Student Outcomes from the Collective Design and Delivery of Culturally Relevant Engineering Outreach Curricula in Rural and Appalachian Middle Schools


Middle school is a pivotal time for career choice, and research is rich with studies on how students perceive engineering, as well as corresponding intervention strategies to introduce younger students to engineering and inform their conceptions of engineering. Unfortunately, such interventions are typically not designed in culturally relevant ways. Consequently, there continues to be a lack of students entering engineering and a low level of diverse candidates for this profession. The purpose of this study was to explore how students in rural and Appalachian Virginia conceive of engineering before and after engagement with culturally relevant hands-on activities in the classroom. We used student responses to the Draw an Engineer Test (DAET), consisting of a drawing and several open-ended prompts administered before and after the set of engagements, to answer our research questions related to changes in students’ conceptions of engineering. We used this study to develop recommendations for teachers for the use of such engineering engagement practices and how to best assess their outcomes, including looking at the practicality of the DAET. Overall, we found evidence that our classroom engagements positively influenced students’ conceptions of engineering in these settings.



middle school, DAET, student conceptions of engineering