Research in Science Education

, Volume 45, Issue 2, pp 275–292 | Cite as

Effects of Engineering Design-Based Science on Elementary School Science Students’ Engineering Identity Development across Gender and Grade

  • Brenda M. CapobiancoEmail author
  • Ji H. Yu
  • Brian F. French


The integration of engineering concepts and practices into elementary science education has become an emerging concern for science educators and practitioners, alike. Moreover, how children, specifically preadolescents (grades 1–5), engage in engineering design-based learning activities may help science educators and researchers learn more about children’s earliest identification with engineering. The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which engineering identity differed among preadolescents across gender and grade, when exposing students to engineering design-based science learning activities. Five hundred fifty preadolescent participants completed the Engineering Identity Development Scale (EIDS), a recently developed measure with validity evidence that characterizes children’s conceptions of engineering and potential career aspirations. Data analyses of variance among four factors (i.e., gender, grade, and group) indicated that elementary school students who engaged in the engineering design-based science learning activities demonstrated greater improvements on the EIDS subscales compared to those in the comparison group. Specifically, students in the lower grade levels showed substantial increases, while students in the higher grade levels showed decreases. Girls, regardless of grade level and participation in the engineering learning activities, showed higher scores in the academic subscale compared to boys. These findings suggest that the integration of engineering practices in the science classroom as early as grade one shows potential in fostering and sustaining student interest, participation, and self-concept in engineering and science.


Identity Engineering Gender Elementary 



This project is supported by the National Science Foundation, Award # 0734091. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Brenda M. Capobianco
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ji H. Yu
    • 1
  • Brian F. French
    • 2
  1. 1.Purdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA
  2. 2.Washington State UniversityPullmanUSA

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