The work of INGDIVS in five steps
1. Definition of key inputs for the profiling tool: WHAT should the tool include?
The first work package defined what kinds of questions should be included in the filtering tool. Furthermore, gender-specific issues and strategies regarding the questions’ styles and data collection methods were defined. Cultural, social and educational nuances that were relevant to each of the participant’s locations were considered.
It was determined that the tool should focus on supporting high school students by suggesting that the user explore engineering as a possible future career. Therefore, it does not include tests of abilities or a form of selection. Furthermore, a strategic decision was made to focus the content on apprehension and to respond to possible stereotypes instead of focusing on psychometric data, such as different thinking and personality styles and aptitude testing.
2. Resource development: Building the first prototype of the tool and gathering data
During the development of the ANNA tool, it was decided that it should search a database of alumni and not match prospective students’ ideas and thoughts with those of engineers to clarify who fits the engineer profile. The project is clear that no such correlations should be made. The tool’s main point is to provide an opportunity for students to explore the feelings and uncertainties that current engineers and engineering students had before starting their university careers.
To collect data from current engineering students and alumni, a software tool was created in parallel while working on a model of the ANNA tool. The prototype was developed while considering that prospective university students are still in high school. The filtering tool and the visualisation of data were developed to allow high school students to match their views and ideas about an engineering career to current students and graduates.
1. Pilot testing
The prototype of the tool was tested on groups of high school students to gain valuable knowledge about both their attitude about the tool and the interface and visualisation of the tool. The high school students gave the following feedback:
- It challenges you to think about your stereotypes and perceptions.
- It makes a career in STEM more relatable when you can compare other people’s experiences.
- It makes you think of engineering as a career track, which is not highlighted often in school.
The pilot testing also revealed some faults:
- It was only focused on engineering and not the entire STEM area.
- It was too focused on gender. The students wanted to be recognised and given advice based on merit versus gender.
- It lacked sufficient profiles to do a proper search.
2. Final development of the tool
Insights from the pilot testing laid the foundation for finalisation of the tool. Some modifications were made to the interface, and more profiles were added to the database. The final version of the tool consists of the following:
- A starting page, where a user can choose which language he/she wants to use. All pieces of information in the tool are available in Portuguese, Swedish, English, Italian, German and Flemish.
- An introduction video in English with subtitles in different languages
- Information for users and parents
- A search guide and illustrative presentation of data
- A short evaluation for the user after finalising the search in the database
Each part of the tool was intended to be user-friendly and to meet the target groups’ needs. The final modifications were made from the feedback from high school students.
3. Dissemination and implementation
Each partner university has been responsible for disseminating the ANNA tool locally. The project hosted a one-week training event in Lisbon in April 2019.