Skip to main content

An Exploration of Perceptions of Justice in a Career-Forward Undergraduate Chemistry Laboratory Course

Abstract

Persistence in academic and career settings is a major issue for students enrolled in science and engineering programs, particularly those who identify as female or as members of certain underrepresented ethnic minorities (URM). This exploratory study determined the degree to which organizational justice has explanatory power in complimenting the Mediation Model of Research Experiences (MMRE) in a career-forward laboratory curriculum context. A career-forward approach to curriculum targets persistence by basing the student experience on the content, context, and practices of the targeted career field in developmentally appropriate ways. Participants were 157 undergraduate students taking General Chemistry Laboratory for Engineering Majors. Confirmatory factor analysis of survey responses indicated an acceptable fit for the established four-factor model of organizational justice (χ2(164, n = 157) = 378.447, p = 0.000, IFI = 0.935, CFI = 0.934, NFI = 0.891 RMSEA = 0.092). Bivariate correlations among variables from the two frameworks show that the experience of URM students is different than that of their non-URM peers. Notably, identity as an engineer was more strongly correlated to aspects of organizational justice, and justice played a role in students’ views on teamwork. This supports a prior hypothesis that the negative relationship between teamwork self-efficacy and commitment to an engineering career for URM participants may be related to issues of marginalization within their groups. Evaluation of a combined MMRE organizational justice model with future studies is merited, especially for contexts involving the use of teamwork and/or student collaboration.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5

Data availability

The datasets generated during and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Code availability

Not applicable.

References

  • Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), 2019. Criteria for accreditation of engineering programs. [Online]. Baltimore: Engineering Accreditation Commission. Available from: http://www.abet.org/ [accessed June 2021]

  • Amelink, C. T., & Creamer, E. G. (2010). Gender differences in elements of the undergraduate experience that influence satisfaction with the engineering major and the intent to pursue engineering as a career. Journal of Engineering Education, 99(1), 81–92.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Appel, M., Kronberger, N., & Aronson, J. (2011). Stereotype threat impairs ability building: Effects on test preparation among women in science and technology. European Journal of Social Psychology, 41(7), 904–913.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Balakrishnan, B., & Low, F. S. (2016). Learning experience and socio-cultural influences on female engineering students’ perspectives on engineering courses and careers. Minerva, 54(2), 219–239.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Barrows, H. (2002). Is it Truly Possible to Have Such a Thing as dPBL? Distance Education, 23(1), 119–122. https://doi.org/10.1080/01587910220124026

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Beasley, M. A., & Fischer, M. J. (2012). Why they leave: The impact of stereotype threat on the attrition of women and minorities from science, math and engineering majors. Social Psychology of Education, 15(4), 427–448.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Beier, M. E., Kim, M. H., Saterbak, A., Leautaud, V., Bishnoi, S., & Gilberto, J. M. (2018). The effect of authentic project-based learning on attitudes and career aspirations in STEM. Journal of Research in Science Teaching. https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.21465

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bentler, P. M. (1992). On the fit of models to covariances and methodology to the Bulletin. Psychological Bulletin, 112, 400–404.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Borrego, M., Knight, D. B., Gibbs, K., & Crede, E. (2018). Pursuing graduate study: Factors underlying undergraduate engineering students’ decisions. Journal of Engineering Education, 107(1), 140–163. https://doi.org/10.1002/jee.20185

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Borrego, M., Karlin, J., McNair, L. D., & Beddoes, K. (2013). Team Effectiveness Theory from Industrial and Organizational Psychology Applied to Engineering Student Project Teams: A Research Review. Journal of Engineering Education, 102(4), 472–512. https://doi.org/10.1002/jee.20023

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Campbell, M. J., & Swinscow, T. D. V. (2011). Statistics at square one. John Wiley & Sons.

    Google Scholar 

  • Chemers, M. M., Zurbriggen, E. L., Syed, M., Goza, B. K., & Bearman, S. (2011). The role of efficacy and identity in science career commitment among underrepresented minority students. Journal of Social Issues, 67(3), 469–491.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Chen, S., Binning, K. R., Manke, K. J., Brady, S. T., McGreevy, E. M., Betancur, L., Limeri, L. B., & Kaufmann, N. (2021). Am I a science person? A strong science identity bolsters minority students’ sense of belonging and performance in college. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 47(4), 593–606. https://doi.org/10.1177/0146167220936480

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Colquitt, J. A. (2001). On the dimensionality of organizational justice: A construct validation of a measure. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(3), 386.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Colquitt, J. A., Greenberg, J., & Zapata-Phelan, C. P. (2005). What is organizational justice? A historical overview. In J. Greenberg & J. A. Colquitt (Eds.), Handbook of organizational justice (pp. 3–56). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cooper, M. M., Cox, C. T., Nammouz, M., Case, E., & Stevens, R. (2008). An Assessment of the Effect of Collaborative Groups on Students’ Problem-Solving Strategies and Abilities. Journal of Chemical Education, 85(6), 866. https://doi.org/10.1021/ed085p866

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Crippen, K. J., & Imperial, L., & Wu, C., & Korolev, M., & Brucat, P. J., & Payne, C. (2018), General Chemistry Laboratory as Situated Engineering Design Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Salt Lake City, Utah. https://doi.org/10.18260/1-2--29965

  • Drane, D., Micari, M., & Light, G. (2014). Students as teachers: Effectiveness of a peer-led STEM learning programme over 10 years. Educational Research and Evaluation, 20(3), 210–230. https://doi.org/10.1080/13803611.2014.895388

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Enoksen, E. (2015). Examining the dimensionality of Colquitt’s Organizational Justice Scale in a public health sector context. Psychological Reports, 116(3), 723–737.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Gasiewski, J. A., Eagan, M. K., Garcia, G. A., Hurtado, S., & Chang, M. J. (2012). From gatekeeping to engagement: A multicontextual, mixed method study of student academic engagement in introductory STEM courses. Research in Higher Education, 53(2), 229–261. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-011-9247-y

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Graham, H. E. (2009). Organizational Justice And Stress: An Investigation [Doctoral dissertation, University of Texas at Arlington]. https://rc.library.uta.edu/uta-ir/handle/10106/1692. Accessed 24 Oct 2021.

  • Greenberg, J. (1987). A taxonomy of organizational justice theories. Academy of Management Review, 12(1), 9–22.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Greenberg, J. (1993). The social side of fairness: Interpersonal and informational classes of organizational justice. Justice in the workplace: Approaching fairness in human resource management. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Google Scholar 

  • Harris, R. B., Mack, M. R., Bryant, J., Theobald, E. J., & Freeman, S. (2020). Reducing achievement gaps in undergraduate general chemistry could lift underrepresented students into a “hyperpersistent zone.” Science Advances, 6(24), eaaz5687. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.aaz5687

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hmelo-Silver, C. E., & Barrows, H. S. (2008). Facilitating collaborative knowledge building. Cognition and Instruction, 26(1), 48–94.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Holmes, V.-L., & Hwang, Y. (2016). Exploring the effects of project-based learning in secondary mathematics education. The Journal of Educational Research, 109(5), 449–463. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220671.2014.979911

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Hunter, A. B. (2019). Why Undergraduates Leave STEM Majors: Changes Over the Last Two Decades. In E. Seymour & A. B. Hunter (Eds.), Talking about Leaving Revisited: Persistence, Relocation, and Loss in Undergraduate STEM Education (1st., pp. 87–114). Springer.

  • Jones, R. W. (2006). Problem-based learning: Description, advantages, disadvantages, scenarios and facilitation. Anaesthesia and Intensive Care, 34(4), 485–488. https://doi.org/10.1177/0310057X0603400417

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Jones, B. D., Ruff, C., & Paretti, M. C. (2013). The impact of engineering identification and stereotypes on undergraduate women’s achievement and persistence in engineering. Social Psychology of Education, 16(3), 471–493.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kline, R. B. (2015). Principles and practice of structural equation modeling. Guilford publications.

  • Leventhal, G. S. (1980). What Should Be Done with Equity Theory? In K. J. Gergen, M. S. Greenberg, & R. H. Willis (Eds.), Social Exchange (pp. 27–55). Springer US. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4613-3087-5_2

  • Lichtenstein, G., Chen, H. L., Smith, K. A., & Maldonado, T. A. (2015). Retention and persistence of women and minorities along the engineering pathway in the United States. In Cambridge Handbook of Engineering Education Research (pp. 311–334): Cambridge University Press.

  • Linnenbrink-Garcia, L., Perez, T., Barger, M. M., Wormington, S. V., Godin, E., Snyder, K. E., Robinson, K., Sarkar, A., Richman, L. S., & Schwartz-Bloom, R. (2018). Repairing the leaky pipeline: A motivationally supportive intervention to enhance persistence in undergraduate science pathways. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 53, 181–195. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2018.03.001

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • MacCallum, R. C., Browne, M. W., & Sugawara, H. M. (1996). Power analysis and determination of sample size for covariance structure modeling. Psychological Methods, 1(2), 130–149. https://doi.org/10.1037/1082-989X.1.2.130

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Marra, R. M., Rodgers, K. A., Shen, D., & Bogue, B. (2012). Leaving Engineering: A Multi-Year Single Institution Study. Journal of Engineering Education, 101(1), 6–27. https://doi.org/10.1002/j.2168-9830.2012.tb00039.x

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Martinson, B. C., Anderson, M. S., Crain, A. L., & De Vries, R. (2006). Scientists’ perceptions of organizational justice and self-reported misbehaviors. Journal of Empirical Research on Human Research Ethics, 1(1), 51–66.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Meadows, L. A., Sekaquaptewa, D., & Paretti, M. C. (2015). Interactive panel: Improving the experiences of marginalized students on engineering design teams. Paper presented at the ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition: Excellence in Education.

  • Moore, T., Diefes-Dux, H., & Imbrie, P. K. (2005). Developing First-Year Students’ Perceptions of the Engineering Profession through Realistic, Client-Driven Problems. Proceedings Frontiers in Education 35th Annual Conference, S2E-25-S2E-31. https://doi.org/10.1109/FIE.2005.1612228

  • National Academy of Engineering [NAE]. (2008). Grand Challenges - 14 Grand Challenges for Engineering. http://www.Engineeringchallenges.Org. [accessed July 2021]

  • Pajares, F. (1996). self-efficacy Beliefs in Academic Settings. Review of Educational Research, 66(4), 543–578. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543066004543

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Payne, C. A., Crippen, K. J., Bolch, C. A., & Imperial, L. (2021). Assessing Relationships Between Persistence Variables in Chemistry Laboratories For Traditionally Underrepresented Students Majoring In Engineering. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) International Conference, Virtual.

  • Perez, T., Cromley, J. G., & Kaplan, A. (2014). The role of identity development, values, and costs in college STEM retention. Journal of Educational Psychology, 106(1), 315–329. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0034027

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Perez, T., Wormington, S. V., Barger, M. M., Schwartz-Bloom, R. D., Lee, Y.-K., & Linnenbrink-Garcia, L. (2019). Science expectancy, value, and cost profiles and their proximal and distal relations to undergraduate science, technology, engineering, and math persistence. Science Education, 103(2), 264–286. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.21490

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Robnett, R. D., Chemers, M. M., & Zurbriggen, E. L. (2015). Longitudinal associations among undergraduates’ research experience, self-efficacy, and identity. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 52(6), 847–867. https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.21221

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Seymour, E., & Hewitt, N. M. (1997). Talking About Leaving: Why Undergraduates Leave The Sciences. Westview Press.

  • Springer, L., Stanne, M. E., & Donovan, S. S. (1999). Effects of Small-Group Learning on Undergraduates in Science, Mathematics, Engineering, and Technology: A Meta-Analysis. Review of Educational Research, 69(1), 21–51. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543069001021

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Steele, C. M. (1997). A threat in the air: How stereotypes shape intellectual identity and performance. American Psychologist, 52(6), 613.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Syed, M., Zurbriggen, E. L., Chemers, M. M., Goza, B. K., Bearman, S., Crosby, F. J., Shaw, J. M., Hunter, L., & Morgan, E. M. (2019). The Role of Self-Efficacy and Identity in Mediating the Effects of STEM Support Experiences. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy:ASAP, 19(1), 7–49. https://doi.org/10.1111/asap.12170

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Thibault, J. W., & Walker, L. (1975). Procedural justice: A psychological analysis: L. Erlbaum Associates.

  • Trede, F., Macklin, R., & Bridges, D. (2012). Professional identity development: A review of the higher education literature. Studies in Higher Education, 37(3), 365–384. https://doi.org/10.1080/03075079.2010.521237

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wang, Q., & Yao, Y. (2011). The impact of cultural differences on applicants' perceived fairness. In 2011 International Conference on Management and Service Science (pp. 1–6). IEEE.

  • Wuchty, S., Jones, B. F., & Uzzi, B. (2007). The increasing dominance of teams in production of knowledge. Science, 316(5827), 1036–1039. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1136099

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Funding

This material is based upon work supported by the U. S. National Science Foundation (NSF) under Grant No. (1625378). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kent J. Crippen.

Ethics declarations

Issues related to Journal policies

All authors certify that we do not have or anticipate any issues with the Journal’s policies.

Consent for submission

All authors approve the manuscript for submission.

Originality of submission

The authors confirm that the content of the manuscript has not been published, or submitted for publication elsewhere.

Special Issue

This manuscript is not being submitted for consideration for a special issue.

Ethics Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The study was approved by the University of Florida Institutional Review Board (IRB201600944).

Consent to Participate

Participants provided informed consent to participate.

Conflict of Interest

All authors certify that they have no affiliations with or involvement in any organization or entity with any financial interest or non-financial interest in the subject matter or materials discussed in this manuscript.

Additional information

Why this Manuscript Should be Published in the Journal for STEM Education Research .

This original research adds to our understanding of the effect of a career-forward laboratory curriculum on long-term career commitment in college-level laboratory courses, particularly for those who identify as female and from underrepresented ethnic minorities. Aside from answering the research questions, this study has broad impact for the type of laboratory interventions that are designed to target this issue. We believe that this topic is an excellent fit for the Journal as it represents interdisciplinary empirical research in a manner that furthers the potential for understanding STEM education as an inclusive and equitable endeavor.

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Payne, C., Crippen, K.J. & Imperial, L. An Exploration of Perceptions of Justice in a Career-Forward Undergraduate Chemistry Laboratory Course. Journal for STEM Educ Res 5, 102–125 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41979-021-00063-1

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s41979-021-00063-1

Keywords

  • PBL
  • Chemistry
  • Justice
  • Persistence
  • Undergraduate
  • Engineering