A comparison of attitudes about engineering between introductory design students in different programs

Linda Lindsley, Veronica Burrows

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Abstract

This paper discusses the difference in attitudes about engineering between students enrolled in two different types of engineering design courses: standard introduction to engineering design offered to freshman engineering majors and a course in engineering design offered to in-service secondary math and science teachers. This latter course is part of a series of courses, offered through the NSF-sponsored MSP (Math and Science Partnership): Project Pathways,1 designed to help integrate mathematics and science, and can be taken as partial fulfillment of a Master's degree in Science/Math Education. An attitude survey, based on the well-documented PFEAS (Pittsburgh Freshmen Engineering Attitude Survey),2 was taken by both sets of learners. Both groups completed the survey at the beginning and end of the Fall 2006 semester. Initial data shows a statistically significant difference between the two groups in attitudes about engineering. The greatest difference in the two groups' attitudes at the beginning and end of the semester was in the area of the subjects' perception of how engineers contribute to society. At the beginning of the semester, on a 5-point Likert scale student and teacher mean responses to the group of questions regarding engineering and society had a statistically significant mean difference of .72, p<.01; the two groups showed statistically significant differences on two other scales as well (general impressions of engineering and perceptions of engineering as an 'exact' science). At the end of the semester, student and teacher mean responses to the same three groups of still had statistically significant differences, but the gaps between the two groups were narrowed on two of the scales (general impressions of engineering and perceptions of engineering as an 'exact' science). However, there was a notable change in attitudes among the teachers in their perceptions of engineering as an "exact" science with a mean difference of -.64, p<.01.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2007

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title = "A comparison of attitudes about engineering between introductory design students in different programs",
abstract = "This paper discusses the difference in attitudes about engineering between students enrolled in two different types of engineering design courses: standard introduction to engineering design offered to freshman engineering majors and a course in engineering design offered to in-service secondary math and science teachers. This latter course is part of a series of courses, offered through the NSF-sponsored MSP (Math and Science Partnership): Project Pathways,1 designed to help integrate mathematics and science, and can be taken as partial fulfillment of a Master's degree in Science/Math Education. An attitude survey, based on the well-documented PFEAS (Pittsburgh Freshmen Engineering Attitude Survey),2 was taken by both sets of learners. Both groups completed the survey at the beginning and end of the Fall 2006 semester. Initial data shows a statistically significant difference between the two groups in attitudes about engineering. The greatest difference in the two groups' attitudes at the beginning and end of the semester was in the area of the subjects' perception of how engineers contribute to society. At the beginning of the semester, on a 5-point Likert scale student and teacher mean responses to the group of questions regarding engineering and society had a statistically significant mean difference of .72, p<.01; the two groups showed statistically significant differences on two other scales as well (general impressions of engineering and perceptions of engineering as an 'exact' science). At the end of the semester, student and teacher mean responses to the same three groups of still had statistically significant differences, but the gaps between the two groups were narrowed on two of the scales (general impressions of engineering and perceptions of engineering as an 'exact' science). However, there was a notable change in attitudes among the teachers in their perceptions of engineering as an {"}exact{"} science with a mean difference of -.64, p<.01.",
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