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Daytona Beach


Engineering Fundamentals

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Conference Proceeding

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Strategies for improving student success are particularly important in high-demand fields like science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). As the U.S. experiences a decline in skilled STEM workers and a growing number of racial/ethnic minorities, it is critical that more attention be paid to the college success of underrepresented populations majoring in STEM. While some strategies for increasing STEM student success have focused on social-psychological factors such as academic self-efficacy and resilience, little attention has been given to these factors among specific minority groups in STEM such as Black men. To extend the current literature, interviews with 27 Black male collegians majoring in engineering or engineering-related fields were analyzed through the lens of the ‘buoyant believers’ framework. 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. Using the ‘buoyant believers’ framework, we highlight excerpts from interviews to depict students who fit in each category of the matrix. We describe the framework as a useful identification tool to assist college educators looking for clues when identifying strategies to build confident and resilient Black male students in engineering and engineering-related fields. This paper includes strategies related to mentoring, modeling, enrichment activities, and curriculum mastery recommended for the success of each respective student “type” that will prove useful to faculty, staff, and practitioners who work with Black male students in STEM.


Seattle, Washington

Additional Information

Dr. Long was not affiliated with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University at the time this paper was published.

An infographic was created to support this article and can be accessed here:

Required Publisher’s Statement

Long, L. L., III, Kitchen, J. A., & Henderson, T. S. (2015). black male "buoyant believers" in engineering and engineering-related fields. Proceedings from 2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Seattle, WA