First-Year Engineering Students' Portrayal of Engineering in a Proposed Museum Exhibit for Middle School Students
Journal of Science Education and Technology Volume 21, Number 2, ISSN 1059-0145
Students' perceptions of engineering have been documented through studies involving interviews, surveys, and word associations that take a direct approach to asking students about various aspects of their understanding of engineering. Research on perceptions of engineering rarely focuses on how students would portray engineering to others. First-year engineering student teams proposed a museum exhibit, targeted to middle school students, to explore the question "What is engineering?" The proposals took the form of a poster. The overarching research question focuses on how these students would portray engineering to middle school students as seen through their museum exhibit proposals. A preliminary analysis was done on 357 posters to determine the overall engineering themes for the proposed museum exhibits. Forty of these posters were selected and, using open coding, more thoroughly analyzed to learn what artifacts/objects, concepts, and skills student teams associate with engineering. These posters were also analyzed to determine if there were any differences by gender composition of the student teams. Building, designing, and teamwork are skills the first-year engineering students link to engineering. Regarding artifacts, students mentioned those related to transportation and structures most often. All-male teams were more likely to focus on the idea of space and to mention teamwork and designing as engineering skills; equal-gender teams were more likely to focus on the multidisciplinary aspect of engineering. This analysis of student teams' proposals provides baseline data, positioning instructors to develop and assess instructional interventions that stretch students' self-exploration of engineering.
Mena, I.B. & Diefes-Dux, H.A. (2012). First-Year Engineering Students' Portrayal of Engineering in a Proposed Museum Exhibit for Middle School Students. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 21(2), 304-316.