Research Projects

Back to Projects List

Equity in Engineering: Understanding and Promoting All Elementary School Children's Knowledge of and Motivation to Engage in Engineering


Research Team


Principal Investigator: Lorey Wheeler

Funding Information

Funding Agency: National Science Foundation (NSF)

Subcontract from: Arizona State University

Award Date: Sep 1, 2016

End Date: Aug 21, 2020


This project is funded by a subcontract from Arizona State University.

As the number of engineering careers continues to grow, many of those jobs remain unfilled due to a shortage of skilled employees. In recent years, a low percentage of adults are earning degrees and pursuing careers in engineering.

This project evaluates and promotes elementary school children’s knowledge of, and motivation to, engage in engineering. Researchers will first develop and validate new measures to assess children’s occupational knowledge, stereotypes and achievement-related beliefs within the engineering domain. They will then survey 1,200 students, grades K-5, to learn about their engineering knowledge, stereotypes and achievement-related beliefs — and examine potential age, gender and ethnic differences.

Parents and teachers will also submit surveys about their own achievement-related beliefs.

The research team will then launch a growth-mindset pilot program and compare it to a control group. Students in the growth-mindset program will receive feedback that promotes effort over innate ability. That feedback may be, “You worked really hard and are showing that you can do it,” rather than, “You’re so smart.”

Findings will help evaluate a strategy to promote students’ achievement-related beliefs and performance in engineering to help generate increased interest in the field.

Research, Measurement and Evaluation Methods, Academic Intervention & Learning, Early Childhood Education and Development

Lorey Wheeler, CYFS research associate professor
News Articles