June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
22.761.1 - 22.761.13
High School Guidance Counselors’ Beliefs and Expectations about Precollege Engineering PreparationMotivationThe National Research Council calls for educational leaders to optimize knowledge-basedresources and energize the United States’ STEM career pathway. High school guidancecounselors (GC) play an important role in shaping students’ course-taking decisions, post-secondary education and career choices. Yet less is known about GCs’ views on advisingstudents about future studies and careers in engineering or the criteria with which GCs evaluatestudents’ preparation or predict their likelihood of engineering success.MethodWe documented GCs’ views using the Engineering Education Beliefs and ExpectationsInstrument (EEBEI-C; modified for counselors) administered on-line. We also compared theviews of GCs whose schools did and did not participate in Project Lead the Way (PLTW), aformal, precollege engineering curriculum program adopted by over 15% of US high schools.Thus, findings based on its use have far-reaching implications.The majority of respondents in the initial sample (N = 125) were white (84%) and female (60%).53% came from PLTW certified schools.In addition to the Likert scale items, GCs were presented with vignettes of four fictional studentsin order to elicit their views in a less overt, and more situated manner. The vignettes weredesigned to investigate the influence of two factors on GCs advising: student academic abilitiesand family social/cultural background. This underlying design was not explicitly stated toparticipants.Results and ConclusionsAnalyses of responses to Likert scale items revealed nine reliable constructs (α ≥ .70), withsample means falling midway on the scales. GCs in PLTW (n = 67) and non-PLTW (n = 58)schools hold many common views regarding advising for enrollment in precollege engineeringcourses and expectations for future engineering careers: advising was often shaped by students’academic performance; GCs believe students sometimes receive explicit connections betweenscience or math content to engineering activities; GCs generally agree that high academicperformance in math, science and technology courses is pre-requisite to a career in engineering;and GCs believe that one’s cultural or social background has no effect in their decisions aboutadvising students to pursue a career in engineering.Statistically significant differences between PLTW and non-PLTW GCs were also found. GCs inPLTW schools perceive greater availability of school resources for engineering education (p <.001). GCs in PLTW schools were also more likely than non-PLTW GCs to agree that collegepreparatory skills and concepts in math and science are effectively integrated with students’engineering activities (p = .02).The vignettes provide insights into tacit views GCs may hold as they make recommendationsabout specific, fictional student cases. GCs are generally inclined to recommend enrollment inprecollege engineering courses for all of the students, but low academic achievement led 25% ofGCs to advise a student away from engineering studies. Although GCs report that socio-economic status (SES) does not influence advising decisions, comparative analyses show SESdoes implicitly influence GCs’ beliefs about who should enroll in engineering courses, andexpectations of who will succeed in future engineering careers, x2McNemar(1) = 57.02, p = .0001.SignificanceWhile GCs overall report that academic factors do and socio-economic factors do not influenceadvising decisions, the comparative analyses across vignettes showed that both academic andsocio-economic factors influenced GCs’ beliefs about who should enroll in engineering courses,and expectations of who will succeed in future engineering careers. Given the equity goals ofpublic education and the potential of technical careers to benefit historically under-servedgroups, this suggests that greater attention to these tacit views needs to be addressed during staffdevelopment in the schools and the pre-engineering training programs of GCs.
Nathan, M. J., & Atwood, A. K., & Prevost, A. C., & Tran, N. A. (2011, June), Guidance Counselors’ Beliefs and Expectations about High School Students' Precollege Engineering Preparation Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18042
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