Eighth Grade Students Conceptions of How Engineers Use Math and Science in the Field of Engineering: A Comparison of Two Cohorts

Donna Farland-Smith, Vinta Tiarani


Over the last fifteen years, engineering has made its way into science curriculum at all levels, elementary, middle, and high school. A need to analyze students’ perception the field of engineering is warranted. Previous techniques for studying representations of scientists and build on what researchers in the science field have learned from researching images of scientists. The purpose of the study was to compare two eighth grade cohorts’ conceptions of engineers through the use of multiple drawings and a rubric. Half of the students were enrolled in an iSTEM Cohort and received instruction focusing on engineering while the other half of the students in this study were enrolled in a traditional cohort and received instruction via a traditional approach to science in the eighth grade. Data analysis involved two phases of eighth grade students in two cohorts, iSTEM and traditional (N=146). The first phase was a content analysis of the actions and artifacts of engineers at work based on the work of Capobianco, Diefes-Dux, Mena, and Weller (2011). In the second phase, illustrations were analyzed using the Draw-An-Engineer-At-Work-Test Rubric DAEWT (Thomas et al., 2016). A two-tailed, independent sample t-test was used to compare illustrations from each group. It was discovered that more themes of engineering emerged from students in the iSTEM Cohort than the traditionally taught students. Data revealed a significant difference (p<.05) in the portrayal of the use of science as related to the work of an engineer and the field of engineering with the iSTEM Cohort when compared with traditionally taught eighth grade students. The Draw-An-Engineer-at-Work Test when evaluated with the Draw-An-Engineer-at-Work Rubric provides researchers many visualizations of students’ conceptions of how engineers use math and science in their work and can help educators understand students’ conceptions concerning the engineering field.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/jets.v4i10.1861


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Journal of Education and Training Studies  ISSN 2324-805X (Print)   ISSN 2324-8068 (Online)

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