June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
26.339.1 - 26.339.14
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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