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Students’ Attitudes And Concepts About Engineering As An Environmental Career: A Survey

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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

Understanding Students: Recruiting, Retention, Enrichment

Tagged Division

Environmental Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1087.1 - 14.1087.15



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Paper Authors

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Johannes Strobel Purdue University

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Inez Hua Purdue University

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Constance Harris Purdue University

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Jun Fang Purdue University

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Lindsey Tracy Purdue University

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

Students’ Attitudes and Concepts Towards Engineering as an Environmental Career – A Survey Keywords: Environmental knowledge; engineering; first year; resistance to change

Abstract The overall purpose of the research is to determine students’ attitudes towards environmental and ecological issues in the context of choosing engineering as a career. We report the results of a survey of 1700 first-year engineering students at Purdue University, West Lafayette campus. The survey tested student knowledge of environmental issues, their prioritization of sustainable development in various contexts, and also explored student attitude toward change. The results of this survey are combined with high school academic performance data and demographic data to determine how formal curricula and other factors such as personal experience influence a student’s environmental knowledge. We observed positive correlations between the high school science courses or high school environmental education, and the average environmental knowledge scores. There is no difference in average knowledge scores when comparing male and female students, or when comparing students from the United States (U.S.) with non-U.S. students. We observed a negative correlation between the number of high school math courses and the average knowledge score. In addition, the authors investigated how the students’ tolerance to change affected their prioritization of environmental issues and environmental knowledge. High resistance to change scores indicate low perceived importance of environmental engineering and low levels of understanding of environmental engineering issues, with the exception of issues related to policy/legislature where the relationship is positively correlated. To translate the findings into practice, this research recommends to focus on students’ transformations in attitude towards and knowledge of: (a) the natural environment (as something to be concerned about) and (b) engineering (as a profession which has a large impact on the natural environment) as well as their overall ‘resistance to change’.

Strobel, J., & Hua, I., & Harris, C., & Fang, J., & Tracy, L. (2009, June), Students’ Attitudes And Concepts About Engineering As An Environmental Career: A Survey Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4760

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