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How Outreach Camps that Incorporate Design Affects Female High School Students’ Interest in Engineering and Perceptions of Engineering Design (Evaluation)

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Pre-College Engineering Education Focused on Female Students

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Kaitlin Tyler Granta Design Orcid 16x16

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Kaitlin is currently an Education Fellow with the Granta Education Division. She received her PhD at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign under Professor Paul Braun. Her research was split: focusing on manipulating eutectic material microstructures for optical applications and examining how engineering outreach programs influence participants' self-perceptions of engineering and self-confidence. Her interests lie in materials education and STEM outreach.

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Nicole Johnson-Glauch California State Polytechnic University, San Luis Obispo

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Dr. Nicole Johnson-Glauch is a lecturer in the Materials Engineering Department at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California. Her current research interests are in how visual representations help or hinder student learning and how the structure of outreach activities impact underrepresented students' interest and belonging in engineering.

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Leon M. Dean University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


Jessica A. Krogstad University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Jessica A. Krogstad is an assistant professor in the Department of Material Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. She received her PhD in Materials at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2012. Between 2012 and 2014, she held a postdoctoral appointment in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Her current research explores the interplay between phase or morphological evolution and material functionality in structural materials under extreme conditions. She also maintains interest in engineering education, specifically in outreach and design thinking.

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Outreach summer camps, particularly those focused on increasing the number of women in engineering, are commonplace. Some camps take the approach of a broad survey of engineering as a whole, while others focus on one specific discipline. Within the discipline-specific camps, there is a high degree of variability in curriculum and structure. This is apparent when considering if and how engineering design is built into the camp structure. While many studies have investigated the impact of outreach camps on engineering self-confidence among participants, few studies have sought to understand how the camp curriculum as a whole can influence these outcomes.

To begin to understand the connection between outreach camp curriculum and engineering self-confidence among participants, we studied outreach camps targeted to high school women that varied in the incorporation of design into their structure. We chose to study three camps: (1) a design-focused camp, (2) a design-incorporated camp (run by the authors), and a (3) design-absent camp. All three camps were at the same university but based in different engineering disciplines. Results from pre-post survey Wilcoxon Signed Rank tests showed that design-focused and design-incorporated camps were able to improve students’ perspective of what engineering is (p <.01 and p = .02), while the design-absent camp had no change. The design-incorporated camp increased the participants’ desire to be an engineer (p = .02) while the design-absent camp decreased the participants’ desire to be an engineer (p = .02) and the design-focused camp had no effect. The design-absent camp also decreased the participants’ overall interest in engineering (p = .02). Additionally, both the design-incorporated and design-focused camps increased the participants’ confidence in conducting engineering design (p <.01 and p <.01), but only the design-incorporated camp had consistent improvements throughout the entire design cycle. Motivated by these results, we intend in future studies to more systematically probe the potential of different outreach curricula and structures to positively influence engineering perceptions.

Tyler, K., & Johnson-Glauch, N., & Dean, L. M., & Krogstad, J. A. (2019, June), How Outreach Camps that Incorporate Design Affects Female High School Students’ Interest in Engineering and Perceptions of Engineering Design (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32897

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