- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
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- American Society for Engineering Education 2021 Annual Conference
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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null (Ed.)K-12 teachers serve a critical role in their students’ development of interest in engineering, especially as engineering content is emphasized in curriculum standards. However, teachers may not be comfortable teaching engineering in their classrooms as it can require a different set of skills from which they are trained. Professional development activities focused on engineering content can help teachers feel more comfortable teaching the subject in their classrooms and can increase their knowledge of engineering and thus their engineering teaching self-efficacy. There are many different types of professional development activities teachers might experience, each one with a set of established best practices. VT PEERS (Virginia Tech Partnering with Educators and Engineers in Rural Communities) is a program designed to provide recurrent hands-on engineering activities to middle school students in or near rural Appalachia. The project partners middle school teachers, university affiliates, and local industry partners throughout the state region to develop and implement engineering activities that align with state defined standards of learning (SOLs). Throughout this partnership, teachers co-facilitate engineering activities in their classrooms throughout the year with the other partners, and teachers have the opportunity to participate in a two-day collaborative workshop every year. VT PEERS held a workshop during the summer of 2019, after the second year of the partnership, to discuss the successes and challenges experienced throughout the program. Three focus groups, one for each grade level involved (grades 6-8), were held during the summit for teachers and industry partners to discuss their experiences. None of the teachers involved in the partnership have formal training in engineering. The transcripts of these focus groups were the focus of the exploratory qualitative data analyses to answer the following research question: How do middle-school teachers develop teaching engineering self-efficacy through professional development activities? Deductive coding of the focus group transcripts was completed using the four sources of self-efficacy: mastery experience, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion and physiological states. The analysis revealed that vicarious experiences can be particularly valuable to increasing teachers’ teaching engineering self-efficacy. For example, teachers valued the ability to play the role of a student in an engineering lesson and being able to share ideas about teaching engineering lessons with other teachers. This information can be useful to develop engineering-focused professional development activities for teachers. Additionally, as teachers gather information from their teaching engineering vicarious experiences, they can inform their own teaching practices and practice reflective teaching as they teach lessons.more » « less
Engineering Explorations are curriculum modules that engage children across contexts in learning about science and engineering. We used them to leverage multiple education sectors (K–12 schools, museums, higher education, and afterschool programs) across a community to provide engineering learning experiences for youth, while increasing local teachers’ capacity to deliver high-quality engineering learning opportunities that align with school standards. Focusing on multiple partners that serve youth in the same community provides opportunities for long-term collaborations and programs developed in response to local needs. In a significant shift from earlier sets of standards, the Next Generation Science Standards include engineering design, with the goal of providing students with a foundation “to better engage in and aspire to solve the major societal and environmental challenges they will face in decades ahead” (NGSS Lead States 2013, Appendix I). Including engineering in K–12 standards is a positive step forward in introducing students to engineering; however, K–12 teachers are not prepared to facilitate high-quality engineering activities. Research has consistently shown that elementary teachers are not confident in teaching science, especially physical science, and generally have little knowledge of engineering (Trygstad 2013). K–12 teachers, therefore, will need support. Our goal was to create a program that took advantage of the varied resources across a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education ecosystem to support engineering instruction for youth across multiple contexts, while building the capacity of educators and meeting the needs of each organization. Specifically, we developed mutually reinforcing classroom and field trip activities to improve student learning and a curriculum to improve teacher learning. This challenging task required expertise in school-based standards, engineering education, informal education, teacher professional development, and classroom and museum contexts.more » « less
Integration of engineering into middle school science and mathematics classrooms is a key aspect of STEM integration. However, successful pedagogies for teachers to use engineering talk in their classrooms are not fully understood.
This study aims to address this need with the research question: How does a middle school life science teacher use engineering talk during an engineering design‐based STEM integration unit?
This case study examined the talk of a teacher whose students demonstrated high levels of learning in science and engineering throughout a three‐year professional development program. Transcripts of whole‐class verbal interactions for 18 class periods in the life science‐based STEM integration unit were analyzed using a theoretical framework based on the Framework for Quality K‐12 Engineering Education.
The teacher used talk to integrate engineering in a variety of ways, skillfully weaving engineering throughout the unit. He framed lessons around problem scoping, incorporated engineering ideas into scientific verbal interactions, and aligned individual lessons and the overall unit with the engineering design process. He stayed true to the context of the engineering challenge and treated the students as young engineers.
This teacher's talk helped to integrate engineering with the science and mathematics content of the unit and modeled the practices of informed designers to help students learn engineering in the context of their science classroom. These findings have the potential to improve how educators and curricula developers utilize engineering teacher talk to support STEM integration.
null (Ed.)As our nation’s need for engineering professionals grows, a sharp rise in P-12 engineering education programs and related research has taken place (Brophy, Klein, Portsmore, & Rogers, 2008; Purzer, Strobel, & Cardella, 2014). The associated research has focused primarily on students’ perceptions and motivations, teachers’ beliefs and knowledge, and curricula and program success. The existing research has expanded our understanding of new K-12 engineering curriculum development and teacher professional development efforts, but empirical data remain scarce on how racial and ethnic diversity of student population influences teaching methods, course content, and overall teachers’ experiences. In particular, Hynes et al. (2017) note in their systematic review of P-12 research that little attention has been paid to teachers’ experiences with respect to racially and ethnically diverse engineering classrooms. The growing attention and resources being committed to diversity and inclusion issues (Lichtenstein, Chen, Smith, & Maldonado, 2014; McKenna, Dalal, Anderson, & Ta, 2018; NRC, 2009) underscore the importance of understanding teachers’ experiences with complementary research-based recommendations for how to implement engineering curricula in racially diverse schools to engage all students. Our work examines the experiences of three high school teachers as they teach an introductory engineering course in geographically and distinctly different racially diverse schools across the nation. The study is situated in the context of a new high school level engineering education initiative called Engineering for Us All (E4USA). The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded initiative was launched in 2018 as a partnership among five universities across the nation to ‘demystify’ engineering for high school students and teachers. The program aims to create an all-inclusive high school level engineering course(s), a professional development platform, and a learning community to support student pathways to higher education institutions. An introductory engineering course was developed and professional development was provided to nine high school teachers to instruct and assess engineering learning during the first year of the project. This study investigates participating teachers’ implementation of the course in high schools across the nation to understand the extent to which their experiences vary as a function of student demographic (race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status) and resource level of the school itself. Analysis of these experiences was undertaken using a collective case-study approach (Creswell, 2013) involving in-depth analysis of a limited number of cases “to focus on fewer "subjects," but more "variables" within each subject” (Campbell & Ahrens, 1998, p. 541). This study will document distinct experiences of high school teachers as they teach the E4USA curriculum. Participants were purposively sampled for the cases in order to gather an information-rich data set (Creswell, 2013). The study focuses on three of the nine teachers participating in the first cohort to implement the E4USA curriculum. Teachers were purposefully selected because of the demographic makeup of their students. The participating teachers teach in Arizona, Maryland and Tennessee with predominantly Hispanic, African-American, and Caucasian student bodies, respectively. To better understand similarities and differences among teaching experiences of these teachers, a rich data set is collected consisting of: 1) semi-structured interviews with teachers at multiple stages during the academic year, 2) reflective journal entries shared by the teachers, and 3) multiple observations of classrooms. The interview data will be analyzed with an inductive approach outlined by Miles, Huberman, and Saldaña (2014). All teachers’ interview transcripts will be coded together to identify common themes across participants. Participants’ reflections will be analyzed similarly, seeking to characterize their experiences. Observation notes will be used to triangulate the findings. Descriptions for each case will be written emphasizing the aspects that relate to the identified themes. Finally, we will look for commonalities and differences across cases. The results section will describe the cases at the individual participant level followed by a cross-case analysis. This study takes into consideration how high school teachers’ experiences could be an important tool to gain insight into engineering education problems at the P-12 level. Each case will provide insights into how student body diversity impacts teachers’ pedagogy and experiences. The cases illustrate “multiple truths” (Arghode, 2012) with regard to high school level engineering teaching and embody diversity from the perspective of high school teachers. We will highlight themes across cases in the context of frameworks that represent teacher experience conceptualizing race, ethnicity, and diversity of students. We will also present salient features from each case that connect to potential recommendations for advancing P-12 engineering education efforts. These findings will impact how diversity support is practiced at the high school level and will demonstrate specific novel curricular and pedagogical approaches in engineering education to advance P-12 mentoring efforts.more » « less
POSTER. Presented at the Symposium (9/12/2019) Abstract: The Academy of Engineering Success (AcES) employs literature-based, best practices to support and retain underrepresented students in engineering through graduation with the ultimate goal of diversifying the engineering workforce. AcES was established in 2012 and has been supported via NSF S-STEM award number 1644119 since 2016. The 2016, 2017, and 2018 cohorts consist of 12, 20, and 22 students, respectively. Five S-STEM supported scholarships were awarded to the 2016 cohort, seven scholarships were awarded to students from the 2017 cohort, and six scholarships were awarded to students from the 2018 cohort. AcES students participate in a one-week summer bridge experience, a common fall semester course focused on professional development, and a common spring semester course emphasizing the role of engineers in societal development. Starting with the summer bridge experience, and continuing until graduation, students are immersed in curricular and co-curricular activities with the goals of fostering feelings of institutional inclusion and belonging in engineering, providing academic support and student success skills, and professional development. The aforementioned goals are achieved by providing (1) opportunities for faculty-student, student-student, and industry mentor-student interaction, (2) academic support, and student success education in areas such as time management and study skills, and (3) facilitated career and major exploration. Four research questions are being examined, (1) What is the relationship between participation in the AcES program and participants’ academic success?, (2) What aspects of the AcES program most significantly impact participants’ success in engineering, (3) How do AcES students seek to overcome challenges in studying engineering, and (4) What is the longitudinal impact of the AcES program in terms of motivation, perceptions, feelings of inclusion, outcome expectations of the participants and retention? Students enrolled in the AcES program participate in the GRIT, LAESE, and MSLQ surveys, focus groups, and one-on-one interviews at the start and end of each fall semester and at the end of the spring semester. The surveys provide a measure of students’ GRIT, general self-efficacy, engineering self-efficacy, test anxiety, math outcome efficacy, intrinsic value of learning, inclusion, career expectations, and coping efficacy. Focus group and interview responses are analyzed in order to answer research questions 2, 3, and 4. Survey responses are analyzed to answer research question 4, and institutional data such as GPA is used to answer research question 1. An analysis of the 2017 AcES cohort survey responses produced a surprising result. When the responses of AcES students who retained were compared to the responses of AcES students who left engineering, those who left engineering had higher baseline values of GRIT, career expectations, engineering self-efficacy, and math outcome efficacy than those students who retained. A preliminary analysis of the 2016, 2017, and 2018 focus group and one-on-one interview responses indicates that the Engineering Learning Center, tutors, organized out of class experiences, first-year seminar, the AcES cohort, the AcES summer bridge, the AcES program, AcES Faculty/Staff, AcES guest lecturers, and FEP faculty/Staff are viewed as valuable by students and cited with contributing to their success in engineering. It is also evident that AcES students seek help from peers, seek help from tutors, use online resources, and attend office hours to overcome their challenges in studying engineering.more » « less