Technology instruction to target women and minorities Julio Garcia & Patricia Backer Department of Aviation and Technology San Jose State University
Goals • Summarize key research on learning styles with women and minority students • Discuss how technology instruction and curriculum could be adapted and developed to meet the learning styles of women and underrepresented minorities and to help students become more technologically literate • Demonstrate implementation of learning styles research into curriculum for electronics instruction
Learning Style Research Kolb describes learning style within a two-factor model. The perceiving factor, which Kolb defines as how one takes in or processes experience, ranges from Concrete Experience (CE) to Abstract Conceptualization (AC). The second factor is how one processes information; this ranges from Active Experimentation (AE) to Reflective Observation (RO). A combination of scores on the CE-AC and AE-RO scales classifies the learner into one of four learning styles.
Learning Styles definition • Accommodators focus on the question, “what would happen if I did this?” These learners learn well from hands-on experiences and rely more on feelings rather than logical analysis. This learning style is evidenced in “action-oriented careers such as marketing and sales.” Kolb (1999). • Assimilators like to answer the question, "what is there to know?" These learners can understand a wide range of information and put this information into a logical and organized form. This style is seen often in those who are in information and science-related careers (Kolb, 1999). • Convergers seek to find practical use for ideas and theories and prefer to work with technical tasks and problems rather than with interpersonal tasks. People in technology careers tend to have this learning style (Kolb, 1999). • Divergers are focused on the "why" of a situation. They tend to be very cognizant of their environment and like to gather information from a wide range of sources. Divergers are prevalent in the arts, entertainment, and service fields.
The Index of Learning Styles active/reflective--An active learner learns by trying things out and enjoys working in groups while a reflective learner learns by thinking things through and prefers to work alone or with a single individual. sensing/intuitive--A sensing person is a concrete thinker, is practical, and oriented towards facts and procedures; and an intuitive person is an abstract thinker, innovative, and oriented toward theories and underlying meanings. visual/verbal--A visual learner prefers visual representations such as diagrams, pictures and flow charts and a verbal learner prefers written and spoken explanations. sequential/global--A sequential learner uses a linear thinking process and learns in small incremental steps while a global learner uses a holistic thinking process and learns in large leaps.
LS Characteristics of Technical Students Felder and Spurlin (2005) summarized the data from ten student populations at six institutions (three at Ryerson, two at Tulane, and one each at Kingston, Iowa State, Limerick, Michigan, and Michigan Tech). “Undergraduate engineering students at a variety of institutions are therefore more consistently more active than reflective and more sensing than intuitive, much more visual than verbal, and more sequential than global” (p. 109)
Conclusions about Learning Styles Research Despite the many, sometimes contradictory types of learning styles model available, there are some general conclusions that appear to be true (O’Connor, 1997). • Students will learn better when using preferences in which they’re successful • Students will be better learners when they can expand their preferences • When teaching accommodates various preferences, more students are successful • Teachers can construct activities that specific (and multiply) learning preferences • This can be done by adding alternatives or, completing learning cycles that incorporate all styles or, by utilizing holistic, complex tasks.
Learning Styles Research in—Electronics Students at SJSU There were two research questions in this study: • Is there a dominant learning style among Industrial Technology students at San Jose State University? and • What is the relationship between student achievement and learning style? This research was focused on surveying students who had taken most if not all of their BSIT classes. All seniors in the Industrial Technology program at San Jose State University were surveyed in Spring 2002 using the Kolb Learning Style Inventory.
Results A total of 52 students returned the survey; this represents a 34% return rate.
Discussion • As the assimilator style is seen often in those who are in information and science-related careers (Kolb, 1999), this finding implies that BSIT majors do not have the learning style that would be expected from previous research at SJSU on Engineering students (Mourtos, 1996) that found that 40% were assimilators. • At SJSU, the Department of Technology and Aviation is located within the College of Engineering so these differences relative to student learning styles could have a greater effect.
Optimal Learning Environments for Women and Minority Students • Research suggests that ethnic minorities and women work best when students work in teams and have a high level of hands-on experimentation and problem-solving. • As Philbin et al (1995) found in their research on gender differences in learning styles, there are significant differences in learning styles between the genders. Using Kolb’s schema for learning styles, they found that the “learning style that seems to fit women the least is the Assimilator…this style best fits men.” They further observe that female students work best in hands-on and practical settings.
Optimal Learning Environments for Women and Minority Students (2) Hlawaty (2002, p. 8) also found gender differences in learning styles among 869 German adolescents. German women preferred to learn with more variety than did men, “they need more options regarding educational scenarios, including working independently, in pairs, with peers, in larger groups, and with teachers.” In an international study of learning styles and gender, Honigsfeld and Dunn (2003) investigated gender differences of 1,637 adolescents from five countries (New Zealand, Sweden, Bermuda, Brunei, and Hungary). Although there were different gender differences found by country, three elements (self-motivation, persistence, and responsibility) were common to all countries.
Optimal Learning Environments for Women and Minority Students (3) McShannon and Derlin (2000) analyzed the learning styles of 515 undergraduate engineering students in three universities in New Mexico to see if there were any differences in how students perceive they learn best. In their research, they focus on students’ interaction styles rather than their learning styles. McShannon and Derlin (2000) found that interactive learning styles differed among ethnic and gender subgroups. Student who traditionally are most successful in undergraduate engineering classes (white students and senior students), use the interactive learning style. That is, they most often learn by themselves. In contrast, “learning with other students contributed most highly to minority student success…”
Optimal Learning Environments for Women and Minority Students (4) Behm et al (1996), through the NSF-funded Pac-TECH project, conducted research with teachers from elementary to university level to analyze why “some students are uncomfortable with science, mathematics, engineering, and technology.” The researchers focused on four underrepresented groups in these fields: African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans, and women. The researchers proposed criteria or specifications that could be used in classrooms and gave examples of how teachers can apply these criteria to their classrooms. • Presenting the world as a dynamic system of interconnections and discovery • Creates a safe, stimulating environment • Expands the participant’s perspective
Presenting the world as a dynamic system of interconnections and discovery • A solution allows a discovery process and acknowledges uncertainty in acquiring knowledge. • A solution includes open ended problems • A solution insures subjects are alive and holistic. The systems view looks at the world in terms of relationships and integration. Example: Hale-Benson (1986) found that the African American culture has a more relational style of learning—person-centered, expressive, affective, and valuing the unique rather than the regular. • A solution explores technology’s role in society • A solution promotes social interaction and human interconnections. Integrate cooperative experiences into the existing curriculum (Institute for Responsive Education, 1986).
Creates a safe, stimulating environment • A solution develops a comfortable classroom environment. Example: Developing a curriculum that focuses on real-world problems may be useful in recruiting women into STEM careers. Using everyday household items makes science and technology appear to be less intimidating (Travis, 1993) . • A solution that supports a cooperative learning environment. Several underrepresented groups in STEM including Hispanics and other students of color and women, areas motivated by affiliation and cooperation rather than competition (Delpit, 1995; Grossman, 1984). • A solution vitalizes physical space. Example: An exciting technology classroom can be created by hanging bicycle parts on the walls. Then, one can add posters, ads, information as to how bicycles are used throughout the world. • A solution embraces collaborative conversation styles. • A solution uses technology tools holistically.
Expands the participant’s perspective • Promotes multi-perspectives. Students look outside traditional paths and environments to find solutions. • Integrates family and community. Mexican Americans consider family and personal relationships as important and are more comfortable with broad concepts than with component facts and specifics (Guild, 1994, p. 17; Vasquez, 1991). • Encourages the use of original resources such as scientific reports, fiction, non-fiction, etc. • Adapts to diverse learning styles • Uses a variety of assessment tools
Adapting technology instruction • As part of an NSF CCLI grant, the Tech 167 “Control Systems” course at SJSU is in the process of implementing the learning styles research to improve the delivery of this course. • Last Fall (2004), some of these learning styles were introduced in the laboratory experiments portion.
Adapting technology instruction • Instead of giving students the lab experiments in a cookie recipe format, students were given statements that forced them to work in groups, come up with different approaches to solve the statements, simulate their alternatives using the computer simulation programs Multisim 7 and/or LabVIEW 7, and then choose the best alternative.
Problem Statement 1 • Build a circuit that converts resistance changes to voltage changes. We need to drive a 50 load and we have only a single supply of 10 V. One of the resistances is an RTD that has a nominal resistance of 150 at 25 C. Due to product specs two resistances should have 220 and 470 . • Design the appropriate circuit. Don’t forget to design the interface circuit too. • Test the circuit under different RTD values (this is what will happen when the temperature changes).
Problem Statement 4 • Build an 8-bit ADC circuit. Use a input voltage of 3.0 Vrms and use LED’s as output devices. • Verify the ADC’s performance at equally spaced intervals. • Can you replace the 8 LED’s by 2 hexadecimal displays? If yes, then design the appropriate circuit.
Problem Statement 10 • Build a closed-loop system indicating all the required stages and feedback. This is an open design in that you need to provide what you want to control and its limits. Based on what you need to control then design the appropriate system.
Example • Given ten of each of the following resistor values: 100 Ω, 560 Ω, 1 kΩ, 5.6 kΩ, and 10 kΩ, combine the appropriate values to obtain: • 200 Ω • 500 Ω • 5.1 kΩ
Application • Group activity on Research • Using the suggestions proposed by Behm et al (1996), choose one of the K-12 technology experiments. • How could you can adjust your learning materials to accommodate female students and those from diverse ethnic backgrounds?