Discovery Research K-12

Twelve fifth and sixth grade science teacher specialists and their students in a high needs district in Ohio are engaged in a design-based research project within a three-year professional development effort with faculty in several departments at the University of Cincinnati to study how the engineering design process can be used effectively as a pedagogical strategy in science instruction to improve student interest, learning and skill development.

Full Description: 

Ten fifth and sixth grade science teacher specialists and their students in a high needs district in Ohio are engaged in a design-based research project within a three-year professional development effort with faculty in several departments at the University of Cincinnati to study how the engineering design process can be used effectively as a pedagogical strategy in science instruction to improve student interest, learning and skill development. Stage 1 of the exploratory project is articulation of engineering design, science content, and scientific inquiry using teacher learning teams to identify effective curriculum structures and instructional strategies, including the development of instructional materials. Stage 2 focuses on student outcomes on standardized tests and authentic assessments and improved student problem solving skills. The project is embedded in a revision of the Ohio Science Standards in which science content is juxtaposed with 21st century skills and other content areas. Dissemination is through the Cincinnati STEM Network, the Ohio State STEM Learning Network and through professional organizations and publications. The University of Cincinnati Evaluation Services Center evaluates the processes and outcomes.

The research seeks to define STEM education and develop needed resources to support the teaching and learning of STEM. The operationalization of STEM education requires teachers to infuse engineering into the usual school subjects of mathematics and science. The research seeks to understand how STEM can be operationalized in the elementary classroom and focuses on investigating how a real-world, authentic approach articulating science and eventually mathematics with engineering does indeed increase student engagement and motivation for learning all three subjects. The research issues address what articulation of engineering design and science inquiry looks like in the classroom and the challenges to articulating them. The research also investigates the skills and habits of mind that can be taught this way and the impact on student achievement. The evaluation determines how well the research adheres to the processes and timeline developed and monitors impacts on teacher and students.

Articulating engineering design with science content and scientific inquiry emphasizes the authentic investigation and real world problem solving that increases student interest in STEM content and improves student learning and achievement in science and mathematics. The research will contribute to understanding of how this STEM education can be operationalized in the elementary classroom. This study takes into account the complexity of the classroom and provides a situated context that could be used to inform other school contexts.

Project Materials

Title Type Post date
Discovery Research K-12 Poster 07/03/2012 - 2:00pm