June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Pre-College Engineering Education Division
This work in progress report and poster describes the intent, methods, and progress of a 3-year NSF proposal to broaden participation in STEM through partnership with high-school teachers and curriculum providers. Traditional robotics typically falls between fields of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and computer science; these areas have had a historically low percentage of degrees awarded for females—only 11.7%, 11.5%, and 11.2% respectively. On the other hand, the growing field of soft robotics tends towards disciplines including biomedical engineering, biological and agricultural engineering, chemical engineering, and materials engineering which have had proportionally higher female participation—39.1%, 31.9%, 33.1%, and 28.4%. By shifting the building blocks of robotics towards disciplines that females are more naturally drawn to, we hypothesize an increase in female interest in the technical aspects of soft robotics and a corresponding increase in their self-confidence and motivation related to engineering and design. We are currently in the middle of year 2 of our project and have begun implementing and evaluating our curriculum with teachers. Our project to implement soft robotics in the high-school curriculum has used design-based research methods to emphasize the iterative and product based nature of instructional design. Our first year of the project focused on developing curriculum and fabrication materials. Through several pilot attempts we have migrated the fabrication process from a laboratory setting to a classroom; each attempt provided new insights into the procedures and lesson planning so that the current state of the curriculum is improved. In cooperation with a high-school engineering curriculum provider we have provided professional development to 7 teachers who will be teaching the content with 9th grade classes this year; the soft robotics material will be taught in one section while a traditional robotics lesson is delivered in another section. Like our pilot teaching experiences, the professional development training was a hands-on practice which provided further iteration and refinement of the curriculum. As teachers deliver the content, we are collecting student academic pre- and post-test scores for the course; motivation, self-efficacy, and interest pre- and post-test scores for the lesson; student focus group responses; and teacher feedback to inform another round of curriculum iteration. This poster will add to a discussion on broadening female participation in STEM fields from an early age. It also presents integration of novel curriculum materials (soft robotics) and methods (design-based research). Findings from the coming year, which will be available at the time of the conference, will shed light on student STEM perceptions—motivation, self-efficacy, and interest—and how instructional design can be leveraged to affect those perceptions.
Jackson, A., & Zhang, J., & Kramer, R., & Mentzer, N. (2017, June), Board # 96 : Design-based Research and Soft Robotics to Broaden the STEM Pipeline (Work in Progress) Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27963
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