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Title: How outreach camps incorporate design affects female high school students’ interest in engineering and perceptions of engineering design (Evaluation).
Outreach summer camps, particularly those focused on increasing the number of women in engineering, are commonplace. Some camps take the approach of a broad survey of engineering as a whole, while others focus on one specific discipline. Within the discipline-specific camps, there is a high degree of variability in curriculum and structure. This is apparent when considering if and how engineering design is built into the camp structure. While many studies have investigated the impact of outreach camps on engineering self-confidence among participants, few studies have sought to understand how the camp curriculum as a whole can influence these outcomes. To begin to understand the connection between outreach camp curriculum and engineering self-confidence among participants, we studied outreach camps targeted to high school women that varied in the incorporation of design into their structure. We chose to study three camps: (1) a design-focused camp, (2) a design-incorporated camp (run by the authors), and a (3) design-absent camp. All three camps were at the same university but based in different engineering disciplines. Results from pre-post survey Wilcoxon Signed Rank tests showed that design-focused and design-incorporated camps were able to improve students’ perspective of what engineering is (p <.01 and p = .02), while the design-absent camp had no change. The design-incorporated camp increased the participants’ desire to be an engineer (p = .02) while the design-absent camp decreased the participants’ desire to be an engineer (p = .02) and the design-focused camp had no effect. The design-absent camp also decreased the participants’ overall interest in engineering (p = .02). Additionally, both the design-incorporated and design-focused camps increased the participants’ confidence in conducting engineering design (p <.01 and p <.01), but only the design-incorporated camp had consistent improvements throughout the entire design cycle. Motivated by these results, we intend in future studies to more systematically probe the potential of different outreach curricula and structures to positively influence engineering perceptions.  more » « less
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ASEE annual conference exposition proceedings
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National Science Foundation
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