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Preliminary Insights from Exploring Engineering Learning Ecosystems of Black Youth

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Minorities in Engineering Division Technical Session 5

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

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Paper Authors


Nina McDaniel University of Michigan, Dearborn

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Nina McDaniel is a senior at University of Michigan-Dearborn majoring in Industrial Systems Engineering with a minor in Anthropology. She is also pursuing a certificate in STEM education. Nina uses anthropological skills (e.g. ethnographic and participant observation) and engineering principles to observe patterns in selected environments that allows insight and discussion.

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DeLean Tolbert University of Michigan, Dearborn Orcid 16x16

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DeLean Tolbert is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering at the University of Michigan-Dearborn. Her work intersects both research on the access and experiences of underrepresented communities’ along engineering pathways and design research. Currently, she is exploring how African American youth access to sociocultural resources foster engineering skills and how those skills can be transferred to engineering education settings.

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Informal learning contexts provide immersive experiences which can promote engineering learning and fluency. Access to structured informal engineering learning experiences differs based on race and socioeconomic status. Therefore, we shift our attention to address informal sociocultural settings. Sociocultural informal contexts within Black communities provide opportunities for youth to develop engineering related skills in culturally familiar (‘real-world’) settings. Tolbert (2016) found 15 sociocultural practices which enabled Black youth to develop engineering attributes. In this follow-up ethnographic study, the researchers selected two practices to observe at four different research settings. We share our initial insights and reflections related to the settings visited and the engagement of Black youth and families in the respective settings. This research can help to strengthen our understanding of Black youths’ engineering learning ecosystems, which is partly influenced by their community, culture, educational policy, formal learning contexts, and informal learning experiences.

McDaniel, N., & Tolbert, D. (2018, June), Preliminary Insights from Exploring Engineering Learning Ecosystems of Black Youth Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--30883

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