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Board 20: The Effect of Engineering Summer Camps on Middle School Students Interest and Identity

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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

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Indira Chatterjee University of Nevada, Reno

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Indira Chatterjee received her M.S. in Physics from Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio in 1977 and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah in 1981. Indira is Associate Dean of Engineering and Professor of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Nevada, Reno. As Associate Dean she oversees undergraduate and graduate education in the college including assessment, accreditation, recruitment, retention and advising. She also coordinates efforts to expand the research productivity of the College of Engineering. This includes promoting and facilitating industry-college partnerships, identifying and monitoring opportunities for competitive research grants, apprising faculty of research opportunities and providing coordination and leadership for forming research teams as needed to respond to these opportunities. She serves as chair of the College of Engineering curriculum committee and is a member of the university curriculum committee. Indira has been a faculty member at the University of Nevada, Reno since 1988. As Professor of Electrical and Biomedical Engineering she has been actively involved in funded research. She has been primary mentor to several graduate students who are well placed in industry and academics. Her research areas include: Numerical and experimental bioelectromagnetics, RF/microwave/millimeter wave dosimetry, high intensity electronanopulse clinical applications, antenna design, and electrical properties of materials. Over the past 20 years she has brought in over $5 million in research funding from the Department of Defense Johns Hopkins University, National Institutes of Health, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy and GE Energy. She is a senior member of the IEEE, a member of the IEEE MTT-10 committee, and a member of the ASEE, Bioelectromagnetics Society and Society of Women Engineers. She serves on the editorial board of the Bioelectromagnetics Society.

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Adam Kirn University of Nevada, Reno Orcid 16x16

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Adam Kirn is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at University of Nevada, Reno. His research focuses on the interactions between engineering cultures, student motivation, and their learning experiences. His projects involve the study of student perceptions, beliefs and attitudes towards becoming engineers, their problem solving processes, and cultural fit. His education includes a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, a M.S. in Bioengineering and Ph.D. in Engineering and Science Education from Clemson University.

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Jennifer R Amos University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Dr Amos joined the Bioengineering Department at the University of Illinois in 2009 and is currently a Teaching Associate Professor in Bioengineering and an Adjunct Associate Professor in Educational Psychology. She received her B.S. in Chemical Engineering at Texas Tech and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from University of South Carolina. She completed a Fulbright Program at Ecole Centrale de Lille in France to benchmark and help create a new hybrid masters program combining medicine and engineering and also has led multiple curricular initiative in Bioengineering and the College of Engineering on several NSF funded projects.

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A persistent problem in engineering is an insufficient number of students interested in pursuing engineering as a college major and career. Middle school is a critical time where student interest, identity, and career choices begin to solidify. Student interest in engineering at the K-12 level has been shown to predict whether they pursue engineering as a college major and career. Therefore, research is needed to determine if engineering summer camp activities affect engineering interest and identity in middle school students and in this paper, we present a research study approach to achieve the stated objective. To develop engineering-specific theories of how engineers are formed, this paper explores interest and identity development of three middle-school populations participating in engineering summer camps offered by the College of Engineering at a Western land-grant institution: (1) Young women in engineering camp (2) First generation camp and, (3) Introduction to engineering camp. The camps are identical in content and designed with the goal of increasing understanding of different engineering fields and careers. The only difference between the three camps is that the women-focused and first generation camps involve participation of guest speakers and role-model mentors appropriate for the camp populations. The main objective of designing this mixed-methods research study is to answer three research questions: (1) How strongly are engineering identity and interest linked to the intention to pursue engineering as a major in college and as a future career? (2) Which specific activities in the camps lead to a change in identity and interest in engineering? (3) To what extent and in what ways do the qualitative participant focus group interviews and observations of participants engaged in camp activities addressing research question (2) contribute to a comprehensive understanding of the quantitative data obtained via pre- and post-surveys addressing research question (1)? The research design leverages existing quantitative surveys. Additionally, focus groups and observations will be based on a selected set of questions from these surveys. The research design consists of one phase with two data streams. Quantitative data are gathered in Phase 1 from two data collection points: first, when students register for the camp and, second, at the end of the camp (post-survey). Qualitative data in the form of in-depth focus group interviews (at the end of the camp) with 4 – 5 participants per focus group and observations of camp activities during the five days of camp are implemented. For the qualitative analysis, Grounded Theory is utilized for analyzing focus group interview and observation transcripts using an iterative process that involves reading, discussing, and coding. This paper will present details of the quantitative and qualitative analysis methods used for this study. The research is funded by the National Science Foundation PFE:RIEF program.

Chatterjee, I., & Kirn, A., & Amos, J. R. (2018, June), Board 20: The Effect of Engineering Summer Camps on Middle School Students Interest and Identity Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29981

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