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Informal Pathways to Engineering: Preliminary Findings

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.746.1 - 24.746.15



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Paper Authors


Monica E. Cardella Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Monica E. Cardella is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University and the Director of Informal Learning Environments Research for INSPIRE (the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning). She has a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Puget Sound and an MS and PhD in Industrial Engineering from the University of Washington. Her research focuses on: parents' roles in engineering education; engineering learning in informal environments; engineering design education; and mathematical thinking.

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Marisa Wolsky WGBH Educational Foundation

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Marisa Wolsky is an Executive Producer at WGBH Educational Foundation with over 20 years of experience turning STEM content into entertaining and educational media. Ms. Wolsky is the Principal Investigator for the NSF-funded series Design Squad, for which she oversees all aspects of the production, translating its engineering content into entertaining across many platforms. She is also Senior Producer for the NSF-funded preschool science series Peep and the Big Wide World, responsible for managing its production and working closely with the series’ advisors to oversee the implementation of Peep’s educationally rich science curriculum. Prior to this, she worked on the development and production of many children’s series, including Long Ago & Far Away, Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego?, Where in Time Is Carmen Sandiego?, Arthur, and ZOOM. Ms. Wolsky holds a B.A. in American Studies from Barnard College, Columbia University.

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Christine Andrews Paulsen Concord Evaluation Group

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Christine Andrews Paulsen is founder of Concord Evaluation Group (CEG) in Massachusetts. Dr. Paulsen holds a Ph.D. in education research, evaluation, and measurement from the University of Pennsylvania. She has been conducting evaluation research since 1990 and, prior to CEG, worked for the Institute for Social Analysis and the American Institutes for Research. Dr. Paulsen routinely directs evaluations of STEM-related projects in formal and informal educational settings, focusing on learners as well as practitioners. Her main research interest lies in evaluating the use of learning technologies that hold the promise of enhancing the lives of traditionally underserved populations (children, parents, and communities).

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Tamecia R. Jones Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Tamecia R. Jones is a doctoral student at Purdue University School of Engineering Education. She is studying assessment in K-12 formal and informal settings.

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Informal Pathways to EngineeringRoughly 85% of a child's time (waking hours) is spent in out-of-school settings. Therefore, as weconsider increasing pre-college students' awareness of engineering, along with the need tobroaden diverse participation in engineering and promote a more engineering-literate populous, itis important to not only consider how children learn about engineering in school environments,but also how they learn about engineering in out-of-school settings.This project investigates the effects of informal, out-of-school learning activities on students'interest in engineering and decisions to engage in engineering-related activities (leading tochoices to study engineering in college). The study builds on the success of “Design Squad,” anNSF-funded, multimedia program for middle school children that includes television episodesbroadcast nationally on PBS, an interactive website, and hands-on engineering activities. Thestudy uses a longitudinal study design where middle-school aged children (from two differentgeographic regions), parents and educators (both classroom teachers and informal educators) areinterviewed and surveyed to collect data, and data is analyzed using social cognitive careertheory.The broader significance and importance of this project will be to support the informalengineering field’s ability to inspire more children to pursue engineering pathways (from initialinterest in engineering to choices in college majors and an ultimate career as a professionalengineer). The project builds on strong partnerships with many youth organizations, such as theGirl Scouts of the USA, FIRST and the National Engineers Week Foundation. This projectincludes not only a research program, but also the development of new web-resources that canfurther promote children's interest in and understanding of engineering.

Cardella, M. E., & Wolsky, M., & Paulsen, C. A., & Jones, T. R. (2014, June), Informal Pathways to Engineering: Preliminary Findings Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20638

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