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Following in Our Footsteps? Parent-Child Conversations about Engineering (Fundamental)

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Pre-College: Perceptions and Attitudes on the Pathway to Engineering (2)

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Brianna L. Dorie Gonzaga University

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Brianna L. Dorie is an Assistant Professor of Engineering at Gonzaga University responsible for the implementation of the first year engineering program. Her research centers around the formation of engineering thinking and broadening participation in engineering.

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Broadening participation from a diverse set of individuals is one of the central tenets of engineering education research, and there are may different pathways for exposure to engineering. As interest in a potential occupation is influenced by knowledge and familiarity as a child reaches adolescence, it is essential to expose young children to the engineering world of work. However, studies have shown that most children have limited information regarding engineers, and this lack of knowledge can often persist into adulthood. As parents are the predominant source of occupational information for young children, researchers hypothesize that parents socialize their children to be predisposed to their own occupation through informal interactions, such as conversations. This is highly evident in the phenomena of occupational inheritance, where children have similar occupations to their parents, that is prevalent within engineering families, particularly among females. This study aims to look at how parents engage with their young children about engineering with focus on how they share occupational knowledge, attitudes and beliefs.

This exploratory qualitative study investigated engineering parents’ strategies while conversing with their young children centered around reading an engineering storybook. Twenty-four parents that self-identified as engineers (through a degree conferred or a job association or other) video-recorded themselves in their own home, reading a provided engineering storybook to their children aged 3 to 5 years. Conversation analysis was used to identify the knowledge, attitudes and beliefs that were shared during the interaction. It was found that engineering parents provide both general and specific knowledge about engineering that is informed by their own background. However, while engineering parents display positive attitudes regarding engineering, they may not correct inconsistencies that the child may have - even though they consider themselves knowledgeable about their own field. The findings from this study will be used to develop materials to inform parents and educators of how to engage in conversations about engineering with young children.

Dorie, B. L. (2017, June), Following in Our Footsteps? Parent-Child Conversations about Engineering (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28376

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