With increased interest in promoting engineering as a field of study and career pathway to both college and pre-college student, it is important to understand the many factors that impact students’ learning and decision-making processes. In this paper, one of the important environmental factors surrounding students was selected as a main research subject: parents and other similar caregivers. Parents play a significant role in mediating between teachers and students as well as motivating children’s interest in engineering.
There is a growing concern in the US about the lack of student interest and aptitude in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines. Research indicates that engineering and technology integration in K-12 improve students’ content understanding and skill development, understanding of interactions among the STEM disciplines, and interest in STEM careers. Many in-service STEM teachers have limited experience and/or educational background in engineering and technology. These teachers have limited confidence to incorporate engineering and technology in their classroom.
There is growing concern in the United States about the lack of interest and aptitude in science, math and, in particular, technology and engineering disciplines. Certainly one reason for this could be the lack of true engineering experiences available to students when they are in junior high and high school. This is in part due to the fact that while most teachers are well versed in math and science through their formal education, very few have experience and/or educational backgrounds in engineering and technology.
The public has an incomplete understanding of engineers and engineering as a profession. In discussions about the public’s understanding of engineers, many have referenced the “conventional” stereotype of engineers as train operators. Though this stereotype may exist among students as well as the public, few investigations to date have focused on students’ ideas about engineers and engineering.
As part of a NSF-funded ITEST grant, the ETID Department at Texas A&M University is developing a STEM Teacher Education initiative that helps secondary education math and science teachers to better understand advanced technology concepts. This new initiative will be presented to approximately twelve teachers for three consecutive summers to create a cadre of educators who are able to excite high school students and motivate them to choose engineering/technology career paths as they enter their undergraduate degree programs.