June 14, 2009
June 14, 2009
June 17, 2009
Educational Research and Methods
14.941.1 - 14.941.17
Participation in a Research Experience for Teachers Program: Impact on Perceptions and Efficacy to Teach Engineering
Keywords: Teacher efficacy, Self-efficacy, Research Experiences for Teachers, K-12 teachers
This paper utilizes social cognitive theory to investigate the impact of a National Science Foundation-sponsored Research Experiences for Teachers program on participants’ knowledge about and perceptions of the field of engineering, as well as efficacy for teaching engineering topics. Eleven middle and high school teachers participating in the summer 2008 program completed pre-program and post-program surveys and took part in individual semi-structured interviews. Key findings included participants’ positive changes in perceptions of the engineering field, confidence to answer students’ questions about engineering and discuss engineering career options, and increased efficacy to teach engineering topics in formal learning environments. Results are discussed in terms of specific programmatic elements, and recommendations for designing effective teacher programs are given.
The engineering education community is well aware of the need to promote activities that will lead to a larger and more diverse pool of students interested in pursuing engineering as a college major and career. To this end, many colleges and universities, not-for-profit and professional organizations, engineering corporations, and individual professionals regularly engage in outreach activities to promote awareness of the field. Certainly, these types of activities are important; however, as Brophy, Klein, Portsmore and Rogers pointed out1:
But it is questionable whether such outreach efforts are enough to attract the numbers of students needed in the field or if they can provide these learners with the experiences needed to succeed in the formal post-secondary engineering programs that they are being encouraged to pursue.
In addition to supporting outreach efforts through technical and engineering education grants, the National Science Foundation (NSF) recognizes the need to engage K-12 teachers in order to promote engineering to pre-college students. The NSF Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) program supports collaboration between colleges and universities and K-12 teachers or community college faculty by providing funding for their participation in engineering research. The RET proposal solicitation2 asserts that, “Encouraging active participation of teachers in NSF projects is an excellent way to reach broadly into the teacher talent pool of the U.S. so that they can teach engineering concepts to K-12 students to encourage and stimulate them to pursue engineering careers.” RET awards are made through two mechanisms: RET site grants, which provide a research experience to a cohort of in-service or pre-service teachers, and RET
Trenor, J., & Yu, S., & Grant, D., & Salem, H. (2009, June), Participation In A Research Experience For Teachers Program: Impact On Perceptions And Efficacy To Teach Engineering Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/4992
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