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Measuring First-year Engineering Students’ Knowledge and Interest in Materials Science and Engineering

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Innovations in Materials Education

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.921.1 - 25.921.9



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Paper Authors


Qu Jin Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Qu Jin is a graduate student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received a M.S. degree in biomedical engineering from Purdue University and a B.S. degree in material science and engineering from Tsinghua University in China. Her research focuses on modeling student success outcomes, which include placement, retention, academic performance, and graduation.

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Senay Purzer Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Senay Purzer is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education and is the Director of Assessment Research for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE) at Purdue University. Purzer has journal publications on instrument development, teacher professional development, and K-12 engineering education. Her research focuses on assessing constructs, such as innovation, information literacy, and collaborative learning.

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P.K. Imbrie Purdue University, West Lafayette

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P.K. Imbrie is an Associate Professor of engineering in the Department of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He holds B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M University. His research interests include educational research, solid mechanics, experimental mechanics, microstructural evaluation of materials, and experiment and instrument design. He has been involved with various research projects sponsored by NSF, NASA, and AFOSR, ranging from education-related issues to traditional research topics in the areas of elevated temperature constitutive modeling of monolithic super alloys and environmental effects on titanium based metal matrix composites. His current research interests include epistemologies, assessment, and modeling of student learning, student success, student team effectiveness, and global competencies; experimental mechanics; and piezospectroscopic techniques.

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Measuring First Year Engineering Students’ Knowledge and Interest in Materials Science and EngineeringPrevious studies have shown that engineering students majored in other disciplines weregenerally not very familiar with Materials Science and Engineering (MSE). However, careerdecision theories suggest that people need to be both knowledgeable and interested towards acareer in order to make the choice of career. Thus, we hypothesize in this study that first-yearengineering students who choose MSE as their major are more knowledgeable and moreinterested in MSE than those who did not choose MSE. The purpose of this study was to measurefirst-year engineering students’ knowledge and interest in MSE, and to compare the results fromstudents who chose MSE as their major and students who did not. Open ended questions and aLikert-scale survey were used to collect data online from first-year engineering students by theend of the first semester. A mixed method approach was used to analyze the data qualitativelyand quantitatively. Open coding strategy was used to analyze the patterns of students’ answers toopen questions and to record frequencies. ANOVA as well as non-parametric statistic tests wereused to identify the differences between different groups of students from the Likert-scale surveyand frequencies form coding open-ended questions.This study involved 919 first year engineering students from a Midwestern university enrolledduring 2009 academic year. Among these participants, 23 students expressed an interest in MSEas their first choice. Forty five students identified MSE as their second choice. Sixty eightstudents were randomly selected from students who did not express their interest in MSE as acontrol group for the qualitative studies.The results indicated that: students who chose MSE as their 1st or 2nd choice were significantlymore knowledgeable and more interested in MSE than those who did not chose MSE; first-choice students were significantly more interested in MSE than 2nd-choice students, but thedifference in knowledge between 1st-choice and 2nd-choice students was not significant.

Jin, Q., & Purzer, S., & Imbrie, P. (2012, June), Measuring First-year Engineering Students’ Knowledge and Interest in Materials Science and Engineering Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21678

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