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Eliciting Incoming Engineering Students’ Images of Engineering and Engineers at Two Mexican Institutions

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

International Division Poster Session

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

23.475.1 - 23.475.9



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Paper Authors

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Caridad Cruz López Universidad de las Américas, Puebla.


Aída Hernández Hernández Universidad Politécnica de Tlaxcala

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Aída Hernández Hernández is a Science, Engineering, and Technology Education Ph.D. student at Universidad de las Américas Puebla in Mexico. She teaches industrial engineering related courses at Universidad Politécnica de Tlaxcala. Her research interests include design of experiments, transfer of learning from schools to the workplace, and creating effective learning environments.

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Aurelio Lopez-Malo Universidad de las Americas Puebla


Enrique Palou Universidad de las Americas Puebla

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Professor Palou is director of the Center for Science, Engineering, and Technology Education in the Department of Chemical, Food, and Environmental Engineering at Universidad de las Americas Puebla in Mexico. He teaches engineering, food science, and education related courses. His research interests include emerging technologies for food processing, creating effective learning environments, using tablet PCs and associated technologies to enhance the development of 21st century expertise in engineering students, and building rigorous research capacity in science, engineering and technology education.

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Eliciting Puebla and Tlaxcala Incoming Engineering Students’ Images of Engineering and EngineersIn general, Mexican high-school students have an incomplete understanding of engineers andengineering as a profession1, 2. Images shape the way individuals view the world, thus, elicitingand understanding the images incoming engineering students have of engineering and whatengineers do is extremely important in order to develop programs and adapt first-semesterengineering curricula.In this study, data were collected using the Draw an Engineer (DAE) test1-9 followed up byunstructured informal interviews. The 124 incoming engineering students participating in thestudy were given the DAE test at the beginning of their first day of classes, one group in the stateof Puebla (32 participants, 40% men at a small private university) and the other in the state ofTlaxcala (92 participants, 70% men at a medium-size public polytechnic), 20 miles apart. Thepurpose of the DAE test was to determine individual conceptions of engineering and whatengineers do as well as to make a comparison between incoming engineering students’conceptions from two Mexican states. Students were given 10 min to draw an engineer(previously they were asked to close their eyes and imagine an engineer at work) and then 10-15min to answer three question prompts related to what they had drawn: 1) Describe what theengineer is doing in your drawing. Write at least two sentences. 2) List at least threewords/phrases that come to mind when you think of an engineer. 3) What kinds of things do youthink an engineer does? Study facilitators were careful not to talk about engineers or engineeringduring the administration of the DAE test. Facilitators offered help to clarify directions andquestion prompts, but they did not offer any ideas or assistance that would influence students’original conceptions of engineers or engineering. Twenty-eight informal interviews (which werevideotaped) were performed after the DAE test and consisted of one-on-one discussions betweena facilitator and students (8 from Puebla and 20 from Tlaxcala) to further investigate reasoning’sbehind his/her drawing and responses.The drawings and open-ended responses were analyzed following an inductive data analysisapproach. Three researchers were involved in the analysis process, which began with opencoding because there were no pre-determined categories. Four main categories emerged todescribe the data: 1) engineers in action, 2) characteristics of an engineer, 3) gender, and 4) workcontext. Even though the female participants (46) in this study were more than one third of theparticipants, close to 80% of incoming engineering students in this study perceived engineers asmale individuals. Interviews supported main findings while helping researchers gain insight intoindividual reasoning behind the 28 interviewed students’ drawings and answers. Outcomes fromthis study confirm that cultural models to which humans are exposed can contribute significantlyto their mental schema10. Our results suggest differences on how Puebla and Tlaxcala incomingengineering students perceive engineering and engineers, based on the state and correspondinginstitution type where they are from, gender, and engineering major. We will discuss how theirimages of engineering and what engineers do may be associated with these features. Analysis ofconstructed responses indicates that some incoming engineering students held commonmisconceptions about engineers while very few were knowledgeable about what engineers do.By taking these misconceptions into account, educational institutions can develop programs andadapt first-semester engineering curricula in order to form more accurate understandings of therole of the engineer and the engineering profession. Modifications to first-semester courses willbe presented in the full paper.1. XXX (for blind review purposes), Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky, June 20-23, 2010.2. YYY (for blind review purposes), Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Vancouver, BC, Canada, June 26-29, 2011.3. Knight, M. and Cunningham, C.M. Draw an engineer test (DAET): Development of a tool to investigate students’ ideas about engineers and engineering. Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Salt Lake City, Utah, June 20-23, 2004.4. Lyons, J. and Thomson, S. Investigating the long-term impact of an engineering-based GK- 12 program on students’ perceptions of engineering, Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Chicago, Illinois, June 18-21, 2006.5. Bodner, G., Karatas, F. and Micklos. M. Sixth grade students’ images of engineering: what do engineers do? Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, June 22-25, 2008.6. Ganesh, T.G., Thieken, J., Elser, M., Baker, D., Krause, S., Roberts, C., Kurpius-Robinson, S., Middleton, J. and Golden, J. Eliciting underserved middle-school youths’ notions of engineers: draw an engineer, Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Austin, Texas, June 14-17, 2009.7. Diefes-Dux, H.A. and Capobianco, B.M. Work in progress: Interpreting elementary students' advanced conceptions of engineering from the Draw-an-Engineer Test. Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE), Rapid City, South Dakota, October 12-15, 2011.8. Weber, N., Duncan, D., Dyehouse, M., Strobel, J., Diefes-Dux, H.A. The Development of a Systematic Coding System for Elementary Students’ Drawings of Engineers. Journal of Pre- College Engineering Education Research, 1(1): 49-62, 2011.9. Ganesh, T.G. Analyzing subject-produced drawings: The use of the Draw-an-Engineer assessment in context. Proceedings of the ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Vancouver, BC, Canada, June 26-29, 2011.10. Gardner, H. Artful scribbles: The significance of children's drawings. New York: Basic Books, 1980.

Cruz López, C., & Hernández Hernández, A., & Lopez-Malo, A., & Palou, E. (2013, June), Eliciting Incoming Engineering Students’ Images of Engineering and Engineers at Two Mexican Institutions Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19489

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