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Participation In A Research Experience For Teachers Program: Impact On Perceptions And Efficacy To Teach Engineering

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

New Learning Paradigms II

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.941.1 - 14.941.17

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Paper Authors


Julie Trenor Clemson University

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Julie Martin Trenor. Ph.D. is an assistant professor of Engineering and Science Education at Clemson University. She holds a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering from Virginia Tech and a bachelor’s degree in the same field from North Carolina State University. Her research interests focus on factors affecting the recruitment, retention, and career development of under-represented students in engineering. Prior to her appointment at Clemson, Dr. Trenor served as the Director of Undergraduate Student Recruitment and Retention for the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston, and was principal investigator for the NSF Research Experiences for Teachers program. She is currently serving the first of a three year term as President-Elect, President, and Past President of WEPAN, Women in Engineering ProActive Network.

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Shirley Yu University of Houston

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Shirley L. Yu, Ph.D. is an associate professor of Educational Psychology in the College of Education at the University of Houston.. She earned a Ph.D. in Education and Psychology and an M.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan, and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research agenda focuses on motivation and self-regulated learning, with a particular interest in female and ethnic minority students in STEM. She serves on the standing review board for the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association Division C Section 6 (Cognitive, Social, and Motivational Processes).

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Denise Grant Clemson University

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Denise Simmons Grant is a doctoral student in Civil Engineering at Clemson University. She is currently on leave from her position as assistant professor of Civil Engineering Technology at South Carolina State University. Ms. Grant, a registered professional engineer, is conducting her dissertation research on increasing the participation of underrepresented minorities in engineering careers under the direction of Dr. Julie Trenor in the Department of Engineering Science and Education.

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Hibah Salem Univesity of Houston

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Hibah Salem is a doctoral student in the Educational Psychology and Individual Differences program at the University of Houston. Her research interests include teacher self-efficacy and student motivation. She currently works as an elementary special education teacher in the Pasadena Independent School District. Ms. Salem holds a master’s degree in psychology as well as a bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology, both from the University of Houston-Clear Lake.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

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.

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: © 2009 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