June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
24.905.1 - 24.905.13
Middle School Curricular Materials on Grand Challenges for Engineering: Impact on Efficacy and Expectancy Beliefs (research to practice)Efforts to increase STEM career interests have often focused on high school youth. However,middle school is a critical juncture during which many students begin to seriously considercareer options. Attitudes about self and work developed during this period form the foundationalbelief system from which students set career goals and choose high school courses and activities.An emphasis on STEM activities within middle school can have a profound impact on students’motivation and interest to pursue careers in STEM related fields (Brown & Lent, 2005; Fouad,Smith, & Enochs, 1997).According to Social Cognitive Career Theory (SCCT; Lent, Brown, & Hackett, 1994) careerinterests are supported by one’s self-efficacy and expectancies (outcome expectations). Studentswho believe they have the requisite skills to succeed in STEM-related tasks and believe thatspending time in such pursuits is meaningful are more likely to develop STEM career interests.Students develop these social cognitive beliefs through interaction with learning environmentsthat nurture skills and these beliefs.Using the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges for Engineering (GCE) asinspiration, we developed engineering curriculum modules for infusion into middle school mathand science classes. The message conveyed to students through these modules is that STEMcareers are a means to making a difference in the world. Each module emphasizes engineeringsolutions to a distinct societal need through a realistic fictional scenario. Students participatethrough role play as engineers, experiencing the engineering design process while learningunderlying math and science concepts.Six middle schools participated in this study. School participation included allowing teachers tobe trained in and implement the GCE curriculum modules in math and science classes.Participants in this study were 753 middle school youth; 480 received the GCE curriculum in theclassroom, while the remaining 273 served as comparison youth. All participants completed theMiddle School Self-Efficacy Scale (Fouad et al., 1997) to report their self-efficacy and outcomeexpectancies in the areas of math and science. Useable data was obtained from five schools; thesixth school was excluded from these analyses because of lack of a comparison group.A pre/post, comparison group design was used to examine student data. P-values up to .10 wereconsidered, but only when the accompanying effect size measure (i.e., η2) reached a meaningfullevel. Results indicate that in four of the five eligible schools, youth who experienced the GCEcurricula in the classroom reported significantly higher social cognitive beliefs than thecomparison group. Specifically, higher math efficacy scores (p values from .02-.05) were foundfor target youth in two schools, while higher math outcome expectations were found for targetyouth in three schools (p = .04 - .10). Higher science efficacy scores (p = .009 - .08) were foundfor target youth in two schools, and higher science outcomes expectations (p = .02) were foundfor target youth in one school. ReferencesBrown, S. & Lent, R. (2005.) Career development and counseling: Putting theory and research to work. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons.Fouad, N.A., Smith, P.L., & Enochs, L. (1997). Reliability and validity evidence for the Middle School Self-Efficacy Scale. Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development, 30, 17-31.Lent, R. W., Brown, S. D., & Hackett, G. (1994). Toward a unifying social cognitive theory of career and academic interest, choice, and performance [Monograph]. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 45, 79-122.National Academy of Engineering. (2008). Grand Challenges for Engineering. Available: http://www.engineeringchallenges.org/. [Accessed April 9, 2012].
Howard, K. A., & Diestelmann, J. W., & Huang, T., & Aneskavich, L. E., & Cheng, K., & Crary, B. B., & DeMerit, J., & Mayeshiba, T., & Schiebel, A. K., & Hagness, S. C., & Cramer, S. M., & Wendt, A. E. (2014, June), Middle School Curricular Materials on Grand Challenges for Engineering: Impact on Efficacy and Expectancy Beliefs Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. https://peer.asee.org/22838
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