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Increasing Student And School Interest In Engineering Education By Using A Hands On Inquiry Based Programming Curriculum

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Students' Abilities and Attitudes

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

15.722.1 - 15.722.7



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Paper Authors


Geoff Wright

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Geoff Wright is a Professor of Technology and Engineering Education at Brigham Young University. His scholarship centers on programming, multimedia pedagogy, and technological literacy. He has published and presented on these and many other technology and engineering related topics.

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Peter Rich Brigham Young University

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Peter Rich is a Professor of Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University. His areas of focus lie in the domains of programming, design, creativity, lateral transfer, and other related topics.

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Keith Leatham Brigham Young University

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Keith Leatham is a Professor of Mathematics at Brigham Young University. His areas of expertise concern advanced mathematics and computing, mathematics pedagogy, and other associated domains.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Increasing Student and School Interest in Engineering Education by Using a Hands-on Inquiry Based Programming Curriculum

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Abstract: Many high schools nation-wide recognize the need, and are showing interest in engineering education, however, only a small percentage of those schools have been able to fully integrate an engineering component into their curriculum. The reasons for this are: lack of infrastructure, lack of training, lack of appropriate and sustainable curriculum, and lack of student interest. Paradoxically, many schools have maintained or increased the teaching of programming in their schools (Dewar, 2008). Strangely there has been little effort to correlate these two activities. Prensky (2008) stated that one of the stated core skills today’s engineer need is: an understanding of computer programming. Coincidently the 2008 – 2009 employment and labor report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the need for engineers with programming experience will be one of the careers with the largest numerical increase and demand. This research outlines: 1) the need for engineering in k-12 environments, 2) analyzes the reasons for which schools have had a difficult time fully integrating engineering into school curriculum, 3) proposes a mixed content and pedagogical approach to teaching engineering and programming based on a hands-on inquiry approach, and 4) outlines additional benefits of using a blended content approach such as this (e.g., improved student mathematical self-efficacy and problem solving skills). The research project is in its second year of implementation. Last year 120 students were introduced into the course, and this year 80 more students are involved in the project. Thus far, the results of the project have shown a strong correlation between student engineering interest, aptitude, programming understanding, and an increased understanding of mathematics.

Introduction Mathematics has long been regarded as an essential skill, as noted by the American Society for Engineering Education’s mathematics division (Selingo, 2008). The Cold-War era “space race” pushed engineering awareness, mathematical, and scientific ability to the fore of our educational system. And yet, the United States exited the 20th century in a quandary over the status of its educational progress in math and science. This was due in part to the first international Trends in Mathematics and Science Study in 1995, which revealed that the U.S. fell behind its industrialized counterparts in advancing mathematical and scientific skills as students got older. One result was the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). An outcome of NCLB has been the refocusing of curriculum to allow more time-on-task for mathematics and language arts (Paris, 2000). Many districts are currently focusing their attention on more traditional classes (i.e., English, mathematics, history), reducing traditional engineering related classes, such as


Wright, G., & Rich, P., & Leatham, K. (2010, June), Increasing Student And School Interest In Engineering Education By Using A Hands On Inquiry Based Programming Curriculum Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16897

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: © 2010 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