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This study investigates how teachers verbally support students to engage in integrated engineering, science, and computer science activities across the implementation of an engineering project. This is important as recent research has focused on understanding how precollege students’ engagement in engineering practices is supported by teachers (Watkins et al., 2018) and the benefits of integrating engineering in precollege classes, including improved achievement in science, ability to engage in science and engineering practices inherent to engineering (i.e., engineering design), and increased awareness of engineering (National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council; Katehi et al., 2009). Further, there is a national emphasis on integrating engineering, science, and computer science practices and concepts in science classrooms (NGSS Lead States, 2013). Yet little research has considered how teachers implement these disciplines together within one classroom, particularly elementary teachers who often have little prior experience in teaching engineering and may need support to integrate engineering design into elementary science classroom settings. In particular, this study explores how elementary teachers verbally support science and computer science concepts and practices to be implicitly and explicitly integrated into an engineering project by implementing support intended by curricular materials and/or adding their own verbal support. Implicit usemore »
Supporting Upper Elementary Students’ Engineering Practices in an Integrated Science and Engineering Unit.To support teachers in providing all students with opportunities to engage in engineering learning activities, research must examine the ways that elementary teachers support how diverse learners engage with engineering ideas and practices. This study focuses on two teachers' verbal supports in classroom discussions across two class sections of a four-week, NGSS-aligned unit that challenged students to redesign their school to reduce water runoff. We examine the research question: How and to what extent do upper-elementary teachers verbally support students' engagement with engineering practices across diverse classroom contexts in an NGSS-aligned integrated science unit? Classroom audio data was collected daily and coded to analyze support through different purposes of teacher talk. Results reveal the purpose of teachers’ talk often varied between the class sections depending on the instructional activity and indicate that teachers utilized a variety of supports toward students' engagement in different engineering practices. In one class, with a large percentage of students with individualized educational plans, teachers provided more epistemic talk about the engineering practices to contextualize the particular activities. For the other class, with a large percentage of students in advanced mathematics, teachers provided more opportunities for students to engage in discussion and support for students tomore »
This paper analyzes students’ design solutions for an NGSS aligned earth sciences curriculum, the Playground Design Challenge (PDC), for upper-elementary school (grade 5 and 6) students.We present the underlying computational model and the user interface for generating design solutions for a school playground that has to meet cost, water runoff, and accessibility constraints. We use data from the pretest and posttest assessments and activity logs collected from a pilot study run in an elementary school to evaluate the effectiveness of the curriculum and investigate the relations between students’ behaviors and their learning performances. The results show that (1) the students’ scores significantly increased from pretest to posttest on engineering design assessments, and (2) students’ solution-generation and testing behaviors were indicative of the quality of their design solutions as well as their pre-post learning gains. In the future, tracking such behaviors online will allow us to provide adaptive scaffolds that help students improve on their engineering design solutions.