More will soon be known about neurodiversity in engineering students, thanks to funding from the National Science Foundation and the efforts of Utah State University College of Engineering Assistant Professor Marissa Tsugawa.
Tsugawa, along with collaborators from USU and Minnesota State University, received $373,508 in funding for their research in identifying emancipatory language and capturing neurodivergent narratives. “The term neurodivergent refers to a person with a brain that functions significantly different from the societal norm, such as someone with ADHD or autism,” Tsugawa said. “The term is used to celebrate, rather than medicalize, such differences.”
The purpose of this project is to learn and adopt emancipatory language used to describe neurodivergent experiences and perspectives to improve accessibility to engineering programs.
“Receiving this funding will greatly benefit my research in neurodiversity and engineering identity,” Tsugawa said. “I am grateful for NSF and my co-investigators who will help make this project a success.”
Tsugawa’s research, coined “& Research,” aspires to create and support inclusive and accessible STEM education environments through methodological activism. The main theme in their research is exploring people and the identities they hold. Tsugawa conducts engineering education research using intersectionality as a guide to design and approach research.
The project will employ a two-stage, mixed-methods design that leverages social media, machine learning, and narrative inquiry. In the first year, neurodivergent content posted on social media platforms will be mined and analyzed using natural language processing to identify common topics associated with being neurodivergent. Topics will then be categorized as strengths or challenges to provide a working definition in engineering contexts.
The next two years will consist of generating both cross-sectional and longitudinal narratives of neurodivergent engineering students. Narratives will be generated from interviews with students and shared via social media and on the college’s website. As the project progresses, research findings and updates will be posted on the research team’s social media pages and websites.
More information about Tsugawa’s research can be found at ampersand-research.com.
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College of Engineering
TOPICSResearch 814stories Engineering 316stories Diversity & Inclusion 211stories STEM 112stories Mental Health 75stories Access 47stories
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