Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity

Current Research

Preparing Engineering Faculty to Make Academic Change Happen

This collaborative research project focuses on faculty change agents who are engaged in making change on their campuses through the NSF Revolutionizing Engineering Departments (RED) Program. There are six RED recipients in 2015, each composed of a team of individuals within an engineering or computer science department, and seven recipients in 2016. The grant recipients are disciplinary experts, but they have not been equipped with the knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA) that research suggests are essential for effective change management. The Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is providing the opportunity to learn and develop these skills through a customized change curriculum that will be delivered during the annual meetings of RED recipients along with monthly training calls. UW CERSE will follow the work of these agents, capturing their reflections on their efforts during focus group discussions, interviews, and observations. From qualitative data gathered during this EAGER and now RFE Project, we will develop rich case studies that highlight the KSAs required to promote change in STEM; these case studies will serve as models for faculty and administrators who wish to make significant change on their campuses.

Selected Publications

Margherio, C., E. Litzler, and K. Doten-Snitker. (2017). Developing a Shared Vision for Change: New Results from the Revolutionizing Engineering Departments Participatory Action Research. To be presented at the annual meeting the American Society for Engineering Education, Columbus, OH, June 2017.

Ingram, E., J. Williams, E. Litzler, and C. Margherio. (2017). Learning to Make Change by Revolutionizing Departments: Initial Team Experiences. To be presented at the annual meeting the American Society for Engineering Education, Columbus, OH, June 2017.

London, J., E. Berger, C. Margherio, E. Litzler, and J. Branstad. (2017). The RED Teams as Institutional Mentors: Advice from the First Year of the “Revolution”. To be presented at the annual meeting the American Society for Engineering Education, Columbus, OH, June 2017.

Litzler, E. and C. Margherio. (2016). Research Results on the Process of Beginning Academic Change. Presented at the 2016 WEPAN Change Leader Forum, Broomfield, CO, June 16, 2016.



Project to Assess Climate in Engineering (PACE)

PACE logoFunded primarily by The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation with a supplemental grant from The Engineering Information Foundation, the Project to Assess Climate in Engineering (PACE) was an eight year, multi-site mixed mode research and intervention project intended to identify issues that affect persistence rates among engineering undergraduates. While this grant is currently over, CERSE continues to work on manuscripts from this data. PACE is headquartered at the Center for Evaluation & Research for STEM Equity at the University of Washington and pays specific attention to the intersection of race, gender and academic experience. The PACE survey, which was designed and pre-tested to accurately measure undergraduate engineering climate (culture), was administered online in 2008 to students at all 22 PACE institutions and again in 2012 at 16 of the PACE institutions. The new 2012 survey results enable assessment of the change in climate at the PACE schools.   The survey included questions about their experiences in the classroom and the laboratory and also about their interactions with peers, professors, teaching assistants and administrators. In addition, the survey asks questions about challenges to work-life balance, academic self-confidence; future career plans and the roles students believe race, ethnicity and gender play in today’s engineering departments. Qualitative data was also collected through one-on-one interviews and focus groups with students. Schools received reports that summarized the survey results and offered benchmarking data for up to three peer institutions. Reports also integrated the quantitative and qualitative results and offered a list of recommendations to improve retention.

The goal of PACE is to identify and address university climate issues to improve retention for all undergraduate engineering students.

Selected Publications

Samuelson, C.C. & Litzler, E. (2016).  Community Cultural Wealth: An Assets-Based Approach to Persistence of Engineering Students of Color.  Journal of Engineering Education,105(1): 93-117.  DOI 10.1002/jee.20110

Litzler, E., Samuelson, C.C., & Lorah, J.A. (2014). Breaking it Down:  Engineering Student STEM Confidence at the Intersection of Race/Ethnicity and Gender. Research in Higher Education. DOI: 10.1007/s11162-014-9333-z

Young, J. & Litzler, E. (September, 2013). “Investigating the Factor Structure and Invariance of Transfer Student Adjustment to College using Confirmatory Factor Analysis.” Community College Journal of Research and Practice.

Litzler, E. & Young, J. (April, 2012) “Understanding the Risk of Attrition in Undergraduate Engineering: Results from the Project to Assess Climate in Engineering.” Journal of Engineering Education. 101(2): 319-345.

Litzler, E. (2011). “How do gender and race/ethnicity intersect to impact students’ perceptions of experiences in engineering?” The Global Marathon For, By and About Women in Engineering and Technology, March 7, 2011.

Litzler, E. (June, 2010). “Sex Segregation in Undergraduate Engineering Majors.” Dissertation, University of Washington. ISBN: 9781124227849.

Litzler, E., Jaros, S., Metz, S., & Brainard, S.G. (2010). “Gender and Race/Ethnicity in Engineering: Preliminary Findings from the Project to Assess Climate in Engineering.” 2010 ASEE Conference: Louisville, KY.

Metz, S., Brainard, S.G. & Litzler, E. (2010). “Extending Research into Practice: Results from the Project to Assess Climate in Engineering (PACE).” 2010 ASEE Conference: Louisville, KY.

Metz, S. and Litzler, E. (2010). “Retention of Undergraduate Engineering Students: Extending Research into Practice.” A panel discussion. 2010 WEPAN/NAMEPA Conference, Baltimore, MD.

Litzler, E. (2010). “PACE Findings and Discussion.” A presentation at the PACE Workshop on Organizational Transformation, hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, March 17-18, 2010.