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Engineering Awareness at Design Challenge Exhibits (Fundamental)

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Pre-College Engineering Education Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

18

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37052

Download Count

74

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Paper Authors

biography

Scott M. Randol OMSI

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Dr. Randol has worked as an educator, researcher and evaluator in informal STEM education for over twenty-five years. His work focuses on inspiring people of all ages and backgrounds to be more engaged in learning about and understanding the world around them. He takes an asset-based perspective on people, believing that everyone has lived a unique life, and can bring to interactions new and different knowledge and perspectives. Passionate about life-long learning both for himself and for those he reaches through his work, Dr. Randol has a BS and MS in Physics and a PhD in Science and Mathematics Education.

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biography

Carla Herran Oregon Museum of Science and Industry

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Carla Herran is a research and evaluation associate at OMSI. Her work specializes in the design, implementation, and dissemination of evaluation projects with emphasis on visitors, family groups, youth, and adult perceptions. In current projects, she collaborates with cross departmental teams to gather and use data to inform, improve , and incorporate EDI approaches. With over ten years of experience in the non-profit sector, she has worked coordinating economic development projects in rural communities in Bolivia. She has earned a masters in public policy with focus in environmental and energy policy at the Oregon State University.

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Smirla Ramos-Montanez OMSI

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Smirla Ramos-Montañez, PhD is a bilingual (Spanish/English) and bicultural (Puerto Rican/American) researcher and evaluator focusing on culturally responsive studies related to informal STEM learning. During the last six years Dr. Ramos-Montañez has led and supported a variety of projects, including program and exhibit evaluation as well as STEM education research to provide accessible, culturally relevant, and engaging experiences for diverse audiences.

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Todd Shagott

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Marcie R. Benne Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

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Marcie Benne, PhD, is the Director of Engagement Research and Advancement at OMSI. She works with community members, partners, and teammates in the research and design of experiences and systems that support community goals. She is currently the Principal Investigator for Designing our tomorrow - Mobilizing the next generation of engineers. This NSF-funded project includes research on family engineering learning at exhibits, the development of an exhibit on biomimicry as a form of engineering, and professional development on engineering education for exhibit designers, developers, and facilitators. She is also leading a Moonshot project funded by the IF/THEN® Gender Equity Initiative to provide two videos focused on engineering and design for anyone in the field to use. In addition to her work with OMSI, Marcie is a founding member of the Informal Learning Leadership Collaborative (ILLC) and engages with her community as a facilitator for conversations about race and activities for personal reflection.

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Abstract

Engineering Awareness at Design Challenge Exhibits (Fundamental)

Awareness of a STEM discipline is a complex construct to operationalize; a learner’s awareness of a discipline is sometimes viewed through the lens of personal identity, use of relevant discourse, or knowledge of career pathways. This research proposes defining engineering awareness through a learner’s associations with engineering practices - fundamental processes involved in engineering such as identifying criteria and constraints, testing designs, diagnosing issues and assessing goal completion. In this study, a learner’s engineering awareness was determined by examining 1) their ability to name or identify the engineering-related practices and processes they used, 2) associating those practices and processes with engineering, and 3) reporting that those were practices and processes that engineers use.

This research was conducted in a large science center in the Pacific Northwest and capitalizes on science center exhibits as unique family learning environments in the interest of promoting and strengthening family engagement and engineering learning. Participant selection focused on girls ages 9–14 and their families, ensuring the inclusion and influence of members of Latino communities (Spanish speaking and bilingual English/Spanish). Data were collected at three different design challenge exhibits. Engineering awareness was measured using three items on a visitor survey administered following a groups’ exhibit experience and through interview responses which were coded for mention of the words design, engineering and a list of associated practices. Participants were given the option of completing the survey and interview in English or Spanish.

The study found that participants overwhelmingly reported that they were doing engineering at exhibits; however, in open-ended responses from the interview, most groups simply implied or named specific engineering design practices rather than use the term engineering. The words building, testing, and improving designs were reported more frequently than words such as defining a problem, making a plan, or completing a challenge. The type of responses about using engineering practices varied by type of exhibit which suggests that different exhibits might encourage respondents to engage in, or recognise that they are engaging in, some engineering design practices more than others.

This work proposes an operational definition to measure learners’ awareness of engaging in engineering practices. This definition and the instruments and methods developed to measure awareness in this way are contributions to the larger conversations on this topic in the field. Findings from this study offer insights into how learners identify engineering-related practices and how they associate those practices with engineering. As part of a five-year, federally funded project, the result of this work informs the development of new design challenge exhibits, and the instruments and methods will be used in a second research study to explore how these new exhibits and the addition of staff facilitation impact visitor use and awareness of engineering practices.

Randol, S. M., & Herran, C., & Ramos-Montanez, S., & Shagott, T., & Benne, M. R. (2021, July), Engineering Awareness at Design Challenge Exhibits (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37052

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