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  1. Prior evidence suggests that active, student-centered learning environments can positively influence students’ perceptions of STEM career pathways, and that engineering activities can provide motivational contexts for learning math concepts. However, specific benefits to student proficiency in mathematics via engineering design activities are less well established, with some studies pointing to greater student improvement in mathematical practices than content comprehension. Previous studies also note that math standards can be effectively aligned with hands-on activities, but obstacles may include a lack of teacher confidence with engineering concepts and student aversion of math during engineering activities. This paper details an investigation of the prevalence of mathematics in middle school and high school engineering, particularly with regards to a study of thirty popular activities on the virtual library Teach Engineering. Results show that standards-based math content is clearly integrated into most of the reviewed activities, with math tasks comprising about one-third of the total activity time on average. Notably, the math tasks occur almost exclusively during (e.g., measuring) or after (e.g., plotting data) the hands-on phase of each activity; in other words, math was not used to inform design decisions or make predictions. The study suggests that more readily deployable engineering curricula that utilize math at the front-end of activities may be needed for better integration of all STEM disciplines and to more authentically demonstrate the utility of mathematics in the engineering field. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 1, 2024
  2. null (Ed.)
    As high school programs are increasingly incorporating engineering content into their curricula, a question is raised as to the impacts of those programs on student attitudes towards engineering, in particular engineering design. From a collegiate perspective, there is a related question as to how first-year engineering programs at the college level should adapt to a greater percentage of incoming students with prior conceptions about engineering design and how to efficaciously uncover what those conceptions may be. Further, there is a broader question within engineering design as to how various design experiences, especially introductory experiences, may influence student attitudes towards the subject and towards engineering more broadly. Student attitudes is a broad and well-studied area and a wide array of instruments have been shown to be valid and reliable assessments of various aspects of student motivation, self-efficacy, and interests. In terms of career interests, the STEM Career Interest Survey (STEM-CIS) has been widely used in grade school settings to gauge student intentions to pursue STEM careers, with a subscale focused on engineering. In self-efficacy and motivation, the Value-Expectancy STEM Assessment Scale (VESAS) is a STEM-focused adaptation of the broader Values, Interest, and Expectations Scale (VIES), which in turns builds upon Eccles’ Value-Expectancy model of self-efficacy. When it comes to engineering design, there have been a few attempts to develop more focused instruments, such as Carberry’s Design Self-Efficacy Instrument. For the purposes of this work, evaluating novice and beginning designer attitudes about engineering design, the available instruments were not found to assess the desired attributes. Design-focused instruments such as Carberry’s were too narrowly focused on the stages of the design process, many of which required a certain a priori knowledge to effectively evaluate. Broader instruments such as the VESAS were too focused on working and studying engineering, rather than doing or identifying with engineering. A new instrument, the Engineering Design Value-Expectancy Scale (EDVES) was developed to meet this need. In its current form the EDVES includes 38 items across several subscales covering expectancy of success in, perceived value of, and identification with engineering and design. This work presents the EDVES and discusses the development process of the instrument. It presents validity evidence following the Cook validation evidence model, including scoring, generalization, and extrapolation validity evidence. This validation study was conducted using pre- and post-course deployment with 192 first-year engineering students enrolled in a foundational engineering design course. 
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  3. null (Ed.)
    As institutions have struggled to chart a path forward through the current pandemic environment, a greater emphasis has been placed on online and hybrid delivery modes. In first-year programs in particular, instructors are scrambling to identify how best to deliver foundational concepts of engineering design in a remote or socially-distanced in-person environment and still retain the high-interactivity and community building aspects that have become so central to their programs. To this end, two asynchronous, interactive modules have been developed introducing the foundational design concepts of stakeholders, need statements, information gathering, and design specifications. The modules are developed in such a way that student responses to each interaction, such as identifying stakeholders or matching need statements, is captured for later analysis. The modules were deployed with first-semester engineering students enrolled in a Foundations of Design course. In this work the modules are introduced and student responses analyzed to answer the question: What are typical standards of performance on these modules for first-year engineering students? Basic descriptive statistics and trends are presented to define these standards. This includes quantitative measures, such as a how many stakeholders are identified when prompted, as well as more subjective measures, such as how well did the student identify the need in a given problem, and attitudinal measures, such as how confident they are in their answers. 
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  4. With programs like Project Lead The Way, engineering activities and curricula have increased in frequency in secondary school programs. In 2013, Next Generation Science Standards were published formalizing the importance of science and engineering practices in secondary schools as part of the ‘Three Dimensions of Science Learning’. For a typical secondary science department, the current engineering options can either be very expensive and/or very time consuming (often requiring engineering courses outside of traditional science courses). The purpose of a broader NSF-funded project is to create and evaluate a more accessible system for engaging students in one of the key components of engineering design: problem framing. This work presents one tool developed as part of that effort, the Need Identification Canvas (NIC), and the assessment methods developed for evaluating students’ engineering problem-framing skills using the NIC. The NIC is a tool for guiding novice designers through the need identification process, specifically addressing four key subcategories: stakeholders, stakeholder needs, a need statement, and information gathering. Student responses in each category were evaluated using a rubric, developed as part of this effort. The canvas has been implemented with suburban high school biology, chemistry, physics, and physical science classes (N=55) as well as first-year engineering students (N=18) at a private undergraduate university to provide a basis of comparison for the higher levels of achievement. In addition to comparisons between grade levels, secondary students that have and have not been taking supplemental engineering courses as part of their program of study were compared. Significant differences were found amongst a variety of these subgroups. 
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  5. As the importance to integrate engineering into K12 curricula grows so does the need to develop teachers’ engineering teaching capabilities and knowledge. One method that has been used to aid this development is engineering professional development programs. This evaluation paper presents the successes and challenges of an engineering professional development program for teachers focused around the use of engineering problem-framing design activities in high school science classrooms. These activities were designed to incorporate the cross-cutting ideas published in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and draw on best practices for instructional design of problem-framing activities from research on design and model-eliciting activities (MEAs). The professional development (PD) was designed to include the following researched-based effective PD key elements: (1) is content focused, (2) incorporates active learning, (3) supports collaboration, (4) uses models of effective practice, (5) provides coaching and expert support, (6) offers feedback and reflection, and (7) is of sustained duration. The engineering PD, including in-classroom deployment of activities and data collection, was designed as an iterative process to be conducted over a three-year period. This will allow for improvement and refinement of our approach. The first iteration, reported in this paper, consisted of seven high school science teachers who have agreed to participate in the PD, implement the problem-framing activities, and collect student data over a period of one year. The PD itself consisted of the teachers comparing science and engineering, participating in problem-framing training and activities, and developing a design challenge scenario for their own courses. The participating teachers completed a survey at the end of the PD that will be used to inform enhancement of the PD and our efforts to recruit additional participants in the following year. The qualitative survey consisted of open-ended questions asking for the most valuable takeaways from the PD, their reasoning for joining the PD, reasons they would or would not recommend the PD, and, in their opinion, what would inspire their colleagues to attend the PD. The responses to the survey along with observations from the team presenting the PD were analyzed to identify lessons learned and future steps for the following iteration of the PD. From the data, three themes emerged: Development of PD, Teacher Motivation, and Teacher Experience. 
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