Integration of Engineering Design and Life Science: Investigating the influence of an Intervention on Student Interest and Motivation in STEM Fields

This project will investigate the integration of engineering design, practices, and thinking into middle school life science curriculum while providing opportunities for students to foster knowledge of and increase interest in life and biosciences. The project will specifically respond to the need to create, implement, and evaluate a model intervention that will advance the knowledge base for establishing and retaining underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.

Full Description: 

This project will investigate the integration of engineering design, practices, and thinking into middle school life science curriculum while providing opportunities for students to foster knowledge of and increase interest in life and biosciences. The project will specifically respond to the need to create, implement, and evaluate a model intervention that will advance the knowledge base for establishing and retaining underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. Specifically, the project will partner with middle school science teachers from two local school corporations, STEM university faculty members and undergraduate engineering students, and university-based outreach coordinators from a minorities engineering program, the office of future engineers, and women in engineering program. Through this combined effort, both school corporations that serve underserved, culturally diverse, and socioeconomically disadvantaged students in rural communities; will have broad-based support for engaging 36 teachers and 3000 students in integrated life science with engineering design.

The project will employ a mixed methods research design incorporating both qualitative and quantitative approaches for data collection and analyses. The research team will conduct quantitative analyses by using Hierarchical Linear Modeling to determine the extent to which integrating life science with engineering design and thinking impact student learning of life science concepts and interest in life and biosciences. Qualitative approaches, including discourse analysis, will be used to delve deeper into student learning of the targeted life science concepts. Through this research, the project will advance evidence-based understanding of learning, enhance the theoretical models of student life science learning, and merge and extend the successes of previous studies by using the faculty expertise in effective approaches in engineering integration in K-12 science classrooms. Specifically, concept assessments, interest surveys, recordings of classroom discourse, student artifacts (e.g., design reports), interviews, and classroom observations will be used as data sources. Outcomes from the project will advance the knowledge base for establishing and retaining underrepresented minorities in STEM fields. The life STEM focused design tasks will be disseminated through an online peer-reviewed digital library available for use across the U.S. and beyond. Along with the design-based tasks on this website; results from the intervention model will be disseminated through electronic and print media to inform researchers, educators, administrators, and policy makers who play critical roles in enhancing student learning of and interest in STEM, about pathways to broadening participation in STEM.

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