June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
22.796.1 - 22.796.12
Involving Parents Can Improve Girls’ Perceptions of Engineering CareersMiddle school girls who participated in a recent engineering technology activity with a parentemerged with more positive attitudes about engineering than girls who worked without a parent.The activity, making a diode, was conducted by instructors at Illinois Valley Community Collegeas part of a National Science Foundation-supported project designed to increase interest inengineering technology careers. The students who participated were the sixth through eighthgrade girls enrolled in a rural junior high, which has a high percentage of low-income, low-education level families. The girls were randomly divided into two groups; parents were invitedto participate with one group. In order to accommodate parent schedules, two of the threeparent-participating sessions were scheduled in the evening; all other sessions were during theschool day. Half of the parents who were invited did participate.The diode activity began with a short introduction to the basics of diodes, their use, and relatedcareer opportunities. Diode making required the girls to use propane torches to melt metals onsilicon disks and voltage meters to check the diodes. Since one goal of the activity was toimprove the girls’ technical confidence, parents were allowed to assist their daughters, but fathers,especially, were encouraged to refrain from “taking over.”Pre and post surveys given to both groups of girls and to the participating parents showed morepositive attitudes toward STEM careers after the activity than before the activity. However, thegains after the activity were much higher in the girls who participated with a parent.Additionally, twice as many of the girls who participated with a parent said the activity increasedtheir technical confidence compared to the girls who worked without a parent.While this study was limited to one school and just under 100 girls, the results indicate thatparent involvement with STEM initiatives could be an effective recruitment tool for youngwomen.
Caley Opsal, S. M., & Perez, D. M., & Gibson, J. A., & Lynch, R. M. (2011, June), IInvolving Parents Can Improve Girls' Perceptions of Engineering Careers Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/18077
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