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A Hierarchical Linear Modeling Approach to Understanding the Role of Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Status on Precollege Engineering Conceptions Research to Practice

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division: Diversity Issues in K-12 and Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


DeLean Tolbert Purdue University, West Lafayette

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DeLean Tolbert is an Engineering Education doctoral candidate at Purdue University. She earned a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan–Dearborn and a M.S. in Industrial Engineering from the University of Michigan. Through her dissertation, DeLean investigates the ways that Black boys develop Engineer of 2020 attributes in their precollege out-of-school time lived experiences. This work will serve as a foundation for her future research, through which she anticipates exploring how ethnically diverse students apply these attributes to engineering tasks in both formal and informal settings.

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Kerrie A Douglas Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Douglas is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Purdue School of Engineering Education. Her research is focused on methods of assessment and evaluation unique to engineering learning contexts.

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Traditional k-12 formal education includes state and federal mandated science and mathematics content. Most recently standards also include engineering content to support initiatives that. prepare more of the American population for the engineering challenges of the future. This study focused on an k-12 engineering education intervention. Potential interactions between student and school level factors and students’ pre-test achievement were explored using a multilevel modeling data analysis approach (i.e. investigating students within schools). Findings suggest that the statistically significant predictors of the students’ pre-test scores are school SES and ethnicity. The students who attended a school with a higher proportion of students on free and reduced lunch (FRL) – where FRL is used as a measure of socio-economic status– on average have lower scores than those who attend schools with a lower proportion of FRL receiving students. The second finding is that on average, African American and Hispanic students earn fewer points on the pre-test than do students belonging to other ethnic groups. The findings further suggest that family and community knowledge can influence student knowledge and test scores. As engineering education researchers and practitioner, we must apply these insights to the ways that we engage with diverse students and to the design of our curricula.

Tolbert, D., & Douglas, K. A. (2016, June), A Hierarchical Linear Modeling Approach to Understanding the Role of Ethnicity and Socioeconomic Status on Precollege Engineering Conceptions Research to Practice Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26333

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