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WIP: Career Pathways

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Pre-college Engineering Education Division Technical Session 8

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Kayla R. Maxey Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Kayla is a doctoral student in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. Her research interest includes the influence of informal engineering learning experiences on diverse students’ attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions of engineering, and the relationship between students’ interests and the practices and cultures of engineering. Her current work at the FACE lab is on teaching strategies for K-12 STEM educators integrating engineering design and the development of engineering skills of K-12 learners.

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Morgan M. Hynes Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Morgan Hynes is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University and Director of the FACE Lab research group at Purdue. In his research, Hynes explores the use of engineering to integrate academic subjects in K-12 classrooms. Specific research interests include design metacognition among learners of all ages; the knowledge base for teaching K-12 STEM through engineering; the relationships among the attitudes, beliefs, motivation, cognitive skills, and engineering skills of K-16 engineering learners; and teaching engineering.

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With the increased exposure to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) through activities in formal and informal K-12 learning environments and representation in media outlets, students who attend our summer engineering intervention tend to articulate a more holistic understanding of the role of engineers within society. However, despite this increased exposure and a diverse understanding, students from diverse backgrounds (e.g., racially/ethnically diverse and women) still pursue engineering career pathways at disproportionately lower rates than their peers. Research suggests that the disproportionately low rates may be a result of disengagement with STEM careers like engineering as students’ progress through middle school to high school. Therefore, to contribute to research exploring the gap between exposure and enrollment in engineering programs, this paper intends to explore the relationship between middle school students’ perceptions of engineering, personal interests, and self-efficacy to understand how an informal engineering intervention influences the engineering career trajectory of participants. This paper uses a concurrent mixed-method, case-study approach, to analyze the pre- and post-intervention survey responses related to perceptions of engineering, personal interests, the fit between these perceptions and interests, and self-efficacy along with interview data of middle school participants of a ten-day engineering intervention. The preliminary analysis of this data allowed us to document interesting student cases that demonstrate the complex relationships between students’ changing perceptions of engineering, their interests, and beliefs about what they want to do in their future. This paper includes two cases: (1) a student with initial low interests and self-efficacy demonstrating high situational interests; and (2) a student with high interests and uncertain self-efficacy demonstrating improved fit between their perceptions and personal interests. The findings from this work will inform curriculum development for informal engineering learning environments and teaching practices to assist middle school students’ in making personally meaningful connections to the engineering activity and discipline in the future.

Maxey, K. R., & Hynes, M. M. (2020, June), WIP: Career Pathways Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35527

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