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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 7, 2024
  2. Abstract

    Our career-forward approach to general chemistry laboratory for engineers involves the use of design challenges (DCs), an innovation that employs authentic professional context and practice to transform traditional tasks into developmentally appropriate career experiences. These challenges are scaled-down engineering problems related to the US National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges that engage students in collaborative problem solving via the modeling process. With task features aligned with professional engineering practice, DCs are hypothesized to support student motivation for the task as well as for the profession. As an evaluation of our curriculum design process, we use expectancy–value theory to test our hypotheses by investigating the association between students’ task value beliefs and self-confidence with their user experience, gender and URM status. Using stepwise multiple regression analysis, the results reveal that students find value in completing a DC (F(5,2430) = 534.96,p < .001) and are self-confident (F(8,2427) = 154.86,p < .001) when they feel like an engineer, are satisfied, perceive collaboration, are provided help from a teaching assistant, and the tasks are not too difficult. We highlight that although female and URM students felt less self-confidence in completing a DC, these feelings were moderated by their perceptions of feeling like an engineer and collaboration in the learning process (F(10,2425) = 127.06,p < .001).more »When female students felt like they were engineers (gender x feel like an engineer), their self-confidence increased (β = .288) and when URM students perceived tasks as collaborative (URM status x collaboration), their self-confidence increased (β = .302). Given the lack of representation for certain groups in engineering, this study suggests that providing an opportunity for collaboration and promoting a sense of professional identity afford a more inclusive learning experience.

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  3. Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) as teacher professional development strive to increase teachers’ identity as science educators through authentic experiences in scientific research teams (EEC-1711543). MRET is a NSF-funded RET in its third year of embedding K-5 teachers in engineering laboratory research teams. Historically, most RET sites focus on secondary (6-12) teachers as participants, leveraging their content knowledge as they must have significant college level coursework and often a degree in the subject taught. Elementary teacher preparation has a broader scope; primary teachers require basic proficiency in all subject areas, creating a unique challenge for MRET in finding common ground among participating researchers and teachers. This paper presents our process of developing and employing badges to ensure the time elementary teachers and university scientists spend together in the laboratory is productive in both accomplishing the work of the lab and in contributing to the desired professional growth outcomes for the teachers. A key component in finding this balance has been the construction of a micro-certification framework based upon the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) science and engineering practices, and specific skills and proficiencies teachers are expected to demonstrate as laboratory researchers. This framework has been translated into MRET badges, looselymore »based on the structures of Boy Scout badges and digital micro certifications, that teachers may earn through a process of learning about a topic or skill, practicing it, then demonstrating their learning to a member of the MRET team. MRET badges have been enthusiastically received by both teachers and scientists as a valuable form of scaffolding of the research experience and as an aid to direct teacher activities within the lab in circumstances where they may otherwise have unstructured time. Because badges are tied to the NGSS science and engineering practices, they serve as a bridge uniting the work of the research labs and teacher’s elementary curriculum.« less
  4. This study describes the design and development of an observation protocol for science and engineering practices (SEPs) experienced by teachers working in research laboratories under the auspices of Research Experiences for Teachers (RET). Development has proceeded iteratively through two-cycles of use and refinement based upon the observation of K-5 teachers working in engineering research laboratories as part of an NSF-funded RET site (EEC-1711543). This protocol offers the potential for looking inside the blackbox of apprenticed professional practice in the context of a research laboratory, which for K-12 teacher participants, has been previously only described through self-report. Data derived from this method, which can be viewed holistically or chronologically, can be used to triangulate and enhance other forms of data, for defining new processes or explaining outcomes and ultimately for enhancing programmatic functions.
  5. This study advances our design and development goal of creating a valid and reliable observation protocol for science and engineering practices (SEPs) experienced by participants working in research laboratories under the auspices of RET. This protocol offers the potential for addressing persistent questions related to participant experience by looking inside the blackbox of apprenticed professional research practice. Framed by cognitive apprenticeship and situated in an engineering RET for K-5 teachers (EEC-1711543), we independently document the SEPs which were consistently experienced across contexts and thus define a generalized teacher experience. Further, we identify key associations among the teacher's perception of their work, an independent observation and that reported by their graduate student mentors. Findings indicate that perception of involvement with any particular practice and not actual experience was a more important predictor of confidence. Perhaps most striking was the negative relationship between teacher confidence when working with mentors (r=-.242), which is similarly described by the mentors for working with teachers (r=-.356). This implies a strong need for further work and support for helping these individuals to understand each other’s goals and perspectives and for finding a way to work together that generates mutual feelings of confidence and satisfaction.
  6. Elementary school is the first opportunity most students have to learn about STEM; however, elementary teachers are sometimes the least confident and prepared to teach STEM concepts and practices. Research Experience for Teachers (RET) programs are an established form of K-12 teacher professional development in which teachers are invited to work as members of a laboratory research team to increase their enthusiasm, knowledge and experience in STEM fields. The Engineering for Biology: Multidisciplinary Research Experiences for Teachers (MRET) of Elementary Grades was a 7-week summer program in which teachers were embedded as contributing members of engineering laboratory research teams and was established with the goals of (1) increasing teacher knowledge of STEM concepts and practices, (2) fostering mentoring relationships among researchers and teachers in each laboratory, and (3) guiding the translation of the teachers’ laboratory experience into the classroom through the development of STEM learning units. This exploratory study focuses on the second goal, and involves the use of developmental network theory to discriminate mentoring among participants within the summer 2017 and 2018 cycles of MRET. Using data collected in daily observations as well as daily activity and conversation logs submitted by all participants during the lab experience, post participationmore »surveys, and post program semi structured interviews, we have characterized a network of mentoring that existed within the lab portion of MRET as being multidirectional and potentially beneficial to all members, including researchers as well as teachers. This finding challenges the currently accepted assumption that teachers are the primary beneficiaries of mentoring within RET programs. If demonstrated to be appropriate and transferrable to the RET context, such a perspective could enhance our understanding of the experience and be used for maximizing the outcomes for all participants.« less