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The Impact of Participation in VEX Robotics Competition on Middle and High School Students’ Interest in Pursuing STEM Studies and STEM-related Careers

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Conference

2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

The Role of Robotics in K-12 Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count

16

Page Numbers

25.1312.1 - 25.1312.16

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/22069

Download Count

54

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Paper Authors

biography

Cher C. Hendricks Georgia Institute of Technology

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Cher Hendricks is a Research Scientist II at Georgia Institute of Technology. The focus of her work is on K-12 STEM programs. Prior to her work at Georgia Tech, she was an Associate Professor of educational research at the University of West Georgia (1998-2010) and a special education teacher. In addition to her STEM research, Hendricks is author of the textbook Improving Schools through Action Research: A Reflective Practice Approach. The third edition was released in February.

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biography

Meltem Alemdar Georgia Institute of Technology

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Meltem Alemdar is a Research Scientist in Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC) at Georgia Institute of Technology. Alemdar has experience evaluating programs that fall under the umbrella of educational evaluation, including K-12 educational curricula, after-school programs, and comprehensive school reform initiatives. Across these evaluations, she has used a variety of evaluation methods, ranging from multi-level evaluation plan designed to assess program impact to methods such as program monitoring designed to facilitate program improvement. Her leadership evaluation work includes serving as a lead evaluator on NASA’s electronic professional development network (ePDN), a new initiative dedicated to preparing teachers to engage their students in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) through the use of NASA-developed learning materials and resources. She also serves a the lead evaluator on several NSF-funded Noyce Scholarship programs. She has direct experience leading or contributing to evaluations of leadership, and STEM-related innovations.

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Tamra Williams Ogletree University of West Georgia

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Abstract

The Impact Participation in VEX Robotics Competition on Middle and High School Students’ Interest in Pursuing STEM Studies and STEM-related CareersVEX Robotics Competition (VRC) is an international program for middle and high schoolstudents that has as its goal to engage student participants in the study of science, technology,engineering, and math (STEM) through a competition in which students build innovative robotsto solve a challenge. Currently, over 3500 teams representing 20 countries compete globally eachyear in VRC. Through the competition, students are expected to devise creative solutions todifficult problems, work as a team, learn sportsmanship, communicate effectively, and buildleadership skill. An important objective of VEX Robotics Competition is to inspire students topursue STEM-related education and career paths.This research report describes findings from the first external evaluation of VRC, which wascompleted in May 2011. Three hundred forty-one (341) middle and high school students and 345VRC Team Leaders completed online surveys that measured perceptions of the impact of VRCparticipation on student interest in STEM education and STEM careers. In addition, 70 studentswere interviewed in focus groups, and 37 Team Leaders were interviewed one-on-one and infocus groups, which allowed participants to provide in-depth responses about ways VRCparticipation impacted student interest in STEM education and careers.Results indicated that a large majority of students and Team Leaders agreed that VRCparticipation positively impacted students’ interest in STEM. Students reported (a) wanting tolearn more about robotics (92%) and engineering (90%), (b) becoming more interested in havinga job in a STEM or computer field (87%), (c) becoming more interested in taking engineeringcourses in college (83%) and (d) becoming more interested in taking additional math or scienceclasses in high school or college (75%). Team Leaders also perceived increased student interestin STEM areas due to their participation in VRC, and increases were greatest in (a) wanting tolearn more about robotics (95%), (b) wanting to learn more about engineering design (91%), and(c) wanting to learn more about computer programing (87%).Higher percentages of boys than girls agreed that VRC had made them more interested in takingengineering classes in college, having a STEM career, learning more about computerprogramming, and learning more about engineering design. However, a higher percentage ofgirls than boys reported that VRC made them want to learn more about robotics and made themmore interested in taking additional math and science classes in high school and college.Team Leaders who are also teachers reported that VRC students are (a) more comfortable usingcomputers (81% agreed) and (b) more interested in taking additional or harder computer classes(70%), math classes (72%), or science classes (70%) than are their non-VRC peers. Students andTeam Leaders provided stories, anecdotes, and experiences in focus groups and interviews thatillustrated the ways student interest in STEM increased due to VRC participation. Themes fromthese qualitative data sources will be provided in the full paper.

Hendricks, C. C., & Alemdar, M., & Ogletree, T. W. (2012, June), The Impact of Participation in VEX Robotics Competition on Middle and High School Students’ Interest in Pursuing STEM Studies and STEM-related Careers Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. https://peer.asee.org/22069

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