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Measuring the Effects of Precollege Engineering Education

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

NSF Grantees’ Poster Session

Tagged Division

Division Experimentation & Lab-Oriented Studies

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.895.1 - 24.895.6



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Paper Authors


Noah Salzman Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Noah Salzman is a doctoral candidate in engineering education at Purdue University. He received his B.S. in engineering from Swarthmore College, his M.Ed. in secondary science education from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University. He has work experience as an engineer and taught science, technology, engineering, and mathematics at the high school level. His research focuses on the intersection of pre-college and undergraduate engineering programs

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Matthew W. Ohland Purdue University and Central Queensland University Orcid 16x16

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Matthew W. Ohland is Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University and a Professorial Research Fellow at Central Queensland 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 $12.8 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 past Chair of ASEE’s Educational Research and Methods division and a member the Board of Governors of the IEEE Education Society. He was the 2002–2006 President of Tau Beta Pi.

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Monica E. Cardella Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Monica E. Cardella is an Associate Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University and the Director of Informal Learning Environments Research for INSPIRE (the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning). She has a BSc in Mathematics from the University of Puget Sound and an MS and PhD in Industrial Engineering from the University of Washington. Her research focuses on: parents' roles in engineering education; engineering learning in informal environments; engineering design education; and mathematical thinking.

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Measuring the Effects of Precollege Engineering ExperiencesThe deployment of co-curricular and extracurricular K-12 engineering programs has expandeddramatically in recent years. Many states now explicitly or implicitly include engineering as partof their education standards, reflecting the increasing acceptance of engineering at the K-12 leveland its potential value to students. In addition to promoting outcomes that benefit all studentsregardless of career aspirations such as increased math and science achievement and greatertechnological literacy, K-12 engineering programs have been identified as a means of recruitingand retaining potential students in engineering.The growth of precollege engineering programs means that increasing numbers of incomingengineering students will have had some exposure to engineering prior to their enrollment inengineering programs. However, the impact of precollege engineering experiences onundergraduate engineering students is relatively unexplored. To address this lack ofunderstanding, this study uses a mixed-methods exploratory approach to examine how exposureto precollege engineering programs affects the experiences of university engineering students.Phenomenographic interviews with cohorts of first year engineering students are currently beingconducted and analyzed to identify the qualitatively different ways undergraduate engineeringstudents experience the effects of precollege engineering. These results will then be used todevelop an instrument to measure the extent of these effects in the larger population ofundergraduate engineering students at multiple institutions.Although a limited number of prior studies have demonstrated that exposure to precollegeengineering can have a positive impact on students’ performance in undergraduate engineeringprograms, much less is known about how these programs increase achievement and how studentsutilize the knowledge and experience gained from participation in precollege engineeringprograms in their undergraduate engineering classes. This research seeks to address this gap bydescribing both the extent of alignment between precollege and university engineering programsas identified by students and how misalignments can negatively affect students’ experiences andtheir decision to persist in a university engineering program. Examining the demographics of theparticipants will demonstrate who has access to or is taking advantage of precollege engineeringprograms, and if the effects of precollege engineering vary across different demographic groups.To date, most undergraduate engineering programs assume little to no formal exposure toengineering prior to matriculation. With the growth of precollege engineering programs, this isno longer a valid assumption. The results of this research will help engineering administrators,instructors and designers of undergraduate and precollege curricula adapt to students’ changingneeds and abilities. Research results will also guide undergraduate engineering programs indeveloping retention and instructional strategies to adapt to increasing numbers of students withengineering experiences prior to matriculation.

Salzman, N., & Ohland, M. W., & Cardella, M. E. (2014, June), Measuring the Effects of Precollege Engineering Education Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--22828

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