June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
24.826.1 - 24.826.10
Investigation of High School Pathways into Engineering (work in progress)Meeting the global challenges of this century requires a technical workforce that is both diverseand highly trained. The decrease in the number of K-12 students pursuing engineering careersposes a problem, as there is a critical need in the United States for more engineers. However,traditional approaches have not brought the desired quantity or diversity of students intoengineering.A significant effort has aimed at increasing the number of practicing engineers as well asincreasing student interest in engineering among both women and underrepresented minorities.Until recently, most of these initiatives have been implemented at the postsecondary level.Despite these efforts, only limited increases have been seen in engineering recruitment, interest,or retention. While cultural diversity is improving, underrepresented minorities continue to havedisproportionally low numbers in engineering compared to the overall population. Newapproaches are needed to expand the pathways into engineering.One such approach engages students in engineering projects that meet a need within theircommunity. Preliminary data from this program are promising. Demographic data indicate thatit is nearly gender balanced and culturally diverse. Additionally, it saw an increase inparticipants’ interest in STEM fields.However, students’ academic and career choices are influenced by a number of factors inaddition to personal interest in a particular field. These include individual factors such as self-efficacy and outcome expectations and contextual factors such as supports and barriers.Understanding these factors is important, and there is a need for a more comprehensive study ofthe impact of engineering service learning programs on pathways into engineering and thecharacteristics and mechanisms that contribute to the factors. Building on a number of studiesthat have investigated pathways both into and through engineering, we are beginning a study toexplore high school students’ experiences in our program and how they impact pathways intoengineering using a mix-methods approach grounded in Social Cognitive Career Theory.As an initial step, we have developed a survey, which can be given to students before and afterthey participate in the program, in order to determine changes in their self-efficacy, outcomeexpectations, and personal interest. We have included items adapted from other validatedinstruments to explore these three factors. In addition, we have included items to explore context(i.e., supports and barriers) through the areas of parent supportiveness (e.g., parent educationlevel, parent involvement in college planning, and parent career hope), school supportiveness(e.g., school involvement in college planning), general knowledge about college, and rolemodels.In this paper, we describe the survey framework and its development, including feedback andchanges made from a pilot administration of the instrument.
Zoltowski, C. B., & Exter, M., & Cardella, M. E., & Shuba, T. P., & Yu, J. H., & Hart, M., & Oakes, W. C. (2014, June), Investigation of High School Pathways into Engineering (work in progress) Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20718
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