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Students’ Perceptions of Engineering Educators: Building Relationships and Fostering Agency in Outreach (Fundamental)

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Pre-College Engineering Education Division Technical Session 12

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

16

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37772

Download Count

26

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Paper Authors

biography

Kelli Paul Indiana University-Bloomington Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-2322-7542

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Dr. Kelli Paul is a postdoctoral researcher in science education at Indiana University. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology specializing in Inquiry Methodology from Indiana University in 2006. Her research interests include attracting and retaining students in STEM, development of a STEM identity and STEM career aspirations, and the development of instruments and evaluation tools to assess these constructs.

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Karen Miel Tufts University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-8460-4332

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Karen Miel's research focuses on elementary students’ reasoning and decision-making in collaborative engineering design and the ways educators facilitate engineering sense-making. Previously, she served as Director of Research and Innovation and Education Director at science centers and as an elementary and middle school teacher.

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Merredith D. Portsmore Tufts University

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Dr. Merredith Portsmore is the Director for Tufts Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (www.ceeo.tufts.edu). Merredith received all four of her degrees from Tufts (B.A. English, B.S. Mechanical Engineering, M.A. Education, PhD in Engineering Education). Her research interests focus on how children engage in designing and constructing solutions to engineering design problems and evaluating students’ design artifacts. Her outreach work focuses on creating resources for K-12 educators to support engineering education in the classroom. She is also the founder of STOMP (stompnetwork.org), LEGOengineering.com (legoengineering.com) and the Teacher Engineering Education Program (teep.tufts.edu).

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Adam V. Maltese Indiana University-Bloomington Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-8422-9395

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Professor of Science Education

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Jungsun Kim Indiana University Bloomington Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-8937-5332

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Jungsun Kim, Ph.D. is a research scientist at Indiana University at Bloomington. Her research focuses on how students can consistently develop their talent throughout their educational experiences and how parents, school, and community support students, specifically, who are in underrepresented groups.

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Abstract

University-led engineering outreach programs reach approximately 600,000 K-12 students each year. Often, these programs are facilitated by undergraduate engineering outreach educators (EOEs), who increasingly are positioned as role models for students. To take up EOEs as role models, students first must notice characteristics of EOEs and then relate this information to themselves and their own interests and motivations. However, little is known about what students actually notice about EOEs during outreach. Drawing from student interviews, this paper addresses the research question: What do elementary students perceive about their interactions with engineering outreach educators? As part of an engineering education outreach program, students engaged in 12-16 weeks of hands-on activities led by undergraduate EOEs. Sixty-eight fifth-grade students participated in 15- to 30-minute semi-structured interviews. Participants represented seven classrooms in four suburban schools in the northeastern United States. During the interviews, students described their experiences with EOEs during the outreach program. Utilizing open coding and thematic analysis, we found that students noticed the design/content of activities, relational components, and instructional moves present during interactions with outreach educators. In other words, they noted what is provided, who provides it, and how it is provided. Of greater interest, however, was that students noticed how the relational components and instructional moves together worked in service to the purpose of outreach (the “why”). While it is important to provide students with opportunities to engage with the technical content of engineering, relationship building in these spaces may be equally important. Our work suggests that EOEs might provide affective or emotional support to students, supporting them to feel capable and successful during outreach. This work may inform how we think about and conceptualize the role of outreach educators, in that EOEs may serve as a “greeter”, welcoming students into and helping them feel like they belong in engineering. This paper will discuss implications for engineering outreach and how to support EOEs as they balance delivery of content and building relationships that foster student agency and success in engineering.

Paul, K., & Miel, K., & Portsmore, M. D., & Maltese, A. V., & Kim, J. (2021, July), Students’ Perceptions of Engineering Educators: Building Relationships and Fostering Agency in Outreach (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37772

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