Kim, S., Kaczmarczyk, L., Rivera, J., & Gates, A. Q. (2023, October). Noncognitive and Affective Attributes of Caregivers Enrolled in Engineering and Computing Programs. In 2023 IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), College Station, TX, USA, 2023, pp. 1-8, doi: 10.1109/FIE58773.2023.10343004.

Historically, student caregivers have been described as parents over the age of 25. However, the role of a caregiver may extend beyond a parental responsibility to include caring for other family members and may include students who are of “traditional college age.” Failing to acknowledge and provide appropriate support for student caregivers can be particularly problematic for students in engineering and computing. Engineering and Computing programs often require extensive work that must be completed outside of class. Meeting these demands is particularly challenging for students with caregiving responsibilities. However, there are significant gaps in our understanding of college experiences and college outcomes of student caregivers enrolled in engineering and computing programs. To understand the experiences of undergraduate student caregivers in engineering and computing fields, this study explored the differences in non-cognitive and affective factors between students who have caregiving responsibilities and those who do not have responsibilities during college. We particularly focused on student caregivers in the College of Engineering at an R1 Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI). The context of HSIs is important given that these institutions enroll a large number of post-traditional college students, students who have significant life responsibilities that are often at odds with the demands of college. Additionally, this study incorporates a Hispanic-servingness approach, a framework centered on institutions acknowledging the realities and needs of the students they serve. Using data from a single institution, we asked the following research question: To what extent are caregiving responsibilities related to undergraduate engineering and computing students’ non-cognitive and affective factors? Our findings indicate that the experiences of students with caregiving responsibilities differ on five non-cognitive and affective factors: open-mindedness, engineering/computer science identity, help-seeking, motivation, and time management. Taken together, these findings draw attention to the importance of universities taking a holistic approach to developing student support services for Engineering/Computing student caregivers.

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