For our AHS Capstone Project, we wrote two debates to highlight the different perspectives on the US/Mexico immigration issue and its impact on the agricultural industry. We also created a digital story which introduces the topic. These both draw on economics and human rights perspectives.
Immigrants come to the United States for a reason most often referred to in the United States as “chasing the American Dream”. In pursuit of a better life and success that may not have been available to them in their home countries, immigrant youth are faced with the challenges of becoming accustomed to a new culture, transitioning to a new education system, changing themselves to pursue their dream in a new environment, and dealing with the obstacles that being a Latino in a predominantly‐white society brings: language difficulty, discrimination, and values differences between the American and Latino cultures. As their personal survival and success depends on them acculturating to this new way of life, these immigrants are often conflicted as to how they actually identify themselves culturally, and they are faced with the difficult decision of choosing between loyalty to their home country, acceptance in the broad Latino community, or adopting the American lifestyle and identity.
Records from the Multiple-Institution Database for Investigating Engineering Longitudinal Development indicate that engineering students are typical of students in other majors with respect to: persistence in major; persistence by gender and ethnicity; racial/ethnic distribution; and grade distribution. Data from the National Survey of Student Engagement show that this similarity extends to engagement outcomes including course challenge, faculty interaction, satisfaction with institution, and overall satisfaction. Engineering differs from other majors most notably by a dearth of female students and a low rate of migration into the major. Noting the similarity of students of engineering and other majors with respect to persistence and engagement, we propose that engagement is a precursor to persistence. We explore this hypothesis using data from the Academic Pathways Study of the Center for the Advancement of Engineering Education. Further exploration reveals that although persistence and engagement do not vary as much as expected by discipline, there is significant institutional variation, and we assert a need to address persistence and engagement at the institutional level and throughout higher education. Finally, our findings highlight the potential of making the study of engineering more attractive to qualified students. Our findings suggest that a two-pronged approach holds the greatest potential for increasing the number of students graduating with engineering degrees: identify programming that retains the students who come to college committed to an engineering major, and develop programming and policies that allow other students to migrate in. There is already considerable discourse on persistence, so our findings suggest that more research focus is needed on the pathways into engineering, including pathways from other majors.