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Engineering Images In Television: An Analysis Focusing On The Images Developed By High School Juniors And Seniors

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Topics in K-12 Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.511.1 - 13.511.10



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Paper Authors


William Lee University of South Florida

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William E. Lee III is presently a Professor at the University of South Florida and is also director of the biomedical engineering program. He has been active in the area of engineering education for all of his academic career.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Engineering images in television: An analysis focusing on the images developed by high school juniors and seniors


Media images can play a significant role in the establishing of profession images, particularly in youth. For many individuals, television is the dominant media exposure. This research probed high school student television-influenced images of professions, focusing on physicians, teachers, lawyers, and engineers. It was hypothesized that an understanding of such images would provide insights into recruitment issues related to secondary students selecting engineering as their future profession. The survey instrument employed included unstructured rating scales of: not creative – creative, dull/boring – exciting, cold/uncaring – warm/caring, and (regarding impact on society) negative impact – neutral – positive impact. Results indicated that television presentation of the engineering professionals is extremely limited. Students developed images of engineering professionals as not particularly exciting, relatively creative, relatively neutral on caring/uncaring, and somewhat neutral in regards to societal impact. Such images may be one reason why many high school students do not select engineering as a future profession.

Keywords: high school, engineering profession, professional image, media.


Media images influence our perception of many things. As Kellner states1:

Radio, television, film, and the other products of media culture provide materials out of which we forge our very identities … Media images help shape our view of the world and our deepest values … They contribute to educating us how to behave and what to think, feel, believe, fear, and desire – and what not to.

More specifically, the image that one has of an occupation or profession is often influenced by media images. This may be especially true when the individual has no first hand knowledge of the occupation or profession. The formed mental image is obviously strongly dependent on the content and presentation of the information by the media. The associated accuracy of any such formed images is often questionable, although many consumers will not normally probe any such accuracy issues.

For many individuals, television is the dominant media exposure. According to A.C. Nielson data and other sources2,3 , the average American will spend about four hours per day (28 hours per week) watching television. In fact, in the average American household, the television is on for 6 hours and 47 minutes per day. American youth will spend on average about 1,500 hours per year watching television. For perspective,

Lee, W. (2008, June), Engineering Images In Television: An Analysis Focusing On The Images Developed By High School Juniors And Seniors Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3932

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