Engineering

CAREER: Scaffolding Engineering Design to Develop Integrated STEM Understanding with WISEngineering

The development of six curricular projects that integrate mathematics based on the Common Core Mathematics Standards with science concepts from the Next Generation Science Standards combined with an engineering design pedagogy is the focus of this CAREER project.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1253523
Funding Period: 
Mon, 07/01/2013 to Sun, 06/30/2019
Full Description: 

The development of six curricular projects that integrate mathematics based on the Common Core Mathematics Standards with science concepts from the Next Generation Science Standards combined with an engineering design pedagogy is the focus of this DRK-12 CAREER project from the University of Virginia. Research on the learning sciences with a focus on a knowledge integration perspective of helping students build and retain connections among normative and relevant ideas and existing knowledge structures the development of the WiseEngineering learning environment, an online learning management system that scaffolds engineering design projects. WiseEngineering provides support for students and teachers to conduct engineering design projects in middle and high school settings. Dynamic virtualizations that enable learners to observe and experiment with phenomena are combined with knowledge integration patterns to structure a technology rich learning environments for students. The research focuses on the ways in which metacognition, namely self-knowledge and self-regulation interact with learning in these technology-enhanced environments.Embedded assessments and student pre and post-testing of key science and mathematics constructs provide evidence of the development of student understanding.A rubric that examines knowledge integration is used to examine the extent wo which students understand how multiple concepts interact in a given context. A mixed-methods research design will examines how students and teachers in middle school mathematics and science courses develop understanding of the underlying principles in STEM. The PI of this award has integrated research and education in this proposal by connecting her research on engineering design and technology-enabled learning environments with the preservice secondary education methods course that she teachs. In addition, she has folded the research into the instructional technology graduate courses of which she is the instructor.

Engineering design is a key area of the Next Generation Science Standards that requires additional curricular materials development and research on how students integrate concepts across mathematics and science to engage in these engineering practices. The technology-rich learning environment, WISEngineering, provides the context to examine how student engineering design principles evolve over time. The opportunitiy for students to provide critiques of each others' work provides the context in which to examine crucial metacognitive principles. Classroom observations and teacher interviews provides the opportunity to examine how the technology-rich engineering design learning environment integrates STEM knowledge for teachers as well as students.

Innovate to Mitigate: A Crowdsourced Carbon Challenge

This project is designing and conducting a crowd-sourced open innovation challenge to young people of ages 13-18 to mitigate levels of greenhouse gases. The goal of the project is to explore the extent to which the challenge will successfully attract, engage and motivate teen participants to conduct sustained and meaningful scientific inquiry across science, technology and engineering disciplines.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316225
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2013 to Mon, 08/31/2015
Full Description: 

This project is designing and conducting a crowd-sourced open innovation challenge to young people of ages 13-18 to mitigate levels of greenhouse gases. The goal of the project is to explore the extent to which the challenge will successfully attract, engage and motivate teen participants to conduct sustained and meaningful scientific inquiry across science, technology and engineering disciplines. Areas in which active cutting edge research on greenhouse gas mitigation is currently taking place include, among others, biology (photosynthesis, or biomimicry of photosynthesis to sequester carbon) and chemistry (silicon chemistry for photovoltaics, carbon chemistry for decarbonization of fossil fuels). Collaborating in teams of 2-5, participants engage with the basic science in these areas, and become skilled at applying scientific ideas, principles, and evidence to solve a design problem, while taking into account possible unanticipated effects. They refine their solutions based on scientific knowledge, student-generated sources of evidence, prioritized criteria, and tradeoff considerations.

An interactive project website describes specifications for the challenge and provides rubrics to support rigor. It includes a library of relevant scientific resources, and, for inspiration, links to popular articles describing current cutting-edge scientific breakthroughs in mitigation. Graduate students recruited for their current work on mitigation projects provide online mentoring. Social networking tools are used to support teams and mentors in collaborative scientific problem-solving. If teams need help while working on their challenges, they are able to ask questions of a panel of expert scientists and engineers who are available online. At the end of the challenge, teams present and critique multimedia reports in a virtual conference, and the project provides awards for excellence.

The use of open innovation challenges for education provides a vision of a transformative setting for deep learning and creative innovation that at the same time addresses a problem of critical importance to society. Researchers study how this learning environment improves learning and engagement among participants. This approach transcends the informal/formal boundaries that currently exist, both in scientific and educational institutions, and findings are relevant to many areas of research and design in both formal and informal settings. Emerging evidence suggests that open innovation challenges are often successfully solved by participants who do not exhibit the kinds of knowledge, skill or disciplinary background one might expect. In addition, the greater the diversity of solvers is, the greater the innovativeness of challenge solutions tends to be. Therefore, it is expected that the free choice learning environment, the nature of the challenge, the incentives, and the support for collaboration will inspire the success of promising young participants from underserved student populations, as well as resulting in innovative solutions to the challenge given the diversity of teams.

From Undergraduate STEM Major to Enacting the NGSS

The Colorado Learning Assistant (LA) model, recognized nationally as a hallmark teacher recruitment and preparation program, has run a national workshop annually for four years to disseminate and scale the program. This project expands the existing annual workshop to address changing needs of participants and to prepare eight additional faculty members to lead new regional workshops.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1317059
Funding Period: 
Thu, 08/01/2013 to Fri, 07/31/2015
Full Description: 

The Colorado Learning Assistant (LA) model, recognized nationally as a hallmark teacher recruitment and preparation program, has run a national workshop annually for four years to disseminate and scale the program. This project expands the existing annual workshop to address changing needs of participants and to prepare eight additional faculty members to lead new regional workshops. Workshop sessions integrate crosscutting concepts, scientific practices, and engineering design as articulated in the Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012). Infusing the Frameworks into the workshop helps STEM faculty better understand their role in preparing future K-12 teachers to implement the new standards, by transforming their own undergraduate courses in ways that actively engage students in modeling, argumentation, making claims from evidence, and engineering design. The National Science Foundation (NSF), the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI), the American Physical Society's PhysTEC project, and University of Colorado-Boulder, provide resources for national workshops in 2013 and 2014 allowing 80 additional math, science, and engineering faculty from a range of institutions to directly experience the LA model and to learn ways to implement, adapt, grow, and sustain a program on their own campuses. Evaluation of the project focuses on long-term effects of workshop participation and contributes to efforts to strengthen networks within the international Learning Assistant Alliance. The launching of 10 - 12 new LA programs is anticipated, and many existing programs will expand into new STEM departments as a result of the national workshops.

Workshop participants are awarded travel grants and in return, provide data each year for two years so that long-term impacts of the workshop can be evaluated. Online surveys provide data about each institution's progress in setting up a program, departments in which the program runs, number of faculty involved, number of courses transformed, numbers of teachers recruited, and estimated number of students impacted. These data provide correlations between workshop attendance and new program development, and allow the computation of national cost per impacted student as well as the average cost per STEM teacher recruited. Anonymous data are made available to International Learning Assistant Alliance partners to promote collaborative research and materials development across sites.

The 2013 and 2014 national workshops train eight faculty members who have experience running LA programs to offer regional workshops for local university and community college faculty members. This provides even greater potential for teacher recruitment and preparation through the LA model and for data collection from diverse institutions. This two-year project has potential to support 320 math, science, and engineering faculty as they transform their undergraduate courses in ways consistent with the Frameworks, in turn affording tens of thousands of undergraduate students (and hundreds of future teachers) more and better opportunities to engage with each other and with STEM content through the use of scientific and engineering practices. STEM faculty who participate in what appears to be an easy to adopt process of course transformation through the LA model, become more aware of issues in educational diversity, equity, and access leading to fundamental transformations in the way education is done in a department and at an institution, ultimately leading to sustained policy changes and shared vision of equitable, quality education.

Understanding Space Through Engineering Design

Understanding Space Through Engineering Design investigates how engaging K-5 children from underrepresented populations in the design of packages, maps, and mechanisms supports the development of spatial reasoning and spatial mathematics. The prime conjecture is that engineering design makes spatial mathematics more tangible and purposeful, and that systematic support for spatial reasoning and mathematics, in turn, influences the nature of children's designs and their understanding of how those designs work.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1316312
Funding Period: 
Sun, 09/01/2013 to Fri, 08/31/2018
Full Description: 

Understanding Space Through Engineering Design investigates how engaging K-5 children from underrepresented populations in the design of packages, maps, and mechanisms supports the development of spatial reasoning and spatial mathematics. The prime conjecture is that engineering design makes spatial mathematics more tangible and purposeful, and that systematic support for spatial reasoning and mathematics, in turn, influences the nature of children's designs and their understanding of how those designs work. The project, therefore, serves as a test bed to explore the promises and challenges of an integrated STEM education.

Research methods include intensive close-up study of small groups of children designers led by researchers, followed by larger-scale study of classroom implementations led by elementary teachers. The purpose of the work with small groups of students across grades is to enable the project investigators to learn about the accessibility, challenge, and interest that engineering design holds for youngsters and to inform subsequent steps in revising the instruction for classroom tryouts. The classroom implementations provide data about how engineering design supports mathematical growth and, in turn, how growth in mathematical understanding guides subsequent engineering design. As children design and share their designs, mathematical and engineering practices, such as definition, conjecture, and troubleshooting, emerge in classroom conversation, often when children compare variations in the artifacts that they create. Researchers seek relationships between the emergence of these practices and changes in students' learning; in this way, relations between doing and knowing can be established. Forms of data include video recording of episodes of student design and classroom conversations. In addition, researchers conduct interviews with students to assess their understanding of how the artifacts they create work. The interviews particularly emphasize the role that spatial mathematics plays in students' explanations of device function and in their accounts of design processes. The progress of the project, including curriculum development, interview construction, and data analysis will be overseen by a five-member advisory board that includes a evaluation specialist, a mathematician, a mathematics educator, and a design expert.

The project will contribute to a beginning knowledge base about how integrated STEM education can best be pursued, in particular, by exposing the possibilities and challenges inherent in the proposed emphasis on engineering design. By working closely with 18 teachers and their 500 students, the project investigators aim to develop a practical, yet powerful approach to iSTEM education, that is, a new study of integrated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Products include a website featuring a suite of curriculum materials, case episodes of children designing, and formative assessments of children's learning in contexts of everyday classroom activity.

CAREER: Community-Based Engineering as a Learning and Teaching Strategy for Pre-service Urban Elementary Teachers

This is a Faculty Early Career Development project aimed at developing, implementing, and assessing a model that introduces novice elementary school teachers to community-based engineering design as a strategy for teaching and learning in urban schools. Reflective of the new Framework for K-12 Science Education, the model addresses key crosscutting concepts, disciplinary core ideas, and scientific and engineering practices.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1623910
Funding Period: 
Wed, 05/15/2013 to Tue, 04/30/2019
Full Description: 

This is a Faculty Early Career Development project aimed at developing, implementing, and assessing a model that introduces novice elementary school teachers (grades 1-6) to community-based engineering design as a strategy for teaching and learning in urban schools. Reflective of the new Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012), the model addresses key crosscutting concepts (e.g., cause and effect: mechanism and explanation), disciplinary core ideas (e.g., engineering design, and links among engineering and society), and scientific and engineering practices (e.g., identifying a problem, and designing solutions for technology-related problems in local school or community environments). It builds on theoretical perspectives and empirical foundations, including situated learning, engineering design cognition, and children's resources and funds of knowledge, including cultural and linguistic diversity. The study integrates research and education plans that investigate the short-term impact of the model on 90 novice teachers' learning through their pre-service coursework and practice teaching, and its longer-term impact on a subset of 48 of those teachers as they begin their first year of in-service teaching.

The study employs a design-based research that addresses three phases: (a) a development phase to create a community-based engineering module and assessment instruments; (b) an iterative implementation phase that includes three cycles of community-based engineering experiences with three cohorts of novice teachers; and (c) a synthesis phase focused on generating cumulative findings and recommendations. Its hypothesis is that incorporating community-based engineering into elementary teacher education will enhance novice urban elementary teachers' engineering design competency, understanding of engineering and scientific practices, and ability to identify and respond to student ideas and practices in science and engineering. This hypothesis guides four research questions: (1) How do novice urban elementary teachers' engineering design abilities evolve during community-based engineering experiences?; (2) How do the teachers' understandings of engineering and scientific practices evolve during community-based engineering experiences?; (3) How do the teachers' engineering abilities and understandings of engineering and scientific practices impact how they identify and respond to students' science and engineering ideas and practices?; and (4) Does participating in extended professional development on community-based engineering impact the teachers' (a) understandings of engineering and scientific practices, (b) abilities to identify and respond to student thinking, or (c) incorporation of science/engineering lessons into their first two years of teaching? The research plan articulates a descriptive thread and an experimental thread. The descriptive research thread addresses the first three research questions, inclusive of three constructs: (a) novice urban elementary teachers' engineering design abilities, (b) their understandings of practices of science and engineering, and (c) their abilities to identify and respond to students' ideas and practices. The experimental research thread addresses the fourth research question, which assesses the impact of community-based engineering professional development on two of the constructs (b and c mentioned above), as well as on the frequency and characteristics of the science-engineering lessons that new teachers will implement with their students in their first two years of teaching. Data gathering strategies include the use of valid and reliable instruments, such as the Creative Engineering Design Assessment, a curriculum critique and revision task, and a video-case-based assessment. Data analysis include both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Expected outcomes are: (1) a research-informed and field-tested strategy to incorporate community-based engineering into elementary teacher education and elementary grades science classrooms, (2) samples of modules demonstrating this strategy, and (3) a digital guide on incorporating community-based engineering experiences into elementary science teacher education programs, particulalrly in underserved urban areas.

Formerly award # 1253344.

Systemic Transformation for Inquiry Learning Environments (STILE) for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics

The goal of the grant is to establish a culture of inquiry with all partners in order to develop interdiciplinary, authentic STEM learning environments. Design-based research provides iterative cycles of implementation to explore and refine the approach as a transformative model for STEM programs. The model supports a sustainable approach by building the capacity of schools to focus on design issues related to content, pedagogy, and leadership.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1238643
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Tue, 09/30/2014
Full Description: 

The Center for Technology and School Change (CTSC) at Teachers College, Columbia University and the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC) at Columbia University's Earth Institute are working in partnership with three STEM focused New York City schools (K-8) to develop a systemic, transformative approach for interdisciplinary STEM teaching and learning. The planned model prepares teachers to design innovative, authentic STEM projects, and supports administrators in leading such efforts.

CTSC has identified key elements of a robust design process to help teachers move from business- as-usual pedagogy to dramatically new practices in content, pedagogy, and technology use. The program also identifies an interdisciplinary STEM perspective, supported with experts from CERC who provide STEM fieldwork expertise as part of the overall design. Moreover, the project creates research and educational collaborations with diverse, community-based groups (e.g., urban nature centers). The project uses a mobile learning platform to leverage social networking among schools, teachers, students, STEM experts, parents and the community.

The goal of the grant is to establish a culture of inquiry with all partners in order to develop interdiciplinary, authentic STEM learning environments. Design-based research provides iterative cycles of implementation to explore and refine the approach as a transformative model for STEM programs. The model supports a sustainable approach by building the capacity of schools to focus on design issues related to content, pedagogy, and leadership.

Spatial Mathematics, Engineering, and Science: Toward an Integrated STEM Education

The goal of this project is to develop a provisional learning progression spanning grades K-5 that articulates and tests the potential of experiencing, describing, and representing space as the core of an integrated STEM education. The science of space has an extensive scope within and across disciplinary boundaries of science, mathematics and engineering; the project will create a coherent approach to elementary instruction in which mathematical reasoning about space is systematically cultivated.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1252875
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Mon, 09/30/2013
Full Description: 

The goal of Spatial Mathematics, Engineering, and Science: Toward an Integrated STEM Education is to develop a provisional learning progression spanning grades K-5 that articulates and tests the potential of experiencing, describing, and representing space as the core of an integrated STEM education. The science of space has an extensive scope within and across disciplinary boundaries of science, mathematics and engineering, the project will create a coherent approach to elementary instruction in which mathematical reasoning about space is systematically cultivated. Simultaneously, researchers are exploring the potential of spatial mathematics as a resource for engineering design of kinematic machines and for the development of mechanistic reasoning about the behavior of these machines. Work across these disciplines situates and motivates the mathematical work and also provides opportunities to investigate the intersections and contrasts among signature disciplinary practices, such as definition and proof in mathematics, design in engineering, and modeling in science. The research and development is being conducted in a middle school which is a full partner in the project.

In partnership, researchers and participating teachers are designing and implementing curricular approaches intended to support spatial knowledge and reasoning. Professional development will enhance and capitalize on teachers' roles as specialists in student thinking. The research consists of design studies conducted in 12 participating classrooms, K-5, and small-scale teaching experiments conducted with children across the same grade span. The research will establish provisional pathways and landmarks in learning about space, as well as the curricular activities and teacher practices necessary to support integrated STEM learning.

The project is novel in three ways. First, it provides children with early and systematic access to multiple geometries (e.g., plane, cylinder, sphere) to develop sophisticated understandings of powerful, yet experientally accessible concepts, such as straight, and STEM-related practices, such as model, definition and proof. Second, both the National Research Council Science/Engineering and the Common Core State Standards Mathematics highlight the role of practices in the development of disciplinary knowledge, and this project is providing a practical avenue for coordinating the co-development of disciplinary practices and knowledge. Third, the unifying theme of space is threaded through problems and contexts in mathematics, science and engineering, which provide a sound basis for generative STEM integration-integration that does not lose sight of the distinctive practices in different disciplines, but, instead, leverages these distinctions to produce multiple ways of knowing about space. Research and development is being conducted with underrepresented populations of students who are typically underserved in STEM education. Although the numbers of students reached in this phase of the work are relatively modest, the longer-term potential is great, because instruction anchored in space may be more accessible to students who struggle with traditional forms of mathematics education. The increased attention to integrated STEM education at the national level also ensures that this effort is likely to contribute to the knowledge base required to advance interdisciplinary forms of schooling.

FUN: A Finland US Network for Engagement and STEM Learning in Games

As part of a SAVI, researchers from the U.S. and from Finland will collaborate on investigating the relationships between engagement and learning in STEM transmedia games. The project involves two intensive, 5 day workshops to identify new measurement instruments to be integrated into each other's research and development work. The major research question is to what degree learners in the two cultures respond similarly or differently to the STEM learning games.

Lead Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1252709
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Tue, 09/30/2014
Full Description: 

As part of a SAVI, researchers from the U.S. and from Finland will collaborate on investigating the relationships between engagement and learning in STEM transmedia games. The members of U.S. Team for this project come from TERC, WGBH and Northern Illinois University. The project involves two intensive, 5 day workshops to identify new measurement instruments to be integrated into each other's research and development work. The major research question is to what degree learners in the two cultures respond similarly or differently to the STEM learning games.

Radical Innovation Summit

This workshop convenes leading practitioners and scholars of innovation to collectively consider how education in the US might be reconfigured to both support and teach innovation as a core curriculum mission, with a focus on STEM education. Workshop participants identify and articulate strategies for creating and sustaining learning environments that promise the development of innovative thinking skills, behaviors and dispositions and that reward students, faculty and administrator for practicing and tuning these skills.

Award Number: 
1241428
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Mon, 09/30/2013
Full Description: 

This workshop, hosted by the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and the Institute for Computing in Humanities, Arts and the Social Sciences (I-CHASS), convenes leading practitioners and scholars of innovation to collectively consider how education in the US might be reconfigured to both support and teach innovation as a core curriculum mission, with a focus on STEM education. Workshop participants identify and articulate strategies for creating and sustaining learning environments that promise the development of innovative thinking skills, behaviors and dispositions and that reward students, faculty and administrator for practicing and tuning these skills. A wiki or other private online space will be created where participants will be encouraged to continue discussions or comment further on ideas generated over the course of the workshop. Mapping social networks of and among participants provides insights into how innovation practices are shared and spread across relationships and networks. Findings from the workshop will be made available to others through a public web site.

Identifying and Measuring the Implementation and Impact of STEM School Models

The goal of this Transforming STEM Learning project is to comprehensively describe models of 20 inclusive STEM high schools in five states (California, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Texas), measure the factors that affect their implementation; and examine the relationships between these, the model components, and a range of student outcomes. The project is grounded in theoretical frameworks and research related to learning conditions and fidelity of implementation.

Lead Organization(s): 
Partner Organization(s): 
Award Number: 
1238552
Funding Period: 
Mon, 10/01/2012 to Fri, 09/30/2016
Full Description: 

The goal of this Transforming STEM Learning project is to comprehensively describe models of 20 inclusive STEM high schools in five states (California, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, and Texas), measure the factors that affect their implementation; and examine the relationships between these, the model components, and a range of student outcomes. The project is grounded in theoretical frameworks and research related to learning conditions and fidelity of implementation.

The study employs a longitudinal, mixed-methods research design over four years. Research questions are: (1) What are the intended components of each inclusive STEM school model?; (2) What is the status of the intended components of each STEM school model?; (3) What are the contexts and conditions that contribute to and inhibit the implementation of components that comprise the STEM schools' models?; and (4) What components are most closely related to desired student outcomes in STEM schools? Data gathering strategies include: (a) analyses of school components (e.g., structures, interactions, practices); (b) measures of the actual implementation of components through teacher, school principals, and student questionnaires, observation protocols, teacher focus groups, and interviews; (c) identification of contextual conditions that contribute to or inhibit implementation using a framework inclusive of characteristics of the innovation, individual users, leadership, organization, and school environment using questionnaires and interviews; and (d) measuring student outcomes using four cohorts of 9-12 students, including standardized test assessment systems, grades, student questionnaires (e.g., students' perceptions of schools and teachers, self-efficacy), and postsecondary questionnaires. Quantitative data analysis strategies include: (a) assessment of validity and reliability of items measuring the implementation status of participating schools; (b) exploratory factor analysis to examine underlying dimensions of implementation and learning conditions; and (c) development of school profiles, and 2- and 3-level Hierarchical Linear Modeling to analyze relationships between implementation and type of school model. Qualitative data analysis strategies include:(a) descriptions of intra- and inter-school implementation and factor themes, (b) coding, and (c) narrative analysis.

Expected outcomes are: (a) research-informed characterizations of the range of inclusive STEM high school models emerging across the country; (b) identification of components of STEM high school models important for accomplishing a range of desired student achievement; (c) descriptions of contexts and conditions that promote or inhibit the implementation of innovative STEM teaching and learning; (d) instruments for measuring enactment of model components and the learning environments that affect them; and (e) methodological approaches for examining relationships between model components and student achievement.

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