June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
12.285.1 - 12.285.19
Assessment of Gender Differences on Ratings of Engineering Learning Modules in Middle-School Youth in an After-school Setting
For both genders characteristics of effective STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) after-school programs include opportunities for youth to build competencies, form bonds with peers and staff, and participate in program decisions. After-school program characteristics found to foster STEM interest and persistence of girls in particular across age, race and ethnic diversity include collaborative, hands-on activities, mentoring, parent and community support, emphasis on practical applications, and teaching of science or engineering in a more holistic and social context 1,2,3,4,5,6,7. In addition, programs for girls that combine hands-on activities, role models, mentoring, and career exploration have been shown to improve girls' self-confidence and interest in STEM courses and careers in particular. This paper presents statistical analyses of gender differences between youths’ ratings of six engineering modules implemented in the Techtronics after-school program at Rogers Herr Middle School in Durham, North Carolina.
Techtronics, an after- school engineering enrichment program for middle school students, has incorporated many of these characteristics as described above to maximize appeal for both genders while encouraging at-risk middle school students to pursue careers in engineering and science. An extension of the K-PhD Program at Duke University’s Pratt School of Engineering, it is a partnership between the Pratt School of Engineering and Rogers-Herr Middle School in Durham, NC. Program goals include improving student competence and enthusiasm for science and engineering, and stimulating interest in pursuing careers in engineering and science with a special focus on minority and female students. Students are immersed in real-world engineering design challenges and asked to apply scientific principles they are learning as part of the N.C. Standard Course of Study to solve real-world problems. To sustain interest across genders, Techtronics links curriculum content to human applications, emphasizes helpfulness of technologies in solving problems for humanity, utilizes hands-on activities, provides both male and female role models through undergraduate and graduate Engineering Teaching Fellows, involves parents via Saturday demonstrations at the university, and encourages both boys and girls to ask questions and brainstorm designs in teams.
This paper presents statistical analyses of gender differences between ratings of six Techtronics engineering modules (Lego Robotics, Bridges, Heart Monitors (EKG), Solar Energy, Towers, and AM Radios) and provides in-depth assessment of these differences based on qualitative data and subsequent student interviews designed to identify factors contributing to the differential appeal and learning characteristics of these modules across gender. Based on these results, recommendations are made for future research studies as the Techtronics program expands over the next several years. In addition, insights into optimal ways to engage and inspire middle school students of both genders to engage in K-12 engineering education programs are offered.
Kelly, G., & Klenk, P., & Ybarra, G., & Cox, L. A. (2007, June), Assessment Of Gender Differences On Ratings Of Engineering Learning Modules In Middle School Youth In An After School Setting Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2404
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