ARP Resources

ARP Resources are a collaborative project of The AWE Project and The National Academy of Engineering Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education (CASEE) and experts in the field.

With ARP (Applying Research to Practice) Resources to:

  • Discover the research behind best practices.
  • Find out what works as you create or retool events or activities.
  • Build your knowledge base.
  • Add new dimensions to your events and programs.
  • Grow professional capacity.

ARP Resources include:

  • Abstracts: Brief introductions to the concepts along with lists of recommended readings.
  • Information Sheets: Practical user guides to help practitioners apply research in engineering outreach and classrooms
  • Research Overviews: More in-depth overview of related research for program and activity development, proposals, reports and to build your knowledge base

Purchase ARP Resource hard copies or download free pdf copies. Olio: Research on Women in Science and Engineering (full research overviews) and Olio Digest (information sheets) are available online. Click here.

The AWE Projectand NAE CASEE Applying Research to Practice Resources are written by individual researchers and peer reviewed. Individuals or teams of researchers submit proposals for topics, which are peer reviewed, as are the final papers.

NAE CASEE offers materials to enhance teaching and classroom environments and to forward Scholarship on Engineering education:

Suggest online Research to Practice resources for this page. Send 100 word or less description and URL to AWE


Attribution Theory: He says, she says: The difference in how women and men perceive success and failure
(AWE Overview, 2005)

Causal attribution concerns the way in which individuals understand the reasons for their successes and failures. Some research indicates that women studying engineering are more likely than men to attribute their successes to external causes and their failures to internal causes, a combination that is least likely to lead to success in the face of challenge. Attribution retraining has been a successful strategy for changing attributional style and supporting perseverance and achievement for both genders.

Stereotype Threat: Do stereotypes hold us back?
By: Sarah L. Singletary, Enrica N. Ruggs, Michelle R. Hebl, Rice University and
Paul G. Davies, PhD, University of British Columbia, Okanagan

This ARP Information Sheet and Literature Review define and describe stereotype threat, a situational predicament that affects individuals when they are at risk of confirming and being personally reduced to a negative group stereotype, which may serve to disrupt and undermine performance and aspirations

Motivational Factors in STEM: Interest and Academic Self-Concept: Identifying what keeps students motivated to persist in STEM.
By: Margaret E. Beier, Ashley D. Rittmayer, Rice University

Interest and self-concept influence the choice of pursuing study in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and achievement in STEM. Pervasive gender differences, favoring men, are found in STEM-related interests and self-concept.

Self-Efficacy: Does she think she can? And how important is that?
By: Ashley D. Rittmayer, Margaret E. Beier, Rice University

Self-efficacy is defined as judgments regarding one’s ability to organize and execute the courses of action necessary to attain a specific goal. Self-efficacy is a significant predictor of both the level of motivation for a task and ultimately, task performance.

Self Authorship and Women in SET (Science, Engineering, Technology)
By: Elizabeth G. Creamer, Virginia Tech
Kerri Wakefield, University of Michigan

Members of groups underrepresented in science, engineering, and technology (SET), such as women and people of color, can face obstacles to success in SET careers, including demeaning stereotypes and reduced opportunities for career advancement. This literature review explores the potential of self-authorship to improve the recruitment and retention of women in SET fields.

Communication Styles in Engineering and Other Male-Dominated Fields
By: Joanna Wolfe, University of Louisville

Group projects are increasingly prevalent in engineering, science, technology, and math fields and it is important to understand the impact that stereotypically male communication styles favored in these environments have on women’s and men’s participation, socialization, and learning. Strategies to change the communication norms in engineering and strategies to help women adjust to masculine communication norms as they currently can improve performance and retention. communication styles.

Info Sheet | Overview | Abstract

Critically Thinking About the Brain and Gender Differences
By Ryan C. Davison, American Chemical Society

Three popular mainstream beliefs related to the field of neuroscience highlight the importance of approaching what is presumed to be accepted scientific fact with skepticism. These myths provide valuable opportunities for students to apply critical thinking skills. Discussing and investigating these myths will help students develop the ability to distinguish scientific facts from mainstream opinion and will provide educators with a number of useful educational applications.

Info Sheet | Overview | Abstract


Changing Problem-Solving: Using not-in-the-back-of-the-textbook solutions to engage students in learning.

The global and social nature of engineering requires graduates have the ability to incorporate contextual information into their solutions to given problems. However, traditionally engineering education has presented problems in terms of abstract objects subjected to forces rather than presenting the situation in which the objects respond to those forces. This suite of documents illustrates the research on how realistic problem-solving in engineering courses can improve problem-solving in the real world and offers advice on curricular change to promote those abilities.

Cooperative Learning: Better for underrepresented students?
(AWE Overview, 2005)

Cooperative learning has received considerable attention as a strategy for students who are a minority in an educational setting. Always a component of an engineer’s education, cooperative work has gained popularity as an alternative to the lecture-based classroom. Results have been positive for both genders in terms of achievement, retention, and attitudes towards learning.

Cooperative Learning

Active learning is a category of pedagogies established as being extremely effective in engaging and maintaining student interest, thereby leading to better student performance and retention of subject matter. The responsibility for learning is focused on the learner. Many active learning strategies involve some form of group work. Group work covers all kinds of multiple-person active instructional activities along formal – informal and structured – unstructured spectra, thereby parsing out as “cooperative” and “collaborative” learning activities. In this issue of CHANGE, we provide a review of cooperative learning, a pedagogy that has been proven to be a good fit with the preferred learning and working styles of millenials in general and students from underrepresented populations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), including females, in particular.

Girls' Experience in the Classroom: Is it different? Does it matter?
By: K. R. O. Bachman, Michelle R. Hebl, Larry Ross Martinez, & Ashley D. Rittmayer
Rice University

Over the last half century, the classroom experience is one that is becoming less and less divergent for male and female students. Today, the mere presence of female students in high school and college STEM classes– sometimes equal to and often outnumbering male students – is perhaps the most impressive sign of the changing times.

Gender Differences in Math Performance: Nature or nurture? Use data to address stereotypes.
By: Catherine T. Amelink, Virginia Tech

The purpose of this literature overview is to provide an overview of trends in mathematical performance among K-16 students by gender in order to help inform discussions and initiatives related to addressing the gender gap in STEM fields.

Gender Difference in Science Achievement: Where are the girls?
By: Catherine T. Amelink, Virginia Tech

The purpose of this literature overview is to facilitate access to current statistical data related to gender differences in science achievement among K-16 students to help inform discussions and initiatives related to addressing the gender gap in science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) fields.

Questions in the Classroom: Good questions make good learning

Appropriate questions asked of or by students in a classroom can improve understanding of the material at hand as well as develop the critical thinking skills crucial to lifelong learning. When teachers unconsciously call more on male students than on female students or give males more time to answer a question than females before giving them the answer, female students are put at a disadvantage. This suite of documents provides insight into appropriate types of questions, ways to ask questions, and methods of encouraging all students to find answers to their questions. 

Visual Spatial Skills: Is seeing (3-dimensionally), succeeding?
(AWE Overview, 2005)

Visual spatial skills are important for success in engineering. Education, experience, and testing environments have improved visual spatial skills and retention of engineering students.

Spatial Skills: A Focus on Gender and Engineering
By Susan Staffin Metz, Stevens Institute of Technology; Susan Donohue, The College of New Jersey; and Cherith Moore, University of Missouri Columbia

Strong spatial-visualization skills, particularly the ability to visualize in three dimensions, are cognitive skills that are linked to success in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields. Unfortunately, significant gender disparities exist on spatial-skills test performance and are most evident in mental rotation, an important skill in engineering. Poor performance on spatial-visualization tasks can directly affect perceptions of self‐efficacy, especially in women and individuals from lower socioeconomic groups.

Info Sheet | Overview | Abstract


Career Development Theory for Women in Engineering: What Makes Her Choose a STEM Career?
(AWE Overview, 2005)

Career counseling and career theory provide insight into the reasons and ways that people choose their careers and can provide the foundation of activities designed to provide support and guidance to women who have chosen (or have yet to choose) a unique and perhaps difficult career path.

Family Influence: How much does it influence the decision to come…and stay?
(AWE Overview, 2005)

Families of engineering students provide exceptional levels of support to their children. For women in engineering, this support is crucial from the pre-college level onward. In particular, female engineers’ parents tend to raise their daughters with fewer gender stereotypes and place greater weight on education and learning.

Mentoring: Making it work
By: Catherine T. Amelink, Virginia Tech

Mentoring provides women in STEM fields an opportunity to observe and interact with successful colleagues and more experienced professionals. By mitigating feelings of isolation in a male dominated field, mentoring relationships encourage positive socialization among women to STEM disciplines.

Sense of Community: It’s important for girls and women to feel like they belong.
(AWE Overview, 2005)

Psychological Sense of Community (PSOC), a central concept from community psychology, provides a framework for understanding and assessing women’s sense of belonging in the engineering environments of work, education, and, for students, residential life. Women’s psychological lives within the engineering environment cannot be disconnected from the social environment. This overview explores the issue with attention to academics, workplace, and campus residence.

Gender Stereotypes in the Media (In Preparation)
By Elizabeth Cady

Television viewers use cognitive processing shortcuts to make sense of what they are watching. Although these shortcuts are extremely useful to organize the large amount of information presented in the media (and the world), cognitive shortcuts combined with stereotypical portrayals of women or other marginalized groups can lead to pervasive stereotypes. This ARP discusses the way women are presented in the mass media, with theories of media effects and an overview of research on cognitive processing.


Factors Supporting the Retention/Persistence of Female Undergraduates

The overall retention rate of female undergraduates in engineering has been relatively flat or rising slowly for the past decade despite concerted, dedicated efforts at many institutions. One conclusion that can be drawn is that there are entrenched barriers, both institutional and personal, to the retention/persistence of female undergraduates in engineering to graduation. This document identifies five factors which may ameliorate certain institutional barriers for female undergraduates in engineering based on a review of programs that have consistently conferred at least 30%, on average, of their baccalaureate degrees to females since AY 2001. The identification of these supportive factors is the first step in changing institutional characteristics that are not supportive of female undergraduate engineering students.

Retention of Underrepresented College Students in STEM
By: Kelly A. Rodgers, Ph.D., University of Texas at San Antonio

This literature overview addresses several psychological factors believed to be salient in retention patterns for women and particularly ethnic minority students who are underrepresented across STEM disciplines.

Female Interest in Mathematics
By Catherine T. Amelink, Virginia Tech

Girls’ interest in math is lower than their male peers, directly affecting the number of females pursuing math-related degrees, including science, technology, and engineering. This lower interest in math may be not be evident because females enroll in math-based courses throughout middle and high school at the same rate as their male peers do and perform as well on math-based standardized performance tests.

Info Sheet | Overview | Abstract

Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Awareness for Classroom and Outreach Education
By Enrica Ruggs and Michelle Hebl, Rice University

Creating learning environments that are equally beneficial to all students is imperative. Research suggests that diversity, inclusion, and cultural awareness can be increased by strategies such as promoting outreach education to students, incorporating active learning tasks and culturally responsive learning into curricula, and providing successful diverse role models for students. Authors discuss the benefits of diversity, inclusion, and cultural awareness in education and the consequences when these elements are lacking, and explore remediation strategies.

Info Sheet | Overview | Abstract

Increasing Diversity in STEM by Attracting Community College Women of Color
By Marie Elena Reyes, The Frieda Kahlo Institute

To attract women of color to STEM, the effort must start where many of them start higher education: community colleges. Community colleges are an important corridor for women and students of color entering higher education, but low transfer rates are problematic for STEM recruitment. Recruitment and retention efforts must be informed by an understanding of the challenges and obstacles specific to women of color at community colleges and after transfer to universities.

Info Sheet | Overview | Abstract


The Talent Crisis in Science and Engineering
By: Ruta Sevo

There is a talent crisis in science and engineering (S&E) that constrains America’s economic productivity, competitiveness, quality of life, and security. Our educational system is not producing the workforce we need and our reliance on imported talent is high and increasing. The need for greater diversity in higher education and in the S&E workforce is widely recognized.

The Application of Title IX to Science and Engineering
By: Ruta Sevo

Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972 is a law prohibiting discrimination based on sex in educational programs that receive Federal funds.  It was a response to unequal access to educational programs for girls.

Disabilities and Diversity in Science and Engineering
By Ruta Sevo, STEM Consultant

The United States leads in accommodation, rehabilitation, and assistive technologies, but the design of assistive technologies is better with the input, insight, and leadership of the people for whom it is being created. Researchers with disabilities should be included in the cycles of discovery, innovation, and technology development. Higher education alliances offer comprehensive, campus-based services for students with disabilities who are concentrating in STEM fields and researchers finding ways to make STEM courses more accessible.

Info Sheet | Overview | Abstract

Uses of National Statistics (In Preparation) About Women and Girls in Science and Engineering
By Ruta Sevo, STEM Consultant, Beth Cady, National Academy of Engineering, and Barbara Bogue, Penn State

Use data and statistics to argue effectively that the low participation of women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is a societal problem warranting action, it is essential to cite statistics and other data to describe the current situation, help frame the problem, and formulate ways to address the problem. To make a compelling case, is important to read, question and use statistics and data effectively and ethically. Many resources are available: leading reports that cite national statistics and categorize the issues to argue for change, databases of raw data related to women and girls in STEM, or private data.


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Developed by The Pennsylvania State University and University of Missouri
Funded by The National Science Foundation (HRD 0120642 and HRD 0607081)