The Relation Between Latina Girls' Motivation and Their Engineering Learning Approaches: A Research Case Study

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Women, particularly young women from traditionally underrepresented minority groups, continue to participate in lower proportions in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM ) fields. Research points to a complex system of contributing factors, including differences in early exposure to the STEM fields and lack of influencing factors in the formation of students’ goal structures. These factors are explored in the unique setting of an urban, single gender school, using achievement goal theory as a framework. A research case study documents girls’ learning and design problem solving approaches in a middle school engineering classroom and the relationship of these approaches to their overall motivational efforts as related to seeking success in school. Students are observed in a six-week instructional classroom setting. Their perceptions of themselves, their approaches to a series of engineering tasks and their related academic performances are documented. Engineering education in the K12 classroom is proposed as a vehicle for enhancing learning opportunities and providing academic motivation for Latina girls.


Keywords: Engineering Education, Latina Girls, Motivation, Achievement, K12 Engineering Education, Middle School, Urban Schools, STEM, Motivation Theory, Single Gender Schools, Goal Structures
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy; Student Learning, Learner Experiences, Learner Diversity, Technology in Learning; Maths, Science and Technology Learning
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Araceli Martinez Ortiz

PhD Student, Department of Education, Tufts University
Austin, Texas, USA

Degrees: M.A., Education Administration & Leadership, Michigan State University; M.S., Manufacturing Management, Kettering University; B.S., Industrial & Operations Engineering, The University of Michigan.

I am currently a PhD student in engineering education at Tufts University. Since completing my coursework in 2005, I have been involved in action research experiences with national academic and research leaders in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education field: The Boston Museum of Science, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the Leadership Initiatives for Teaching and Technology Program, the Littleton Public Schools, and most recently, with the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders in Austin, Texas.

My research includes studies that examine how elementary and middle school-aged students involved in after-school and summer programs benefit from integrated engineering and mathematics learning experiences. I am most interested in how engineering education in the K12 setting can support secondary students from traditionally underrepresented minority groups. I am therefore working on a body of research initiatives to include Latino secondary students involved in engineering education in Austin, Texas in 2007-2009.

Ref: L08P0044