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Enhancing Student Motivation and Efficacy through Soft Robot Design

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Motivation

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

12

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/28280

Download Count

73

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Paper Authors

biography

Andrew Jackson Purdue Polytechnic Institute Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-2882-3052

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Andrew Jackson is currently pursuing a PhD in Technology through Purdue's Polytechnic Institute, with an emphasis on Engineering and Technology Teacher Education. His research interests are engineering self-efficacy, motivation, and decision making. Andrew is the recipient of a 2015 Ross Fellowship from Purdue University and has been recognized as a 21st Century Fellow by the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association. He completed his Master of Science in Technology Leadership and Innovation at Purdue University with a thesis investigating middle school engineering self-efficacy beliefs. He previously taught middle school and undergraduate technology courses, accompanying both experiences with classroom research to improve practice.

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Nathan Mentzer Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Nathan Mentzer is an assistant professor in the College of Technology with a joint appointment in the College of Education at Purdue University. Hired as a part of the strategic P12 STEM initiative, he prepares Engineering/Technology candidates for teacher licensure. Dr. Mentzer’s educational efforts in pedagogical content knowledge are guided by a research theme centered in student learning of engineering design thinking on the secondary level. Nathan was a former middle and high school technology educator in Montana prior to pursuing a doctoral degree. He was a National Center for Engineering and Technology Education (NCETE) Fellow at Utah State University while pursuing a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction. After graduation he completed a one year appointment with the Center as a postdoctoral researcher.

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Jiawei Zhang Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Jiawei Zhang is a Master’s student in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University focusing on robotics and design. Prior to joining the Faboratory at Purdue University, he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from North Dakota State University. He is a problem solver with strong hands-on skills and industrial experience. Currently, he is working on the characterization and fabrication of soft robotic grippers.

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Rebecca Kramer Purdue University, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Rebecca Kramer is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. She holds the degrees of B.S. from Johns Hopkins University, M.S. from the University of California at Berkeley, and Ph.D. from Harvard University. Her lab, the Faboratory, contains a leading facility for the rapid design, fabrication, and analysis of materially soft and multifunctional systems. Her research expertise is in stretchable electronics, responsive material actuators, soft material manufacturing, and soft-bodied control. Dr. Kramer serves as an Associate Editor and Editorial Board member of Frontiers in Robotics and AI: Soft Robotics. She is the recipient of the NSF CAREER Award, the NASA Early Career Faculty Award, the AFOSR Young Investigator Award, the ONR Young Investigator Award, and was named to the 2015 Forbes 30 under 30 list.

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Abstract

This research paper evaluates student perceptual changes on engineering motivation and self-efficacy following participation in a soft robotics curriculum unit. Soft robotics is a growing engineering field, drawing on domains such as materials engineering, biomedical engineering, and chemical engineering – areas of higher female enrollment – to inform the design and fabrication of flexible robotics. These robots are especially durable, safe for human interaction, and capable of handling diverse, delicate, or irregularly shaped objects. As part of an NSF funded project, students participated in soft robot design; the curriculum unit used a design challenge and inquiry methods, giving students an opportunity to iteratively experiment with the design of their robot. Working on a human-centered design challenge with several rounds of iteration, students gained insight into engineering principles critical for the successful fabrication and operation of soft robot grippers. The experience attempted to emphasize the societal relevance of engineering, foster student tinkering self-efficacy, and grow technical self-efficacy—factors related to the low percentage of female enrollment identified by Baker et al. (2007). As such, we hypothesize that the context of this design challenge will increase student motivation and self-efficacy for engineering, especially among female students. Using preliminary survey results and observations from 17 high school technology and engineering classrooms, we report student beginning self-perception scores for engineering motivation and self-efficacy. Next we report engineering motivation and self-efficacy scores following a quasi-experimental implementation of the curriculum, and describe contextual differences (hard versus soft robotics) and gendered effects. These beginning findings will be useful for understanding students’ developing perceptions of ability and motivation for engineering. They may also point to contextual effects of design activities on self-perception that should be investigated further. The development of our soft robot curriculum experience will be informed by this research as we continue to explore these results and work towards sustained engineering confidence and motivation.

Jackson, A., & Mentzer, N., & Zhang, J., & Kramer, R. (2017, June), Enhancing Student Motivation and Efficacy through Soft Robot Design Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28280

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