Eliciting underserved middle-school youths' notions of engineers: Draw an engineer

Tirupalavanam Ganesh, John Thieken, Monica Elser, Dale Baker, Stephen Krause, Chell Roberts, Sharon Kurpius-Robinson, James Middleton, Jay Golden

Research output: Contribution to journalConference Articlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Learning through Engineering Design and Practice is an after-school program designed to engage female and traditionally underserved youth, in technological design and problem solving experiences. This NSF funded project combines afterschool inquiry based activities with cognitive apprenticeships, opportunities to practice workplace skills, and experiences with technology to engage and educate junior-high school youth in the fields of engineering. Cohorts of 24 students were selected from two junior-high schools from a large district in the Southwest. Activities were offered for 78 contact hours during the academic year and 48 contact hours during the summer. Students engaged in after-school meetings (twice a week), fieldtrips, parent nights, and internships related to program content. As part of the evaluation portion of the program students were given a "Draw an Engineer" (DAE) assessment to determine individual preconceived conceptions of engineers and engineering. The DAE assessment was administered at the beginning and end of the school year. Analysis of the pre and post student produced drawings indicated the emergence of three main categories: 1) Engineers in Action, 2) Occurrence of Gender, and 3) Engineers' Clothing. Differences in pre and post drawings showed a shift in student conceptions of engineers by both male and female participants. Drawings produced at the start of the program showed a majority, in both genders, conceiving engineers as individuals who build or repair mechanical apparatus. The post-drawing analysis illustrated a shift in this type of thinking. Students shifted their conceptions from engineers who build to the engineers who think. Data also suggested that students are subconsciously learning that engineers are men. Even though the female participants in this program more than double the number of male participants, the majority (71%) of the pre-assessment drawings depicted a male engineer. This number decreased with the post-assessment drawings indicating only 61% of engineers drawn as male. The overall analysis of the data produced from these student-produced drawings suggests that students have learned a great deal about engineering and engineers throughout the first year of the project. Their experiences with the curriculum and with the volunteer engineers have proved to be an effective resource.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
Event2009 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Austin, TX, United States
Duration: Jun 14 2009Jun 17 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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