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Effectiveness of Team-Based STEM Project Learning to Recruit Minority High School Students to STEM

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Innovative Methods to Teach Engineering to URMs

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.539.1 - 22.539.17



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Paper Authors


Jean Kampe Michigan Technological University

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Dr. Jean Kampe is currently department chair of Engineering Fundamentals at Michigan Technological University, where she holds an associate professorship in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. She received her Ph.D. in metallurgical engineering from Michigan Tech, M.Ch.E. in chemical engineering from the University of Delaware, and a B.S. degree in chemical engineering from Michigan Tech. She was employed as a research engineer for five years at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC, and she held an associate professorship in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, working there for ten years in first-year engineering education.

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Douglas E. Oppliger Michigan Technological University

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Mr. Oppliger is a professional engineer and a lecturer in the Engineering Fundamentals department at Michigan Technological University. He is the director of the High School Enterprise program which has a mission to increase the numbers of students pursuing post-secondary degrees and careers in STEM fields. At its core, this program supports K-12 teachers who are leading teams of students in long-term STEM projects. This work is the latest in Oppliger’s history of working in K-12 STEM areas. For the past 10 years he has developed and taught first-year engineering courses at the University and actively worked with high school students and teachers to increase and enhance engineering content in K-12 education. This includes consulting on K-12 engineering curriculum development for the State of Michigan. In 2004, Mr. Oppliger was awarded the Distinguished Faculty Award for Service honoring this outreach work. He has presented papers at several national conferences on engineering education. Before coming to Michigan Tech, Mr. Oppliger taught math and science at the secondary level for 11 years. Before that, he worked for five years as a project engineer in the marine construction industry.

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Effectiveness of Team-Based STEM Project Learning to Recruit Minority High School Students to STEMAbstractMany high school students have the opportunity to participate in team-based, collaborativeSTEM projects during the regular school day or as extracurricular activities. These types ofprojects have the potential to motivate and help prepare students to pursue post-secondary STEMstudy but there is a lack of data to establish what aspects of this type of project work are key inrecruiting students to STEM studies in college. This paper examines a program that supports K-12 teachers who advise teams of high school students in long-term team-based STEM projects(TBSP). The program is now in year three of a five-year pilot and has grown to sixteen teams inthree states and two countries, this after starting with an initial cadre of three Michigan schools.The latter years of the program, and the study itself, is supported by a grant from the NationalScience Foundation. The program relies on partnerships between academia, industry, and thecommunities where the teams exist. Assessment of the program includes attitude and skillsurveys of teachers and students, examination of teacher education methodology, site visits to theteam locations, and other observational reporting. Initial evaluation results reveal aspects ofTBSP learning that may be important in persuading young students to pursue college educationin STEM and go on to STEM careers. This program has implications for studentsunderrepresented in STEM as the team projects include minorities and women in significantlygreater proportions than exist in STEM higher education. For example, in 2009-10 there were atotal of about 200 student participants spread among 12 teams. Of these, 37% were female and41% were minority. These participation rates are between two and four times that of highereducation STEM programs. Mid-program results from external evaluation will be summarized.Recommendations for adaptation by other schools and program scale-up will be discussed.

Kampe, J., & Oppliger, D. E. (2011, June), Effectiveness of Team-Based STEM Project Learning to Recruit Minority High School Students to STEM Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17820

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