June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
Women in Engineering
12.1024.1 - 12.1024.17
Long Term Effects of a Middle School Engineering Outreach Program for Girls: A Controlled Study
This study compares the high school choices and choice of college major of two groups: young women who participated in the two-week Camp Reach engineering program as rising sixth graders, and those who applied to the program but were not chosen in the random lottery (control group). Results indicate that, in comparison to the control group, Camp Reach participants were significantly more likely to attend a public high school specializing in mathematics and science and also more likely to enroll in elective math and science courses in high school. While a higher fraction of the Camp Reach group chose engineering majors upon college entry, the difference did not reach statistical significance. Grouping all STEM-related majors together, choices of the Camp Reach and control groups were not significantly different. Furthermore, there were no significant differences in the engineering self-efficacy and other measures of efficacy between the Camp Reach and control groups.
Introduction and Background
The crisis of under-representation of women in engineering continues unabated and in fact is projected to be worsening.1,2 Enrollment statistics compiled by the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE) for the period 1999-2005 show only a small increase in the number of B.S. engineering degrees awarded to women, insufficient to meet workforce demands. Furthermore, the number of women enrolling in engineering programs decreased in the 2004-05 academic year.2 Among a variety of strategies being employed by universities, summer outreach programs for girls and/or other minorities, also referred to as pipeline or intervention programs, are relatively common. In their study of the impact of the National Science Foundation’s Program for Women and Girls,3 Darke, Clewell, and Sevo found evidence that summer camps were “successful in achieving positive change” for girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). Still, however, there are key gaps in evaluation of these programs that limit the extent to which their value and cost/benefit proposition can be judged or compared to those of other strategies.
One limitation of existing summative program evaluation is that typically only short-term impacts are measured, comparing pre-program and post-program data on participants’ attitudes about and knowledge of engineering. While widening the pipeline is the fundamental mission of most programs, there is very little knowledge of the extent to which short-term positive effects are sustained and realized over the long term. One conclusion of the review by Darke, Clewell, and Sevo was a call for longitudinal studies2:
There is a need for innovative methods to encourage the assessment of longitudinal outcomes. Many programs are unable to assess the long-term outcomes of their efforts because of the difficulty and expense of collecting outcome data on participants over a period of several years…. The development
Hubelbank, J., & Demetry, C., & Errington Nicholson, S., & Blaisdell, S., & Quinn, P., & Rosenthal, E., & Sontgerath, S. (2007, June), Long Term Effects Of A Middle School Engineering Outreach Program For Girls: A Controlled Study Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2098
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