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“Maybe If I Put My Mind To It": 5th Graders’ Receptivity to Pursuing Engineering Careers (Fundamental)

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Design for Elementary Students

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

14

DOI

10.18260/1-2--31924

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/31924

Download Count

90

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Paper Authors

biography

Karen Miel Tufts University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-8460-4332

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Karen Miel is a PhD student in STEM Education at Tufts University. Karen served as the Director of Research and Innovation at the science center CuriOdyssey and the Education Director of the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo after teaching elementary and middle school. Her research focuses on elementary students’ reasoning and decision-making in collaborative engineering design.

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biography

Merredith D. Portsmore Tufts University

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Dr. Merredith Portsmore is the Director for Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (www.ceeo.tufts.edu). Merredith received all four of her degrees from Tufts (B.A. English, B.S. Mechanical Engineering, M.A. Education, PhD in Engineering Education). Her research interests focus on how children engage in designing and constructing solutions to engineering design problems and evaluating students’ design artifacts. Her outreach work focuses on creating resources for K-12 educators to support engineering education in the classroom. She is also the founder of STOMP (stompnetwork.org), LEGOengineering.com (legoengineering.com), and the online Teacher Engineering Education Program (teep.tufts.edu).

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Emily Fuller Tufts University

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Emily Fuller is a second year graduate student at Tufts University's Eliot Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development. She received a bachelor's degree in child development from Texas Christian University. She currently works as a research assistant on the Role Models in Elementary Engineering project, which studies how elementary school students develop engineering role models and assume identities as engineers.

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Kelli Paul Indiana University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-2322-7542

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Dr. Kelli Paul is a postdoctoral researcher in science education at Indiana University. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology specializing in Inquiry Methodology from Indiana University in 2006. She managed a consulting business for 10 years working on evaluations that focused primarily in the areas of education and STEM for middle and high school students, especially women and minority students. Her research interests include student engagement and interest in STEM and STEM careers as well as the development of instruments and evaluation tools to assess these constructs.

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Euisuk Sung Indiana University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-7162-875X

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Euisuk Sung is a postdoctoral researcher at Indiana University. He earned a Ph.D. degree in Engineering and Technology Teacher Education at Purdue University. He has computer science degree and worked as a computer software developer for three years. then he served as an engineering and technology educator in high school for 9 years in South Korea. Currently he is working in NSF Funded project, titled TRAILS. His research interests are design cognition, maker education, computer science education, and all about STEM education.

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Adam V. Maltese Indiana University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-8422-9395

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Associate Professor of Science Education

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Abstract

As educators strive to broaden representation in engineering, it is important to take into account how youth perceive themselves in relation to engineering careers. Youth as young as ten years of age are assessing the appeal and achievability of engineering as a career. This study explores preadolescents’ perceptions of the desirability of engineering careers and the self-assessed characteristics which impact students’ interest in engineering. In particular, this work unpacks what attracts elementary students to engineering careers and what these students believe it takes to be an engineer. Drawing from a set of 56 student interviews, this work addresses the research question In what ways are elementary school students thinking about careers in engineering? Existing research indicates that students’ interest in engineering careers declines as students enter middle school; this study contributes to understanding influences on students’ interests when they are on the cusp of deciding whether to pursue engineering study and careers.

As part of a study of a university-led engineering education outreach program in elementary classrooms, 5th grade students participated in 15- to 30-minute semi-structured interviews near the end of the academic year. Participants represented four classrooms in two suburban schools in the northeastern United States that had each engaged in 16-18 weeks of hands-on engineering activities led by undergraduate engineering students. Interviews focused on the students’ experiences with engineering and the engineering intervention, students’ role models, and students’ career aspirations. We utilized open coding to analyze the interviews and identified the keywords and themes that students used to describe why an engineering career would be appealing or unappealing and possible or impossible for them. Two themes characterized the interview data; these students’ receptivity to pursuing engineering careers appeared to be mediated by conceptions of engineering careers as involving skill (in idea generation or in creation of technology) or desire (the will to do engineering).

This paper utilizes interview data to attend to students’ perspectives and expand our understanding of barriers and gateways to student interest in engineering study and careers. It also discusses the implications of the findings for teaching engineering with an eye on the messages conveyed about the nature of engineering practices, the characteristics of engineers, and how students’ interests intersect with engineering careers.

Miel, K., & Portsmore, M. D., & Fuller, E., & Paul, K., & Sung, E., & Maltese, A. V. (2019, June), “Maybe If I Put My Mind To It": 5th Graders’ Receptivity to Pursuing Engineering Careers (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--31924

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015