This project helped teachers and students implement engineering design projects in secondary classrooms through knowledge integration-based scaffolds and technologies. The project investigated how cyberlearning technologies such as simulations, CAD tools, and automated feedback to teachers can help middle school students learn science and mathematics through engineering.
Engineering design projects can provide authentic and relevant contexts for students to learn and engage in mathematics and science. However, many mathematics and science teachers need support to implement engineering design projects and engage students in engineering design practices in classrooms. This project explored the use of a computer-based learning environment (WISEngineering) to support students and teachers to implement engineering design, based on technologies for knowledge integration from the Web-based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE; wise.berkeley.edu). WISEngineering projects explicitly scaffold engineering practices for students and teachers, including tools to help students define problems, generate ideas, and test and revise ideas. WISEngineering also incorporates simulations and visualizations to help students learn underlying scientific and mathematics concepts. To support teachers implementing design projects, the project also explored the use of automated feedback within WISEngineering to teachers to help teachers notice and respond to students’ ideas within design contexts.
Across multiple contexts and design projects, results demonstrated that WISEngineering projects engage students in engineering practices while also helping students learn underlying science and mathematics concepts. Findings also suggest the potential of supporting teachers to give high-quality feedback to students in design settings by putting teachers “in the loop” of automated technologies.