New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Pre-College Engineering Education Division
Four years ago, the Department of Computer and Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (CEE/CS) at California State University, Bakersfield began an outreach program targeted towards high school students interested in engineering. This program was created as part of the grant activities for the Department of Education grant Y, which has concluded. The intent of the program was to encourage more local students, particularly underrepresented minorities and women, to attend college and pursue engineering degrees.
The outreach program was modeled after previous work that was shown to increase interest in engineering disciplines for women and underrepresented minorities. A major focus of the program was the use of hands-on activities to engage students. As we previously reported, the first year of the program focused on robotics. In subsequent years, we enhanced the program to utilize a wide variety of engineering projects in the areas of electronics, combustion engines, electromagnetism, power systems, and robotics.
Students participating in the outreach activity completed pre- and post-surveys. After analyzing the surveys for the initial year of the program, the surveys were retooled in the 2012/13 academic year to capture more data. The updated surveys contained questions to assess knowledge of engineering concepts and attitudes towards engineering and college, as well as background information questions.
The results for the updated surveys from the summers of 2013 to 2015 are analyzed in this paper. A total of 55 students completed the pre-survey and 51 students completed the post-survey. The majority of the participants had just completed either their sophomore or junior year of high school. A majority had completed mathematics through Algebra 2, and had also completed biology and chemistry. Less than half of the students had participated in previous STEM activities.
On the pre-survey, 98% of the students were interested or very interested in college. Comparing the responses on the pre- and post-surveys, the interest in attending University X increased as a result of participating in the activity. There was a very slight decrease in the interest in engineering as a major, with 72.7% interested on the pre-survey and 68.6% interested on the post-survey, but there was a corresponding increase in the interest in other STEM majors, such as mathematics and science, on the post-survey. This implies that the program helped the students to better understand the field of study associated with STEM majors, while still maintaining a high level of interest in engineering.
A total of 8 knowledge questions, covering engineering topics ranging from combustion engines to transistors, were asked on the pre- and post-surveys. The average score for the knowledge questions increased from 1.2 (“Novice”) on the pre-survey to 2.8 (“Apprentice/Proficient”) on the post-survey. Additionally, the average percentage of “Unsure/No Answer” responses decreased from 60.5% on the pre-survey to 22.3% on the post-survey. Looking at individual knowledge questions, the decrease in “Unsure/No Answer” responses was greater for concepts that were directly reinforced by the hands-on activities, such as building a model of a combustion engine or using a breadboard to create a circuit.
Danforth, M., & Lam, C., & Mehrpouyan, H., & Hughes, R. (2016, June), Impact of a Hands-On, Exploratory Engineering Outreach Program on Knowledge and Attitudes of High School Students (RTP) Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25528
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