Design based learning: Comparative effects on high school student's interest in engineering
Discussion regarding the introduction of engineering into the pre-college classrooms has been advancing and several countries have already started integrated engineering related material, usually through technology, science or computer science courses. A number of important questions emerge around engineering curriculum and pedagogical fidelity, namely, how is content presented, how is it integrated within current educational practices, and how are student dispositions towards engineering content and the profession impacted? Design Based Learning (DBL) seems to be an approach that addresses both the content and the professional aspect of this discussion. It has been argued that following a cyclical design process may assist students in developing cognitive engineering related skills. Regarding motivational effects and interest in the engineering profession, DBL appears to have a positive affect as well . This is a comparative qualitative phenomenological study. The population includes 83 total students, 43 female and 40 male, attending 4 classrooms in the last grade in a public gymnasium, which is the equivalent of a 9th grade. Students in two of the four classrooms followed a standard teacher-oriented computer science (CS) course, whereas the other two received the same content while participating in a computer design project. Qualitative analysis of questionnaires completed by students indicated that those who followed the standard teacher-oriented CS course did not demonstrate significant change in either their motivation towards the content, or towards the profession. Review of students who followed the design project approach revealed that 70% of the students that had a negative disposition towards the content changed their answer to positive, while all students that had a positive disposition towards the content retained it. Regarding their motivation towards the profession, no significant difference was demonstrated in the student's answers. Analysis of open ended questions posed to the students, and factors that appeared to influence their motivation towards content and profession are also discussed in the paper.
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