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A Survey Of Teaching Styles And Classroom Techniques To Engage African American Students In The Engineering Classroom

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Research Infrastructure in STEM Disciplines

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.139.1 - 12.139.14



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Paper Authors

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Carlotta Berry Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Cordelia Brown Purdue University

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Ingrid St. Omer University of Kentucky

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Stephanie Adams University of Nebraska-Lincoln

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Michael Smith National Society of Black Engineers

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

A survey of teaching styles and classroom techniques to engage African American students in the engineering classroom The purpose of this study will be to present the first phase of a long term study in the evaluation of preferred teaching styles and classroom techniques for African American engineering students. It is hypothesized that the identification and implementation of these preferences may lead to an increase in the retention of African American students in engineering by better engaging them in the classroom and learning process. While the topic of retention of underrepresented populations in science, math, and engineering has received a fair amount of coverage, there is not much on learning styles and classroom techniques. Much of the literature addresses methods to improve the retention and graduation numbers (i.e. university commitment, academic support, minority engineering scholarships, societies, and programs), but little exists on methods that can be implemented in the classroom.

This paper will present a survey and analysis of data collected from graduate and undergraduate students via the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) online membership portal. The NSBE membership includes approximately 10,000 collegiate students, 3,500 pre-college students and 4,500 technical professionals. The large number and diverse set of students who access NSBE Online (NOL) provides an opportunity to gain insight into the preferences of the African American engineering student. The survey contained ten (10) questions concerning the students’ learning preferences and classroom techniques such as team projects, pop quizzes, individual questioning, and active learning activities.

The data collected from this body of students will be compared to the published literature on the retention of minority engineering students to identify any commonalities, contradictions and opportunities for improvement. The data will also be analyzed using demographic information (university type, classification, age, race, gender, and major) in order to determine whether there is any statistically significant difference or correlation in preferences based upon these factors.

Recommendations will be made to the engineering community for teaching the graduate and undergraduate minority engineer, as well as to direct future research in this area.

Introduction This paper will summarize a pilot study conducted in conjunction with the National Society of Black Engineers to identify the learning preferences of African American graduate and undergraduate students in engineering. The motivation for this work stems from the fact that there is much published literature on the importance of recruiting and retaining underrepresented populations in engineering, but not much on the learning preferences of these populations in the engineering classroom. There have been books written on why students leave engineering or switch majors but none of it focuses solely on the classroom experience of African American students. Figure 1 demonstrates that there is a serious decline in the enrollment of African American students in undergraduate engineering1. The importance of this study is based upon the hypothesis that if the learning preferences and successful classroom techniques can be identified for these populations, then it may be possible to retain a higher number of African American students in the STEM field by designing courses to improve their

Berry, C., & Brown, C., & St. Omer, I., & Adams, S., & Smith, M. (2007, June), A Survey Of Teaching Styles And Classroom Techniques To Engage African American Students In The Engineering Classroom Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2848

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