Apply Research to Practice (ARP)

With ARP resources from SWE AWE and NAE CASEE

  • 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:

  • 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

ARP Resources are a collaborative project of the SWE AWE Project NAE CASEE, and experts in the field.

The SWE AWE and 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 the final papers.

Click here for information on the review process and current reviewers.

Note: New and revised ARP Resources are in development so both older versions (developed as either an AWE Research Overview or a NAE CASEE Information sheet, covering research up to 2003) and the new ARP Resources are listed. 

New ARP Resources

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

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.

Mentoring: Making it work
By: Catherine T. Amelink, Ph.D.,
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.

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

Retention of Underrepresented College Students in STEM: Traditional Paths, Psychological Aspects, and Directions for Moving Forward
By: Kelly A. Rodgers, University of Texas as 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.

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.

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

Self-Efficacy: Does she think she can? And how important is that?
By: Ashley D. Rittmayer, M.A., 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.

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. 

In development:
Academic Self-Confidence
Family and Cultural Influence of Women of Color in Engineering
Motivational Factors: Self-efficacy
Recruiting and Retention of Women from Community Colleges for Increasing Diversity in STEM
SWE AWE and CASEE Literature Summaries
The Male and Female Brain: Similarities and Differences
Visual Spatial Skills

CASEE Two-Page Research Overviews
Check out the CASEE two-page research overviews that also provide practical application tips. The topics (listed below) are related to Change and Awareness Necessary for Global Engineering. CASEE is the Center for the Advancement of Scholarship on Engineering Education located in the National Academy of Engineering.

Research Overviews:

Attribution Theory: He says, she says: The difference in how women and men perceive success and failure
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.

Career Development Theory for Women in Engineering: What Makes Her Choose a STEM Career?
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.

Cooperative Learning: Better for underrepresented students?
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.

Family Influence: How much does it influence the decision to come…and stay?
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.

Sense of Community: It’s important for girls and women to feel like they belong.
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.

Visual Spatial Skills: Is seeing (3-dimensionally), succeeding?
Visual spatial skills are important for success in engineering. Education, experience, and testing environments have improved visual spatial skills and retention of engineering students.

Back to the Top


CASEE Information Sheets:

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. 

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.

Back to the Top


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