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Engineering as “white kids’ groups”: Examining Black and Latina/o/x youths’ discussions and experiences with engineering programming.

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Conference

2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

Social Identities and STEM Experiences: Equity, Culture & Social Justice in Education Division Technical Session 6

Page Count

13

DOI

10.18260/1-2--41710

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/41710

Download Count

263

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Paper Authors

biography

Jacqueline Handley University of Michigan

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Jacqueline (Jacquie) Handley (she/they) is a Postdoctoral Scholar at NJIT and an incoming Visiting Assitant Professor at Purdue University. Trained as an engineer, and having completed a Ph.D. in science education, Jacquie wants engineering to be a place that is accessible, celebratory, and just for all. Jacquie's research looks at engineering as community work, how young people come to know and do engineering, and how people of all ages use engineering for activism.

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Abstract

With an increased emphasis on K-12 engineering education [1], [2], researchers and practitioners alike are grappling with the necessary considerations for developing equitable engineering programming. Some programs with a heavy emphasis on developing technical skills or engaging with specific engineering content may not attend specifically to critical theorizations of learning [1]–[3]. As a result, such program designs may not consider youths’ prior experiences with engineering or issues of power as consequential to participation [4], [5]. Further, those that seek to develop learner- or youth-centered programs have little research to support them. Although important strides have been made [6]–[9], there is still much to know about how young people have experienced engineering programs from their perspectives and what concerns they may have about participating in them. Further, even less work has explored what makes engineering design work meaningful for youth [10], interrogating what they want to learn and experience in engineering spaces [11], [12]. Centering youths’ experiences and voices, particularly those of historically marginalized youth, offers a possible way toward more equitable program design.

The purpose of this study is to contribute to the development of more equitable and inclusive engineering programming by centering focal Black and Latina/o/x youths’ self-raised experiences in engineering programs as important data for educational design work. The study is drawn from a larger qualitative study seeking to understand how the seven focal youth began to engage in engineering work and discussed their various engineering experiences, within a community program co-designed by the author. I forefront a constant comparative analysis of interview data to examine focal youths’ discussions of their various engineering experiences and how they discussed their experiences in relation to themselves. I drew on critical sociocultural theories [13], [14] to help me locate youths’ discussions of their experiences as contextual, socially mediated, and operating under larger systems of oppression (e.g., racism, classism, and misogyny). The research questions guiding this particular study are: In what ways do Black and Latina/o/x youth critically talk about their engineering experiences? Specifically, how do they narrate engineering in relation to themselves, if at all?

Findings revealed that youth experience and position engineering as a heavy science, technology, and math space, which seemed to create a sense that engineering work was narrow. Further, although varied in nature and degree across youth, all youth discussed an awareness of engineering experiences as potentially being uncomfortable or othering. From actual experiences or theoretical knowledge, youth discussed engineering experiences as places where racism, gender, classism, or other systems of oppression might come to bear on their participation. These findings show the immense amount of work historically marginalized youth may do to understand themselves in current engineering spaces while emphasizing the important challenge of imagining and designing youth-centered engineering spaces that celebrate all aspects of youth and actively counter oppression. Findings imply a need to continue to interrogate youths’ prior experiences with engineering and unpack ways systems of oppression operate in all dimensions of youth engineering work.

Handley, J. (2022, August), Engineering as “white kids’ groups”: Examining Black and Latina/o/x youths’ discussions and experiences with engineering programming. Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN. 10.18260/1-2--41710

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