Asee peer logo

Change in Elementary Student Conceptions of Engineering Following an Intervention as Seen from the Draw-an-Engineer Test

Download Paper |


2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-college Engineering Poster Session

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.299.1 - 25.299.12



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Ronald L. Carr Purdue University

visit author page

Ronald Carr serves as the P-12 Engineering Education Research Fellow for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE) in Purdue University's School of Engineering Education. Carr is a doctoral student in the Learning Design and Technology program through the Purdue College of Education and holds a master's degree in educational studies/gifted and talented education and a bachelor's degree in elementary education from Purdue. In addition to curriculum design related to problem solving and cognitive strategies, Carr's research interests include assessment of engineering design and "soft skills," assessment of engineering impact through STEM initiatives, integration of engineering into all content areas, instructional design and assessment of teacher professional development via online and face-to-face programs, and promotion of engineering through standards-based curriculum reform.

visit author page


Heidi A. Diefes-Dux Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Heidi A. Diefes-Dux is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her B.S. and M.S. in food science from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in food process engineering from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. She is a member of Purdue’s Teaching Academy. Since 1999, she has been a faculty member within the First-year Engineering program at Purdue, the gateway for all first-year students entering the College of Engineering. She has coordinated and taught in a required first-year engineering course that engages students in open-ended problem solving and design. Her research focuses on the development, implementation, and assessment of model-eliciting activities with realistic engineering contexts. She is currently the Director of Teacher Professional Development for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE).

visit author page

Download Paper |


Change in Elementary Student Conceptions of Engineering Following an Intervention as Seen from the Draw-an-Engineer Test Track: Research PaperStudents’ conceptions of engineering, and particularly elementary students, have been studiedusing the Draw-an-Engineering Test (DAET). This instrument asks students to draw an engineerdoing engineering work and then write about what the engineer is doing, typically in a sentenceor two. Researchers have found that students associate engineering with fixing, building, andworking on things; buildings and vehicles were the dominant artifacts in students’ drawings. Inone study conducted at the start of the school year, prior to any engineering lessons, the DAETwas used in conjunction with interviews to study elementary students’ conceptions o fengineering. Qualitative analysis of these drawings identified four distinct categories ofcharacteristics students assigned to an engineer based on the actions performed by the engineerand artifacts used by the engineer. These categories were laborer, mechanic, technician, anddesigner. Conceptions of engineering results using this coding scheme have not been reportedfor DAET drawings collected before and after an elementary classroom engineering intervention.In this study, engineering is being integrated into grades 2 to 4 in elementary schools in a singlelarge district in south central United States. Teachers were provided with professionaldevelopment in elementary engineering in a summer week-long academy in 2008 and threeadditional days in 2009. Children in participating classrooms completed the DAET in a pre-postfashion during academic year 2009-10. Data for this paper is drawn from this collection. TheDAET drawings were coded using a modified version of the coding scheme described above.Modifications were necessary as a wider variety of designer drawings were identified in this datacollection. Such things as teams, steps in an engineering design process, science concepts, andschool and industry contexts begin to appear in the post drawings.From pre to post intervention, there were changes in the number of DAET drawings coded ineach category. Fewer mechanics appear among the post drawings and a greater number ofdesigners appear among the post drawings. In the lowest grade level, from pre to post, there is amigration from mechanic to laborer rather than a jump to a designer conception. This maysuggest a learning progression.The goal of this work is to continue to find ways to use the DAET that are meaningful butmanageable for measuring the impact of engineering integration in elementary classrooms. Thisinstrument is age-appropriate and provides rich data but the data can be difficult to analyze. Thismodified coding scheme provides a simple way to measure the impact of a classroomengineering intervention.

Carr, R. L., & Diefes-Dux, H. A. (2012, June), Change in Elementary Student Conceptions of Engineering Following an Intervention as Seen from the Draw-an-Engineer Test Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21057

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2012 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015