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  1. 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 »of integration included students engaging in integrated practices without support to know that they were doing so; explicit use of integration included teachers providing support for students to know how and why they were integrating disciplines. Our research questions include: (1) To what extent did teachers provide implicit and explicit verbal support of integration in implementation versus how it was intended in curricular materials? (2) Does this look different between two differently-tracked class sections? Participants include two fifth-grade teachers who co-led two fifth-grade classes through a four-week engineering project. The project focused on redesigning school surfaces to mitigate water runoff. Teachers integrated disciplines by supporting students to create computational models of underlying scientific concepts to develop engineering solutions. One class had a larger proportion of students who were tracked into accelerated mathematics; the other class had a larger proportion of students with individualized educational plans (IEPs). Transcripts of whole class discussion were analyzed for instances that addressed the integration of disciplines or supported students to engage in integrated activities. Results show that all instances of integration were implicit for the class with students in advanced mathematics while most were explicit for the class with students with IEPs. Additionally, support was mainly added by the teachers rather than suggested by curricular materials. Most commonly, teachers added integration between computer science and engineering. Implications of this study are an important consideration for the support that teachers need to engage in the important, but challenging, work of integrating science and computer science practices through engineering lessons within elementary science classrooms. Particularly, we consider how to assist teachers with their verbal supports of integrated curricula through engineering lessons in elementary classrooms. This study then has the potential to significantly impact the state of knowledge in interdisciplinary learning through engineering for elementary students.« less
  2. de Vries, E. (Ed.)
    We articulate a framework for characterizing student learning trajectories as they progress through a scientific modeling curriculum. By maintaining coherence between modeling representations and leveraging key design principles including evidence-centered design, we develop mechanisms to evaluate student science and computational thinking (CT) proficiency as they transition from conceptual to computational modeling representations. We have analyzed pre-post assessments and learning artifacts from 99 6th grade students and present three contrasting vignettes to illustrate students’ learning trajectories as they work on their modeling tasks. Our analysis indicates pathways that support the transition and identify domain-specific support needs. Our findings will inform refinements to our curriculum and scaffolding of students to further support the integrated learning of science and CT.
  3. de Vries, E. (Ed.)
    We articulate a framework for characterizing student learning trajectories as they progress through a scientific modeling curriculum. By maintaining coherence between modeling representations and leveraging key design principles including evidence-centered design, we develop mechanisms to evaluate student science and computational thinking (CT) proficiency as they transition from conceptual to computational modeling representations. We have analyzed pre-post assessments and learning artifacts from 99 6th grade students and present three contrasting vignettes to illustrate students’ learning trajectories as they work on their modeling tasks. Our analysis indicates pathways that support the transition and identify domain-specific support needs. Our findings will inform refinements to our curriculum and scaffolding of students to further support the integrated learning of science and CT.
  4. We articulate a framework for characterizing student learning trajectories as they progress through a scientific modeling curriculum. By maintaining coherence between modeling representations and leveraging key design principles including evidence-centered design, we develop mechanisms to evaluate student science and computational thinking (CT) proficiency as they transition from conceptual to computational modeling representations. We have analyzed pre-post assessments and learning artifacts from 99 6th grade students and present three contrasting vignettes to illustrate students’ learning trajectories as they work on their modeling tasks. Our analysis indicates pathways that support the transition and identify domain-specific support needs. Our findings will inform refinements to our curriculum and scaffolding of students to further support the integrated learning of science and CT.
  5. 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 »do engineering. This difference in supports may decrease the opportunities for some students to rigorously engage in engineering ideas and practices. This study can inform future research on the kinds of educative supports needed to guide teaching of integrated engineering activities for diverse students.« less
  6. Computational Thinking (CT) can play a central role in fostering students' integrated learning of science and engineering. We adopt this framework to design and develop the Water Runoff Challenge (WRC) curriculum for lower middle school students in the USA. This paper presents (1) the WRC curriculum implemented in an integrated computational modeling and engineering design environment and (2) formative and summative assessments used to evaluate learner’s science, engineering, and CT skills as they progress through the curriculum. We derived a series of performance measures associated with student learning from system log data and the assessments. By applying Path Analysis we found significant relations between measures of science, engineering, and CT learning, indicating that they are mutually supportive of learning across these disciplines.
  7. 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.