Asee peer logo

Measuring the Effects of Pre-College Engineering Experiences, Year 2

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1141.1 - 26.1141.5



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Noah Salzman Boise State University

visit author page

Noah Salzman is an Assistant Professor at Boise State University, where he is a member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department and IDoTeach, a pre-service STEM teacher preparation program. His work focuses on the transition from pre-college to university engineering programs, how exposure to engineering prior to matriculation affects the experiences of engineering students, and engineering in the K-12 classroom. He has worked as a high school science, mathematics, and engineering and technology teacher, as well as several years of electrical and mechanical engineering design experience as a practicing engineer. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from Swarthmore College, a Masters of Education degree from the University of Massachusetts, and a Masters of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Doctorate in Engineering Education from Purdue University.

visit author page


Matthew W. Ohland Purdue University Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Matthew W. Ohland is Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. He has degrees from Swarthmore College, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and the University of Florida. His research on the longitudinal study of engineering students, team assignment, peer evaluation, and active and collaborative teaching methods has been supported by over $14.5 million from the National Science Foundation and the Sloan Foundation and his team received Best Paper awards from the Journal of Engineering Education in 2008 and 2011 and from the IEEE Transactions on Education in 2011. Dr. Ohland is Chair of the IEEE Curriculum and Pedagogy Committee and an ABET Program Evaluator for ASEE. He was the 2002–2006 President of Tau Beta Pi and is a Fellow of the ASEE and IEEE.

visit author page


Monica E Cardella Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Monica E. Cardella is the Director of the INSPIRE Institute for Pre-College Engineering Education and is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Measuring the Effects of Pre-College Engineering ExperiencesThe implementation of co-curricular and extracurricular pre-college engineering programs hasexpanded dramatically in recent years. Many states now include engineering as part of theireducation standards for both students and teachers, reflecting the increasing acceptance ofengineering at the K-12 level and its potential value to students. In addition to promotingoutcomes that benefit all students regardless of career aspirations such as increased math andscience achievement and greater technological literacy, K-12 engineering programs have beenidentified as a means of recruiting and retaining potential students in engineering.The growth of pre-college engineering programs means that increasing numbers of incomingengineering students will have had some exposure to engineering prior to their enrollment inengineering programs. However, the effects of pre-college engineering experiences onundergraduate engineering students are relatively unexplored. To address this lack ofunderstanding, this study uses a mixed-methods exploratory approach to examine how exposureto pre-college engineering programs affects the experiences of university engineering students.Conducting and analyzing phenomenographic interviews with cohorts of first year engineeringstudents yielded five qualitatively different ways undergraduate engineering students experiencethe transition from pre-college to university engineering. These experiences range from feelingtrapped in engineering due to pre-college engineering, to feelings of boredom and frustration dueto misalignments between the two sets of experiences, to experiencing a boost in confidence andthe ability to help others as a result of participation in pre-college engineering programs.We are currently utilizing these qualitative results to develop an instrument to measure the extentof these effects in the larger population of undergraduate engineering students at multipleinstitutions. We are also exploring the relationship between pre-college engineering participationand quantitative measures of success in undergraduate engineering, including grades andpersistence.While some undergraduate engineering programs may take into account pre-college engineeringexperiences when forming design teams, most undergraduate programs assume little to no formalexposure to engineering prior to matriculation. The results of this research will help engineeringadministrators, instructors and designers of undergraduate and pre-college curricula adapt tostudents’ changing needs and abilities as a result of their increased experience with engineeringprior to university.

Salzman, N., & Ohland, M. W., & Cardella, M. E. (2015, June), Measuring the Effects of Pre-College Engineering Experiences, Year 2 Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24478

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: © 2015 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