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Understanding Self-efficacy and Persistence for STEM Education in Underrepresented Middle School Students

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Community Engagement Division Technical Session 4

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Community Engagement Division

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Paper Authors


Rajani Muraleedharan Saginaw Valley State University

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Dr. Rajani Muraleedharan is an assistant professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE), and the faculty advisor for Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at Saginaw Valley State University (SVSU), Michigan. Dr. Muraleedharan obtained her Ph.D. at Syracuse University, New York. Before joining SVSU,
She worked as an 3/4 Full-time ECE Assistant professor at Rowan University, New Jersey and as a postdoctoral research associate at the Wireless Communications and Networking Group (WCNG), University of Rochester, New York. She also was a research intern at Mitsubishi Electric Research Lab
(MERL). Her research interest includes signal processing, computational intelligence, behavioral science, mobile-cloud computing, information and network security in heterogeneous sensor networks. Dr. Muraleedharan collaborates with researchers and mentors students on topics such as health and
emotion recognition for autistic children, cybersecurity, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), physics education, environmental monitoring and green energy applications.

Currently Dr. Muraleedharan is mentoring research on 'Multirotor Swarm for Autonomous Exploration of Indoor Spaces' project funded by Michigan Space Grant Consortium. She is the author/co-author of 2 book chapters, 4 journal papers, 31 conference and symposium IEEE/ACM papers, and 3 of which has won the best paper award. In 2009, Dr. Muraleedharan was awarded the Outstanding Teaching Assistant award and also received her Certificate in University Teaching from the Future Professoriate program at Syracuse University. She is the reviewer of IEEE Transactions on Evolutionary Computation,
Neurocomputing, and Systems and Cybernatics, Wiley Security and Communications networks. Dr. Muraleedharan has participated in many professional and service activities university wide. In summer 2015, she instructed Middle school Robotics and Beyond Camp, and in 2014 served as a judge
for A.H. Nickless Innovation Award at SVSU. Dr. Muraleedharan strives to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education for young girls and aspire young women engineers by volunteering for MindTrekkers event, Delta College, Middle school girls camp, ISD Bay Arenac and Girls Scouts, Michigan yearly.

Dr. Muraleedharan is a member of Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), Society of Photo-optical Instrumentation Engineering (SPIE), Women in Engineering (WIE), American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE) and SWE. She is the Students activities chair, IEEE Northeast Michigan Section since 2014. She is the member of Institutional Review Board Committee, reviewer of Consumers Energy Engineering Talent Scholarship, and member of C of IDEAS at SVSU.

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Marie Cassar Saginaw Valley State University

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Associate Professor of Psychology

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Growth in tech industries such as, communications, robotics and transportation, have highlighted the need for drawing an increasingly diverse population of students into STEM education early in their academic careers. While many middle schools have initiatives to increase students’ awareness and preparation for STEM fields, students are nevertheless often intimidated by STEM coursework, choosing to delay or avoid courses critical for success. The proposed project assesses, using a pre-post intervention design, possible factors influencing the attitudes and perceptions of students from underrepresented groups about STEM curriculum and presents a multifaceted intervention designed to develop students’ preparation and persistence in STEM fields. The intervention includes four activities: extracurricular peer-directed, hands-on educational experiences building students’ collaborative interaction skills, technical knowledge, and curiosity about STEM; industry site visits and personal interactions with professionals working in STEM fields focused on motivating students to visualize themselves on STEM career pathways; family/mentor-focused STEM opportunities intended to broaden students’ educational and emotional support networks; and an integrated STEM-curriculum for teachers to build upon key concepts.

Muraleedharan, R., & Cassar, M. (2021, July), Understanding Self-efficacy and Persistence for STEM Education in Underrepresented Middle School Students Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37964

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