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Draw an Engineer: A Critical Examination of Efforts to Shift How Elementary-Aged Students Perceive Engineers

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Conference

2021 CoNECD

Location

Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day

Publication Date

January 24, 2021

Start Date

January 24, 2021

End Date

January 28, 2021

Conference Session

CoNECD Session : Day 2 Slot 1 Technical Session 1

Tagged Topics

Diversity and CoNECD Paper Submissions

Page Count

13

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/36080

Download Count

15

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Paper Authors

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Taylor Lightner Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Taylor Lightner is a doctoral student in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech, where she serves as a graduate research assistant. In addition, she is a student in the Disaster Resilience and Risk Management Program. Taylor received her B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Clemson University. Her research interests include broadening participation, interdisciplinary interactions, community engagement, and the societal impact of engineering infrastructure.

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Monica E. Cardella Purdue University at West Lafayette Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-4229-6183

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Monica E. Cardella is a Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University.

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Natali Huggins Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Natali Huggins is a PhD student in the Higher Education program at Virginia Tech. She holds a master’s in public administration from the National Experimental University of Táchira in Venezuela. She has several years of experience in higher education administration and internal audit in Venezuela. Her research interests include diversity and inclusion in graduate education, particularly international and Latinx graduate students’ persistence and development. She is interested in supporting students in their transition and adaptability to higher education in the United States.

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Cynthia Hampton Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Cynthia Hampton is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. While at Virginia Tech, Cynthia has directed summer bridge programs, led peer support initiatives for underrepresented groups, and served on various commissions, committees, and research groups focused on student support, organizational change, graduate student policy, and culturally responsive evaluation. Her research interests include organizational behavior and change as it pertains to engineering
education and broadening participation, faculty change agents, and complex system dynamics. Her research investigates narrative inquiry of faculty who use their agency to engage in broadening participation in engineering activities. Cynthia received her B.S. in Biological Systems Engineering from Kansas State University and will receive her M.S. in Management Systems Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2019.

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Walter C. Lee Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-5082-1411

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Dr. Walter Lee is an assistant professor in the Department of Engineering Education and the assistant director for research in the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED), both at Virginia Tech. His research interests include co-curricular support, student success and retention, and diversity. Lee received his Ph.D in engineering education from Virginia Tech, his M.S. in industrial & systems engineering from Virginia Tech, and his B.S. in industrial engineering from Clemson University.

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David B. Knight Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4576-2490

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David B. Knight is an Associate Professor and Assistant Department Head of Graduate Programs in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Tech. He is also Director of Research of the Academy for Global Engineering at Virginia Tech, and is affiliate faculty with the Higher Education Program. His research tends to be at the macro-scale, focused on a systems-level perspective of how engineering education can become more effective, efficient, and inclusive, tends to be data-driven by leveraging large-scale institutional, state, or national data sets, and considers the intersection between policy and organizational contexts. He has B.S., M.S., and M.U.E.P. degrees from the University of Virginia and a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Pennsylvania State University.

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Abstract

Diversifying the STEM pipeline is a national imperative. It is central for enhancing the likelihood of innovation, as diverse teams can incorporate a variety of perspectives when solving problems. Moreover, diversifying the field promotes social justice by broaden access to a STEM workforce that is high-paying with strong job security relative to other fields. One way to diversify the pipeline is to expand the potential for recruiting underrepresented students by capturing their interests in STEM at a young age through extra-curricular programming focused on children of color, such as the Summer Engineering Experiences for Kids (SEEK) program. Organized by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), SEEK is a three-week summer program that engages participants in grades 3-5 in daily hands-on, team-based engineering design projects led by collegiate mentor and teachers. Since its inception in 2007, over 20,000 students have participated in SEEK.

Based on the early success of this program, NSF funded a multi-partner project understand how the experience influences students and may be replicated in other contexts. Two objectives guide the research aspect of this project:

1. Evaluate SEEK’s success at influencing STEM-related academic and career identity, conceptual knowledge, and interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. 2. Generate evidence and a greater understanding of organizational contextual factors that operate to enhance, moderate, or constrain SEEK’s impact from site to site.

This project applies the logic of an input-environment-outcome framework to organize data collection and analysis. In addition to considering relationships between students’ background characteristics and experiences within SEEK with their post-camp outcomes, the framework emphasizes the influence of organizational contexts on shaping students’ learning experiences. We considered three major components of organizational context in comparing sites: 1) Local structures, policies, and practices – e.g., the influence of the host school, supporting local industry partnerships, access to resources; 2) SEEK programs, structures and policies – e.g., NSBE-provided curricula, site development procedures, participant selection policies, and 3) Mentor/Teachers’ Culture – e.g., beliefs about engineering education, training programs.

This particular paper focuses on how students’ perceptions of engineers shift after participating in SEEK. We capture data through assessments that were administered to all students participating in SEEK. Students were prompted to draw themselves as an engineer or to draw an engineer—the prompts varied across sites. Our analysis will address the following research questions:

1. What messages about engineering are conveyed through artifacts that are prominent in SEEK classrooms?

2. How do students’ drawings shift from the pre-camp administration to the post-camp administration?

3. How do students’ drawings vary based on the different prompts (i.e., draw an engineer versus draw yourself as an engineer)?

We conduct this analysis of student drawings and posters that appear inside SEEK classrooms using Critical Race Theory as a lens. We will sample 60 students’ pre- and post-test drawings from four of the 14 SEEK sites. The sample will be stratified by grade level (3rd, 4th, and 5th) as well as the type of prompt for the drawings (i.e., 1) draw yourself as an engineer, or 2) draw an engineer, which varied by site). Through this analysis, we will seek to understand how conceptualizations of engineers link to SEEK practices and the images presented on the posters within the classroom. The goal is to interrogate the ways race surfaces in the messages that are displayed to students and images conveyed by students about who and what engineering entails.

Lightner, T., & Cardella, M. E., & Huggins, N., & Hampton, C., & Lee, W. C., & Knight, D. B. (2021, January), Draw an Engineer: A Critical Examination of Efforts to Shift How Elementary-Aged Students Perceive Engineers Paper presented at 2021 CoNECD, Virtual - 1pm to 5pm Eastern Time Each Day . https://peer.asee.org/36080

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