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Investigating the Impact of an Outreach Activity on High School Students’ Attitude Towards STEM Disciplines

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Research to Practice: STRAND 5 Other Topics in K-12 Engineering Education.

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1040.1 - 26.1040.10



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Paper Authors


Shaobo Huang South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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Dr. Shaobo Huang is an Assistant Professor and the Stensaas Endowed STEM Chair in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at South Dakota School of Mines & Technology. Her research interests include student retention and academic performance in engineering, student achievement evaluation and assessment, and K-12 STEM curriculum design.

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Cassandra M Degen South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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Dr. Cassandra Degen received her B.S. degree in Metallurgical Engineering from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 2007. She received her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering in 2012 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, studying mechanochemical reactions of a spiropyran mechanophore in polymeric materials under shear loading. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Mechanical Engineering department at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology where her research interests include novel manufacturing and characterization techniques of polymer and composite structures and the incorporation of multifunctionality by inducing desired responses to mechanical loading.

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Marius D Ellingsen South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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Assistant Professor at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, Mechanical Engineering Dept.

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Mark David Bedillion South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Bedillion received the BS degree in 1998, the MS degree in 2001, and the PhD degree in 2005, all from the mechanical engineering department of Carnegie Mellon University. After a seven year career in the hard disk drive industry, Dr. Bedillion joined the faculty of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Spring 2011. Dr. Bedillion's research interests include distributed manipulation, control applications in data storage, control applications in manufacturing, and STEM education.

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Karim Heinz Muci-Kuchler South Dakota School of Mines and Technology

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Karim Muci-Küchler is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Co-Director of the Experimental and Computational Mechanics Laboratory at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T). Before joining SDSM&T, he was an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Detroit Mercy. He received his Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics from Iowa State University in 1992. His main interest areas include Computational Mechanics, Solid Mechanics, and Product Design and Development. He has taught several different courses at the undergraduate and graduate level, has over 50 publications, is co-author of one book, and has done consulting for industry in Mexico and the US. He can be reached at

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Investigating the Impact of an Outreach Activity on High School Students’ Attitude towards STEM Disciplines AbstractSelf-efficacy and motivation have been found to be the key factors that mediate students’academic performance, interact with learning processes, and reflect changes in learning context.To promote students’ self-efficacy and motivation in learning STEM disciplines, the projectteam designed and implemented an outreach activity for high school students using submarinesand submersibles. The activity, which had a duration of eleven hours and was delivered over thecourse of a week, consisted of six interrelated educational modules: Introduction to Submarinesand Submersibles, Buoyancy and Control, Environmental Aspects, Pressure and StructuralStrength, Introduction to the Product Development Process, and a Short Design Competition.This paper investigates the impact of the outreach activity on high school students’ self-efficacyand motivation in STEM. Specifically, this study tested two hypotheses. First, K-12 students’self-efficacy and motivation in STEM disciplines can be improved through the proposed outreachactivity. Second, the content and format of outreach activity impact students’ attitude towardsSTEM disciplines from different aspects.A total of 35 students were involved in the study and the majority of them were under-representative minority students in STEM fields. Pre- and post-survey data about high schoolstudents’ self-efficacy and motivation in STEM and their perceptions on the outreach activitywere collected through a 6-point Likert-style scale and open-ended questions. Cronbach’s alphawas employed to test the reliability of the survey. Quantitative and qualitative data wereanalyzed through statistics analyses and grounded theory, respectively.The preliminary results assessed students’ attitude towards and perceptions of each module,supported the research hypotheses of the impact of the outreach activity, and indicated thepotential relationships between students’ academic goals and their self-efficacy and motivation.Finally, limitations of the present study are discussed and a future study is proposed.

Huang, S., & Degen, C. M., & Ellingsen, M. D., & Bedillion, M. D., & Muci-Kuchler, K. H. (2015, June), Investigating the Impact of an Outreach Activity on High School Students’ Attitude Towards STEM Disciplines Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24377

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