June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Pre-College Engineering Education
A fundamental problem in the professional formation of engineers is the insufficient number of students interested in pursuing engineering as a college major and career. Students’ interest in engineering at the K-12 level has been shown to predict whether they pursue engineering as a college major and career. Recent research that deals with understanding student identities and how that influences choice of engineering as a major and career has confirmed the importance of further research supporting interest and identity. One method to increase student interest in STEM disciplines is university outreach for K-12 students, such as summer camp opportunities. Using a mixed-methods approach, we examined if engineering summer camp activities offered by a college of engineering at a western US land-grant university influence engineering interest and identity in middle and high school students. Using collected quantitative and qualitative data, we were able to answer the following research questions: (1) How does a week-long engineering summer camp affect middle and high school students’ interest in engineering and their identity as engineers? (2) Which specific activities in the camps lead to a change in identity and interest in engineering?
Fifty-five middle and high school students, ages ranging from 11 to 17 years participated in one of three week-long engineering summer camps: an all-female Young Women in Engineering camp, a First-Generation camp where participants would be the first member of their immediate family to attend college, and an Introduction to Engineering camp open to any middle or high school student. Data were collected in three ways: (1) identical pre and post surveys that addressed engineering identity, interest, and STEM career interest, (2) focus groups on day four of each camp, and, (3) non-participant observation of camp activities for the entirety of the camp experience. Both the focus groups and the observations of activities were videotaped to help ensure accuracy during analysis. Preliminary results from the surveys indicate that there was a positive statistically significant change in participants’ attitudes about doing well on science (Z= -3.153, p=.002) and engineering tasks (Z=-3.167, p=.002) (a precursor to identity). Additionally, focus group data indicated positive changes in participant interest and identity as well as specific camp activities that increased participants’ interest and identity as engineers. These changes in identity can be seen in participant quotes such as the following, “I realized that there is a lot more, you need to have a lot more patience being and engineer because you have to go through a lot of trial and error to figure out how to do something correctly. Even if something doesn’t work you have to persevere and make sure that it works the way you want it to.” The findings of this work will be used to improve existing activities to better contributed to student engineering interest and identity development. Additionally, future work will disseminate activities that successfully develop students’ interests and identities to engineering outreach practitioners.
Robinson, T., & Kirn, A., & Amos, J. R., & Chatterjee, I. (2019, June), Board 124: Influencing Student Engineering Interest and Identity: A Study Investigating the Effect of Engineering Summer Camps on Middle and High School Students (Work in Progress) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32218
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