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Using Social Networking to Mentor 9th-grade Girls for Academic Success and Engineering Career Awareness

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

Outreach to K-12 Females

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.1337.1 - 23.1337.14



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Paper Authors


Patricia Carlson Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Dr. Patricia "Pat" A. Carlson is a transplanted middle westerner, having spent her childhood in Norfolk, Va. She came to Rose-Hulman early in her teaching career and has taught a variety of courses over the past three decades. Dr. Carlson has held a number of American Society for Engineering Education summer fellowships that have taken her to NASA-Goddard, NASA-Langley, the Army Research Laboratory in Aberdeen, Maryland, and NASA’s Classroom of the Future in Wheeling, W.Va. She was on loan to the Air Force Human Resources Laboratory from 1989 to 1995, managing a project to transition advanced instructional technologies to ten different middle schools located in five states. She is on the editorial board of three professional publications and has served as National Research Council Senior Fellow assigned to the Air Force Human Resources Laboratory. In her spare time, Pat enjoys reading and gardening.

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Ryan Smith Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Ryan Smith has served as webmaster and system administrator of the PRISM Project for the past ten years. He is a 2002 computer engineering graduate of Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology. As part of his duties, Smith manages the PRISM server infrastructure, performs database administration, manages systems security, and coordinates distance education online courses on the PRISM website. In addition, Smith researches new web technologies to implement for the PRISM Project. In 2008, Smith received the Hoosier Educational Computer Coordinators HERO award for his contributions to integrating technology in Indiana education. In 2011, the PRISM team received the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology Excellence in Service Award.

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Matthew Ryan Davidson Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

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Matthew R. Davidson (PRISM Programmer) serves as the development arm of PRISM since joining the team in 2006. He continues to improve the reliability and functionality of PRISM’s integrated Moodle Course Management System along with expanding the library of PRISM’s proprietary tools, which include the Materials library, Lesson Plan builder and hosts of other programs.

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Using Social Networking to Mentor 9th-grade Girls for Academic Success and Engineering Career Awareness1. Summary: EMERGE ( is a mentoring program to enhance both careerawareness and academic achievement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fordisadvantaged 9th grade girls. Our goal is to nurture persistence and academic achievement ineconomically/culturally disadvantaged female learners. Our mission is to increase diversity in STEMprofessions. The talk includes two components:1.1 Program Overview: EMERGE partners 9th-grade girls with XXXX women students for the duration ofan academic year. A well-defined treatment ensures that the dominant tenor of the tele-mentoring is academicachievement, while – at the same time – sustaining the excitement of exploring STEM. The multi-facetedtreatment can best be summarized through a graphic (see figure below). Area C: Camaraderie lies at the heart of this program. Though most of the interaction takes place in small learning communities, the program also establishes a group identity through EMERGE logos on shirts, backpacks, and school supplies. Creating a cohesive group with a positive image for STEM alleviates many of the negative peer-pressures that permeate high school cultures. Area A: Each small group (~ eight girls and one mentor) complete a library of problem-based “challenges” featuring topics that mirror the workplace. Students learn techniques for spatial/visual, temporal, quantitative, and probabilistic thinking within these active learning modules. Area B: As-needed help with specific homework issues. Our mentors focus on STEM subjects, but also help with otherdisciplines. Additionally, the mentors provide advice and practice sessions for taking college admissions tests(such as PSAT, SAT, and ACT).Area D: Day-long field trips to near-by high-tech organizations (e.g. Crane Naval Weapons Center, CookUrological, IU Medical School) help to contextualize STEM learning. Rather than simple walk-throughs, welook for venues where a concentration of XXXX alumni employees can engage the students with hands-onactivities. We supplement these trips with online awareness materials from the Society of Women Engineers(SWE) and from Women in Engineering ProActive Network (WEPAN).1.2 Assessment: Methods for collecting data are included in the talk. We focus on the first cohort of youngwomen (who spent academic year 2008 -2009) with the program to illustrate efficacy. Of the 35 originalparticipants, 33 graduated from high school in May 2012. Thirty-two completed a 34-item exit survey – 18questions asked for quantitative answers; 16 were qualitative / opinion. Results from the quantitative portionsuggest that the EMERGE cohort was above average for all WVHS women graduating in 2012.Of special note, there is some evidence that the content emphasized in the field trip / learning modules of2008-2009 had an effect on career choices. For the first cohort, we worked with Cook Urological andWomen’s Heath to showcase STEM in medicine and health. A group of RHIT alumni/ae at the Spencer, INfacility took us under their wing and helped with a mini-curriculum for life science activities, including a day-long field trip.Of the 22 EMERGE participants who answered the fill-in question “What are your plans after high schoolgraduation?,” 21 will go on to post-secondary education; one will join the military. This represents ~ 65% ofthe total sample of 33 respondents. Of the 21 electing for post-secondary education, 14 specifically indicateda health or medical-related career choice. (One will attend XXXX, majoring in bio-medical engineering.)Therefore, of those answering this question, 65% selected a career allied with one of the treatment’s majorthemes.

Carlson, P., & Smith, R., & Davidson, M. R. (2013, June), Using Social Networking to Mentor 9th-grade Girls for Academic Success and Engineering Career Awareness Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--22722

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