Conference Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education
Community-based engineering design activities were used to provide Latino/a adolescents with authentic engineering experiences with the intention of increasing their engineering self-efficacy and changing their perceptions of engineering. Twenty five Latino/a adolescents (ages 14 to 17)- most of whom were either immigrants or English learners - were purposefully selected to work on different community-based engineering design activities, which are engineering experiences where the adolescents had the opportunity to research, analyze, and/or design solutions to problems affecting their community. The adolescents worked in teams of three or four members over the course of one school year to develop a solution to the problem they selected. Pre and post-interviews were conducted to determine the adolescents' perceptions of engineering and their self-efficacy in engineering. Data revealed that the participants' sense of engineering self-efficacy increased after participating in the project. In addition, the participants' perceptions of engineering changed over time. This exploratory study suggests that authentic engineering experiences, defined as experiences in which students identify real problems they want to solve for real clients, hold the potential to attract Latino/a adolescents to STEM.
Mejia, J. A.; Drake, D.; and Wilson-Lopez, A., "Changes in Latino/a adolescents' engineering self-efficacy and perceptions of engineering after addressing authentic engineering design challenges" (2015). Teacher Education and Leadership Faculty Publications. Paper 2224.