The Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 1 - 65

Professional Identities in Living-Learning Communities

Gardner, 1996, p. 84). Components of collective identity include race, gender, and occupation/profession. Within this collective view,
professional identities are self-assigned based
on social constructions and interactions with
others (LaPointe, 2010). With the determination that professional identity is a construct
of collective identity, professional identity and
engineering identity can be explored in relation to student development and success in the
form of retention.
Definitions of identity in its broadest terms
are somewhat similar across the fields of engineering education, student development,
and higher education, though the definition of
professional identity varies among these fields.
Gecas and Burke (1995) described professional
identity as a form of personal identity, defined
as " the various meanings attached to oneself
by self and others " (p. 42). Similarly, identity
can be defined as knowledge, emotions, abilities, and experiences that are organized around
a social role (Giddens, 1991), with professional
identity following a similar principle but organized around a professional role rather than a
social one. Eliot and Turns (2011) defined professional identity as " a negotiation between the
social expectations related to a specific professional role and the needs, wants, and aptitude
of the individual engaging in that role " (p. 47).
Brubaker and Cooper (2000) stated that identity can be understood as a core aspect of
individual or collective association; it is " something deep, basic, abiding, or foundational, " as
opposed to being " superficial, accidental, fleeting, or contingent " and thus is " understood as
something to be valued, cultivated, supported,
recognized, and preserved " (p. 7).
Further discussions regarding professional

Since the failure to have a strong
identification with the field can
affect retention, it is important
to determine how engineering
identity can be used to augment
the recruitment and retention of
engineering students, particularly in
groups that traditionally have been
underrepresented.

identity have elucidated that it is " a negotiation between the social expectations related
to a specific professional role and the needs,
wants, and aptitude of the individual engaging in that role " (Eliot & Turns, 2011, p. 47).
Although identity has a variety of uses, when
thinking collectively it is used to focus on selfunderstanding rather than self-interest and to
highlight the " processual, interactive development of the kind of collective self-understanding, solidarity, or 'groupness' that can make
collective action possible " (Brubaker & Cooper,
2000, p. 7).
Although identity has been widely explored
in the literature, the application of identity
theories to engineering education is still relatively narrow and underdeveloped (Patrick &
Borrego, 2016). Though discussions of identity theories within engineering began almost
two decades ago (Stevens et al., 2005) and engineering identity has become a contemporary
topic for engineering educators, its connection
and epistemological roots within professional

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