Below are the concepts I highlighted within the data to best understand:
"HOW DOES GENDER MEDIATE STUDENT EXPERIENCE IN MY PROJECT-BASED ENGINEERING CLASSROOM?"
codes that were created through research
Engagement & motivation: "Engagement and motivation are key in brining girls into high-paying, highly rewarding disciplines in which they been systematically underrepresented" (Kuriloff, Andrus, & Jacobs, 2017, pg. xix). Hugerat (2016) found that the students who learned through project-based learning “perceived their classroom learning climate as significantly more satisfying and enjoyable". Han et al. found that the implementation of project-based learning was found to “increase students’ interest, self-confidence, and self-efficacy” (n.d., pg. 1092).
Personal relevance: "When the material that girls learn daily is relevant to their lives, goals, and ongoing questions, they find it particularly meaningful and memorable... [G]irls appreciate lessons and activities in which they can directly apply what they are learning in the classroom to real-life tasks and challenges" (Kuriloff, Andrus, & Jacobs, 2017, pg. 12)
Clarity: "A classroom environment that many girls find constructive and conducive to learning is one in which the teachers make their expectations and procedures clear and present them in a detailed manner that is easy to follow" (Kuriloff, Andrus, & Jacobs, 2017, pg. 12).
Collaboration: "[G]irls enjoy collaborating with one another because it makes learning fun and both emotionally and intellectually involving...[it] also provides a way for girls to learn the material by gaining insights from different peers' perspectives... [and] it promotes bonding an the ability to get to know one another in more complex ways" (Kuriloff, Andrus, & Jacobs, 2017, pg. 26). Han et al. (n.d.) noticed that classrooms that had implemented project-based learning not only found that it positively affected achievement, they also found that students “showed positive attitudes toward learning itself, team communication, and collaborative behavior”(pg. 1092).
Mindset: "When teachers had a growth mind-set, however, many of the students who had started the year as low achievers moved up and became moderate or even high achievers. Teachers with a growth mind-set don’t just mouth the belief that every student can learn; they are committed to finding a way to make that happen" (Dweck, 2010, pg. 28). Similarly, Dweck found "When female students adopt a growth mind-set, their grades and achievement test scores in mathematics become similar to those of their male classmates. In these studies, every group seemed to benefit from holding a growth mind-set, but the stereotyped groups gained the most" (Dweck, 2010, pg. 29).
Relationship with teacher: "These connections build students' confidence and are often the pivotal factor causing them to love subjects that they had previously disdained or flat-out rejected" (Kuriloff, Andrus, & Jacobs, 2017, pg. 70) Similarly, Oakes et al. notes, "When a teacher conveys personal interest in and liking for students, students are more likely to imitate the teacher's behavior, adopt his or her attitudes, and be sympathetic when other students misbehave" (2016, pg. 233). Hugerat (2016) found that students felt that in a project-based classroom they had "with greater teacher supportiveness, and the teacher–student relationships as significantly more positive”.
Physical environment: Weinstein & Novodvorsky say “Careful planning of this environment – within the constraints of your daily schedule-is an integral part of good classroom management. Moreover, creating a comfortable, functional classroom is one way to show your students that you care about them.” (2007, p. 28).
Gender Equity: "Ensuring gender-fair classrooms requires more than just ensuring equitable opportunities for girls to participate, communicate, build confidence and excel. It requires ensuring that such opportunities are available to all students. Anything less compromises learning for all involved and falls short of emulating the kind of democratic society we aspire to be - one that invites and values multiple voices, rather than elevating some over others" (Oakes et al., 2016, pg. 250).
codes that were created through close examination of the data and themes or terms that came up often
New Experiences: I realized through reading student journals and reviewing student interviews that many of the students in my class saw the focal point of this class to be that they were trying new things. It wasn't until late in my data analysis that I realized much of students experience was shaped by their new experiences, and that this idea did not fit into a previous grouping that I had created. This section was subsequently formed because there wasn't another bucket for these ideas to be sorted into.
Problem solving: Each week in student journals I asked the students to describe a struggle that they came upon and how they got over this problem. I initially asked this question to encourage a growth mindset (see above), but after reading the results I realized that the students had great responses here that helped to better understand their experience that was not related to their mindset.
Positive & Negative feelings: To best understand how students of different genders experienced my course I had to simply ask. Most students feelings were able to be divided up into positive and negative feelings. I worked hard to isolate personal feelings from overall feelings. I wanted to best understand how they were feeling about their own work, their group work, and their experiences. Opinions on how the class was going overall were placed in other categories.
Ability: I noticed that within student journals there were students that mentioned their own confidence due to previous experience, what they had been told by a teacher or peer, or simply what they felt they could or could not accomplish. I wanted to further look at whether student expression of ability had any relation to student gender identity. Did female students express less confidence than male students? Did male students have more previous experience with engineering-like projects?
Role: Each week students worked either on individual projects or group projects. I never assigned roles to students, but wanted to better understand how they managed to take on roles themselves. Did they self-assign? Did their partners determine it for them? Did students feel they held a role that their peers also felt they held or was there a disparity? Was gender at play with role assignments?
Creativity: In designing my course I aimed to encourage immense creativity. My hope was that this would allow students from diverse backgrounds to feel comfortable completing projects because there was not a single correct way to go about them. I was curious to read and listen to student responses on their experience with this opportunity for creativity as an access point and equalizer.
Pacing: Because most students are not used to PjBL I felt it was important to be very transparent with my students about timing and deadlines. I wanted them to feel comfortable working hard on projects and keeping their focus more on their work rather than their speed. I continually checked in with my students to better understand how they felt about the pacing of the course. I feel that it is important to show feedback regarding this because it was a huge part of my decision making, and it also lends to better understand student confidence/ability, and student mindset.
Relationships with peers: Through my introduction of PjBL I hoped to encourage peer relationships in the classroom. I had anticipated that collaboration would encourage these relationships and that together they would encourage successful students. I also hoped that by assigning groups that students would form relationships with students that they would not have otherwise gotten close with. Finally, I hoped that by encouraging relationships across gender identities in my classroom that I would help to minimize gender stereotyping and insecurities within my female students.