June 15, 2014
June 15, 2014
June 18, 2014
Educational Research and Methods
24.968.1 - 24.968.13
Parents as Critical Influence: Insights from five different studies (Research)Parents play a number of roles in engineering education: they can motivate children’sinterest in engineering in early childhood, as well as later when their child is in theprocess of selecting a major at college, they can provide support in learning engineeringconcepts and thinking skills, and can serve as role models if they themselves areengineers. Several empirical studies have shown that parents play a significant role in theoccupational aspiration and career goal development of their children. In addition,parents’ own beliefs and aspirations have been found to be important factors in children’scareer and academic aspirations. In recent reviews regarding children’s careerdevelopment, parents were highlighted as crucial and important figures in developingoccupational awareness in their children. Additionally children have more understandingof the parents’ occupations than other occupations. Retrospective studies have alsorevealed that parents are a significant motivator, especially for low socio-economicstudents to enter into engineering. Finally, parents can provide scaffolding and othersupport as children learn engineering concepts and skills.Using multi-case analysis, this paper will examine the role of parents in engineeringeducation through five distinct studies. The first study, GRADIENT, looks at howparents engage in an engineering activity with girls aged 3-11 within two differentinformal settings and how parent gender has an impact on their interactions. The InformalPathways to Engineering (IPE) project investigates how informal engineering programssupport engineering-related learning over time with middle school students and theirsupport system of parents, teachers and other informal educators. The INFUSE studylooks at conversations between engineering parents and their children while reading anengineering storybook. A fourth study examines how intersectionality influenced theexperiences of nine female students in high school engineering where the interview datafrom the students and their parents reveal that institutions of race, class, and genderwithin their families play a significant role in these young women's interest in and entryinto engineering. The last study investigates the different ways that parents with anengineering background help their children to learn about engineering via interviews withthe parents.The collection of these five studies provides unique insights into and a morecomprehensive understanding of the ways that parents can and do play roles in PreK-12thgrade students’ engineering education.
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