The Journal of College & University Student Housing Vol. 47 No. 1 - 66

Samuel Wonson * Lori L. Moore * Pauline Wade * Dustin K. Grabsch *  Kasey Martinez * Andrea M. Ogilvie

identity literature are still not fully understood.
As reported by Meyers et al. (2012), firstyear students are 1.5 times less likely to identify as engineers than are sophomores, juniors,
and seniors collectively. This finding provides
insight regarding opportunities such as internships and co-ops that are more readily available to students with more experience in their
area of study. With this in mind, studies can
focus on investigating the engineering identities of advanced undergraduates (Patrick
& Borrego, 2016). Though there is no single
definition of what constitutes an engineering
identity, some researchers have posited that it
involves a complex equation with factors such
as " problem solving, teamwork, learning, and
personal contributions " (Anderson et al., 2010,
p. 170). By understanding the concept of engineering identity and the factors associated
with it, various theoretical frameworks used to
model identity can be applied to discern what
engineering identity really is and how it may
connect to persistence and retention.

THEORETICAL AND
CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORKS
Given all the external and internal forces that
influence an individual's sense of identity,
Identity Stage Theory (IST) appears to be the
most applicable to understand conceptualizations of professional and engineering identities. Originally introduced by Erikson (1963,
1993), this theory is a psychosocial perspective
on how identity can be viewed as stages based
on both individual and social identification.
IST focuses on the premise that " identity develops in stages as a function of reconciling the
inner individual and outer forces " (Patrick &
Borrego, 2016, p. 9). Therefore, both profes66

sional identities in general and engineering
identities in particular involve individual- and
social-level identification and can be conceptualized as stages that build upon each other as
identification increases for an individual.
Professional identity explores facets of
the individual and collective self. Specifically,
professional identity is " the self that has been
developed with the commitment to perform
competently and legitimately in the context
of the profession " (Tan et al., 2016, p. 2). Professional identity develops through interactions with colleagues and external regulations,
shaping the way an individual carries out
the duties of their role (Holland et al., 2001;
Monrouxe, 2010). As a result, this development is shared among other professionals in
the same role and continually guides individuals throughout their careers. An individual
with a high level of professional identity has a
strong connection to their role and the values
within their chosen career and therefore find
their work meaningful (Tan et al., 2016). Additionally, professional identity tends to be
fluid and varies according to different contexts
(Evans et al., 2009), contributing to an individual's lifelong career development (Holland et
al., 2001). Because individuals seek out higher
education as a form of career preparation, education can be considered a stage within their
identity formation. For this reason, IST again
provides a solid theoretical basis for understanding the professional identity of students.
Engineering identity can be viewed from
a developmental psychology perspective that
" theorize[s] identity as a set of variables or
factors " that contribute to success in engineering (Tonso, 2014, p. 273). Researchers have
focused on whether students see themselves

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

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