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Implementation of Mini-Lectures in DREAM: Rigor in an Informal, Design Based High School Mentoring Project

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Broadening Participation of Minority Students in and with K-12 Engineering

Tagged Divisions

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering and Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.814.1 - 22.814.25



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Paper Authors

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Zhao Chad Kong

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Angie Martiza Bautista-Chavez Rice University

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Andres J Goza Rice University

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Rachel Jackson Rice University

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Kurt Kienast Rice University

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Sam Oke

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Juan A Castilleja The Boeing Company


Brent C Houchens Rice University

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Brent C. Houchens is an Assistant Professor of mechanical engineering at Rice University.

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Implementation of Physics Mini-Lectures and College Prep in DDDD: Rigor in an Informal, Design Based High School Mentoring Project KK, SO, ZK, AB, JC, BHThe DDDD - Achievement through Mentorship program is designed to introduceunderrepresented, underprivileged high school students (mentees) to engineering and help themprepare for the challenges of an engineering degree program. DDDD has three main goals thathave evolved and come into focus over the four years of the program’s existence. First, DDDDseeks to change mentees’ perceptions of what is possible, leading them to a better quality of lifethrough college education and subsequent rewarding and lucrative engineering and STEMcareers. Second, DDDD prepares mentees for the rigors of undergraduate STEM education byforming connections between engineering applications and high school classes, and promotingenrollment in upper-level math and science courses. Third, DDDD prepares mentees for thechallenges of university admissions through ACT and SAT prep and assistance with collegeapplications and essays. Each of these topics are discussed and major findings presented.DDDD has steadily evolved since its inception in 2007, as the unique needs of the underservedmentees have been better understood. Developing mentoring relationships through thecompletion of a design project was the initial focus and remains the heart of the program. Thisallows volunteer mentors (undergraduate and graduate students in engineering) to successfullyintroduce engineering to their mentees. Early survey results demonstrating this impact werepresented in the 2009 ASEE paper “Mentoring to Impassion the Study of Engineering inUnderrepresented High School Students via a Design Mechanism” 1 . Additional survey resultsare presented here for the over 50 volunteer mentors and 120 mentees that currently participatein DDDD at three schools in CITY, STATE.As the first cohort of mentees progressed through their second year of the program it becameevident that, while many developed a measurable passion for engineering, few were able tounderstand the importance of the physics concepts and mathematics in their design work. Thisshortcoming was addressed starting in fall 2009 (year three of the program) by introducing mini-lectures to clarify the relationship between the design projects and high school math, science andphysics classes. Enrollment in these “quality” courses is now promoted throughout the program.The mentors instill in the mentees the confidence needed to take and succeed in these classes,which provide the necessary background to study engineering at the college level. Furthermore,the mini-lectures have proven effective for teaching and reinforcing physics concepts.Inventories (physics quizzes) administered before and after DREAM show significantimprovements in mentee physics understanding, with correct responses to the primary conceptincreasing from typically less than 50% to 85-97%. The initial Intuition Inventory assessmentdata was presented in the 2010 ASEE paper “Physics and Mathematics Learning Outcomes ofUnderserved and Underrepresented DDDD Mentees at Three Urban High Schools”. Short-termretention studies and comparisons with same-school control groups confirm that the effect isstatistically significant. Additional data from recent semesters is presented here, with anemphasis on appropriate level mini-lectures to maximize the impact on learning.1 references will be moved to the body of the paper in the final versionAlso in year three (fall 2009), the need for directed college application assistance for seniormentees became startling apparent. All eight of the senior mentees who had participated inDDDD for more than two years intended to go to college, but they still had insufficient guidanceas how to proceed in the process. In this particular school it is a rare exception for a graduate toenter into college education. A quick survey of these eight seniors found that only one had takenthe SAT as of September 2009. None had started their college applications, despite being amongthe top students in the school. They were not unmotivated, but rather lacked the resources tofind out where to start. Immediately a separate college preparatory session was created for theseseniors to assist with SAT and ACT registration and preparation, and college and financial aidapplications. Implementation strategies are discussed here. The result was that all eight wereaccepted into one or more 4-year universities, and five are majoring in engineering or sciencefields. In 2010, a summer college prep and writing workshop was incorporated into DDDD forrising seniors. In comparison to fall 2009, over 80% of DDDD seniors had already taken theSAT by the first of September 2010.

Kong, Z. C., & Bautista-Chavez, A. M., & Goza, A. J., & Jackson, R., & Kienast, K., & Oke, S., & Castilleja, J. A., & Houchens, B. C. (2011, June), Implementation of Mini-Lectures in DREAM: Rigor in an Informal, Design Based High School Mentoring Project Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18095

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