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Abstract

It has long been recognized that engineers need a variety of skills, including technical and social, to succeed professionally. Attempts to include social skills (i.e., communication, teamwork, and leadership) in engineering education are relatively recent (i.e., within the last decade). Thus, the current study investigates whether social goals influence academic and social outcomes. Four hundred and three highschool aged robotics participants (262 male; 146 female; 22 not specified) completed a survey about their experiences in FIRST Prior to completing the survey, participants learned that an important goal of FIRST was a) social networking, b) academic learning, or c) no goal. Academic and social outcomes were assessed at the beginning and end of the season, but the goal instructions were administered only at the beginning of the season. The findings show that the goals promoted can dramatically influence social and academic outcomes. The implications this has for engineering programs are discussed.

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