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Daytona Beach


Engineering Fundamentals

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication/Presentation Date



Increasing the number of Americans who graduate with a degree in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) is of compelling national interest as the world is becoming more technologically-dependent. As society changes there is a continual need for new devices, tools, and services. Therefore, what is represented as “technology” constantly changes. The underlying meaning of technology is fairly stable, but the term is employed differently across context and application. In society, a variety of technologies are used to provide people with things like food, healthcare, shelter, transportation, and entertainment. In educational settings, computers and other information technologies help individuals learn, teach, and communicate. Since technology is ever-changing and context-specific, this paper describes the development and validation of a particular assessment tool – one focused on the specific types of and ways that educational technology is used by first-year engineering students (FYES). More specifically, the assessment tool was used in an investigation of the relationship between first-year engineering students’ perceived (a) knowledge, (b) usefulness, as well as (c) frequency and nature of use of technology and their academic achievement (i.e., grades). Differences were analyzed by race/ethnicity and gender. After distributing the assessment tool and collecting data from nearly 500 students, results revealed there are significant racial/ethnic differences in FYES’ perceived usefulness as well as frequency and nature of use of technology. There are also significant gender differences in FYES’ perceived knowledge and usefulness of technology. Furthermore, FYES’ background characteristics significantly predict their final course grades in the second of two introductory engineering courses.


New Orleans, Louisiana