The purpose of this study is to describe female students’ experiences in an engineering living-learning program using metaphorical analysis through a constructivist theoretical perspective. Extant literature uses metaphors from a negative viewpoint or a deficit model to describe the experiences of female undergraduates in engineering; however, new metaphors have not been used to describe the experience. This study aims to fill existing gaps in LLP literature using qualitative methods. Data from 13 semi-structured individual interviews (7 initial interviews and 6 follow-up interviews) serve as the primary data source. After conducting metaphorical analysis, I found five interpretive metaphors emerging: LLP as a Starting Point, LLP as a Neighborhood, Engineering Classes as Challenges, Different as Normal, and Female Engineers as a Support System. Two significant findings were found: advantage-based metaphors are used to provide a positive description of women in engineering and metaphorical analysis is an appropriate method for conducting research under the constructivist theoretical perspective.


Constuctivism, Engineering Students, Higher Education, Living Learning Programs, Metaphorical Analysis, Residence Halls, STEM Education, Women

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Cliff Haynes is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Higher Education Administration/Student Personnel in Higher Education at the University of Florida. He teaches courses related to student affairs administration, student development theory, and qualitative research methods. His research agenda focuses on student learning outside of the classroom, including living-learning programs, the graduate student experience, and community college student affairs. He may be contacted at University of Florida, College of Education, School of Human Development & Organizational Studies in Education, PO Box 117049, Gainesville, FL 32611. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: cliffh@coe.ufl.edu.


The author recognizes the University of Florida Division of Student Affairs James E. Scott fellowship, which aided in providing funds for research materials and travel to conferences for additional training on qualitative methods.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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