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A Study Examining Change In Underrepresented Student Views Of Engineering As A Result Of Working With Engineers In The Elementary Classroom

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Measuring Perceptions of Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.92.1 - 10.92.14



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Paper Authors

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Stephen Thompson

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Jed Lyons

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A Study Examining Change in Underrepresented Student Views of Engineering as a Result of Working with Engineers in the Elementary Classroom Stephen Thompson and Jed Lyons University of South Carolina Columbia, SC 29208

Abstract This paper describes the results of a National Science Foundation sponsored Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education project that was designed to increase elementary students’ understanding of engineering, with an ultimate goal of increasing the probability of future involvement in engineering fields. This project, partnered graduate level engineering students called Engineering Fellows with grades 3, 4, and 5 urban classroom teachers. The Engineering Fellows worked for 20 hours a week over an entire academic year as a resource for the teachers, with 10 of those hours spent in various teaching roles. To capture student perceptions of engineers and engineering, a pre and post “Draw-an-Engineer” instrument was administered to one hundred and ninety project students. Pre and post interviews that focused on student drawings and student understanding of engineering were also completed with a subset of students. In this paper, project schools with a majority of underrepresented minority students are compared to project schools that did not contain a majority of underrepresented minority students. This comparison focuses on changes in student drawings and interview data over time amongst both groups. This comparison includes a discussion of both groups in terms of their developing understanding of engineering processes, engineering tools, and engineering fields represented by the generic term “engineering”. Also included is a discussion of results in terms of implications for future policies and decision-making related to K-12 STEM education.

Introduction Despite efforts to increase student interest in engineering-related fields, the number of U.S. citizens choosing engineering related careers is declining [1]. At the same time, the number of foreign nationals traditionally used to fill voids in U.S. engineering fields is also being restricted [1]. Concurrently, the number of underrepresented U.S. minorities (defined as students whose representation in a given field does not closely match their representation among the general population) obtaining degrees in science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) disciplines has changed little in the past twenty years [2]. This lack of participation in engineering, science and other technological fields by such a large segment of the U.S. population is an issue of critical importance, especially in light of minority population growth projections and our country’s advancing reliance on technology. These issues arise at the same time that the importance of engineering related fields on national prosperity and security are becoming Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2005, American Society for Engineering Education

Thompson, S., & Lyons, J. (2005, June), A Study Examining Change In Underrepresented Student Views Of Engineering As A Result Of Working With Engineers In The Elementary Classroom Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--14995

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