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An Instructional Approach to Engage Children with Autism to Engineering Design

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Pre-College Engineering Education Division Resource Exchange

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Hoda Ehsan Georgia Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16

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Hoda is a research faculty at the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics and Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology. She received her Ph.D. from the School of Engineering Education, Purdue. She received her B.S. in mechanical engineering in Iran, and obtained her M.S. in Childhood Education and New York teaching certification from City College of New York (CUNY-CCNY). She is now a graduate research assistant on STEM+C project. Her research interests include designing informal settings for engineering learning, and promoting engineering thinking in children with special needs in informal and formal settings.

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Since the neurodiversity movement has begun, the awareness and conversation around the power of neurodiversity have also increased. At the same time, the engineering education community has been putting an effort towards creating diverse and inclusive engineering education that is welcoming to all individuals and help them achieve their full potential. The term neurodiversity refers to a subset of neurological conditions that typically result in an individual being labeled as having disabilities or special needs. These conditions include autism, ADHD, anxiety disorder, dyslexia and many others. Neurodiversity has recently begun to be part of this effort and gotten more attention among the researchers of the field. Among these different conditions, this study focuses on children with autism and their engagement in engineering activities. Some researchers argued that if effective pre-college engineering education is accessible to children with autism, they are more likely to choose STEM disciplines in higher education and be successful in the workforce. However, very limited research-based engineering resources have been developed with considerations of children autism (Author, 2018). Research has yet to examine the appropriateness of engineering learning opportunities for learners with autism. This research-based resource is created by translating research findings of a large project (Author 2020). It includes instructional approaches for researchers, teachers and curriculum designers to support the engagement of 3-5th-grade children with mild autism in engineering. In this resource, I share design guidelines for developing engineering design activities for children, with consideration of autism. The activities can be designed with any existing building kits and be used in any informal and formal learning settings. This resource also provides a list of strategies for educators that found to be effective in previous research. The resource will include an example of effective engineering design activities used and examined by children with autism. *References will be included at the time of submitting the final draft.

Ehsan, H. (2021, July), An Instructional Approach to Engage Children with Autism to Engineering Design Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36673

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