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What Factors Influence the Interest of Male and Female Students in STEM (Evaluation)

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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

Pre-College Engineering Education Division Technical Session 7

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors

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Samuel Douglas Bast

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Trinity Borland Wartburg College


Murad Musa Mahmoud Wartburg College Orcid 16x16

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Murad is an Assistant Professor at the Engineering Science Department at Wartburg College. He has a Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Utah State University. Research interests include recruitment into STEM, diversity in STEM as well pedagogy and instruction.

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Cristian Gerardo Allen Wartburg College


Kurt Henry Becker Utah State University - Engineering Education

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Kurt Becker is a professor in the department of engineering education and his areas of research include engineering design thinking, adult learning cognition, engineering education professional development and technical training. He is currently working on National Science Foundation funded projects exploring engineering design systems thinking and several GEAR UP STARS projects funded by the US Department of Education. He has extensive international experience working on technical training and engineering education projects funded by the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and U.S. Department of Labor, USAID. Countries where he has worked include Armenia, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, China, Egypt, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, and Thailand.

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STEM Fields: Factors that Influence the Interest Levels of Male and Female Students (Evaluation)

This paper will discuss the factors that influence the levels of interest in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) among high school and middle school students. Data for this research was collected during multiple summer engineering camps held at a local university as a part of the Department of Education’s Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEARUP) program. The camps are intended to help increase interest in STEM careers and STEM postsecondary education among high and middle school students. The weeklong summer camps were held in the years 2017, 2018, and 2019. Another camp was scheduled in 2020, but was cancelled due to the pandemic.

During the camps, the students participated in activities involving engineering research. The camps focused on the topics of water and environmental engineering. The 2017 camp focused on water quality, collecting and analyzing water samples from various locations in the local watershed. The 2018 and 2019 camps included various activities including using remotely operated vehicles (ROV’s) to measure various water properties to using drones to measure air quality. Students also collected stream data and built simple sensors to measure air quality. During all the camps, the students, with the help of their teachers, developed engineering research hypotheses, tested those hypotheses, and thought like engineers. At the end of each camp, teams of students presented what they learned, as well as their findings, using research posters and presentations.

Before and after each camp, the students completed surveys regarding their interest in STEM, the factors influencing that interest, and their friends and parents’ perceptions about STEM. Additionally, parents of the students were surveyed regarding their socioeconomic status, education, and perception of STEM. The parents did not attend any of the camps, but were kept informed on the activities of the camp using a blog that was updated daily. Data from the 2017 and 2018 camps were analyzed in a previous paper to find the factors that influence the interest of male and female students to go into STEM fields. In this work, those sets of data will be analyzed again in conjunction with new data collected in the 2019 camp. Data is collected and analyzed each year as part of a longitudinal study. The analysis involves both quantitative and qualitative data which was collected simultaneously in a concurrent mixed methods research design. Both streams of data will be analyzed concurrently to offer a deeper understanding of what influences student interest in STEM.

Preliminary analysis showed that the factors that influence student interest in STEM were under the following main themes: Relationships/People, Future Prospects, Prior Interests/Hobbies, and Educational Experiences. A complete analysis of those themes, as well as the quantitative data, will be presented in the final paper.

Bast, S. D., & Borland, T., & Mahmoud, M. M., & Allen, C. G., & Becker, K. H. (2021, July), What Factors Influence the Interest of Male and Female Students in STEM (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--38043

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