2014 ASEE Annual Conference, Indianapolis, Indiana.

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In recent years, engineering content is increasingly appearing in the K-12 classroom. This growth can be attributed to increased acceptance of engineering as an area of study at the K-12 level, the growing inclusion of engineering content in state and national educational standards,and the growth of outreach activities intended to increase students’ interest in pursuing degrees and careers in engineering. As pre-college engineering programs grow, first-year engineering students are arriving in university engineering programs with significant prior exposure to engineering content and practices. Despite this growth, little research exists that explores the prevalence of participation in these programs or the effects of participation on first-year engineering students.In this paper, we present the results of a survey of first-year engineering students on their participation in pre-college engineering programs and activities. Students enrolled in four sections of a first-year engineering program at a large public university were asked to complete a survey indicating the settings where they encountered engineering prior to college, named and described the various activities that they participated in and the approximate amount of time they spent doing each activity. Participants also provided demographic information.Results indicate that 89 percent of domestic students enrolling in first-year engineering classes at the university have experiences they describe as engineering prior to college. High school classes are the most common way that students are exposed to engineering content by a significant margin, followed by extra-curricular activities, summer camps or programs, and middle school classes. While the majority of respondents reported participating in one or two different activities, some reported participating in as many as nine different pre-college engineering programs or activities. These activities ranged in exposure from short term class projects or activities, to students involved for multiple years in an engineering course sequence or extracurricular activity.In the full paper, we will explore the relationships between pre-college engineering participation and students’ demographics such as race and gender. We will also explore the relationship between participation in various types of pre-college engineering activities and students’ choice of engineering major.


2014, ASEE

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