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Collaboration Through Participation: Rethinking Scale Conceptualization and Development in STEM Education Research

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Community-Engaged Engineering Education Challenges and Opportunities in Light of COVID-19 Paper Presentations 2

Tagged Divisions

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society, Community Engagement Division, and Equity, Culture & Social Justice in Education

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Paper Authors


Cijy Elizabeth Sunny Baylor University

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Dr. Cijy Elizabeth Sunny is a PD Research Associate in the Department of Information Systems and Business Analytics, Hankamer School of Business at Baylor University. She is a research methodologist and psychometrician who has applied her skills in quantitative and mixed methods research methodology in the substantive areas of STEM education research, medical education, and more recently in engineering education. Additionally, she has been an educator and has taught primarily physics and also research methodology on three different continents. In addition to research, she has also conducted workshops on using concept mapping methodology for scale development, mixed methods research methodology for standardized patient educators, and standard-setting for physician educators. Dr. Sunny continues to invest her skills in engineering education research through her collaborations. As part of her new undertaking at Baylor University, she is investing her skills as a research methodologist and data analyst to fight human trafficking through the use of Information Technology working alongside the research team there in collaboration with a diverse group of stakeholders.

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Kathleen Koenig University of Cincinnati

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Dr. Koenig is a Professor of Physics at the University of Cincinnati, with her research in physics education. She has extensive experience in the development and evaluation of pedagogies and curriculum that support student success in college-level science and math courses. Since 2006, she has been funded by NSF and/or NIH to investigate the development and evaluation of curriculum that advances student scientific reasoning abilities. This work also involves the development of reasoning assessments for students in various age groups, including middle school through college. Funding since 2014 has centered on the development of interactive, web-based learning modules to enhance student conceptual understanding and problem solving abilities. She is a Fellow of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT).

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Traditionally, tools or scales have been developed through a process involving a review of the literature on current instruments, expert consultation, and conversations with target groups. While it is an established approach, it does not include the ideas of the STEM community as a whole who are engaged in improving the STEM pipeline. How does one develop a tool that mirrors the diverse perspectives of stakeholders who are uniquely positioned to influence and support students in STEM? The answer lies with the community-based participatory mixed methods methodology of concept mapping that was developed by William Trochim at Cornell University. Concept mapping methodology innovatively engages the stakeholders through participation from outreach to consultation to collaboration through a shared leadership. This methodology integrates qualitative and quantitative approaches in a multi-step democratic process of community engagement and participation through research. This traditional research paper presents the application of this five-step concept mapping methodology to develop the Attitude and Persistence Towards STEM (APT-STEM) tool. The primary objective of this paper is to present an innovative methodology to develop scales through the participatory framework by involving the voices and unique experiences of a STEM community of stakeholders (e.g., students, parents, teachers, researchers, educators, and professionals) as part of the research process to conceptualize the constructs using both quantitative and qualitative methods. While not the focus of this paper, we will also briefly present the validation of this tool for use with secondary and pre-secondary students and an updated version for first-year engineering students in a calculus-based introductory physics class using item response theory. In addition to the methodological (concept mapping for scale development) and theoretical implications (participatory framework) of this study, its practical implications include examining the efficacy of STEM education programs in cultivating specific attitudes and persistence traits as conceptualized by the STEM community.

Sunny, C. E., & Koenig, K. (2021, July), Collaboration Through Participation: Rethinking Scale Conceptualization and Development in STEM Education Research Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--36806

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