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A Demographic Analysis of Engineering Majors with an Interest in Teaching

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Type: Article
Author(s): Sunni H. Newton, Tristan T. Utschig, and Donna C. Llewellyn
Published: Proceedings of the 2011 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, 2011
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This work describes a demographic analysis of student participation in teaching related professional development programming at a research extensive university. This programming is offered through Tech to Teaching, an initiative at Georgia Tech designed to illuminate pathways towards K-12 and higher education teaching careers for students seeking out such careers. Nationally sponsored efforts to increase the STEM workforce in the United States have gained recent prominence through such programs as the Race to the Top. Therefore, it is vital that we understand the characteristics of students who wish to help the nation meet its goals as educators who will help students at all levels become part of the STEM workforce.

In this work, we present the most prevalent demographic characteristics for engineering majors displaying an interest in teaching as a potential career. We identify this group of students by virtue of their participation in specific programming designed to highlight the teaching pathway as a potential career option. This work builds on previous published work in two ways: first, demographic data beyond gender and major are presented and now include ethnicity, GPA, age, class standing, transfer status, co-op status, and full or part-time status; second, both graduate student and undergraduate student data is presented rather than undergraduate student data only. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board.

The context for this study is a series of professional development activities for students about teaching and learning. Activities include advising, coursework, a la carte workshops, mentoring, and practicum experiences. Student participation in these activities has been tracked longitudinally for two years with over 700 students in the database. Demographic data about these students has been collected and analyzed for trends such that a profile of typical participants has been drawn out.

Results from prior analysis of data collected at our institution have shown a disproportionate number of female students and students majoring in biomedical, chemical and bio-molecular, and industrial and systems engineering choosing to participate in programming for teaching careers. Here we expand this analysis to additional demographic characteristics and present data on longitudinal participation trends for this population. We also offer interpretations of what this data might mean when planning recruitment strategies to bring engineering students into teaching careers. Results show that the typical Tech to Teaching engineering participant is female, white (or international if a graduate student), majoring in industrial, civil, or mechanical engineering, and is close to graduation. Also, this student will have a GPA comparable to the average for all Georgia Tech engineering majors (contrary to what many faculty and advisors at the institution might think). Finally, this student most likely will come to a single event in one semester.


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Tech to Teaching