skip to main content

Title: Assessing Problem-Framing Skills in Secondary School Students Using the Needs Identification Canvas
With programs like Project Lead The Way, engineering activities and curricula have increased in frequency in secondary school programs. In 2013, Next Generation Science Standards were published formalizing the importance of science and engineering practices in secondary schools as part of the ‘Three Dimensions of Science Learning’. For a typical secondary science department, the current engineering options can either be very expensive and/or very time consuming (often requiring engineering courses outside of traditional science courses). The purpose of a broader NSF-funded project is to create and evaluate a more accessible system for engaging students in one of the key components of engineering design: problem framing. This work presents one tool developed as part of that effort, the Need Identification Canvas (NIC), and the assessment methods developed for evaluating students’ engineering problem-framing skills using the NIC. The NIC is a tool for guiding novice designers through the need identification process, specifically addressing four key subcategories: stakeholders, stakeholder needs, a need statement, and information gathering. Student responses in each category were evaluated using a rubric, developed as part of this effort. The canvas has been implemented with suburban high school biology, chemistry, physics, and physical science classes (N=55) as well as first-year engineering students more » (N=18) at a private undergraduate university to provide a basis of comparison for the higher levels of achievement. In addition to comparisons between grade levels, secondary students that have and have not been taking supplemental engineering courses as part of their program of study were compared. Significant differences were found amongst a variety of these subgroups. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ;
Award ID(s):
1812823
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10174749
Journal Name:
2020 ASEE Virtual Conference
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. As the importance to integrate engineering into K12 curricula grows so does the need to develop teachers’ engineering teaching capabilities and knowledge. One method that has been used to aid this development is engineering professional development programs. This evaluation paper presents the successes and challenges of an engineering professional development program for teachers focused around the use of engineering problem-framing design activities in high school science classrooms. These activities were designed to incorporate the cross-cutting ideas published in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and draw on best practices for instructional design of problem-framing activities from research on design and model-eliciting activities (MEAs). The professional development (PD) was designed to include the following researched-based effective PD key elements: (1) is content focused, (2) incorporates active learning, (3) supports collaboration, (4) uses models of effective practice, (5) provides coaching and expert support, (6) offers feedback and reflection, and (7) is of sustained duration. The engineering PD, including in-classroom deployment of activities and data collection, was designed as an iterative process to be conducted over a three-year period. This will allow for improvement and refinement of our approach. The first iteration, reported in this paper, consisted of seven high school science teachersmore »who have agreed to participate in the PD, implement the problem-framing activities, and collect student data over a period of one year. The PD itself consisted of the teachers comparing science and engineering, participating in problem-framing training and activities, and developing a design challenge scenario for their own courses. The participating teachers completed a survey at the end of the PD that will be used to inform enhancement of the PD and our efforts to recruit additional participants in the following year. The qualitative survey consisted of open-ended questions asking for the most valuable takeaways from the PD, their reasoning for joining the PD, reasons they would or would not recommend the PD, and, in their opinion, what would inspire their colleagues to attend the PD. The responses to the survey along with observations from the team presenting the PD were analyzed to identify lessons learned and future steps for the following iteration of the PD. From the data, three themes emerged: Development of PD, Teacher Motivation, and Teacher Experience.« less
  2. In September 2019, the fourth and final workshop on the Future of Mechatronics and Robotics Education (FoMRE) was held at a Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, MI. This workshop was organized by faculty at several universities with financial support from industry partners and the National Science Foundation. The purpose of the workshops was to create a cohesive effort among mechatronics and robotics courses, minors and degree programs. Mechatronics and Robotics Engineering (MRE) is an integration of mechanics, controls, electronics, and software, which provides a unique opportunity for engineering students to function on multidisciplinary teams. Due to its multidisciplinary nature, it attracts diverse and innovative students, and graduates better-prepared professional engineers. In this fast growing field, there is a great need to standardize educational material and make MRE education more widely available and easier to adopt. This can only be accomplished if the community comes together to speak with one clear voice about not only the benefits, but also the best ways to teach it. These efforts would also aid in establishing more of these degree programs and integrating minors or majors into existing computer science, mechanical engineering, or electrical engineering departments. The final workshop was attended by approximately 50 practitionersmore »from industry and academia. Participants identified many practical skills required for students to succeed in an MRE curriculum and as practicing engineers after graduation. These skills were then organized into the following categories: professional, independent learning, controller design, numerical simulation and analysis, electronics, software development, and system design. For example, professional skills include technical reports, presentations, and documentation. Independent learning includes reading data sheets, performing internet searches, doing a literature review, and having a maker mindset. Numerical simulation skills include understanding data, presenting data graphically, solving and simulating in software such as MATLAB, Simulink and Excel. Controller design involves selecting a controller, tuning a controller, designing to meet specifications, and understanding when the results are good enough. Electronics skills include selecting sensors, interfacing sensors, interfacing actuators, creating printed circuit boards, wiring on a breadboard, soldering, installing drivers, using integrated circuits, and using microcontrollers. Software development of embedded systems includes agile program design, state machines, analyzing and evaluating code results, commenting code, troubleshooting, debugging, AI and machine learning. Finally, system design includes prototyping, creating CAD models, design for manufacturing, breaking a system down into subsystems, integrating and interfacing subcomponents, having a multidisciplinary perspective, robustness, evaluating tradeoffs, testing, validation, and verification, failure, effect, and mode analysis. A survey was prepared and sent out to the participants from all four workshops as well as other robotics faculty, researchers and industry personnel in order to elicit a broader community response. Because one of the biggest challenges in mechatronics and robotics education is the absence of standardized curricula, textbooks, platforms, syllabi, assignments, and learning outcomes, this was a vital part of the process to achieve some level of consensus. This paper presents an introduction to MRE education, related work on existing programs, methods, results of the practical skills survey, and then draws conclusions based upon these results. It aims to create the foundation for standardizing the development of student skills in mechatronics and robotics curricula across institutions, disciplines, majors and minors. The survey was completed by 94 participants and it was clear that there is a consensus that the primary skills students should have upon completion of MRE courses or a program is a broader multidisciplinary systems-level perspective, an ability to problem solve, and an ability to design a system to meet specifications.« less
  3. The lack of diversity and inclusion has been a major challenge affecting engineering programs all over the United States. This problem has been persistent over the years and has been difficult to address despite considerable amount of attention, enriched conversations, and money that has been put towards addressing it. One of the reasons behind this lack of diversity could be the presence of exclusionary behaviors, such as bias and discrimination that permeate the culture of engineering. To address this “wicked” problem, a deeper understanding of current culture and of potential change strategies toward integrating inclusion and diversity is necessary. Our larger NSF funded research project seeks to achieve this understanding through design thinking. While design thinking has been documented to successfully achieve desired outcomes for numerous other problems, its effectiveness as a tool to understand and solve the “wicked problem” of transformation of disciplinary culture related to diversity and inclusion in engineering is not yet known. This Work-in-Progress paper will address the effectiveness of using a design thinking approach by answering the research question: How did stakeholder participants perceive the impact of design sessions on their understanding and value of diversity and inclusion in the professional formation of biomedical engineers?more »To address this research question, our research team is coordinating six design sessions within each of two engineering schools: Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) and Biomedical Engineering (BME) at a large Midwest University. Currently, we have completed the initial phases of the design sessions in the BME school, and hence this paper focuses on insights from preliminary data analysis of BME Design sessions. BME design sessions were conducted with 15 key stakeholders from the program including students, faculty, staff and administrators. Each of the six design session was two hours long. The research team facilitated the inspiration and ideation phase of the design thinking process throughout. Facilitation involved providing prompts and activities to guide the stakeholders through the design thinking processes of problem identification, problem scoping, and prototype solution generation related to diversity and inclusion within the school culture. A mixed-methods approach involving both qualitative and quantitative data analysis is being used to evaluate the efficacy of design thinking as a tool to address diversity and inclusion in professional formation of engineers. Artifacts such as journey maps, culture maps, and design notebooks generated by our stakeholders throughout the design sessions will be qualitatively analyzed to evaluate the role and effectiveness of design thinking in shaping a more diverse and inclusive culture within BME and, eventually ECE. Following the design sessions, participants were interviewed one-on-one to understand how their thoughts about diversity and inclusion in professional formation of biomedical engineers may have changed, and to gather participants’ self-assessment of the design process. Coupled with the interviews, an online survey was administered to assess the participants’ ranking of the solutions generated at the conclusion design sessions in terms of their novelty, importance and feasibility for implementation within their school. This Work-in-Progress paper will discuss relevant findings from initial quantitative analyses of the data collected from the post-design session surveys and is an interim report evaluating participants’ perceptions of the impact of these design sessions on their understanding of diversity and inclusion in professional formation of biomedical engineers.« less
  4. The expansion of K-12 computer science (CS) has driven a dramatic need for educators who are trained in CS content and pedagogy [1]. This poster describes our effort to train teacher candidates (i.e., pre-service teachers who are students seeking degrees within a College of Education), who are specializing in secondary mathematics education, to be future CS educators. We specifically describe our collaboration to provide a blended preparatory six-week training for the ETS CS Praxis exam (5652), assisting our pre-service students in satisfying the CS certification requirements in our state before they graduate and begin their professional teaching career. Given the unique challenges of pre-service CS teacher preparation [2], blended models, which combine both in-person and online instruction, are an effective approach to building a pre-service program. Within our pre-service CS program, students first complete a two-course pathway that prepares them in AP CSP content and pedagogy experiences, including observations in local AP CSP classrooms [3]. After completing the two courses, our students participate in the blended version of the WeTeach_CS Praxis preparation course to achieve certification. The in-person support provided by the blended model contributed significantly to certification success in this project. With a cut-score of 149 for the Praxismore »exam, all 11 of our pre-service students who completed the course received a passing score (including one student with a perfect score of 200, and another student with a 195); the average score for our pre-service students was 175. An additional 11 in-service teachers, with diverse backgrounds in CS content knowledge, also participated in the blended Praxis preparation course, with an average score of 166. Given the unique challenges of pre-service CS teacher preparation, university pre-service CS teacher programs should look to innovative models of teacher support developed by in-service programs to make substantial gains in CS teacher certification. Incorporating an asynchronous online course that allows teachers with a wide range of prior experience in CS to learn at their own pace with in-person coursework and support appears to be a viable model for assisting non-CS major teacher candidates in achieving a CS certification. With the blended model, even teachers with no background knowledge in CS were successful. Within our pre-service CS program, students first complete a two-course pathway that prepares them in AP CSP content and pedagogy experiences, including observations in local AP CSP classrooms [3]. After completing the two courses, our students participate in the blended version of the WeTeach_CS Praxis preparation course to achieve certification. The in-person support provided by the blended model contributed significantly to certification success in this project. With a cut-score of 149 for the Praxis exam, all 11 of our pre-service students who completed the course received a passing score (including one student with a perfect score of 200, and another student with a 195); the average score for our pre-service students was 175. An additional 11 in-service teachers, with diverse backgrounds in CS content knowledge, also participated in the blended Praxis preparation course, with an average score of 166. Incorporating an asynchronous online course that allows teachers with a wide range of prior experience in CS to learn at their own pace with in-person coursework and support appears to be a viable model for assisting non-CS major teacher candidates in achieving a CS certification. With the blended model, even teachers with no background knowledge in CS were successful.« less
  5. Online learning is increasing in both enrollment and importance within engineering education. Online courses also continue to confront comparatively higher course dropout levels than face-to-face courses. This research paper thus aims to better understand the factors that contribute to students’ choices to remain in or drop out of their online undergraduate engineering courses. Path analysis was used to examine the impact of course perceptions and individual characteristics on students’ course-level persistence intentions. Specifically, whether students' course perceptions influenced their persistence intentions directly or indirectly, through their expectancies of course success, was tested. Data for this study were collected from three ABET-accredited online undergraduate engineering programs at a large public university in the Southwestern United States: electrical engineering, engineering management, and software engineering. A total of 138 students participated in the study during the fall 2019 (n=85) and spring 2020 (n=53) semesters. Participants responded to surveys twice weekly during their 7.5-week online course. The survey asked students about their course perceptions related to instructor practices, peer support, and course difficulty level, their expectancies in completing the course, and their course persistence intentions. This work is part of a larger National Science Foundation-funded research project dedicated to studying online student course-level persistencemore »based on both students' self-report data and course learning management system (LMS) activity. The survey sample was consistent with reports indicating that online learners tend to be more diverse than face-to-face learners. Findings from the path analysis revealed that students' perceptions of course LMS fit, perceived course difficulty, and expectancies of course success positively and significantly predicted persistence intentions, making them the most important influences. Expectancies of course success had a direct effect on persistence intentions. The findings underscore the need to elucidate further the mechanisms through which expectancies of success influence persistence.« less