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An Evaluation on Engineering Identity of K-12 Youth Using the Engineering Ambassador Network (Evaluation)

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Program Evaluation Studies

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Sally T. Wei University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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Sally Wei is the Director of K-12 Engineering Education and Outreach for the College of Engineering at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She also serves at the advisor for the Nebraska chapter of the Engineering Ambassadors Network. Prior to this role, Sally has worked over twenty years as an engineer in the computer industry. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Illinois, a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Colorado, and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Union Graduate College (now Clarkson University) in New York.

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Trish Wonch Hill University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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Dr. Trish Wonch Hill is an applied sociologist who collaborates with scientists across STEM disciplines to investigate how to spark STEM career interests during childhood and adolescence. She is particularly interested in how to find STEM pathways for youth who belong to historically underrepresented groups (girls, rural youth, race/ethnic minorities).

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The vast majority of people have only a minimal understanding of engineering and technology and its ubiquitous presence in their lives. The importance of instilling these principles at a young age is the focus of many engineering outreach programs today. But how do we quantify and measure the outcomes of such efforts? This paper focuses on one such program, the University X chapter of the Engineering Ambassador Network (EAN) and an evaluation study developed to gather preliminary quantifiable data for this initiative.

EAN is a national professional development program with an outreach mission. The University of X chapter of EAN (X-EAN) consists of a team of talented, highly motivated, and passionate engineering undergraduate leaders, who seek to inspire K-12 youth via engaging presentations and hands-on activities on various relevant engineering topics.

Since the program inception in 2015, X-EAN has reached over 12,000 K-12 students statewide via school and on-campus visits. However, there has been little quantitative measure of the effectiveness of the program other than number of youth reached. The question remains on whether these visits really have an impact on K-12 youth and their attitudes towards engineering. The purpose of this study was to develop statistical diagnostics to gain preliminary insight into this question.

In the Spring of 2017 a study was done in which X-EAN visited four schools to assess the impact of the visit on youth in lower elementary (first grade), upper elementary (fourth grade), middle school (seventh grade) and High School (tenth grade). An instrument was developed that assessed attitudes toward engineering and engineering identity. The younger age groups were asked to draw an engineer. The survey was administered by the teacher prior to the X-EAN presentation, and the post-survey data was collected shortly thereafter. Paired t-tests of the results have shown that there was a significant change from pre to post-test on youth knowledge about engineering, and how much they thought engineering helped people. For high school and middle school aged youth, there was a significant increase from pre to post-test on student interest, enjoyment, knowledge, engineering career aspirations, and a reduction in male gender bias toward engineers. This paper will discuss methodology and results of the study, impact on K-12 engineering identity, and future work in quantifying X-EAN initiatives.

Wei, S. T., & Wonch Hill, T. (2018, June), An Evaluation on Engineering Identity of K-12 Youth Using the Engineering Ambassador Network (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29783

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