Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session
While a large body of literature suggests that students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) possess significant creative and risk-taking potential, they have remained highly underrepresented in engineering programs. Past studies have indicated that students with ADHD have an extremely high risk of academic failure and dropout, and are more than twice as likely than their peers without ADHD to leave university. Traditional engineering programs are failing to attract and retain neurodiverse learners, and thus do not benefit from these students’ high potential for creative thinking. The disconnect between the traditional education environment and the abilities of students with ADHD is not unique to higher education. In fact, high school students with ADHD have significantly lower GPAs and are over eight times more likely to drop out of high school than their peers without ADHD. These students are thus significantly less likely to enter college or be admitted into engineering programs. To support the development of a more diverse engineering pipeline, efforts have focused on outreach to high school and middle school students with ADHD with the intention of boosting self-esteem and increasing interest in engineering. Specifically, two pilot programs for students with ADHD have been implemented as part of a research project funded by the Research in the Formation of Engineers program of Engineering Education and Centers of the National Science Foundation. Year one of the pilot program featured a two-week program for high school students with ADHD, while outreach efforts in year two focused on the implementation of a week-long summer program for ten middle school students with ADHD. Program activities featured a range of electrical, material, and structural engineering design activities such as wiring circuits and optimizing composites for strength and cost. These activities were complemented by esteem-building activities, including group roundtable discussions in which participants shared life and academic experiences with peers. The main goal of this program is to increase the participation of an underrepresented group of students in engineering programs by providing a strengths-based approach to ADHD in the context of engineering at a young age.
This paper presents an overview of the high school pilot program, including the design, delivery, reflection, and subsequent redesign of the program to meet the needs of middle school students. Major observations from the middle school program will be presented, along with key program components. It was found that: students with ADHD benefit from a personalized learning environment that is centered around student interests and features flexibility and choice; that interactions with role models and mentors with ADHD in the context of engineering can encourage students to consider engineering as a career path; and that roundtable discussions helped to build relationships between participants. A comparison of the middle and high school programs indicates that the age in which the students were introduced to a strength-based perspective toward ADHD was critical in shaping the participants’ perceived belief in their engineering abilities. This shows it is crucial to provide exposure to engineering and strength-based discussions of learning differences early in students’ academic careers. It is anticipated that providing such experiences for middle school students with ADHD will lead to larger participation of these students in the engineering pipeline and will promote cognitive diversity in the field.
Syharat, C. M., & Hain, A., & E. Zaghi, A. (2020, June), Diversifying the Engineering Pipeline through Early Engagement of Neurodiverse Learners Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34470
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