Engineering

Strengthening STEM Teaching in Native American Serving Schools through Long-Term, Culturally Responsive Professional Development

This project will explore how a nationally implemented professional development model is applied in two distinct Indigenous communities, the impact the model has on teacher practice in Native-serving classrooms, and the model's capacity to promote the integration of culturally responsive approaches to STEM teaching.

Project Email: 
Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1908464
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2019 to Thu, 08/31/2023
Full Description: 

Although there is a long-established body of knowledge about effective professional development for STEM teachers, very little of it has been applied and studied with teachers in Native American-serving school districts. This project will explore how a nationally implemented professional development model is applied in two distinct Indigenous communities, the impact the model has on teacher practice in Native-serving classrooms, and the model's capacity to promote the integration of culturally responsive approaches to STEM teaching. This project will substantially grow the data and knowledge available within this unique context, which is critical given the persistent gaps in educational achievement and STEM career participation among Indigenous people in the U.S. K-12 teachers will participate in an 8-month cohort designed to increase their STEM content knowledge and facilitate their efforts to develop academically rigorous, culturally responsive STEM instructional units for use in their classrooms. The project will add to our knowledge about the transferability of a nationally-implemented professional development model within two specific Indigenous contexts, and it will grow our knowledge about how STEM professional development impacts teacher practice. Finally, the project will provide concrete examples and knowledge about the ways culturally responsive approaches to STEM professional development, curriculum development, and teacher practice are taken up in two distinct Native-student-serving contexts.

This project includes the development and implementation of professional development that is long-term, teacher-driven, collaborative across grade levels and content areas, and facilitated by university faculty with STEM expertise. The research will follow a collective case study methodology in order to establish a robust and nuanced understanding of (1) how a national professional development model operates within two specific and distinct Indigenous contexts; (2) how a professional development model impacts teachers' STEM instructional practice in Native-serving schools; and (3) how teachers in Native-serving schools engage culturally responsive approaches to STEM curriculum development and STEM instructional practice. Data will include interviews and focus groups with participating teachers, university faculty, and other stakeholders, classroom observations and "Scoop Notebook" artifacts of teacher practice, and the teacher-developed STEM instructional units. Data will be iteratively coded with a combination of open and focused coding using a constant comparative method with a specific emphasis on identifying the culturally responsive elements present across the data sources. Individual and cross-case comparisons will be conducted to reveal broader themes that address the research questions. Results and products will be disseminated to researchers, practitioners, and community members through peer-reviewed publications, conference presentations, annual partnership meetings, and posting of the teacher developed instructional units to a web-based, freely accessible clearing house.

Students and Teachers Learning from Nature: Studying Biologically Inspired Design in High School Engineering Education

In this project, high school engineering teachers will spend five weeks in a research lab devoted to biologically-inspired design, as they partner with cutting-edge engineers and scientists to study animal features and behavior and their applications to engineering designs. After this lab experience, the high school teachers will receive three six- to ten-week curricular units, tailored for tenth- through twelfth-grade students, which teach biologically-inspired design in the context of problems that are relevant to youth.

Award Number: 
1907906
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Mon, 07/31/2023
Full Description: 

Scientists and engineers often learn from nature to develop new products that benefit society, a process called biologically-inspired design. Aerospace engineers, for example, have studied the intricate folding patterns in ladybugs' wings to gain ideas for designing more compact satellites. In this project, high school engineering teachers will spend five weeks in a research lab devoted to biologically-inspired design, as they partner with cutting-edge engineers and scientists to study animal features and behavior and their applications to engineering designs. After this lab experience, the high school teachers will receive three six- to ten-week curricular units, tailored for tenth- through twelfth-grade students, which teach biologically-inspired design in the context of problems that are relevant to youth. The teachers will also participate in ongoing professional development sessions that demonstrate strategies for teaching these units. The research team will study whether and how the lab and professional development experiences influence the teachers' understandings of engineering and perspectives toward nature, among other outcomes. Additionally, the research team will study whether the curricular units are associated with positive learning outcomes for students. The curricula and professional development modules will be shared publicly through online resources and teacher workshops, and research findings will be widely disseminated through journals. Because previous research has suggested that biologically-inspired design is a promising approach for attracting and retaining women in engineering careers, this project is likely to result in products that foster high school girls' interest in engineering during a critical period when they are imagining their future career trajectories. Moreover, these products are likely to fuel national innovation by teaching students how to look to nature to find answers to pressing problems, and by generating knowledge about motivational educational approaches that encourage a wider range of high school students to pursue engineering careers.

This project addresses the persistent underrepresentation of girls in engineering careers by developing and testing three sets of curricula that are expected to lead to positive outcomes among high school females. These curricula incorporate biologically-inspired engineering, humanistic engineering, a focus on sustainability and ideation, and authentic design contexts. Ten high school teachers will participate in extensive professional development experiences that prepare them to effectively teach the curricula. These experiences include a five-week lab experience with scientists who are applying biologically-inspired design; a one-week workshop demonstrating strategies for teaching the units; weekly implementation meetings; and web-based professional development modules. To study the effect of the professional development on teachers, researchers will collect curriculum design logs, teacher enactment surveys, and engineering teaching self-efficacy surveys; they will also conduct classroom observations and interviews. Qualitative analyses of these sources will indicate whether and how the professional development affected teachers' understanding of the engineering design process, engineering teaching self-efficacy, and perspective toward the natural and designed world. To study the effect of the curricula on over 1,100 high school students, researchers will use a pre-post design with validated measures to determine whether the curricula are associated with greater understanding and use of the engineering design process; ability to generate well-formulated engineering design problems; engineering self-efficacy; attitudes toward the natural and designed world; sustainability awareness; and intent to persist in engineering. Subsequently, a quasi-experimental design with a matched comparison group will enable the researchers to determine whether the treatment group outperformed the comparison group on pre-post measures. Qualitative analysis of focus groups and interviews with a sub-set of high school girls will indicate whether and how the curricula supported their sense of belonging in engineering. This project is designed to advance knowledge and practice in engineering education for high school students, especially among girls, ultimately resulting in broadening participation in engineering pathways.

Developing and Validating Early Assessments of College Readiness: Differential Effects for Underrepresented Groups, Optimal Timing of Assessments, and STEM-Specific Indicators

This purpose of this project is to develop and validate a range of assessments with a focus on academic preparedness for higher education. The team will explore relevant qualities of assessments such as their differential predictive validity to ensure they are appropriate for underrepresented groups, the optimal grade level to begin assessing readiness, and measures that are most appropriate for predicting STEM-specific readiness.

Project Email: 
Award Number: 
1908630
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/15/2019 to Wed, 06/30/2021
Project Evaluator: 
Full Description: 

One third of all college freshmen are academically unprepared for entry-level college coursework and require remedial course. That figure is much higher at many colleges. The problem is more acute in STEM disciplines, particularly among students from underrepresented ethnic groups and low socioeconomic status families. This purpose of this project is to develop and validate a range of assessments with a focus on academic preparedness for higher education. The team will explore relevant qualities of assessments such as their differential predictive validity to ensure they are appropriate for underrepresented groups, the optimal grade level to begin assessing readiness, and measures that are most appropriate for predicting STEM-specific readiness.

This project will use two recent and complementary large-scale, nationally representative federal databases: the High School Longitudinal Study of 2009 and the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002. Factor analysis will be used to develop composite variables of college readiness and multilevel regression will be used to develop predictive models on a range of college outcomes to test the predictive validity of composite and individual predictors. The models will be extended to conduct multiple group analyses to test for differential prediction for students from underrepresented groups. The project intends to promote 1) the use of a wider range of assessments of academic preparedness, 2) the use of measures that are more sensitive for assessing college readiness from underrepresented groups and among STEM majors, 3) earlier assessment using indicators and models with predictive validity and 4) progress monitoring of college readiness by providing a detailed example of how that can be developed and implemented. Findings will also raise student, parental, teacher, and other school personnel awareness of the range of factors relevant for preparing students for college.

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Case Studies of a Suite of Next Generation Science Instructional, Assessment, and Professional Development Materials in Diverse Middle School Settings

This project addresses a gap between vision and implementation of state science standards by designing a coordinated suite of instructional, assessment and teacher professional learning materials that attempt to enact the vision behind the Next Generation Science Standards. The study focuses on using state-of-the-art technology to create an 8-week long, immersive, life science field experience organized around three investigations.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1907944
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2019 to Fri, 06/30/2023
Full Description: 

New state science standards are ambitious and require important changes to instructional practices, accompanied by a coordinated system of curriculum, assessment, and professional development materials. This project addresses a gap between vision and implementation of such standards by designing a coordinated suite of instructional, assessment and teacher professional learning materials that attempt to enact the vision behind the Next Generation Science Standards. The study focuses on the design of such materials using state-of-the-art technology to create an 8-week long, immersive, life science field experience organized around three investigations. Classes of urban students in two states will collect data on local insect species with the goal of understanding, sharing, and critiquing environmental management solutions. An integrated learning technology system, the Learning Navigator, draws on big data to organize student-gathered data, dialogue, lessons, an assessment information. The Learning Navigator will also amplify the teacher's role in guiding and fostering next generation science learning. This project advances the field through an in-depth exploration of the goals for the standards documents. The study begins to address questions about what works when, where, and for whom in the context of the Next Generation Science Standards.

The project uses a series of case studies to create, test, evaluate and refine the system of instructional, assessment and professional development materials as they are enacted in two distinct urban school settings. It is designed with 330 students and 22 teachers in culturally, racially and linguistically diverse, under-resourced schools in Pennsylvania and California. These schools are located in neighborhoods that are economically challenged and have students who demonstrate patterns of underperformance on state standardized tests. It will document the process of team co-construction of Next Generation Science-fostering instructional materials; develop assessment tasks for an instructional unit that are valid and reliable; and, track the patterns of use of the instructional and assessment materials by teachers. The study will also record if new misconceptions are revealed as students develop Next Generation Science knowledge,  comparing findings across two diverse school locations in two states. Data collection will include: (a) multiple types of data to establish validity and reliability of educational assessments, (b) the design, evaluation and use of a classroom observation protocol to gather information on both frequency and categorical degree of classroom practices that support the vision, and (c) consecutive years of ten individual classroom enactments through case studies analyzed through cross-case analyses. This should lead to stronger and better developed understandings about what constitutes strong Next Generation Science learning and the classroom conditions, instructional materials, assessments and teacher development that foster it.

CAREER: Bridging the Digital Accessibility Gap in STEM Using Multisensory Haptic Platforms

This project investigates how to use new touch technologies, like touchscreens, to create graphics and simulations that can be felt, heard, and seen. Using readily available, low-cost systems, the principal investigator will investigate how to map visual information to touch and sound for students with visual impairments.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1845490
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2019 to Wed, 07/31/2024
Full Description: 

Consider learning visual subjects such as math, engineering, or science without being able to see. Suddenly, the graphs, charts, and diagrams that provide a quick way to gather information are no longer effective. This is a challenge that students with visual impairments face in classrooms today as educational materials are most often presented electronically. The current way that individuals with visual impairments "read" graphics is through touch, feeling raised dots and patterns on paper that represent images. Creating these touch-based graphics requires extensive time and resources, and the output provides a static, hard-copy image. Lack of access to graphics in STEM subjects is one of the most pressing challenges currently facing individuals with visual impairments. This is a concern given the low representation of students with these disabilities in STEM fields and professions.

This project investigates how to use new touch technologies, like touchscreens, to create graphics and simulations that can be felt, heard, and seen. Using readily available, low-cost systems, the principal investigator will investigate how to map visual information to touch and sound. This research builds on prior research focused on representing the building blocks of graphics (points, lines, and shapes) nonvisually. In this project, the investigator will determine how to represent more challenging graphics such as charts, plots, and diagrams, nonvisually. The project will then explore the role of touch feedback in interactive simulations, which have moving elements that change with user input, making nonvisual access challenging. Finally, the projects extends the research to students with other disabilities, toward understanding the benefits and changes necessary for touch technologies to have broad impact. The project involves group and single-subject designs with approximately 65 students with visual impairments and focuses on the following outcomes of interest: students' graph literacy, percent correct on task assessments, time of exploration, response time, number of revisits to particular areas of the graphic, and number of switches between layers. Working closely with individuals with disabilities and their teachers, this work seeks to bridge the current graphical accessibility gap in STEM and raise awareness of universal design in technology use and development.

STEM Sea, Air, and Land Remotely Operated Vehicle Design Challenges for Rural, Middle School Youth

This project provides middle school students in a high poverty rural area in Northern Florida an opportunity to pursue post-secondary study in STEM by providing quality and relevant STEM design. The project will integrate engineering design, technology and society, electrical knowledge, and computer science to improve middle school students' spatial reasoning through experiences embedded within engineering design challenges.

Award Number: 
1812913
Funding Period: 
Mon, 04/01/2019 to Thu, 03/31/2022
Full Description: 

This project provides middle school students in a high poverty rural area in Northern Florida an opportunity to pursue post-secondary study in STEM by providing quality and relevant STEM design. The design challenges will be contextualized within a rural region (i.e., GIS mapping and drones used for surveying large ranches, farms, and forests), producing a series of six design challenge modules and two competition design challenges with accompanying teacher guides for preparing relevant STEM modules for 90 middle school aged students. The project will integrate 4 components: (a) engineering design, (b) technology and society, (c) electrical knowledge, and (d) computer science. The project aims to improve middle school students' spatial reasoning through experiences embedded within engineering design challenges.

Collaborative partners consisting of school level, college level, and STEM professionals will develop the design challenges, using best practices from STEM learning research, with the intent of advancing STEM pathway awareness and participation among historically underserved students in the rural, high-poverty region served by North Florida Community College. Data regarding student outcomes will be collected before and after implementation, including measures of content mastery, spatial reasoning skills, self-efficacy, attitudes and interests in STEM, and academic achievement in science courses. Assessment of the data will involve the research and development phases of six curriculum modules and (2) an intervention study following a delayed-treatment design model.

There is a growing need for the increased broadening of STEM by underserved groups. By increasing the number of rural students who participate in STEM hands on, interdisciplinary experiences, the project has the potential to expand interest and competency in mathematics and science and expand the number of students who are aware of STEM career pathways.

Supporting Teachers in Responsive Instruction for Developing Expertise in Science (Collaborative Research: Linn)

This project takes advantage of advanced technologies to support science teachers to rapidly respond to diverse student ideas in their classrooms. Students will use web-based curriculum units to engage with models, simulations, and virtual experiments to write multiple explanations for standards-based science topics. The project will also design planning tools for teachers that will make suggestions relevant research-proven instructional strategies based on the real-time analysis of student responses.

Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1813713
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

Many teachers want to adapt their instruction to meet student learning needs, yet lack the time to regularly assess and analyze students' developing understandings. The Supporting Teachers in Responsive Instruction for Developing Expertise in Science (STRIDES) project takes advantage of advanced technologies to support science teachers to rapidly respond to diverse student ideas in their classrooms. In this project students will use web-based curriculum units to engage with models, simulations, and virtual experiments to write multiple explanations for standards-based science topics. Advanced technologies (including natural language processing) will be used to assess students' written responses and summaries their science understanding in real-time. The project will also design planning tools for teachers that will make suggestions relevant research-proven instructional strategies based on the real-time analysis of student responses. Research will examine how teachers make use of the feedback and suggestions to customize their instruction. Further we will study how these instructional changes help students develop coherent understanding of complex science topics and ability to make sense of models and graphs. The findings will be used to refine the tools that analyze the student essays and generate the summaries; improve the research-based instructional suggestions in the planning tool; and strengthen the online interface for teachers. The tools will be incorporated into open-source, freely available online curriculum units. STRIDES will directly benefit up to 30 teachers and 24,000 students from diverse school settings over four years.

Leveraging advances in natural language processing methods, the project will analyze student written explanations to provide fine-grained summaries to teachers about strengths and weaknesses in student work. Based on the linguistic analysis and logs of student navigation, the project will then provide instructional customizations based on learning science research, and study how teachers use them to improve student progress. Researchers will annually conduct at least 10 design or comparison studies, each involving up to 6 teachers and 300-600 students per year. Insights from this research will be captured in automated scoring algorithms, empirically tested and refined customization activities, and data logging techniques that can be used by other research and curriculum design programs to enable teacher customization.

Enhancing Teacher and Student Understanding of Engineering in K-5 Bilingual Programs

This mixed-method exploratory study will examine how bilingual teachers working in elementary schools in Massachusetts and Puerto Rico understand the role and skills of engineers in society. In turn, it will examine how teachers adapt existing engineering lessons so that those activities and concepts are more culturally and linguistically accessible to their students.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1814258
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2018 to Thu, 09/30/2021
Full Description: 

Engineering is part of everyone's local community and daily activities yet opportunities to learn about engineering are often absent from elementary school classrooms. Further, little is known about how teachers' and students' conceptions of engineering relate to aspects of their local community such as language and culture. Knowing more about this is important because students' perceptions of mismatch between their personal culture and the engineering field contributes to the continued underrepresentation of minorities in the profession. This mixed-method exploratory study will examine how bilingual teachers working in elementary schools in Massachusetts and Puerto Rico understand the role and skills of engineers in society. In turn, it will examine how teachers adapt existing engineering lessons so that those activities and concepts are more culturally and linguistically accessible to their students.

Consistent with the aims of the DRK-12 program, this project will advance understanding of how engineering education materials can be adapted to the characteristics of teachers, students, and the communities that they reside in. Further, its focus on bilingual classrooms will bring new perspectives to characterizations of the engineering field and its role in different cultures and societies. Over a three-year period, the team will investigate these issues by collecting data from 24 teachers (12 from each location). Data will be collected via surveys, interviews, discussion of instructional examples, videos of teachers' classroom instruction and analysis of artifacts such as teachers' lesson plans. Teachers will collaborate and function as a professional co-learning community called instructional rounds by participating and providing feedback synchronously in face-to-face settings and via the use of digital apps. Project findings can lead to teaching guidelines, practices, and briefs that inform efforts to successfully integrate bilingual engineering curriculum at the elementary grades. This work also has the potential to create professional development models of success for K-5 teachers in bilingual programs and enhance engineering teaching strategies and methods at these early grade levels.

Design and Development of a K-12 STEM Observation Protocol (Collaborative Research: Roehrig)

This project will design and develop a new K-12 classroom observation protocol for integrated STEM instruction (STEM-OP). The STEM-OP will inform the instruction of integrated STEM in many contexts with the goal of improving integrated STEM education.

Award Number: 
1813342
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

This project will design and develop a new K-12 classroom observation protocol for integrated STEM instruction (STEM-OP). The STEM-OP will be developed for use in K-12 STEM settings. While the importance of integrated STEM education is established, there remains disagreement on models and effective approaches for integrated STEM instruction. This issue is confounded by the lack of observation protocols sensitive to integrated STEM teaching and learning to inform research to the effectiveness of new models and strategies. Existing instruments were not developed for use in integrated STEM learning environments. The STEM-OP will be designed to be used effectively by multiple stakeholders in a variety of contexts. Researchers will benefit from having the STEM-OP available for them to carry out research and continue to improve STEM education in a variety of ways. Existing instruments were not developed for use in integrated STEM learning environments.  The STEM-OP and associated training materials will be available for use by other education stakeholders, such as K-12 teachers and district administrators, through a publicly available online platform. In brief, the STEM-OP will inform the instruction of integrated STEM in many contexts with the goal of improving integrated STEM education.

The primary product of this project is the new observation protocol called STEM-OP for K-12 classrooms implementing integrated STEM lessons. The project will use over 500 integrated STEM classroom videos to design the STEM-OP. Using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, the STEM-OP will be a valid and reliable instrument for use in a variety of educational contexts. The research will explore the different ways that elementary, middle, and high school science teachers enact integrated STEM instruction. This study will shed light on the nature of STEM instruction in each of these grade bands and provide information building towards an understanding of learning progressions for engineering practices across grade bands. Research exploring how the nature of STEM integration changes from day to day over the course of a unit will provide critical information about the different sequencing and trajectories of STEM units. Examining how integrated STEM instruction unfolds over a full unit of instruction will inform the understanding of integrated STEM practices at both micro- and macro- levels of analysis. The STEM-OP and associated training materials will be available for use by other education stakeholders, such as K-12 teachers and district administrators, through a publicly available, which will be distributed via a publicly available, online platform that includes a training manual and classroom video for practice scoring.

Design and Development of a K-12 STEM Observation Protocol (Collaborative Research: Dare)

This project will design and develop a new K-12 classroom observation protocol for integrated STEM instruction (STEM-OP). The STEM-OP will inform the instruction of integrated STEM in many contexts with the goal of improving integrated STEM education.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1854801
Funding Period: 
Sat, 09/01/2018 to Wed, 08/31/2022
Full Description: 

This project will design and develop a new K-12 classroom observation protocol for integrated STEM instruction (STEM-OP). The STEM-OP will be developed for use in K-12 STEM settings. While the importance of integrated STEM education is established, there remains disagreement on models and effective approaches for integrated STEM instruction. This issue is confounded by the lack of observation protocols sensitive to integrated STEM teaching and learning to inform research to the effectiveness of new models and strategies. Existing instruments were not developed for use in integrated STEM learning environments. The STEM-OP will be designed to be used effectively by multiple stakeholders in a variety of contexts. Researchers will benefit from having the STEM-OP available for them to carry out research and continue to improve STEM education in a variety of ways. Existing instruments were not developed for use in integrated STEM learning environments.  The STEM-OP and associated training materials will be available for use by other education stakeholders, such as K-12 teachers and district administrators, through a publicly available online platform. In brief, the STEM-OP will inform the instruction of integrated STEM in many contexts with the goal of improving integrated STEM education.

The primary product of this project is the new observation protocol called STEM-OP for K-12 classrooms implementing integrated STEM lessons. The project will use over 500 integrated STEM classroom videos to design the STEM-OP. Using exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis, the STEM-OP will be a valid and reliable instrument for use in a variety of educational contexts. The research will explore the different ways that elementary, middle, and high school science teachers enact integrated STEM instruction. This study will shed light on the nature of STEM instruction in each of these grade bands and provide information building towards an understanding of learning progressions for engineering practices across grade bands. Research exploring how the nature of STEM integration changes from day to day over the course of a unit will provide critical information about the different sequencing and trajectories of STEM units. Examining how integrated STEM instruction unfolds over a full unit of instruction will inform the understanding of integrated STEM practices at both micro- and macro- levels of analysis. The STEM-OP and associated training materials will be available for use by other education stakeholders, such as K-12 teachers and district administrators, through a publicly available, which will be distributed via a publicly available, online platform that includes a training manual and classroom video for practice scoring.

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