ASQ Targets Students as Part of Engineers Week Initiative

ASQ/Harris survey shows teachers could do more to encourage engineering careers

Milwaukee, Wis., January 13, 2010 — In recognition of National Engineers Week, February 14–20, ASQ (American Society for Quality) 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 who fall under the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) scope," said 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 America 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," said 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 last year, 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-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 (3–6 grades) rate their science teachers higher marks for making science exciting and hands-on than older students (7–12 grades) 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 percent) are more likely than boys (12 percent) to give teachers a failing "F" grade for discussing engineering as a future career. Forty-eight percent of girls 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 percent) give their teachers at least a "B" for allocating equal attention to boys and girls in science class and half (50 percent) give them an "A."

Math/Science = Career Success?

  • Seventy-two percent of students in grades 3–12 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 on behalf of ASQ December 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; a full methodology statement for both studies is available.

About ASQ

ASQ, (American Society for Quality) www.asq.org, has been the world’s leading authority on quality for more than 60 years. With more than 85,000 individual and organizational members, the professional association advances learning, quality improvement and knowledge exchange to improve business results and to create better workplaces and communities worldwide. As a champion of the quality movement, ASQ offers technologies, concepts, tools and training to quality professionals, quality practitioners and everyday consumers. ASQ has been the sole administrator of the prestigious Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award since 1991. Headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis., ASQ is a founding sponsor of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), a prominent quarterly economic indicator, and also produces the Quarterly Quality Report.

About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is one of the world’s leading custom market research firms, leveraging research, technology and business acumen to transform relevant insight into actionable foresight. Known widely for the Harris Poll and for pioneering innovative research methodologies, Harris offers expertise in a wide range of industries including healthcare, technology, public affairs, energy, telecommunications, financial services, insurance, media, retail, restaurant and consumer package goods. Serving clients in more than 215 countries and territories through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms, Harris specializes in delivering research solutions that help us—and our clients—stay ahead of what’s next. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

* For the purposes of this survey, "youth" were defined as U.S. kids ages 8–17. Career-related questions were asked only of 7–12th graders.

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