What I did June 2012 – May 2013

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Every year of my National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, I have to write and submit a summary report. Here is a review of what I did for the school/funding year of June 2012 – May of 2013:

As a Doctoral Candidate in Engineering Education at Purdue University, my attention this past year has been focused on two arenas: 1) developing a portfolio that satisfies the ten required competencies for graduation, and 2) making progress on my dissertation research. Opportunities for developing materials to demonstrate competencies most often occur in settings outside the classroom, so it is imperative to establish partnerships and collaborations that develop me professionally and create a rich portfolio of accomplishments for this graduation requirement. Since my personal career objective is to engineer equity in education, I have strategically sought opportunities to align to this mission, contribute to my portfolio of competencies, and support my research agenda. This activities report summarizes all activities from the 2012-13 funding year that contribute to my graduate studies and research.

My dissertation is a multiple case study analysis of high school female’s experiences in engineering.  This funding year I completed my dissertation data collection, transcribed all of my interviews, and began the analysis and writing process. In addition, I took an independent study course on race, gender, and class theory as it relates to engineering education, directly applicable to my research. The theoretical framework for my dissertation, intersectional feminist theory, has proven to be an incredible lens with which to write about my experiences on my blog (which has a healthy following), and for other manuscripts that are in the works. All of this work is allowing me to develop my thought leadership as a feminist researcher in engineering education. The objective of this research is to ultimately increase the participation of women and contribute to closing the gender gap in engineering.

Over the course of the year, I presented twelve STEM Career workshops either to or about my work with K-12 Counselors, two workshops training STEM Ambassadors or role models for K-12 students, and presented one paper of my independent research at an academic conference. I also wrote and had three more papers accepted to two different academic conferences, to be presented in the summer of 2013.

A toolkit for counselors to use to assist students in STEM career exploration was released and launched in April. This free to download toolkit includes a research overview booklet, four activities, an online STEM career resource for students, and a tool for specifically encouraging female students.

I collaborated with Texas Instruments Education Technology to conduct a qualitative research study that examined K-12 engineering education as a market. The full report illuminates the intersection of this study and the research literature, providing a comprehensive account of the capacities and urgencies of K-12 Engineering Education as a market. This research experience vastly improved my research project management skills. The balancing act between academia and industry proved a very useful exercise that will benefit me as future faculty.

Big Beacon is a movement to transform engineering education. I was invited to serve on the leadership team of this movement and monthly host a Twitter Chat on topics related to engineering education. I am working on developing a social media challenge for student organizations based on the Big Beacon Manifesto with the purpose of increasing student engagement in their engineering education. This opportunity allows me to practice leadership in new and creative ways within engineering education.

Students need role models from STEM Careers, and educators need assistance bringing these role models into the schools. I am working on developing an online platform to better facilitate these relationships. In tandem with this work, I have developed a framework for training STEM Ambassadors with the correct messaging to use when talking with students, and have piloted this training twice.

In August ‘12 and April ‘13, I participated in training to teach the National Alliance for Partnerships in Equity Micromessaging to Reach and Teach Every Student Curriculum, a high-quality, research-based, educator professional development program to address gender and culturally based implicit biases that occur in the classroom and that are manifested through micromessages. The training has expanded my knowledge and positively improved my listening and observing skills as a researcher.

This funded year was, despite some personal setbacks, a successful one, and the themes of my work support my personal mission to engineer equity in education. All of this work develops a rich and expansive portfolio that will help me in my job search in the coming year. 2013-14 is proving to be an exciting and busy year as I wrap up my dissertation, continue with the projects listed in this summary, graduate, and find employment as a tenure track faculty.

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