreevy, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Christian Schunn, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Ketura Elie, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Kevin Kaufman-Ortiz, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN; Jacqueline Rhode, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN; Beverly Conrique, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Carly Cooper, University of Georgia, Athens, GA; Audrika Khondaker, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; Zaoying Cheery Ji, University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA; Danielle Lewis, University of Buffalo, Buffalo, NY; Kelly Tatone, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA