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Investigating The Long Term Impact Of An Engineering Based Gk 12 Program On Students’ Perceptions Of Engineering

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Assessing Perceptions of Engineers and Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.846.1 - 11.846.15



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Paper Authors


Stephen Thompson University of South Carolina

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Dr. Thompson is an Assistant Professor of Elementary Education at the University of South Carolina and the Research Director of the South Carolina Center for Engineering and Computing Education. He teaches courses in science education and classroom instructional technology. His research interests include Engineering Education K-16, collaborations between university-based STEM personnel and K-12 teachers, and inquiry-based instruction.

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Jed Lyons University of South Carolina

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

Investigating The Long-Term Impact of an Engineering-Based GK-12 Program on Students’ Perceptions of Engineering


This paper investigates the long-term impact of an engineering-based GK-12 program on students’ perceptions of engineering. Student attitudes towards science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines and the resulting influence they have on career interests in these fields are a major concern of current K-12 education reform efforts. These reform efforts stress that scientists and engineers need to take part in science and technological education at all levels. Supporting reform documents further advocate that simple involvement is not sufficient and that collaboration between scientists, engineers and K-12 teachers needs to be focused on the teacher’s curriculum and take place in the K-12 classroom.

In the 1990s the National Science Foundation (NSF) introduced the Graduate Teaching Fellows in K-12 Education (GK-12) initiative, designed to support the participation of graduate students from STEM disciplines in K-12 science and math education. In GK-12 projects, STEM graduate students spend 15-20 hours a week over an academic year serving as resources for K-12 science and math teachers. This study focuses on a GK-12 project that paired graduate engineering and computer science students called Engineering Fellows (Fellows) with upper elementary science teachers. Fellows and teachers worked in yearlong partnerships co-developing and co-teaching student lessons focused on engineering examples, design approaches and problem solving techniques to show the application of science, technology and mathematics concepts.

Over 3 academic years, upper elementary and middle school science and math teachers (grades 3-8) were partnered with Fellows. To measure perceptions of engineering, students were asked to draw a pre/post picture of an engineer working and write a story describing the action that was occurring in the drawing as well as take part in interviews focused on this work. A team of graduate engineering students and educational researchers developed a numerical coding system that was used to score student work and additional open-ended analysis of student interview data was completed.

Initial research on students in Fellows’ classes demonstrated that the Engineering Fellow students made statistically significant gains in their understandings of engineering when measured annually pre to post. These students were more likely to portray an engineer as a designer, to better understand engineering processes, the diversity of fields represented by the term engineering and the work typically done within engineering fields.

To capture the long-term influence of interaction with a Fellow, similar follow-up data were collected from a subset of project students and a control group of students the year following this 3-year engagement. The majority of project students held clearer

Thompson, S., & Lyons, J. (2006, June), Investigating The Long Term Impact Of An Engineering Based Gk 12 Program On Students’ Perceptions Of Engineering Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--1142

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