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Changes in Latino/a Adolescents' Engineering Self-efficacy and Perceptions of Engineering After Addressing Authentic Engineering Design Challenges

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Fundamental: K-12 Students' Beliefs, Motivation, and Self-efficacy

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.339.1 - 26.339.14



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Paper Authors


Joel Alejandro Mejia West Virginia University Orcid 16x16

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Joel Alejandro Mejia is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at West Virginia University. He is interested in research regarding underrepresentation of minority groups in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), especially the use of culturally responsive practices in engineering education. He is particularly interested in the use of comprehension strategy instruction in linguistically and culturally diverse classrooms; physical and digital manipulatives and their application in engineering courses; engineering identity; cultures of engineering; retention, recruitment, and outreach for underrepresented minorities in STEM.

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Dustin Drake Utah State University

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Dustin Drake is currently a graduate student at Utah State University. While being raised in a small town in southern Utah, Dustin had very few experiences with regards to diversity in his community. As a young adult, he had the opportunity to live in Guadalajara, Mexico, for a few years. He immersed himself in this new culture, learned the language, and loved experiencing new ways of seeing the world. Through this foreign experience, Dustin recognized a shift in his identity. These experiences also led him to become a language educator. He now teaches ESL courses to Spanish speakers, basic Spanish to English speakers, and English and Composition to fluent English speakers. Because of the interwoven nature of culture, language, and identity, Dustin studies explore identity development in different educational and cultural contexts.

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Amy Wilson-Lopez Utah State University - Teacher Education and Leadership

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Amy Wilson-Lopez is an assistant professor at Utah State University who studies how literacy instruction can improve adolescents' engineering design thinking and activity.

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Changes in Latino/a Adolescents’ Engineering Self-Efficacy and Perceptions of Engineering After Addressing Authentic Engineering Design Challenges (RTP-Strand 5)Hispanics remain underrepresented in engineering careers, a fact that has prompted severalorganizations (National Academy of Engineering, 2002; Steering Committee of the NationalEngineering Education Research Colloquies, 2006) to call for instructional approaches that drawHispanic students into the STEM pipeline and encourage them to stay there. Some research(Aschbacher, Li, & Roth, 2010) has suggested that the reason why more Hispanic adolescents donot enter the STEM pipeline is because they hold the perception that engineering is not “for me.”Specifically, they do not perceive of themselves as potential engineers, and they perceive ofengineering as being too hard for them, or not rewarding enough to pursue. The authors thereforedesigned an instructional intervention that provided Hispanic adolescents with authenticengineering experiences with the intention of increasing their engineering self-efficacy andchanging their perceptions of engineering. To this end, the authors selected 25 Hispanicadolescents—most of whom were either immigrants or English learners—and supported them asthey identified a problem in their communities and solved it through engineering designprocesses. The adolescents worked in teams of three or four over the course of 7.5 months todevelop a solution to the problems they selected. Using questions from existing surveys (e.g.,  (Li, McCoach, Swaminathan, & Tang, 2008) as well as other questions, the authors conductedpre- and post-interviews with the adolescents to determine their perceptions of engineering andtheir self-efficacy in engineering. A constant comparative analysis (Corbin & Strauss, 2012) ofthese interview data revealed that the participants’ sense of engineering self-efficacy increasedafter participating in the project. Their perceptions of engineering likewise changed. Beforeparticipating in the project, the participants thought engineering was about building andmathematics, whereas after the project, they believed engineering was about problem solving andteamwork. Several adolescents reported that they were more likely to consider engineering as acareer after participating in the intervention; other adolescents were more likely to state that thecareers that they wanted (e.g., pediatrician) were related to engineering (e.g., medical advances).This exploratory study suggests that authentic engineering experiences, defined as experiences inwhich students identify real problems they want to solve for real clients, hold the potential toattract Hispanic adolescents to the STEM pipeline.

Mejia, J. A., & Drake, D., & Wilson-Lopez, A. (2015, June), Changes in Latino/a Adolescents' Engineering Self-efficacy and Perceptions of Engineering After Addressing Authentic Engineering Design Challenges Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23678

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