Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Theory, Policy, and Practice

Document Type



This mixed methods, exploratory and confirmatory study was designed to evaluate the theoretical learning impact of a innovative summer engineering program curriculum would have on its audience, middle school minority students. Several theories were used to develop the innovative curriculum including Human Constructivism, cultural learning styles of African Americans, visual spatial learning and graphic design learning. This study was completed in two phases: evaluation of existing middle school summer engineering program curriculum for best practices and development of innovative curriculum and expert evaluation of the innovative curriculum. Three existing programs from across the country participated in this study. Five engineering education experts evaluated the innovative curriculum. The innovative curriculum is composed of three extensive units that include forces and motion, earth and space science and energy topics. A mixed methods design was used in data collection and analysis to provide a complete view of the theoretical impact of the curriculum. The resulting qualitative and quantitative data indicated the innovative program would enhance its target audience by providing a strong foundation in the fundamental understanding of science and engineering topics and spatial visualization. The qualitative narratives proved that many of the existing programs provide very similar learning environments that do not necessarily include cultural learning, meaningful learning and visual spatial learning. The expert evaluators collectively determined that the innovative program would have a positive and enriching academic impact with the chosen theoretical components. They believed that there was overwhelming evidence (3.7 rating average out of a 4.0) that the theoretical components existed in the curriculum and would provide middle school minority students with the proper knowledge to increase their interest which would inherently increase the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics career pipelines. They also strongly agreed (4.875 rating average out of 5) that the program differed from other program, has relevant learning theories for the target audience exceeded expectations and all the participants of the future program to “see themselves as engineers.”



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Committee Chair

Wandersee, James



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