Participation in Small Group Engineering Design Activities at the Middle School Level: An Investigation of Gender Differences
Jeanna Wieselmann, Emily Dare, Gillian Roehrig, Elizabeth Ring-Whalen
2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition Proceedings
science teachers' reformbased instruction while simultaneously understanding their beliefs. As science classrooms shift to more integrated STEM approaches, this is especially critical. Additionally, Dr. Dare has a passion for working with K-12 students to understand how changes in classroom instruction impacts their attitudes towards and beliefs about STEM fields. In particular, she is looking at methods that positively impact girls, which may increase the number of women pursuing careers in
... M-related fields where they are currently underrepresented. Dr. Gillian Roehrig, University of Minnesota Dr. Roehrig is a professor of STEM Education at the University of Minnesota. Her research explores issues of professional development for K-12 science teachers, with a focus on beginning teachers and implementation of integrated STEM learning environments. She has received over $30 million in federal and state grants and published over 80 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters. She is a former board member of the National Association of Research in Science Teaching and past president of the Association for Science Teacher Education. Dr. Elizabeth Ring-Whalen, St. Catherine University Elizabeth A. Ring-Whalen is an Assistant Professor of Education at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN. She holds a PhD in Curriculum and Instruction -STEM Education from the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on STEM education and what this looks like in PreK-12 classrooms and explores teachers' beliefs of integrated STEM as well as how these beliefs influence teachers' practices and student achievement in the classroom. Alongside this research, she has worked to explore the attitudes and beliefs teachers hold about cultural diversity and teaching culturally diverse students. Past and current projects include designing and teaching undergraduate and graduate-level coursework intended to help teachers develop effective science teaching practices and culturally relevant pedagogy for their classrooms, mentoring pre-service science teachers, working with in-service science teachers to develop and implement integrated STEM curricula, leading STEM integration professional development for inservice science teachers, working with administration and teachers to develop STEM programming in their schools, and developing a K-12 STEM observation protocol that can be used in a variety of educational contexts through an online platform. This study addresses the gap in the literature to explore the following research questions: 1) What differences, if any, are seen in the engineering practices middle school girls and boys display during an engineering design challenge? 2) How, if at all, is group gender composition related to students' participation in small group engineering design activities? Literature Review Small group learning and girls' STEM interest. Although a variety of factors, including stereotypes and biases, curriculum, and workplace environments contribute to the underrepresentation of women in STEM , many researchers point out low levels of STEM interest among girls as a particularly salient factor in influencing the career trajectories of young girls  -. In a survey of 7,970 individuals, Maltese and Cooper  found that STEM interest was most often initiated prior to grade 6, and throughout the school years, STEM interest was fostered more through school experiences and coursework than out-of-school experiences. Positive school STEM experiences in the middle school grades are critical for developing students' STEM interest , .