A Comparison of Two Engineering Outreach Programs for Adolescents

Louis S. Nadelson, Janet M. Callahan


There is continued growth and development of outreach programs designed to increase pre-college students awareness and understanding of engineering as a profession and as a career. These outreach programs vary in format and in the groups targeted for participation, but maintain the same fundamental goal of increasing participant knowledge of engineering. Many of these outreach programs also maintain the implicit goal of increasing the participants knowledge and attitudes toward college. The additional resources and funding that are commonly allocated to support outreach programs frequently involve documenting accountability which motivates evaluation of program impact. Therefore, many outreach events include program evaluation to assess impact on the pre-college participants knowledge and perceptions of engineering but they have not included the assessment of program impact on college attitudes. In this outreach program evaluation study we examined the impact of two residential engineering outreach events on the participants engineering perceptions and attitudes and their college attitudes. Our results indicate a number of personal variables were predictors of college attitude, but we failed to expose any variables as indicators of engineering perceptions and attitudes. Analysis of the pre-post survey scores revealed a significant change in engineering perceptions and attitudes (p < .01), but no significant change in college attitude (p =.07). We also exposed a differential impact by outreach event. Results, implications, limitations, and directions for future research are discussed.


outreach; perceptions of engineering; perceptions of college

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JSTEM. ISSN: 1557-5284