New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Pre-College Engineering Education Division
Despite efforts to diversify engineering, gaps persist, with few Latino/as becoming engineers. The Southwest US is an ideal place to characterize student interest development in engineering, and to relate that interest to perceptions of instructional practices. This study contributes information about teachers and their students, who are predominantly Latino/a (>90%) from some of the highest poverty schools in the US. We investigate teacher and student perceptions of connecting instruction to student interests and culture and student ownership of STEM practices (students coming up with their own ways to solve problems, posing their own questions, and developing their own conclusions). Students also provided information about the relevance of instruction for their futures, whether they had a relative/friend who was an engineer, their interest in becoming an engineer, and their ideas about an engineering lab visited by their teachers. We compared their responses to teacher responses, finding them to be similar overall. We use multiple regression to model student interest in becoming an engineer. A significant regression equation was found (F(4, 230)= 11.26, p less than .001). Students who viewed what they were learning as important to their futures, and who reported having opportunities to draw their own conclusions were significantly more likely to express interest in becoming an engineer. Qualitative analysis of open ended responses revealed that most students could describe normative differences between science and engineering, but very few envisioned an active role for themselves, were they to be in the lab their teachers visited. Our findings suggest students’ perceptions of instruction play a larger role in engineering interest development than having a close relative/friend who is an engineer or teachers connecting to their personal interests. Providing opportunities for their students to pose their own questions or design their own procedures did not predict interest development, but they do align to the kinds of skills engineers need, suggesting that teachers may need support to develop these practices further. Taken with the qualitative analysis, such opportunities can also be used to help students envision active roles for themselves. Supporting interest development but not also supporting ability development will not address persistent gaps.
Svihla, V. (2016, June), Fundamental Research: Characterizing Underrepresented Students' Interest in Engineering Careers and Their Teachers' Beliefs about Practices Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26984
ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015