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Preparing Counselors to Advocate STEM Careers: A Professional Development Model for K-12 Counselors

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Research and Models for Professional Development

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1171.1 - 22.1171.7



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Paper Authors


Meagan C. Ross Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Meagan Ross is passionate about providing awareness of engineering to K-12 educators, enabling them to actively and confidently influence students to become the next generation of world changing engineers. Through her consulting business, Meagan regularly develops and facilitates workshops on STEM careers for K-12 educators, parents, and students, with the personal objective to help close the gender gap in engineering.

Meagan Ross is a Ph.D. student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University, and is a recipient of a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. She received a B.S. in Computer Science from Texas Woman’s University, and a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from Texas Tech University. Prior to beginning her doctoral studies, she worked as a microelectromechanical-systems (MEMS) engineer for Texas Instruments.

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Preparing Counselors to Advocate STEM Careers: A Professional Development model for K-12 CounselorsThe 2010-11 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Report describes educational counselors asresponsible for, among many things, operating career information centers and career educationprograms in order to promote the career development of children and youthi. The AmericanSchool Counselor Association’s National Standards (standard A in the area of careerdevelopment) explicitly states: “Students will acquire the skills to investigate the world of workin relation to knowledge of self and to make informed career decisionsii.”Education research shows that K-12 educators and students generally have a poor understandingof what engineers look like and doiii,iv. Not only are there numerous misconceptions ofengineering as a discipline, but educators tend to be very anxious to the barriers they identifybetween themselves and engineering. With no background to know how to converse withstudents about who designs technology and how they do it, educators can feel very strongbarriers that limit their contribution to the development of future technical talentv.This paper presents a model for a professional development (PD) workshop for K-12 counselors(N=120) on careers in STEM related fields. The purpose of this counselor PD is to informcounselors about STEM careers and how they can help prepare students for such occupations.Additionally, an overview of major issues involved with gender stereotypes, bias, and disparitiesin STEM are introduced along with tools and resources to address such concerns in the K-12environment. Interactive activities seek to reduce counselors’ anxiety and build their self-efficacy with respect to STEM. A pre/post survey is administered and results will be presented inthe paper.In order to meet the forecasted demandsvi for U.S. Labor in technical areas that require scientificand mathematical training, it is imperative that educators and students begin to understandSTEM professions and the role of engineers. For students to make informed career decisions, itis essential for counselors to provide accurate STEM career information and be equipped toprovide guidance on how students can prepare for such careers.i Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2010-11 Edition, Counselors. United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Accessed 10/8/2010) American School Counselor Association (2004). ASCA National Standards for Students. Alexandria, VA: Author. [emphasis added]iii Cunningham, C., C. Lachapelle, and A. Lindgren-Streicher. 2005. Assessing Elementary School Students Conceptions of Engineering and Technology. Proceedings of the 2005 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition. Portland, Ore., June 12–15. Washington, D.C.: ASEE.iv Cunningham, C., and M. Knight. 2004. Draw an Engineer Test: Development of a Tool to Investigate Studentsí Ideas about Engineers and Engineering. Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition. Salt Lake City, Utah, June 20–23. Washington, D.C.: ASEE.v Akerson, V. L., and D. L. Hanuscin. 2007. Teaching the nature of science through inquiry: Results of a 3-year professional development program. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 44 (5): 653– Employment Projections by Occupation. United States Department of Labor: Bureau of Labor Statistics. (Accessed 10/8/2010)

Ross, M. C. (2011, June), Preparing Counselors to Advocate STEM Careers: A Professional Development Model for K-12 Counselors Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18786

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