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Investigating the Fit Between Students’ Personal Interests and Their Perceptions of Engineering in a National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Pre-college Summer Workshop (Fundamental Research)

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Underrepresented Populations

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Morgan M. Hynes Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Morgan Hynes is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University and Director of the FACE Lab research group at Purdue. In his research, Hynes explores the use of engineering to integrate academic subjects in K-12 classrooms. Specific research interests include design metacognition among learners of all ages; the knowledge base for teaching K-12 STEM through engineering; the relationships among the attitudes, beliefs, motivation, cognitive skills, and engineering skills of K-16 engineering learners; and teaching engineering.

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Kayla R. Maxey Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Kayla is a doctoral student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research interest includes the influence of informal engineering learning experiences on diverse students’ attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions of engineering, and the relationship between students’ interests and the practices and cultures of engineering. Her current work at the FACE lab is on teaching strategies for K-12 STEM educators integrating engineering design and the development of engineering skills of K-12 learners.

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Concern over the underrepresentation of women and certain minority populations in engineering has been a concern for the last few decades. Government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private companies have invested significant money and resources to address this concern; however, the numbers of women and underrepresented minorities participating in engineering remains dismal. Much of this money has been invested in pre-college engineering education programs aimed at introducing students to engineering with the goal of improving their interests, attitudes, knowledge, beliefs, perceptions, etc. of engineering. Research and evaluation efforts connected to these interventions have shown promising results, yet matriculation into engineering undergraduate programs continues to lag.

The psychology of interests provides a useful distinction between situational interests and personal interests. Situational interests relate to the interestingness of the social or nonsocial environment that evokes engagement for an individual. Personal interests relate to one’s personal characteristics that influence their choices to engage in a particular social or nonsocial environment. Personal interests are more likely to predict prolonged and persistent engagement, while situational interests may be fleeting given the temporary nature of certain situations. Our hypothesis is that pre-college engineering outreach interventions measuring change in students’ engineering interests may be primarily measuring their change in situational interests. The engineering intervention may have been fun and engaging, at least as compared to the alternative (e.g., silent reading time, mathematics worksheets, etc.). However, these engineering interventions may not be sufficiently appealing to students’ personal interests and resulting in a sustained, persistent pursuit of engineering.

This paper presents pilot results from administering the Fit of Personal Interests and Perceptions of Engineering Survey (F-PIPES) across 16 National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Summer Engineering Experience for Kids (SEEK) workshop sites as part of a larger project. The pilot included a survey of the 3rd-5th grade students’ personal interests as mapped to the six dimensions of interests in Holland’s Career Theory—realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional. The students then took a survey administered at the end of the 3-week engineering workshop measuring their perceptions of engineering as it maps to those same six dimensions. The results of the students’ personal interests are presented as a whole—where social dimensions of interests rank highest for all participants—and broken down by gender, which shows interesting differences between male and female students—female students have higher interests in social, artistic, and enterprising dimensions. The results related to students’ perceptions of engineering show high ratings of investigative and realistic dimensions, which are most commonly associated with engineering, as well as high ratings of social dimensions. These results and others broken down by city and engineering activity are discussed with respect to nature of the activities in the 3-week SEEK engineering workshops.

Hynes, M. M., & Maxey, K. R. (2018, June), Investigating the Fit Between Students’ Personal Interests and Their Perceptions of Engineering in a National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Pre-college Summer Workshop (Fundamental Research) Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30727

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