New tools help identify what works to encourage women in engineering


Determining what types of programs work best to recruit and retain women and other minorities in engineering just got easier thanks to new assessment tools developed by a team comprised of representatives from seven educational institutions throughout the U.S.

Barbara Bogue, former director of Penn State's Women in Engineering Program and a co-principal investigator on the study, says, "Taming unruly data is a common problem for all who coordinate student activities and direct recruitment and retention programs. ADAPT, our new Database for Activity and Participant Tracking, provides a tool to enter and collect participant data in one place and one format for easy retrieval."

The new assessment tool will be available free of charge on the Assessing Women in Engineering website in the fall at along with tested and validated surveys, data collection templates, national benchmarking and capacity- building tools for Women in Engineering and similar programs. The researchers are beta testing ADAPT over the summer.

ADAPT provides quick counts of participants by demographics, by activity or by a combination of activities, including the number of underrepresented minorities per year or per program or participation level of high school seniors, as well as simple reports on activity and participant data.

ADAPT can also be linked to institution data warehouses to determine retention levels of participants and/or whether students participating in pre-college activities enroll in the offering institution.

Bogue will describe ADAPT and demonstrate its use at the American Society of Engineering Education annual conference June 13 in Portland, Oregon. Her presentation is "Taming Data: Collect, Compare and Report Data using AWE ADAPT." The authors are Bogue, adjunct associate professor of engineering science and mechanics; Charu Sharma, graduate research assistant; Dr. Rose M. Marra, co-principal investigator and assistant professor of learning technologies, University of Missouri, Columbia; and Mieke Schuurman, research assistant.

In addition, at the conference, Bogue will present a case study in which a Venture in Engineering Camp was tried with apparent success. The immediate results, based on pre- and post-surveys, indicated that the camp produced an almost 100 percent increase in interest in engineering and a high percentage of participant who planned to apply for admission to a college engineering program. However, further study tracking results and cost analysis told a different story.

Using comprehensive assessment techniques, camp planners were able to evaluate and revamp the existing program by triangulating data. The result is a camp that better serves and achieves the stated objectives and is more cost effective.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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