- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- 14th International Conference of the Learning Sciences (ICLS) 2020
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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null (Ed.)This multiple case study focused on the implementation of a computer-aided design (CAD) simulation to help students engage in engineering design to learn science concepts. Our findings describe three case studies that adopted the same learning design and adapted it to three different populations, settings, and classroom contexts: at the middle-school, high-school, and pre-service teaching levels. Although the classroom orchestration of the particular learning design was customised for specific audiences and contexts, findings from this study suggest that the core components of the learning design, such as content, assessment, and pedagogy, and their alignment among them, resulted in students’ learning. Specifically, results from a pre-post science assessment suggest that the three student groups arrived at similar understanding post-intervention levels, along with a significant aggregate growth in their scientific understanding. Regarding design performance, students in different groups demonstrated different levels of success in meeting design constraints. The findings also suggest that students’ success rate in meeting the design constraints directly influenced their final design performance, where middle-school students had better performance than students in the other groups. That is, across the board, students increased their conceptual understanding of heat transfer, Earth, and solar science and were able to produce feasible designs. Implications of the study include how learning experiences with engineering and science simulations should be designed so that teachers can adopt and adapt materials for their specific audiences, contexts, and settings.more » « less
As solar energy becomes increasingly affordable, many schools are considering installing new solar power systems. Can students contribute to the design, evaluation, and decision-making process in any way? Many students are familiar with solar power and energy, having researched solar energy on the internet, built solar cookers, inspected mini solar cells, gone on field trips to local solar farms, and so on. Well-informed and motivated, they are just one step away from taking responsibility for their own schools. In this article, we present Solarize Your School, an engineering project that gives students the opportunity to design and evaluate solar power solutions for their own schools. This STEM project requires students to learn and apply skills and practices related to solar energy and photovoltaic technology concepts, such as architectural measurement and modeling techniques, graphical interpretation and data analysis, budgeting and investing, scientific inquiry and engineering design, and collaboration and communication (see Next Generation Science Standards table, p. 47). Solarize Your School can be incorporated into environmental science, physical science, and engineering courses, and can be adapted to fit any curriculum scope and time frame. We suggest a 10-day sequence of learning activities. All the technologies and materials mentioned are freely available (see “On the web”).more » « less
Around the world, efforts are underway to include engineering design as part of elementary science instruction. A common rationale for those efforts is that Engineering Design-based Science Teaching (EDST) is a productive pedagogical approach for developing students’ understanding of core science concepts. Effectively utilizing EDST requires that teachers develop design activities that are highly connected to science content so that students can apply and expand their understanding of relevant concepts. In this study, we examine how a group of elementary (grades 3–5) pre-service and in-service teachers incorporated EDST into their planned science instruction. Those teachers were participants in a professional development project aimed at supporting EDST. We examine the ways that participants used EDST, the extent to which engineering design activities were connected to science concepts, and factors associated with those connections.
Most of the participants in the study developed science units in which an engineering design activity was placed at the end of the unit. Approximately half of those design activities lacked connections to the science concepts in the unit; they were typically related to the topic of the science unit, but did not require the use or development of key science ideas. Eleven percent of participants developed engineering activities with deep connections to science concepts, and 35% developed activities with shallow connections. No differences were found between life science, physical science, and earth/space science units in terms of the extent of conceptual connections. However, we did find that participants who utilized and adapted published engineering curriculum materials rather than make them from scratch were more likely to have unit plans with higher levels of conceptual connections.
Our findings suggest that elementary teachers need additional support in order to effectively utilize EDST in their classrooms. Even within the context of a supportive professional development project, most of the engineering activities developed by our participants lacked substantial connections to the science concepts in their unit plans. Our findings highlight the value of high-quality curriculum materials to support EDST as well as the need to further expand the curriculum resources that are available to elementary teachers.
Major challenges in engineering education include retention of undergraduate engineering students (UESs) and continued engagement after the first year when concepts increase in difficulty. Additionally, employers, as well as ABET, look for students to demonstrate non-technical skills, including the ability to work successfully in groups, the ability to communicate both within and outside their discipline, and the ability to find information that will help them solve problems and contribute to lifelong learning. Teacher education is also facing challenges given the recent incorporation of engineering practices and core ideas into the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and state level standards of learning. To help teachers meet these standards in their classrooms, education courses for preservice teachers (PSTs) must provide resources and opportunities to increase science and engineering knowledge, and the associated pedagogies. To address these challenges, Ed+gineering, an NSF-funded multidisciplinary collaborative service learning project, was implemented into two sets of paired-classes in engineering and education: a 100 level mechanical engineering class (n = 42) and a foundations class in education (n = 17), and a fluid mechanics class in mechanical engineering technology (n = 23) and a science methods class (n = 15). The paired classes collaborated in multidisciplinary teams of 5-8 undergraduate students to plan and teach engineering lessons to local elementary school students. Teams completed a series of previously tested, scaffolded activities to guide their collaboration. Designing and delivering lessons engaged university students in collaborative processes that promoted social learning, including researching and planning, peer mentoring, teaching and receiving feedback, and reflecting and revising their engineering lesson. The research questions examined in this pilot, mixed-methods research study include: (1) How did PSTs’ Ed+gineering experiences influence their engineering and science knowledge?; (2) How did PSTs’ and UESs’ Ed+gineering experiences influence their pedagogical understanding?; and (3) What were PSTs’ and UESs’ overall perceptions of their Ed+gineering experiences? Both quantitative (e.g., Engineering Design Process assessment, Science Content Knowledge assessment) and qualitative (student reflections) data were used to assess knowledge gains and project perceptions following the semester-long intervention. Findings suggest that the PSTs were more aware and comfortable with the engineering field following lesson development and delivery, and often better able to explain particular science/engineering concepts. Both PSTs and UESs, but especially the latter, came to realize the importance of planning and preparing lessons to be taught to an audience. UESs reported greater appreciation for the work of educators. PSTs and UESs expressed how they learned to work in groups with multidisciplinary members—this is a valuable lesson for their respective professional careers. Yearly, the Ed+gineering research team will also request and review student retention reports in their respective programs to assess project impact.more » « less
Performance assessment (PA) has been increasingly advocated as a method for measuring students’ conceptual understanding of scientific phenomena. In this study, we describe preliminary findings of a simulation- based PA utilized to measure 8th grade students’ understanding of physical science concepts taught via an experimental problem-based curriculum, SLIDER (Science Learning Integrating Design Engineering and Robotics). In SLIDER, students use LEGO robotics to complete a series of investigations and engineering design challenges designed to deepen their understanding of key force and motion concepts (net force, acceleration, friction, balanced forces, and inertia). The simulation-based performance assessment consisted of 4 tasks in which students engaged with video simulations illustrating physical science concepts aligned to the SLIDER curriculum. The performance assessment was administered to a stratified sample of 8th grade students (N=24) in one school prior to and following implementation of the SLIDER curriculum. In addition to providing an illustration of the use of simulation- based performance assessment in the context of design-based implementation research (DBIR), the results of the study indicate preliminary evidence of student learning over the course of curriculum implementation.more » « less