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Daytona Beach


Engineering Fundamentals

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In high-demand fields like science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), more success strategies are needed to effectively recruit and retain college students. One-size fits-all approaches (i.e., those that are supposed to work for all students) often neglect the unique needs of underrepresented populations. Although some strategies exist for helping minority students succeed in STEM, the present investigation uncovered detailed information about how Black male students in engineering and engineering-related fields develop important academic traits such as confidence and resilience. To add to the limited body of literature on Black males in STEM, interview data from 27 Black male students majoring in engineering or engineering-related fields were analyzed through the lens of Strayhorn’s ‘buoyant believers’ framework. The framework offers practitioners, faculty, and staff – who work with minority engineering students – guidance for addressing challenges students face and creating pathways for their success. Based on the model, individuals can be described across four typologies as: (a) students who are confident and resilient, (b) students who are confident but lack resilience, (c) students who lack confidence but exhibit resilience, and (d) students who are neither resilient nor confident. The present study focuses solely on the narratives of students who are “buoyant believers.” Specific attention was given to the pre-college and in-college experiences of Black males in engineering and engineering-related fields in order to better identify potential sources of their current confidence and resilience. Findings revealed that research participants’ current confidence and resilience seem to be connected to attributes such as a) childhood adversity, b) a refusal to quit, and c) prior academic success, which ultimately led to their collegiate achievements.


Kansas City, MO

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