June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
24.634.1 - 24.634.20
Funds of Knowledge in Hispanic Students’ Communities and Households that Enhance Engineering Design ThinkingReports consistently indicate that Hispanics remain profoundly underrepresented in the field ofengineering, including in undergraduate and graduate engineering programs. Unfortunately,many Hispanic students opt out of the engineering pipeline as early as middle school and highschool when they develop beliefs that “engineering is not for me” (Aschbacher, Li, & Roth,2010). Several scholars (Stevens et al., 2008) have offered sociocultural explanations for thisphenomenon, suggesting that “cultures of engineering” seem foreign to many Hispanic students’home cultures. In other words, many Hispanic adolescents may not see how engineering relatesto their personal interests, values, languages, household bodies of knowledge, and social orcultural practices. When K-12 engineering teachers draw from these resources—collectivelyknown as “funds of knowledge” (Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzales, 1992)—then we hypothesizethat Hispanic adolescents’ interest engineering will increase. Accordingly, the purpose of thistwo-year ethnographic study was to document the funds of knowledge that 24 Hispanicadolescents (ages 14-17) used as they worked in groups of three or four to select a problem intheir communities and solve it through engineering design processes. We sought to identify howthe adolescents’ values, interests, workplace skills, language skills, experience with householdmaintenance, and other funds of knowledge were used in ways that enhanced their engineeringdesign activity. Toward this end, we collected three types of data sources in relation to theadolescents: (a) transcripts from audiorecordings of the adolescents’ group meetings, held onceevery two weeks over the course of eight months, as they selected a problem in the materialworld and developed a design to address that problem; (b) transcripts of individual interviewswith each adolescent, held once per month over the course of eight months; and (c) copies of theproducts they generated, such as copies of their engineering notebooks. The authors are usingconstant comparative analysis to identify how categories of funds of knowledge relate tocategories of engineering design thinking. Preliminary analysis suggests several categories offunds of knowledge that secondary engineering teachers can use as a platform for discussingengineering, including (a) helping parents manage the household or workplace budget, which canhelp students manage a budget for an engineering project; (b) considering the needs/wants ofclients in the workplace, which can help students scope out the needs of clients for whom thedesign will be built; (c) considering the large-scale, systemic effects of individual changes withina video game, which can help students engage in systems thinking in the context of engineeringdesign; and more. Our findings suggest that Hispanic students bring rich funds of knowledge thatcan be used to enhance engineering design thinking and activity. . By identifying these categoriesof funds of knowledge, we hope to move toward the creation of culturally responsive secondaryhigh school engineering instruction that actively seeks to connect Hispanic students’ out-of-school practices to the formal practices of engineering.
Mejia, J. A., & Wilson-Lopez, A., & Hailey, C. E., & Hasbun, I. M., & Householder, D. L. (2014, June), Funds of Knowledge in Hispanic Students’ Communities and Households that Enhance Engineering Design Thinking Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20525
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