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The impact of technology on workforce development and socio-economic prosperity has made K-12 computing engineering and STEM in general a national educational priority. However, the integration of computing remains obstructed by resources and lack of professional development to support students’ learning. Further challenging is that students’ STEM attitudes and interest do not matriculate with them into higher education. This issue is especially critical for traditionally underrepresented and underserved populations including females, racial/ethnic minority groups, and students of low-socioeconomic status (SES). To help mitigate these challenges, we developed an unplugged (computer-less) computing engineering and robotics lesson composed of three introductory computing concepts, sequencing, debugging, and sensing/ decision- making, using a small robot-arm and tangible programming blocks. Through students’ sequencing of operations, debugging, and executing of complex robotic behavior, we seek to determine if students’ interest or attitudes change toward engineering. Nine one-hour introductory pilot lessons with 148 students, grades 6-10, at two public middle schools, and one summer camp were conducted. For 43% of students, this was their first time participating in an engineering lesson. We measured students’ engineering interest and attitudes through a 15 question pre- and post-lesson survey and calculated aggregate factor scores for interest and attitudes. We foundmore »
The purpose of this research paper is to understand how diverse students are incorporated into the social structure of a large enrollment first-year engineering design course. Despite previous work demonstrating the benefits of diverse individuals in engineering, little work has examined how diverse students are incorporated into the social networks that exist within engineering classrooms. Social interactions are one of the most influential sources for integration into communities of practice. Through understanding how students interact and the structure of these interactions, we can elucidate how the engineering community includes members of underrepresented populations. Previous social network analysis (SNA) studies have scrutinized student classroom interactions. These studies typically attempt to link classroom interactions to academic outcomes (i.e., grades). In this study, we start to shift the focus away from connecting student interactions to academic outcomes and examine how the structure of student interactions can encourage an inclusive environment in a formal engineering environment. SNA data was collected via an online survey (n = 502, 74% response rate) one month into the semester at a Western land-grant institution. The survey asked first-year engineering students to indicate with whom they had interacted using a pre-populated list of the class roster and open-ended questions.more »
Social Dialogue in the Engineering Classroom: The Effect of National Events on the Political and Social Attitudes of First-Year Engineering StudentsThis research paper focuses on the effect of recent national events on first-year engineering students’ attitudes about their political identity, social welfare, perspectives of diversity, and approaches to social situations. Engineering classrooms and cultures often focus on mastery of content and technical expertise with little prioritization given to integrating social issues into engineering. This depoliticization (i.e., the removal of social issues) in engineering removes the importance of issues related to including diverse individuals in engineering, working in diverse teams, and developing cultural sensitivity. This study resulted from the shift in the national discourse, during the 2016 presidential election, around diversity and identities in and out of the academy. We were collecting interview data as a part of a larger study on students attitudes about diversity in teams. Because these national events could affect students’ perceptions of our research topic, we changed a portion of our interviews to discuss national events in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) classrooms and how students viewed these events in relation to engineering. We interviewed first-year undergraduate students (n = 12) who indicated large differences of attitudes towards diverse individuals, experiences with diverse team members, and/or residing at the intersection of multiple diversity markers. Wemore »
Interpersonal Interactions that Foster Inclusion: Building Supports for Diversity in Engineering TeamsTeaming is a core part of engineering education, especially in the first and last years of engineering when project work is a prevalent focus. The literature on the effects of working in diverse teams is mixed. Negative findings include decreased affect, increased frustration, and sustained conflict in teams. Positive findings include increased productivity, production of high quality products, and divergent-thinking and idea generation. Given these mixed findings, it becomes important to not only understand the practical outputs of working in diverse teams, but also how the experience of working in diverse teams influences whether students see themselves as engineers and whether or not they feel they belong in engineering. Our project, Building Supports for Diversity through Engineering Teams, investigates how students’ attitudes towards diversity influence how students experience work in diverse teams through addressing two main research questions: 1) What changes occur in students’ diversity sensitivity, multicultural effectiveness, and engineering practices as a result of working in diverse teams? 2) How do students’ perceptions of diversity, affect, and engineering practices change because of working on diverse teams? Using a multi-method approach, we deployed survey instruments to determine changes in student’s attitudes about teaming, diversity sensitivity, and openness attitudes. We alsomore »