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The Virginia Tech First Robotics Program Partnership: Technological Literacy Through Self Efficacy

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Improving Technical Understanding of All Americans

Tagged Division

Technological Literacy Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1282.1 - 13.1282.11



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Paper Authors

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Mary Kasarda Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Brenda Brand Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Michael Collver Montgomery County Public Schools


Gabriel Goldman Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Gabe Goldman is a Ph'D candidate in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech

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

The Virginia Tech FIRST Robotics Program Partnership: Technological Literacy through Self-Efficacy Abstract

This paper describes a partnership between Virginia Tech (VT) and the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) FIRST robotics high-school team which includes undergraduates from a two-semester mechanical engineering senior capstone design course. The FIRST robotics program at MCPS was developed nine years ago by one of the co-authors, Dr. Brand, to facilitate STEM literacy by creating experiences to promote self-efficacy of high-school students in STEM areas. Unlike most FIRST programs around the country, the MCPS program was set up in the context of a two-semester robotics course that high-school students take for credit. This FIRST program at MCPS was developed using approaches which are based on Bandura’s [1,2] four sources of efficacy: mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, social persuasion, and stress reduction. In this manner, high-school students achieve a level of familiarity and literacy in engineering and other STEM topics, such as design and manufacturing, in the context of robotics. VT engineering capstone design students working with the high-school students are taught mentoring and leadership skills in order to effectively interact and promote self-efficacy with the high-school students. Through their experiences of mentoring, the VT students also achieve an additional level of their own self-efficacy with technical subjects, and an understanding of how to facilitate STEM learning and literacy in others. This paper discusses the structure of the partnership which supports self-efficacy to foster technological literacy in both the high-school and undergraduate students. This approach is also preparing engineering undergraduates for success in professional practice as well as facilitating future successful outreach and mentoring strategies for these students to further technological literacy in future generations.


In the ITEA Standards of Technological Literacy, the author’s [3] state that “…One of the great benefits of learning about technology is also learning to do technology, that is, to carry out in the laboratory-classroom many of the processes that underlie the development of technology in the real world…” The partnership program described here accomplishes this concurrently for high- school students and undergraduate students but at different levels. For almost a decade, undergraduate engineering students at Virginia Tech have been able to take a course offered through the VT School of Education focused on developing leadership and mentoring skills in technical problem-based scenarios. A large component of the course requires the students to volunteer with the Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) high-school FIRST robotics course. Recently a second collaborative course was added where a VT Mechanical Engineering Capstone Design Experience which is based on designing and building educational tools for the high-school program, while giving undergraduates in this design experience, leadership training to allow them to work successfully with the high-school population. Kasarda [3,4] described service learning and outreach aspects associated with the pilot year of the new capstone design course. Now in its second year, the authors have recognized, and have enhanced, aspects of the capstone design project that facilitate the self-efficacy of both the undergraduates and the high-school students in technological and STEM literacy.

Kasarda, M., & Brand, B., & Collver, M., & Goldman, G. (2008, June), The Virginia Tech First Robotics Program Partnership: Technological Literacy Through Self Efficacy Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3409

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