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Survey: Teachers Could Do More to Encourage Engineering Careers

ASQ targets students as part of National Engineers Week initiative.

Published: Friday, January 15, 2010 - 11:58

(ASQ: Milwaukee) -- In recognition of National Engineers Week, Feb. 14–20, the American Society for Quality (ASQ) invites local middle and high school teachers to bring an ASQ engineer into their classroom to promote engineering as a career. Educators can contact ASQ at (800) 248-1946 to find an engineer volunteer in their area to speak to students.  

“ASQ is committed to advancing professions that fall under the STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] scope,” says Peter Andres, ASQ president. “Our members consistently contribute their skills to community efforts, and encouraging students toward engineering careers to ensure a skilled future work force is a natural fit for ASQ.”

ASQ has more than 14,000 engineer members who are concerned about ensuring a work force of skilled, highly educated engineers for the future. In addition, the initiative is in keeping with the Obama administration’s “Educate to Innovate" campaign—a nationwide effort by U.S. companies, foundations, nonprofits, and science and engineering societies to help move the United States to the top of the pack in math and science education. 

“This is the current work force’s opportunity to show how exciting engineering is as a career and to teach students that the latest mobile phone technology, efficient cars, and other facets of America’s infrastructure are possible because of engineers,” says  Cheryl Birdsong-Dyer, ASQ member and engineer volunteer. “I’m excited to be one of those engineers available to inspire a future engineer.”

Science teachers get mixed reviews in survey

The inspiration to deploy engineers to the classroom was sparked by the results of a recent ASQ/Harris Interactive survey. Asked what they thought of their science teachers, youth give U.S. K-12 teachers high marks for science smarts, but their grade drops significantly when it comes to connecting learning to STEM career options. 

The survey shows 63 percent of youth say their teachers are not doing a good job of talking to them about engineering careers, and 42 percent feel their teachers aren’t good at showing them how science can be used in a career. The survey was aimed at uncovering how well teachers translate their knowledge and passion for science to getting kids excited about engineering and science careers.     

In a separate ASQ survey fielded in 2009, professional engineers noted that teachers were a major influence in their decision to pursue the career, only slightly behind parents. The latest survey, fielded in December, asked 1,134 students in grades 3–12 to provide an A-through-F-scaled report card on their science teachers’ skills in the classroom:   

• Eighty-five percent of students say their teachers deserve at least a “B” grade when it comes to knowledge about science topics with 55 percent giving them an “A.”

• Nearly one third of students give their teachers a “C” or lower grade for making science more exciting and fun to learn and assigning fun hands-on projects in the classroom.

• Younger students (grades 3–6) rate their science teachers with higher marks for making science exciting and hands-on than older students (grades 7–12) rate their science teachers.


Girls give lower marks for engineering encouragement

When teachers do promote engineering and science careers, they are doing it more with boys than girls.

• Girls (20%) are more likely than boys (12%) to give teachers a failing “F” grade for discussing engineering as a future career. Of the girls, 48 percent give a “C” or lower grade for showing how science can be used in a future career, compared to 38 percent for boys.

• Eight in 10 students in grades 3–12 (80%) give their teachers at least a “B” for allocating equal attention to boys and girls in science class and half (50%) give them an “A.”


Math/science = career success?

• Of the students in grades 3–12, 72 percent think a person needs to do well in science and math to get a good paying job in the future. 

• As students get older (grades 7–12) however, they are less likely to believe that science and math are necessary to getting a good paying job.


About the survey

Harris Interactive fielded the online youth survey in behalf of ASQ on Dec. 16–28, 2009, among 1,269 U.S. youth, ages 8–17. These online surveys are not based on probability samples and therefore no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.


About The Author

ASQ’s picture


The American Society for Quality (ASQ) is a global community of people dedicated to quality who share the ideas and tools that make our world work better. With millions of individual and organizational members of the community in 150 countries, ASQ has the reputation and reach to bring together the diverse quality champions who are transforming the world’s corporations, organizations, and communities to meet tomorrow’s critical challenges. ASQ is headquartered in Milwaukee with national service centers in China, India, and Mexico. Learn more about ASQ’s members, mission, technologies, and training at http://asq.org