Asee peer logo

Impact of Engineering Curricula and Student Programming on STEM Attitudes among Middle and High School Students (Evaluation)

Download Paper |


2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division: Evaluation: Impact of Curriculum for PreK-12 Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Jennifer B. Listman New York University

visit author page

Dr. Jennifer Listman is the Assistant Director, Program Development and Evaluation, Center for K12 STEM Education, New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering. As the Center’s resident research scientist, she conducts and publishes assessments and outcomes evaluations of Center programs for stewardship, research, and development purposes. Dr. Listman received her B.A. in Biology from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991 and her PhD in Anthropological Genetics from New York University in 2009. She conducted research on human evolutionary and migratory history in South East Asian populations and Jewish populations using genomic data and carried out collection of saliva samples as a DNA source from over 500 individuals in rural Thailand, to create a DNA resource of six ethnic populations. In addition, while Associate Research Scientist at Yale University School of Medicine, she conducted research on the evolutionary history of genes involved in alcohol metabolism and substance abuse. She has been awarded grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research.

visit author page


Vikram Kapila New York University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Vikram Kapila is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering (NYU Tandon), where he directs a Mechatronics and Control Laboratory, a Research Experience for Teachers Site in Mechatronics and Entrepreneurship, a GK-12 Fellows project, and a DR K-12 research project, all funded by NSF. He has held visiting positions with the Air Force Research Laboratories in Dayton, OH. His research interests include K-12 STEM education, mechatronics, robotics, and control system technology. Under Research Experience for Teachers Site and GK-12 Fellows programs, funded by NSF, and the Central Brooklyn STEM Initiative (CBSI), funded by six philanthropic foundations, he has conducted significant K-12 education, training, mentoring, and outreach activities to integrate engineering concepts in science classrooms and labs of dozens of New York City public schools. He received NYU Tandon’s 2002, 2008, 2011, and 2014 Jacobs Excellence in Education Award, 2002 Jacobs Innovation Grant, 2003 Distinguished Teacher Award, and 2012 Inaugural Distinguished Award for Excellence in the category Inspiration through Leadership. Moreover, he is a recipient of 2014-2015 University Distinguished Teaching Award at NYU. In 2004, he was selected for a three-year term as a Senior Faculty Fellow of NYU Tandon’s Othmer Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies. His scholarly activities have included 3 edited books, 8 chapters in edited books, 1 book review, 55 journal articles, and 126 conference papers. He has mentored 1 B.S., 17 M.S., and 4 Ph.D. thesis students; 31 undergraduate research students and 11 undergraduate senior design project teams; over 300 K-12 teachers and 100 high school student researchers; and 18 undergraduate GK-12 Fellows and 60 graduate GK-12 Fellows. Moreover, he directs K-12 education, training, mentoring, and outreach programs that enrich the STEM education of over 1,500 students annually.

visit author page

Download Paper |


In summer, 2015, a school of engineering within a comprehensive urban university provided 30 teachers with on-campus professional development (PD) and 323 students with multi-week direct services using a locally-developed robotics and smart cities curricula. Goals were to provide hands-on, standards-aligned STEM learning to underserved students while simultaneously providing embedded PD to middle and high school teachers.

Lessons and activities for the two curricular tracks have been developed by engineering students and faculty over the past decade under public and philanthropic support for K-12 STEM education projects. Under faculty supervision, 12 graduate students refined existing lessons and activities for middle and high school students, and then conducted two week summer training for over 40 undergraduate and graduate engineering students who would deliver these curricula to teachers and students. Student participants were entering 8th or 11th grade (42% female both pre and post project) and had been chosen by the city’s department of education (DoE) via lottery. Services were provided at 5 public schools with students drawn from the entire district for a given school. District teachers applied for summer positions and were selected by the city’s DoE. After a three-day intensive PD at the university, teacher/engineering student pairs co-taught either robotics or smart cities curricula, 4 days/week for 5 weeks.

The project was assessed using student responses to a ten item anonymous paper survey, pre (N=323) and post (N=245) project, adapted from NSF-funded STEM attitudes and perceptions surveys. Students circled a response (YES!; Pretty much; I don’t know; Not really; NO!), re-coded for analysis to a 1 to 5 Likert scale since children respond better to statement-based scales. For these non-normally distributed data, a Kolmogorov-Smirnov test was performed, assuming unmatched samples, for each item pre vs. post. Uncorrected for multiple testing, results showed significance (p=0.007) for Q7 “I usually understand what is going on in my STEM classes” and suggestive significance (p=0.078) for Q1 “I would like to have a career in a STEM field.” A nonparametric randomization test with multiple linear regression was used to identify effects of and interactions between factors: status (pre vs. post), gender, and program (robotics vs. smart cities). Three statements showed significant positive change (p<0.05) post program: Q7 “I usually understand what is going on in my STEM classes;” Q8 “My family expects me to complete a 4 year college;” and Q10 “I know someone with a STEM related job who encourages me to pursue a STEM career, too.” Boys were significantly more likely (p=0.01) to affirm Q2 “My family has encouraged me to learn more STEM” and girls were significantly more likely (p=0.001) to affirm Q8. Two items showed significant interaction effects between status and program or gender and program.

Results indicate that hands-on summer STEM curriculum, three day STEM PD for teachers, followed by embedded co-teaching by engineering students, improve average STEM attitudes and perceptions among K-12 students. It cannot be ruled out that SES factors contributing to program drop-out drove some results. Responses on pre-project survey were significantly associated with gender for items describing messages to students’ from their families regarding STEM. Full paper will provide details on program design, curricula overview, training methodology, and engagement of students in hands-on STEM learning. Moreover, details will be provided for student responses to STEM attitudes and perception survey, as well as highlights of analysis. Future offerings of the project will aim to gather additional data, including teacher questionnaire responses.

Listman, J. B., & Kapila, V. (2016, June), Impact of Engineering Curricula and Student Programming on STEM Attitudes among Middle and High School Students (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27309

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2016 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015