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Returning students in engineering education : making a case for “experience capital”

conference contribution
posted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by M Strutz, J Cawthorne, D Ferguson, M Carnes, Matthew OhlandMatthew Ohland
Using an emancipatory theoretical framework, this exploratory qualitative study captures the perceptions of professional non-traditional students with several years of experience in one or more disciplines returning for a doctoral degree in engineering education. This study addresses the research question: how do professional non-traditional students engage with a doctoral program? Participants were selected using criterion sampling from a single doctoral program and they were interviewed. These professional non-traditional students described the experiences they bring to the doctoral program and reactions to those experiences from their academic colleagues. Open coding is used to identify common themes. The results of this study are that professional non-traditional students (1) come with a more developed habitus and substantial capital, which (2) prepare them well for the program, and (3) significantly affects their engagement during their PhD program. These results position the participants‘ experiences at the partial union of their human, cultural, economic, and symbolic capitals. The participant‘s capital developed and accumulated from their professional work and life experiences is what we call 'experience capital. '


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Vancouver, B.C, USA.


American Society for Engineering Education

Place of Publication

Washington DC

Peer Reviewed

  • Yes

Open Access

  • No

External Author Affiliations

Conference; Not affiliated to a Research Institute; Purdue University;

Era Eligible

  • Yes

Name of Conference

American Society for Engineering Education. Conference