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Students’ Attitudes And Threshold Concepts Towards Engineering As An Environmental Career: Research By Participatory Design Of An Educational Game

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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

Student Attitudes and Perceptions

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.1088.1 - 14.1088.14



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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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Jun Fang Purdue University

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Constance Harris 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 threshold concepts towards engineering as an environmental career: Research by participatory design of an educational game

Abstract The overall purpose of the research described in this paper is to research the attitudes and threshold concepts (key concepts or gate keeper concepts) of beginning engineering students towards the relationship between environment/ecology and engineering specifically towards choosing: either (a) engineering as a career to make an environmental impact or (b) choosing environmental and ecological engineering as a specific engineering profession. The project is situated in the context of life cycle analysis and the environmental impacts of design, manufacturing, use and disposal of products. The study employs also an innovative research design: The researchers investigate students’ conceptions and attitudes (and change of both) by asking students to co-design an educational game with them – through a series of workshops. Of particular focus will be the change of students’ conceptual understanding of core environmental and ecological concepts during the design process. We report the results of a survey of 1700 first-year engineering students at the 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 observe 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. In addition, we report the results of an analysis of students’ data as collected within the workshops. The study reveals several areas of troublesome knowledge of students.

Strobel, J., & Hua, I., & Fang, J., & Harris, C., & Tracy, L. (2009, June), Students’ Attitudes And Threshold Concepts Towards Engineering As An Environmental Career: Research By Participatory Design Of An Educational Game Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--4701

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