This “Complete Evidence-based Practice” paper describes an institutional strategy to support student success using technology. Over the past decade, audio podcasts have become a popular format for entertainment, news, and education. Although there are many podcasts that focus on science and engineering topics, none of them focus exclusively on helping students make more informed decisions about whether to pursue engineering, which engineering discipline best matches their interests, and how to prepare for a career as an engineering professional. This work details the creation and distribution of an audio podcast titled, “The Engineering Student Experience,” whose purpose is to help current and future engineering students thrive in college and beyond through long-form conversations with practicing engineers, engineering faculty, and engineering students.
In the United States, the demand for engineers is projected to grow at a rate three times greater than other fields, but degree production will not keep pace . One possible factor is lack of knowledge about the field of engineering. Although the Next Generation Science Standards incorporate some fundamental engineering concepts in K-12 education , many teachers were not exposed to the field of engineering during college, limiting their students’ exposure and access to this field ; it is notable that 7 out of 10 practicing engineers also have a family member who is an engineer, demonstrating the importance of role models in gaining access to the field of engineering . The podcast seeks to expose more students to this field, which could increase the rate of K-12 students considering engineering as a career.
Five episodes were created as a pilot project in 2018 and released on YouTube to gather initial feedback from the public. The episodes focused on specific engineering disciplines and first-hand experiences of current engineering students, junior career engineers, and engineering instructors. Feedback also was obtained from 48 engineering students in a first-year engineering experience course during Spring 2019. The students were asked to listen to two episodes and complete surveys that probed their opinions about the podcast’s format and the perceived usefulness of the podcast as a current student and future engineer. The pilot study data helped the authors understand the impact and best practices surrounding the use of podcasts to engage student learners. The feedback from engineering students was overwhelmingly positive; the majority of students obtained numerous useful ideas from the episodes, would recommend the podcast to friends, are interested in listening to future episodes of the podcast, and felt more likely to succeed as an engineering student and engineering professional. Based on the positive feedback from the engineering students, the authors decided to continue creating new episodes for the foreseeable future and to expand its availability through popular podcast platforms. Additionally, informal feedback was obtained from high school students to help ensure future episodes would better align with their interests.
This paper details the creation and distribution of a podcast for relatively low cost and includes recommendations for recording hardware, editing software, and distribution platforms that would allow the podcast to reach a worldwide audience. The authors hope that this paper can be a blueprint for educators who desire to create a podcast of their own.
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