Elementary educators are increasingly asked to teach engineering design, motivating study of how they learn to teach this discipline. In particular, there is a need to examine how teachers reason about pedagogical situations and dilemmas in engineering—how they draw on their disciplinary understandings, attention to students' thinking, and pedagogical practices to support students' learning.
The purpose of our qualitative study was to examine elementary teachers' pedagogical reasoning in an online graduate program. We asked: What stances do teachers take toward learning and teaching engineering design? How do these stances shift over the course of the program?
We identified two teachers, Alma and Margaret, who exhibited productive shifts in their pedagogical reasoning during the program. Drawing on interviews and videos of their teaching, we developed case studies characterizing their stances toward teaching and learning engineering.
Alma shifted in her reasoning about teaching the design process, from treating it as linear, discrete steps to recognizing the dynamic, overlapping nature of design practices. Similarly, Margaret shifted in how she reasoned about failure and iteration, recognizing the need to help students analyze unexpected design performances to learn from and iterate on their designs. For both teachers, these shifts were dynamic and nonlinear, reflecting both context‐sensitivity and growing stability in their reasoning.
Engineering teacher educators should provide opportunities for teachers to reason about the specific pedagogical dilemmas in engineering and consider how teachers integrate disciplinary understandings with attention to students' reasoning and actions and pedagogical practices.
Watkins, J., Portsmore, M., and Swanson, R. D. (2020). Shifts in elementary teachers' pedagogical reasoning: studying teacher learning in an online graduate program in engineering education. Journal of Engineering Education.