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Women in Engineering: Exploring the Effects of Project-Based Learning in a First-Year Undergraduate Engineering Program

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3 Author(s)
Zastavker, Y.V. ; Franklin W. Olin Coll. of Eng., Needham, MA ; Ong, M. ; Page, L.

This study employs methods of grounded theory and correlational analyses to examine how components of project-based learning (PjBL) - such as small group work, hands-on activities, interdisciplinary teaching, and "real world" connections - impact students', particularly women's, interest in and attitudes about an introductory engineering curriculum. This qualitative and quantitative pilot exploration was initiated at a small, gender-balanced engineering school that uses PjBL as its main teaching practice. Our results indicate that: 1) both men and women benefit from small group work, hands-on activities, and interdisciplinary teaching; 2) projects with "real world" connections enhance the effects of small group work, interdisciplinary teaching and hands-on activities with regard to student interest and participation in engineering; 3) women experience PjBL with higher levels of anxiety than men and report that their coursework is very challenging and time-consuming

Published in:

Frontiers in Education Conference, 36th Annual

Date of Conference:

27-31 Oct. 2006