An evaluation on engineering identity of K-12 youth using the engineering ambassador network (Evaluation)

Sally T. Wei, Trish Wonch Hill

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


The vast majority of people have only a minimal understanding of engineering and technology and its ubiquitous presence in their lives. The importance of instilling these principles at a young age is the focus of many engineering outreach programs today. But how do we quantify and measure the outcomes of such efforts? This paper focuses on one such program, the Nebraska chapter of the Engineering Ambassador Network (EAN) and an evaluation study developed to gather preliminary quantifiable data for this initiative. EAN is a national professional development program with an outreach mission. The University of Nebraska chapter of EAN (N-EAN) consists of a team of talented, highly motivated, and passionate engineering undergraduate leaders, who seek to inspire K-12 youth via engaging presentations and hands-on activities on various relevant engineering topics. since the program inception in 2015, N-EAN has reached over 15,000 K-12 students statewide via school and on-campus visits. However, there has been little quantitative measure of the effectiveness of the program other than number of youth reached. The question remains on whether these visits really have an impact on K-12 youth and their attitudes towards engineering. The purpose of this pilot study was to develop statistical diagnostics to gain preliminary insight into this question. In the Spring of 2017 a study assessed the impact of an N-EAN visit on youth from four schools in lower elementary (first grade), upper elementary (fourth grade), middle school (seventh grade) and High School (tenth grade). An instrument was developed that assessed attitudes toward engineering and engineering identity. The younger age groups were asked to draw an engineer. The survey was administered by the teacher prior to the N-EAN presentation, and the post-survey data was collected shortly thereafter. Paired t-tests of the results have shown that there was a significant change from pre-to post-test on youth knowledge about engineering, and how much they thought engineering helped people. For high school and middle school aged youth, there was a significant increase from pre-to post-test on student interest, enjoyment, knowledge, engineering career aspirations, and a reduction in male gender bias toward engineers. This paper will discuss methodology and results of the study, impact on K-12 engineering identity, and future work in quantifying N-EAN initiatives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 23 2018
Event125th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Salt Lake City, United States
Duration: Jun 23 2018Dec 27 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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