PreK-12 Engineering Education Spotlight—Featured Project Information

Featured projects in the Spotlight on preK-12 Engineering Education:

Pre-K and/or Elementary Level

Middle School Level

High School Level

K-12 and Undergraduate


Developing Integrated Elementary Science, Engineering, and Language Arts Curricula Aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards

PI: Hasan Deniz

Description of Innovation

We designed elementary lessons integrating engineering, science, reading, and writing in meaningful ways. These integrated lessons allowed teachers to address the Next Generation Science Standards while making reading and writing an integral part of the engineering design process and science content learning in grades 3–5 elementary classrooms. In addition to engineering, science, reading, and writing integration, we also embedded the epistemological aspects of engineering in the lesson plans. These epistemic aspects include the views that creativity and imagination are used throughout the engineering design process; engineering design solutions are open to revision; engineering design solutions are optimized based on evidence from the test data; there is no single best design solution to a given engineering design problem; engineering is not a solitary pursuit; and engineering is a human endeavor. The Next Generation Science Standards include the engineering design process, but the standards do not explicitly state which epistemic aspects of the engineering design process should be taught at what grade level. Our lesson included strategies to teach epistemological aspects of engineering (nature of engineering) in a way that makes sense to elementary students. 

Findings/Results

We found that it is possible to develop lessons integrating engineering, science, reading, and writing while addressing the epistemological aspects of engineering. Both elementary students and teachers improved their nature of engineering views after receiving explicit and reflective instruction about nature of engineering embedded within integrated lessons. We also found that elementary teachers improved their engineering teaching efficacy beliefs after participating in the teacher professional development offered through the grant. 

Products

Publications

  • Deniz, H., Kaya, E., Yesilyurt, E., & Trabia, M. (accepted). The influence of an authentic engineering design experience on elementary teachers’ nature of engineering views. International Journal of Technology and Design Education.
  • Kaya, E., Deniz, H., & Yesilyurt, E. (accepted). Teaching engineering with mechanical engineering design challenge. Science Scope.
  • Deniz, H., Yesilyurt, E, & Kaya, E. (in press). Teaching nature of engineering with picture books. Science & Children.
  • Deniz, H., Kaya, E., & Yesilyurt, E. (2018). The soda can crusher challenge: Exposing elementary students to the engineering design process. Science & Children, 56(2), 74–78.

Presentations

Workshop Resources
Deniz, H., Kaya, E, & Yesilyurt, E. (2018, January). Integrating engineering design within the context of the Next Generation Science Standards. A preconference workshop held at the annual meeting of the Association for Science Teacher Education, Baltimore, MD. Related workshop resources: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1naWntlZnHbpt3b5llGIT8On1kVr4uKZB

Research Instrument
Views of Nature of Engineering Questionnaire


Readiness through Integrative Science and Engineering (RISE): Refining and Testing a Co-Constructed Curriculum and Professional Development Approach with Head Start Partners

PI: Christine McWayne | Co-PIs: Betty Zan, Daryl Greenfield, Jayanthi Mistry

Description of Innovation

Project RISE is a community-based research collaboration with Head Start programs in Boston, MA, currently undergoing a randomized controlled trial in 40 preschool classrooms. The RISE approach is an integrated method for providing support to Head Start teachers that is centered on best practices in professional development (PD); best practices in preschool science, technology, and engineering (STE) teaching/pedagogy; and intentional engagement of families consistent with a strengths-based and sociocultural approach, for the benefit of dual language learning (DLL) children’s early education. With regard to the PD approach, RISE consists of practice-based, individualized, and ongoing supports that include a year-long series of PD workshops, bi-monthly one-to-one coaching, and monthly professional learning community meetings. Our STE curriculum framework was developed collaboratively by researchers, coaches, and teachers in these various relational spaces. The concepts RISE students explore are informed by state preschool learning standards and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for K–12. Following the NGSS, crosscutting concepts (e.g., patterns, structure and function) and science and engineering practices (e.g., asking questions, defining problems) are explicitly linked to disciplinary core ideas in life science, physical science, earth and space science, and engineering. These are presented as “big ideas” that guide teachers to create curricula that invite children to explore, think, and talk about each big idea through sets of extended learning experiences. These conceptually connected learning experiences support the construction of deeper knowledge than can be built through unconnected, one-time activities more typically practiced in preschool classrooms. Finally, the Home-School Collaboration (HSC) component of RISE highlights the importance of a school curriculum that reflects children’s familiar knowledge and prior experience, as well as of respectful, trusting, and non-hierarchical dialogue between parents and teachers. Essential to our HSC approach is that the home-to- school flow of information is just as important as the school-to-home flow, with a particular focus in RISE on STE learning as the family–school bridge. Therefore, home-school collaboration efforts in RISE go well beyond home extension activities that typically constitute the home involvement component of early childhood curricula and seek to incorporate students’ out-of-school lives into the STE curriculum of the preschool classroom. 

Findings/Results

  • A comprehensive approach to PD and a co-constructed STE curriculum framework
  • A qualitative understanding of teachers’ trajectories/change as individuals
  • Preliminary evidence from a quasi-experimental design that the RISE approach improved teacher attitudes (based on self-report) and STE practice/classroom quality (based on independent observation)
  • A Model of Co-construction (McWayne, Mistry, Brenneman, Zan, & Greenfield, under review)
  • A Home-to-School Approach (McWayne, Mistry, Brenneman, Zan, & Greenfield, 2018)

Products

Publications

  • McWayne, C. M., Doucet, F., & Mistry, J. (2019). Family-school partnerships in ethnocultural communities: Redirecting conceptual frameworks, research methods, and intervention efforts by rotating our lens. In C. M. McWayne, F. Doucet, & S. Sheridan (Eds.), Research on family–school partnerships: Understanding ethnocultural diversity and the home-to-school link. New York, NY: Springer Publishers.
  • McWayne, C. M., Mistry, J., Brenneman, K., Greenfield, D., & Zan, B. (2018). Supporting family engagement in STE curriculum among low-income immigrant families with preschool children. In M. Caspe, T. A. Woods, & J. L. Kennedy (Eds.), Promising practices for engaging families in STEM learning: Volume in family-school-community partnership issues (pp. 79–95). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Website
http://rise.as.tufts.edu/


Broadening Participation of Latina/o Students in Engineering Using an Integrated Mathematics, Engineering and Computing Curriculum in Authentic, Out-of-School Environments (also known as Advancing Out-of-School Learning in Mathematics and Engineering (AOLME)

PI: Sylvia Celedon-Pattichis | Co-PIs: Marios Pattichis, Carlos LopezLeiva

Description of Innovation

The AOLME project brings together faculty from bilingual/mathematics education and electrical and computer engineering to implement an integrated curriculum in two bilingual middle schools in an urban and a rural context. AOLME’s central goals are to implement, revise, and disseminate an integrated mathematics and engineering curriculum that exposes students to college-level and workforce practices and to broaden the participation of Latinx middle school students in STEM fields. The participating middle schools have high enrollment of Latina/o students, a population which is underrepresented in STEM majors in college and in STEM careers in the United States. AOLME learning experiences focus on authentic work of student learning about computer programming and engineering design of digital video and images. AOLME investigates Latinx middle school students’ learning of and participation in computer engineering and related mathematical practices in connection with the development of their engineering and mathematical identities.

AOLME’s context is an after-school program that uses Raspberry Pi, Linux, and Python as the main platforms to engage Latinx middle school students in exploring image and video representations and processing. The curriculum implemented includes two levels--Level 1: Foundations of Computer Programming Using Image and Video Representations and Level 2: Object Oriented Programming and Robotics. Level 1 is implemented in the spring for a total of 10 to 12 sessions and Level 2 takes place during a three-week period in the summer.

Findings/Results

The following findings about translanguaging and mathematics are reported in the presentation listed in products below.

  • Co-facilitators moved across roles.
  • They learned more about math/programming as they taught.
  • Co-facilitators moved across languages to support understanding of mathematical and computer programming concepts.
  • Co-facilitators moved across languages to support language/register understanding and development.
  • Co-facilitators moved across languages to support the negotiation of social tensions and distribution of labor.
  • Co-facilitators translanguaged weaving academic, social, and linguistic strands to support learning and the negotiation of tensions and labor.
  • Co-facilitators strengthened own linguistic and academic identities by taking up the responsibility of teaching mathematics and computer programming.

Results from an attitude scale of four domains (i.e., confidence, usefulness, enjoyment, and motivation) yielded an overall meaningful increase of productive attitude toward mathematics and computer programming. There was a gain of approximately 20 points (on a scale from 0–100) from the beginning of spring 2017 to the end of spring 2018. Greater changes are observed when middle school students take on the role as co-facilitator to work with an undergraduate student to teach the curriculum and when they are supported with professional development sessions. After these experiences, the greatest gains are in self-confidence.

Products

Presentations

  • Celedón-Pattichis, S., LópezLeiva, C. A., & Pattichis, M. S. (2019, April). In-between languages and in-between roles: Latinx middle school students using translanguaging to enact computer-programming teaching identities. In L. A. Maldonado (Chair), Translanguaging and mathematics: Recognizing and capitalizing on the brilliance of bilingual children. Presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Toronto, Canada.
  • LópezLeiva, C., Celedón-Pattichis, S., Demir, I., Lecea Yanguas, J. A., & Pattichis, M. S. (2018). Attitude scale results of student confidence over time: Participation in an integrated mathematics/computer programming curriculum. Conference Proceedings of the International Colloquium on Languages, Cultures, Identity in School and Society. Soria, Spain.


DIMEs: Immersing Teachers and Students in Virtual Engineering Internships

PI: Jacqueline Barber | Co-PIs: Padraig Nash, Eric Greenwald, Naomi Chesler, David Shaffer

Description of Innovation

The Lawrence Hall of Science, in cooperation with Amplify Science, has developed six Virtual Engineering Internships (VEIs) that provide compelling, immersive experiences at the intersection of science and engineering work. The VEIs are designed as multi-day, integrated learning and assessment opportunities: analysis of student moves within these digital environments enables inferences about student understanding of NGSS science concepts and engineering practices, as well as whether they can use them in the context of real-world problem solving.

Authentic assessment of engineering as a practice requires analysis not only of the final, optimized design (e.g., how well a design met the criteria), but also of the iterative process through which that design was optimized (e.g., how students adjusted designs in response to feedback). Yet, it is impossible for a single teacher, within the sturm and drang of a classroom setting, to directly observe the totality of each student’s design work. The DIMEs VEIs respond to this challenge by employing an analytics model that attends to both process data (clickstream logfiles) and product data (submitted design solutions) to provide richer insight into student facility with the engineering practice of optimization than either would alone, approaching the nuance of direct teacher observation. This information can then be served to teachers and empower them to address student difficulties that might otherwise go unnoticed or unaddressed.

Findings/Results

  • Students accomplish the (expected) gains in content understanding and increased competency beliefs with engineering concepts (e.g., analyzing trade-offs) over the course of each of the VEIs.
  • Teachers report that students are initially frustrated by the absence of a “perfect” design—akin to a “right answer” in realistic engineering design work, but that this frustration is short lived.
  • The engineering practice of optimization can be broken down into three contributing behaviors: exploration, systematicity, and responsiveness to feedback. And each of these behaviors can be represented by a combination of multiple data-derived metrics, enabling automated assessment of students’ progress in being able to optimize their engineering designs according to design goals.

Product

The VEIs are currently commercially available as part of the Amplify Science grade 6–8 curriculum. They are included as part of the full program or can be purchased as standalone resources. There are plans to add automated assessment of students’ engagement in the engineering practice of optimization to the VEIs in the future.


Teaching STEM by Incorporating NGSS-Plus-5E Robotics Lessons: Research-based Longitudinal Professional Development for Middle-School Teachers

PI: Vikram Kapila | Co-PIs: Jasmine Ma, Magued Iskander, Orit Zaslavsky, Catherine Milne

Description of Innovation

Since 2014, this STEM teacher professional development (PD) program has introduced 44 teachers of NYC middle schools to engineering by providing them with hands-on robotics experiences and supporting them in developing robotics-enhanced science and math curricula with the mission to enhance teaching and learning for underserved student populations. A three-week, on-campus, summer PD program is designed by utilizing the latest peer-reviewed strategies to facilitate effective PD programs for improving K–12 educators’ technological and pedagogical knowledge. During summer offerings of the PD, engineering facilitators support teachers in learning to build and program LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robots and in using them to create standards-aligned science and math lessons for developing students’ content knowledge as well as their abilities to independently acquire, analyze, and apply such knowledge. Continuous year-round support is provided by the PD facilitators who visit participating teachers’ schools periodically to assist in the creation and classroom implementation of lessons aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Bybee’s 5E Instructional Model. Sample lessons are available at the project website. This research has enhanced teachers’ robotics self-efficacy as well as technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK). Moreover, it has increased participants’ knowledge about effectively incorporating the three-dimensional learning framework of the NGSS in their science and math curricula.

Findings/Results

In a five-year study, NYC middle school STEM teachers (N=44), with varying degrees of TPACK, were provided three-week-long intensive summer PD with engineering facilitators as mentors to (1) learn to build and program LEGO EV3 robots; (2) create and incorporate standards-aligned robotics-based science and math lessons (30+ lessons); and (3) develop, practice, and examine best pedagogical strategies for science and math learning using robotics through the mastery of TPACK. Findings indicate that teachers’ comfort, self-efficacy, and trust level for using robotics in their teaching was initially low and that these factors hindered their students’ computational thinking, which we found are prerequisites for student engagement and achievement in robotics-based lessons. When teachers were well supported and developed good TPACK, students were able to improve their understanding of abstract content knowledge in physics, math, and life sciences as compared to conventional pedagogical techniques (Brill, Listman, & Kapila, 2015). In addition, as teachers became more comfortable with robotics their self-efficacy increased along with their students’ computational thinking. As a consequence, statistically significant improvements were observed in student learning with robotics-based activities when compared to non-robotics activities, particularly in the science classroom (Krishnan, Borges Rajguru, & Kapila, 2019). During the fifth year of this program, the focus has been to utilize recommendations from prior years of study and enhance the PD by supporting teachers in developing mastery of the three-dimensional learning of the NGSS and Bybee’s 5E Instructional Model to create robotics, math, and science lessons, coined NGSS-Plus-5E Robotics Lessons, that are rated by using the NGSS EQuIP rubric. The middle school teacher participants of the project have impacted classroom teaching and learning of over 1,800 students.

Theory of Change

Lower the barriers in STEM disciplines for students through PD of middle school science and math teachers by using robotics as the curriculum focus. This theory of change is being catalyzed by overcoming two challenges to the integration of robotics in science and math learning by performing design-based research.

The first challenge is lack of curricula to ensure that the science and math content inherent in robotics and related engineering design practices is learned at a sufficiently deep level to justify classroom adoption of robotics. This challenge offers us an opportunity to develop and refine curricula that promote project-based, hands-on instruction to ensure that students learn, understand, and apply the underlying science and math content while doing age-appropriate robotics activities. In partnership with teachers, we have formulated robotics-based STEM lessons that integrate the three-dimensional learning framework of the NGSS and the 5E Instructional Model.

The second challenge is teachers’ lack of preparation and training in using robotics in science and math teaching. Most teachers do not have effective models or knowledge to capitalize on robotics for elucidating science and math concepts. We are building on the construct of TPACK to create and conduct a PD program that allows teachers to use their students’ interest in robotics to engage them to learn the required science and math content.

Our indicators: We hypothesize that our theory of change, which applies what the field knows and what we know empirically from our prior work, will (1) build teachers’ capacity to effectively utilize robotics to teach middle school science and math and ultimately (2) positively impact student learning, beliefs, attitudes, perceptions, and motivation in STEM. Our indicators of successful change are as follows. For teachers, we consider (1) content knowledge, (2) self-efficacy, and (3) lesson quality. For students, we consider engagement and learning in STEM disciplines. We have formed an interdisciplinary team of experts in robotics, engineering, education, curriculum design, and assessment—with experience in K–12 education, training, and outreach—to make robotics central to and sustainable in middle school science and math classrooms.

Theoretical Framework

Situated Learning Theory, Constructivism, Constructionism, Cognitive Apprenticeship, Social Capital, Apprenticeship Model, TPACK Framework, and Design-Based Research

Methodology

Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods methodological approaches were utilized. The following research instrumentations were used in order to have credibility and transferability: pre-/post-surveys, interview questions, focus groups, classroom artifacts, participants’ reflections, classroom observations, rubrics (EQuIP, Affect), etc.

Products

Presentations

  • Brill, A., Listman, J., & Kapila, V. (2015). Using robotics as the technological foundation for the TPACK framework in K–12 classrooms. In Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. doi: 10.18260/p.25015
  • Moorhead, M., Listman, J., & Kapila, V. (2015). A robotics-focused instructional framework for design-based research in middle school classrooms. In Proceedings of the 2015 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. doi: 10.18260/p.23444
  • Brill, A., Elliott, C. H., Listman, J. B., Milne, C. E., & Kapila, V. (2016). Middle school teachers’ evolution of TPACK understanding through professional development. In Proceedings of the 2016 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. doi: 10.18260/p.25720
  • Moorhead, M., Elliott, C. H., Listman, J. B., Milne, C. E., & Kapila, V. (2016). Professional development through situated learning techniques adapted with design-based research. In Proceedings of the 2016 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. doi: 10.18260/p.25967
  • You, H. S., & Kapila, V. (2017). Effectiveness of professional development: Integration of educational robotics into science and math curricula Proceedings of the 2017 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. https://peer.asee.org/28207
  • Rahman, S. M. M., & Kapila, V. (2017). A systems approach to analyzing design-based research in robotics-focused middle school STEM lessons through cognitive apprenticeship. In Proceedings of the 2017 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. https://peer.asee.org/27527
  • Rahman, S. M. M., Chacko, S. M., & Kapila, V. (2017). Building trust in robots in robotics-focused STEM education under TPACK framework in middle schools. In Proceedings of the 2017 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. https://peer.asee.org/27990
  • Rahman, S. M. M., Krishnan, V. J., & Kapila, V. (2017).  Exploring the dynamic nature of TPACK framework in teaching STEM using robotics in middle school classrooms. In Proceedings of the 2017 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. https://peer.asee.org/28336
  • Rahman, S. M. M., Krishnan, V. J., & Kapila, V. (2018). Fundamental: Optimizing a teacher professional development program for teaching STEM with robotics through design-based research. In Proceedings of the 2018 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition.  https://peer.asee.org/30551
  • Rahman, S. M. M. Chacko, S. M., Borges, S. I., & Kapila, V. (2018). Fundamental—Determining prerequisites for middle school students to participate in robotics-based STEM lessons: A computational thinking approach. In Proceedings of the 2018 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. https://peer.asee.org/30549
  • You, H. S., Chacko, S. M., Borges Rajguru, S., & Kapila, V. (2019, to appear). Designing robotics-based science lessons aligned with the three dimensions of NGSS-plus-5E model: A content analysis (fundamental). In Proceedings of the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition.
  • You, H. S. Chacko, S. M., & Kapila, V. (2019, to appear). Teaching science with technology: Science and engineering practices of middle school science teachers engaged in a professional development for robotics integration into classroom (fundamental). In Proceedings of the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition.
  • Ghosh, S., Krishnan, V. J., Borges Rajguru., S., & Kapila, V. (2019, to appear). Middle school teacher professional development in creating a NGSS-plus-5E robotics curriculum (fundamental). In Proceedings of the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition.
  • Ghosh, S., Borges Rajguru, S., & Kapila, V. (2019, to appear). Investigating classroom-related factors that influence student perception of utility of LEGO robots as educational tools in middle schools (fundamental). In Proceedings of the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition.
  • Krishnan, V. J., Borges Rajguru, S., & Kapila, V. (2019, to appear). Analyzing successful teaching practices in middle school science and math classrooms when using robotics (fundamental). In Proceedings of the 2019 ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition.


Scaffolding Engineering Design to Develop Integrated STEM Understanding with WISEngineering(CAREER Award)

PI: Jennifer Chiu

Description of Innovation

Engineering design projects provide real-life contexts for students to learn and apply mathematics and science and have the potential to help students develop agency and see relevance of school learning. Unfortunately, many precollege teachers and students have little experience with authentic engineering design, and teachers need support to incorporate design projects into science and mathematics classes. WISEngineering uses technology from the Web-based Inquiry Environment (WISE; http://wise.berkeley.edu) to help students and teachers engage in engineering design practices. WISEngineering projects feature the use of interactive simulations to help students learn necessary mathematics and science concepts or test design ideas. Specific tools support students with particular design practices such as defining project criteria, or sharing, comparing, and giving feedback on peers’ designs. We have also created technologies to support teacher noticing and responding to student ideas within engineering projects.

Findings/Results

WISEngineering projects have been piloted in both informal and formal educational settings in mathematics and science contexts. Middle school pilot tests in low-performing classrooms demonstrate significant improvement in targeted content areas as evidenced on pre-/post-assessments, embedded assessments, state standardized test results, and teacher and student self-reports. Additionally, results demonstrate that WISEngineering projects help students in science and mathematics classrooms engage in a variety of design practices. Pilot tests with teachers using the responding technologies reveal that the responding tools help teachers notice student ideas and give more evidence-based feedback to students.

Products

Publications

  • Chiu, J. L., Gonczi, A., Fu, X., & Burghardt, M. D. (2017). Supporting informed engineering design across formal and informal contexts with WISEngineering. International Journal of Engineering Education, Special Issue: Current Trends in K–12 Engineering Education, 33(1), 371–381.
  • Gonczi, A., Chiu, J. L., & Pan, E. (2016). WISEngineering hydroponics: A technology-enhanced life science engineering design unit. Science Scope, 39(9), 19–25.
  • DeJaegher, C., & Chiu, J. L. (2014). Investigating secondary students’ engagement with Web-based engineering design practices. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Education, Indianapolis, IN.
  • Chiu, J. L., Bywater, J., & Hong, J. (2018, June). Using a knowledge integration perspective to explore connections among science, mathematics, and engineering modeling practices. International Conference of the Learning Sciences, London, UK.
  • Chiu, J. L., & McElhaney, K. (2018, April). Using knowledge integration tools to support Next Generation Science Standards-aligned science and engineering instruction. Annual Meeting of the American Educational Researcher Association, New York, NY.
  • Ochs, L., Chiu, J. L., & Mumba, F. (2018, March). Developing preservice science teachers’ understanding of engineering design strategies through teaching scenarios. National Association for Research in Science Teaching Annual International Conference, Atlanta, GA.
  • Bywater, Chiu, J. L., Hong, J., & Sankaranarayanan, V. (2019, April). The teacher guidance tool: Using automated recommendations to support teacher noticing of students’ mathematical ideas. Annual Meeting of the American Educational Researcher Association, Toronto, ON.


Tools for Teaching and Learning Engineering Practices: Pathways Towards Productive Identity Development in Engineering [I-Engineering]

PI: Angela Calabrese Barton | Co-PIs: Scott Calabrese Barton, Edna Tan

Description of Innovation

“People are like, I can’t believe 6th graders did that. They just can’t believe it. . . And it shows we’re smart, and we can stick with it.” ~ Analeigh, 6th grader

I-Engineering, grounded in participatory design-based approaches and a justice-oriented stance on learning, addresses two pressing challenges faced by middle school youth from underrepresented backgrounds: (1) opportunities to learn engineering meaningfully and to apply it to understanding and solving real-world problems (“learning”), and (2) the desire/ability to see oneself as an important contributor to engineering (“identity”). The implications of these challenges are concerning for minoritized youth for whom equitable opportunities to learn and become in engineering have been continually sanctioned by dominant cultural norms.

I-Engineering supports learning and identity development in engineering as part of learning two core practices in engineering: defining problems and designing solutions. I-Engineering framework and epistemic tools help teachers and students to “localize” the engineering design process (e.g., “I can solve this problem collaboratively right here in my community, right now, using what I know”). Tools include a community engineering and ethnography toolset and in integrating perspectives iterative engineering design toolset. Both toolsets support students in leveraging their insider community positioning toward engaging meaningfully in engineering design, in tandem with science and engineering knowledge and practices. We envision the process of localizing engineering design as one of refining the problem constraints and/or specifications while exploring possible modes of solution optimization for particular people and/or contexts through iterative engagement with both the technological and social dimensions of these practices.

Our work is grounded in two four-week engineering design challenges, both of which are anchored in sustainable communities and energy systems: electric art and sustainable classrooms.

Findings/Results

  • Key Findings #1: Supporting Justice-Oriented Outcomes in Engineering Design in the Middle Grades. Through our critical ethnography with teachers and youth, we have documented the ways in which opportunities to learn in consequential ways are shaped by the historicized injustices students encounter in relation to participation in STEM and schooling. Youth were supported in identifying injustices in their school and classroom communities, and in designing and building a working prototype of a solution that addressed the injustices using a scaffolded engineering approach. In their efforts, youth co-constructed “making present” practices, which were practices that merged science and community knowledge toward making visible both the injustices they experienced and the possibilities for social change. These practices not only supported deep learning of engineering practices and embedded core content of energy systems, but also promoted youth’s rightful presence in their classrooms and schools. We define rightful presence in classrooms as legitimate membership in a classroom community because of who one is, where the practices of that community work toward and support restructuring power dynamics toward more-just ends through making injustice and social change visible. Two making-present practices students enacted as they engaged in engineering design included modeling ethnographic data and re-performing injustices toward solidarity building. These practices supported moments of rightful presence in the STEM classrooms by inscribing youth’s marginalizing school experiences as a part of classroom science discourse and co-opting school science tasks as tools to expose, critique, and address these unjust experiences. That which were silent and previously concealed from school authority figures gained a rightful place through the voices and scientific actions of the youth and their allies. We analyzed ethnographic data from three urban middle school classrooms in two states during the I-Engineering unit, focusing on engineering for sustainable communities.To learn more: Calabrese Barton, A. & Tan, E. (in press). Designing for rightful presence in STEM: Community ethnography as pedagogy as an equity-oriented design approach. Journal of the Learning Sciences. doi: 10.1080/10508406.2019.1591411
  • Key Finding #2: The Role of Epistemic Tools in Supporting Learning and Identity Work. Two related engineering for sustainable communities epistemic toolsets—(a) community engineering and ethnography tools for defining problems, and (b) integrating perspectives in design specification and optimization through iterative design sketch‐up and prototyping—work to support the following: students' recruitment of multiple epistemologies; navigation of multiple epistemologies; and students' onto‐epistemological developments in engineering. Using a theoretical framework grounded in justice‐oriented notions of equity intersecting with multiple epistemologies, we investigated the impact of the related epistemic toolsets on students' engineering engagement. Specifically, we found that the tools worked when they were taken up in particular ways by teachers and students, and how the nature of their iterative engagement with the tools led to outcomes in ways that were equitable and consequential, both to students' engineering experiences and their engineering onto‐epistemological developments, and also in responding to the community injustices prototypes were designed to address. Tensions in enactments emerged suggesting that affordances of a productive epistemic space and the concomitant risks related to larger institutional norms can constrain the extent of students' justice‐oriented engineering goals.To learn more: Tan, E., Calabrese Barton, A., & Benavides, A. (2019). Engineering for sustainable communities: Epistemic tools in support of equitable and consequential middle school engineering. Science Education. doi: 10.1002/sce.21515
  • Key Finding #3: An Engineering Funds of Knowledge Framework. It is well established that drawing on students’ funds of knowledge (FoK) in support of learning supports powerful outcomes, especially for youth whose life experiences are not always valued in dominant classroom spaces. Yet, teachers can struggle to find ways to do so. I-Engineering offers an engineering FoK framework to support teachers in positioning students to leverage their FoK in engineering. The framework focus on three aspects of engineering design challenges. Design challenges should (1) require both technical and social expertise, (2) support multiple design iterations within the design challenge, and (3) connect authentically to students’ lives. Figure 1 shows how the engineering FoK framework principles are connected.To learn more: Schenkel, K., Calabrese Barton, A., Tan, E., & Gonzalez, M. (in press, Sept. 2019). An engineering funds of knowledge framework. Science & Children

    Figure 1. The engineering funds of knowledge framework

  • Key Finding #4: Unpacking Community Ethnography. Community ethnography supports students in deeply engaging in the NGSS-outlined engineering practices of defining problems and designing solutions. To effectively define practices, students ask questions and gather information to determine specific challenges that need to be addressed. In this process, they gather and analyze information to properly define the dimensions of a problem. While students engage in designing solutions, they determine and balance different constraints for their science and engineering design. Community ethnography supports students in optimizing their solutions to be responsive to community wants and needs. Community Ethnography Toolkit for Engineering Practices. Through designed-based research with classroom teachers and youth, this toolkit has been developed and refined to include:
    • stance that community knowledge is a valuable part of disciplinary knowing and necessary for effectively engaging in the practices of defining problems and designing solutions. This is the starting motivation for supporting students using community ethnography.
    • Pedagogical moves that support multiple forms of and purposes for interactions and interactional spaces for students, teachers, and community members, and help teachers to notice, value, and respond to students’ cultural knowledge/practice as important forms of epistemic authority.
    • Tools that position students and teachers as co-learners of community concerns and their intersections with disciplinary knowing and classroom activity. The main tools we have used in our classroom have been making participant observations, administering surveys, and conducting interviews.

    These tools support students in defining problems by soliciting information from their community, and designing and optimizing their designs by gathering more community feedback. Teachers and students can collaboratively decide which communities are most salient to their investigations, and focus using their ethnographic tools with those communities. To learn more, see: Schenkel, K., Calabrese Barton, A., Tan, E. & Gonzalez, M. (in press). Community ethnography teacher’s toolkit. Science Scope.

  • Key Finding #5. Critical Science Agency in Engineering for Sustainable Communities. We investigated the opportunities for and the ways in which youth enacted critical science agency while engaged in engineering designs for sustainable communities – by defining real world local problems and prototyping working solutions for those problems. By critical science agency we refer to using science knowledge and other forms of distributed expertise to redress instances of injustice. We learned that youth enact critical science agency by developing and leveraging their scientific and community knowledge and practice towards designing solutions to problems that mattered in their community. In enacting critical science agency, youth made sense of and addressed intersecting scales of injustices. While developing their political consciousness of the injustices, they deepened and took ownership of their science expertise. In doing so they reshaped the knowledge and authority hierarchy in the science community through using and shared expansive expertise while enacting critical science agency. To learn more: Schenkel, K., Calabrese Barton, A., Tan, E. et al. (2019). Framing equity through a close examination of critical science agency. Cultural Studies of Science Education. doi.org/10.1007/s11422-019-09914-1

Theory of Change

We argue that in order for historically underrepresented youth in STEM to engage in productive identity work as part of developing engineering for sustainable communities expertise, the modes of student engagement necessarily need to integrate the salience of youth’s community ties via community ethnography as pedagogy, and youth’s engineering innovations be an agentic response that disrupts specific injustices that are youth and community defined. We argue that when youth’s engineering experiences are productive toward their establishing a rightful presence in the science classroom—where issues important to them can be addressed, stakeholders key to their engagement are welcome, and there is distributed expertise that can both emerge and be leveraged through iterative design and supported by community ties—then these engineering learning experiences can be described as equitable and consequential.

Our indicators of such include the ways in which particular students might participate, the range of expertise and knowledge made visible with widening recognition across space and time, and what artifacts students innovated in response to what kinds of issues the community collectively defined. We also pay attention to the impact of the made artifacts—the “afterlife” of the innovations—in how they function in precipitating the kinds of social change youth innovators hoped for.

Theoretical Frameworks

The theoretical frameworks we have drawn on in our published work stated above include:

  • Equitable and consequential engineering as and through establishing rightful presence in middle school engineering
  • Relationality between equity, multiple epistemologies, and onto-epistemologies in middle school engineering
  • Critical science agency in middle school engineering

Methodology

Our key methodology is social design experimentation through participatory approach. We engage partner teachers in iterative co-design and feedback of the I-Engineering curriculum and enactment. Due to the contextualized nature of community ethnography as a core foundation to the curriculum, teacher input and feedback is imperative throughout the process of I-Engineering curriculum design and enactment.

Products

Publications

Briefs
These are short 2-4-page briefs that introduce teachers to core conceptual ideas, which undergird our work. Each concept piece has associated practice-based tools (discussed in tool section below) and an associated set of teacher learning experiences we use in our professional development with teachers. These are downloadable from http://EngineerIam.org.

  • Teaching Engineering for Sustainable Communities in the Middle Grades
  • Productive Identity Work
  • Community Ethnography as Pedagogy
  • Equitable and Consequential Teaching & Learning

Lesson Plans/Design Challenges with an Engineering for Sustainable Communities Approach
We prototyped and piloted two design challenges that were intended to engage middle school students in the crosscutting concept of sustainability; the disciplinary core ideas of energy transformations, sources, and systems; and engineering practices. These materials were prototyped and piloted with teachers, youth, and researchers in three contexts: after school clubs in community centers, summer camps, and middle school classrooms. These are downloadable from http://EngineerIam.org

  • Electric Art: How can I make an original light-up greeting card or gift for my friend or someone in my family?
  • Sustainable Classrooms: How can I make my classroom community more sustainable?

Teaching and Learning Tools
We have developed both framework tools and action tools. These tools were used both in teacher professional development (framework tools and action tools) and in conjunction with the implementation of the two design challenges (action tools).

  • Framework toolsets: (1) productive identity work and (2) teaching engineering for sustainable communities, orienting teachers and students to themes as they move through the unit. Action tools support students and teachers in enacting big ideas of the frameworks into strategies and practices throughout the I-Engineering unit.
  • Teaching and learning action toolsets: (1) community engineering and ethnography tools for defining problems, and (2) integrating perspectives in design specification and optimization through iterative design-sketch-up and prototyping.

Website
http://EngineerIam.org  


Building Informed Designers

PI: J. Blake Hylton | Co-PIs: Bruce Wellman, Patrick Herak, Todd France

Description of Innovation

This project seeks to develop and deploy curriculum activities and assessment for high school science educators to use in incorporating engineering problem-framing content into their science courses. Rather than follow a wholesale course replacement model, such as Project Lead the Way, we are focused on discrete design modules that can be incorporated into an existing course as part of the regular curriculum. Through a unique model of teacher–researcher partnership, we are working closely with our participants to give them agency in how the activities are designed and to provide the necessary professional development to enable them to be successful in implementation. The degree to which teachers are engaged in the entire process rather than just as research subjects makes this project unique.

We are investigating the impact of our professional development activities on teacher engineering self-efficacy. As most of these educators are not trained as engineers or in the engineering design process, they are approaching the content from a novice position. As they move through the training and implementation process, we hope to increase their confidence across several factors. In addition, we are investigating the impact that our activities have on students. On the mindset side, we are exploring their interest in STEM as a career as well as their engineering design self-efficacy. On the knowledge and content side, we are designing the activities and assessment tools to allow us to identify stages of a learning progression in the engineering problem-framing knowledge area.

Findings/Results

The project is still in the activity development and pilot deployment stage, so no presentable findings are available.

Theory of Change

In terms of both students and teachers, our primary theory of change is grounded in self-efficacy, as first described in Bandura’s theory of social learning. Teacher self-efficacy regarding the subject material has been shown to have impacts on students’ psychological states and, by extension, student success. Many instruments exist for measuring teacher self-efficacy, including the Teaching Engineering Self-Efficacy Scale (TESS) – a tool developed specifically for measuring teacher preparedness in engineering. More specifically, the TESS was developed to examine teacher attitudes regarding engineering design, teamwork, and other related aspects of engineering. This is the primary instrument used for this study. In terms of students, we are using a valid and reliable instrument developed to assess student self-efficacy on various design tasks, specifically along the dimensions of confidence, motivation, expectations of success, and anxiety. We are also using the STEM Career Interest Survey (STEM-CIS) to examine student interest and motivation in pursuing a STEM career.

Theoretical Framework

The development of effective teaching strategies for problem framing relies on both research-informed activity design and an understanding of the learning progression associated with problem framing to inform activity implementation and assessment. Crismond’s and Adams’ work on the novice–expert framework (NEF) describes how this might be defined and be framed within the larger design knowledge progression and focuses on differences between novices’ and experts’ problem-solving characteristics, processes, and strategies, based on the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition. While the NEF provides the upper and lower bounds for the progression, a more nuanced understanding of the continuum from novice/beginner to informed designer is needed. Further, due to unavailability of the underlying learning activities and assessments, learning progression development must be completed in parallel with development of the tools to deploy and assess student learning in this space.

Methodology

Some of this has been addressed above, but a few things bear additional description. We are recruiting participants in a ramping roll out, starting with four, then eight, then 16 teacher participants spreading across biology, chemistry, physics, and the physical sciences. On-boarding participants attend a three-day summer workshop to receive foundational training in engineering design, to walk through the classroom activities, and to receive assistance in developing new activities and activity contexts. Participants then work with an in-district teacher-leader to develop an implementation plan over several additional professional development days before ultimately deploying the activities in their classrooms.

Products

Activities are not yet available, as we are still in the initial development and pilot stage. We are developing three different activity modes—one short activity focused on need finding, one short activity focused on bounding the design space, and a longer design-build activity. Each activity is contextualized in each of a series of design scenarios, each with explicit ties to various curriculum topics traditionally covered in the various science courses covered by the project.


Engineering Teacher Pedagogy: Using INSPIRES to Support Integration of Engineering Design in Science and Technology Classrooms

PI: Jonathan Singer | Co-PIs: Christopher Rakes, Richard Weisenhoff, Mary Boswell-McComas, Julia Ross

Description of Innovation

The INSPIRES (INcreasing Student Participation Interest and Recruitment in Engineering and Science) research program supports the integration of engineering design into high school biology and technology curricula and classroom practices. The INSPIRES curriculum was designed to be relevant to multiple STEM classrooms (i.e., science or technology education), low cost, and approximately three weeks in length.The curriculum aligns to the NGSS 3D learning framework as there are elements of STEM practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideasinfusedthroughout multiple lessons. Specifically, the INSPIRES curriculum addresses all four NGSS engineering design performance expectations (HS-ETS1) and all eight science and engineering practices. Together, the aforementioned features allow INSPIRES to offer unique and authentic learning opportunities for teachers and students of grade 9–12 STEM classrooms. The specific INSPIRES module used in this study was the INSPIRES Engineering in Healthcare: A Hemodialysis System Case Study. In the current research study, we implement the INSPIRES professional development (PD) model to investigate teacher pedagogical development over three years as a function of two distinct STEM learning environments: high school biology and technology education. The broad goal is to characterize the benefits and limitations of using an educative, curriculum-based PD model as a mechanism for strengthening teacher pedagogical skills for integrating engineering practices in high school STEM classrooms.

Findings/Results

Research findings suggest that reformed pedagogy improved significantly during this study. Gains in reformed practice (RTOP scores) as well as the integration of engineering practices (IC Map scores) were evident in lessons associated with the INSPIRES curriculum, particularly the Engineering Lessons. This finding implies that providing teachers with lesson exemplars can serve as effective scaffolding.

One reason why engineering lessons may be more reform oriented than the other lessons is because the design-based lessons may have pushed teachers from their comfort zones and encouraged them to follow the lesson plan more closely. Evidence for this speculation is presented when teachers enact specific pedagogical strategies in the INSPIRES Engineering Lesson, but not in the INSPIRES Science Lesson, even though the lesson plan guide prompts the use of these strategies in both lessons. For example, using student artifacts from prior lessons is explicitly encouraged in the guides for both Science and Engineering Lessons, although we observed teachers enacting student artifact-sharing more in Engineering than in Science Lessons. Similarly, both lesson plan guides encourage teachers to prompt students in sketching their experimental systems. Within the qualitative subsample, only technology education teachers followed this strategy during Science Lessons, while both biology and technology education teachers prompted design sketches in Engineering Lessons. In the latter example, technology education teachers may have followed the science-based lesson plan more closely than the biology teachers, perhaps because the non-science teachers require more support while enacting a lesson with a science focus. Then, perhaps all teachers sought extra support from the lesson plan guides when enacting a novel, engineering design-based lesson. Therefore, the qualitative analysis suggests that technology education teachers may have been following the Science Lesson plan more closely than biology teachers.

Teachers abilities to “transfer” these practices into their own lessons were mixed. RTOP comparisons between Baseline and Transfer lessons did demonstrate significant gains in subcategories associated with Procedural Knowledge and Classroom Culture. A similar pattern of growth, however, was not demonstrated with explicit engineering design practices as measured by the IC Maps instrument.

Additionally, there is not a significant difference between biology and technology education teachers’ pedagogical growth within the scope of this three-year study. We do find, however, a subtle divergence in rate of pedagogical growth between teachers in the treatment and control groups, as predicted by the experimental plan. To date, these findings provide insights for rethinking the structure of PD, particularly in the integrated use of an educative curriculum aligned with intended PD goals.

Methodology

A longitudinal triangulation mixed methods design guided the research. Biology (n=7) and technology education (n=12) teachers from a large suburban school district participated in the study. Seventeen biology and technology education teachers (N=6 and 11 respectively) volunteered in the treatment group for the full three-year study; nine biology and technology education teachers (N=5 and 4 respectively) volunteered in the control group. Twenty-seven and 21 teachers participated in the treatment and control groups, respectively, during the first year of this longitudinal study; steady participant attrition is typical for a study of this nature. The 15 represented schools form a typical characterization of the district by including both traditional and alternative environments for biology and technology education courses. Participants included both males (N=16) and females (N=12) who reported their race/ethnicity as Black (23%) or White (77%), and whose classroom teaching experience ranged from two to 28 years.

Teachers participating in the treatment group received an intervention in the form of INSPIRES content- and pedagogical-focused PD during summers and inter-spanning academic years, as well as all materials necessary to implement the INSPIRES Hemodialysis module in one or more classrooms during the first two years of the study. Teachers comprising the control group did not receive an intervention through the INSPIRES program. Instead, the control group provided a standard of corresponding longitudinal growth influenced by district-level PD, ongoing classroom experience, or other confounding factors that may shift how teachers approach implementation of NGSS.

The data were obtained from 90-minute (single lesson) classroom recordings at nine time points:

  1. The spring prior to Summer Institute (SI) 1 to determine baseline levels of teachers’ abilities to include NGSS engineering design standards (HS-ETS1) in a lesson (“Baseline”)
  2. After SI 1, during enactment of a science-based lesson of the project’s module (“SL1”)
  3. After SI 1, during enactment of an engineering-based lesson of the project’s module (“EL1”)
  4. After enactment of the project’s curriculum module, to determine the level of transferred NGSS engineering design-based skills (HS-ETS1) into a teacher-developed lesson (“T1”)
  5. After SI Year 2, during enactment of a science-based lesson of the project’s module (“SL2”)
  6. After SI 2, during enactment of an engineering-based lesson of the project’s module (“EL2”)
  7. After enactment of the project’s module in Year 2, to determine the level of transfer (“T2”)
  8. During 1st-quarter implementation of teacher-developed lessons, to measure transfer (“T3a”)
  9. During 2nd-quarter implementation of teacher-developed lessons, to measure transfer (“T3b”)

The treatment group participated in SI and academic year PD sessions and were sampled for data at all nine time points listed above. The control group did not participate in the project’s SI or PD sessions and were only sampled for data during transfer lesson time points 4, 7, and 8, above. Classroom recordings were rated by four coders using the Reformed Teaching Observation Protocol. The use of RTOP as both a quantitative and qualitative tool is well established in STEM educational research. Notably, the RTOP’s development is highlighted in its application to prior findings of the current study. Here, the coders developed, refined, and applied performance indicators to each numeric score level (0–4) in the 25-item RTOP rubric, which reduced subjectivity. Twenty percent of the recordings were scored by all coders. Interclass correlation coefficients (K) that ranked in the range of 0.75–1.00 were considered excellent, and ranks between 0.60-0.74 were considered good. The mean coefficient for recordings scored by all coders was K = 0.76 (± 0.11 SD). For all multi-coded recordings, discrepancies in item scores between coders were deliberated on until consensus was reached.

The RTOP items are subdivided into five categories that each contains five rubric items: lesson design, propositional knowledge, procedural knowledge, classroom culture, and teacher–student relationships. Each teacher recording received a single score for each subcategory by averaging the scores for its five items. A total average score was computed for all 25 items. Differences in total and subcategory averages across the nine lessons were analyzed with a repeated measures analysis of variance (rmANOVA) with one fixed factor of biology vs. technology education teachers. Further, rmANOVA allowed for comparisons between baseline and transfer lessons of teachers in the treatment vs. control groups.

Publications

  • Williams, T., Singer, J., Krikorian, J., Rakes, C., & Ross, J. (2018). Measuring pedagogy and the integration of engineering design in STEM classrooms. Journal of Science Education and Technology. doi: 10.1007/s10956-018-9756-y
  • Singer, J., Ross, J., & Lee, Y., (2016). Professional development for the integration of engineering in high school STEM classrooms. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research. https://docs.lib.purdue.edu/jpeer/vol6/iss1/3/
  • INSPIRES Team (in review). A high-quality educative curriculum in engineering fosters pedagogical growth. Manuscript draft available upon request:inspires@umbc.edu or emailing the project PI (Jonathan Singer - jsinger@umb.edu

Lesson Plan
Copies of the INSPIRES curriculum (Lesson plan) may be provided upon request: inspires@umbc.edu or emailing the project PI (jsinger@umb.edu)

Research Instrument
Modified RTOP instrument


Science and Engineering Education for Infrastructure Transformation (SEEIT)

PI: Charles Xie | Co-PIs: Pankaj Sharma, Senay Purzer

Description of Innovation

Infrastructure affects every student, irrespective of gender, race, or address. The need to improve infrastructure provides meaningful contexts, personal relevance, and other triggers of interest for all students to learn STEM. By situating learning at solving infrastructure problems in an authentic way, STEM education in high school—the final phase of formal education for many underprivileged students—can simultaneously accomplish its two major missions: developing a STEM-literate citizenry and developing a STEM-proficient workforce. Engineering education, an increasingly important part of K–12 education, represents a viable pathway to deliver this promise. The demand for STEM-proficient workers to rebuild America’s infrastructure, expected to rise in the foreseeable future, provides a strong rationale and opportunity to strengthen engineering education in high school—an area that has been relatively underdeveloped compared to its counterparts in elementary and middle schools. The SEEIT project demonstrates how problems in infrastructure engineering can be turned into opportunities for authentic learning, contributing thereby to forging a school-to-work transition model that serves both the citizenry and workforce goals of STEM education. Focused on two of the most important aspects of infrastructure overhaul, sustainable and smart, the project is developing and testing the Virtual Solar Grid, a hypothetical power system in which students explore the planet’s solar energy potential, and the Smart High School, an Internet of Things (IoT) platform on which students design intelligent systems for their schools.

Findings/Results

The project is currently in a pilot-test stage. The 654 photovoltaic and concentrated solar power projects that have been added to the Virtual Solar Grid hypothetically generate 0.16% of the global demand of electricity. The Smart Parking Lot project provides three different solutions for detecting the occupancy of a space using different sensors and physics, providing rich opportunities for students to learn trade-off in engineering design.

Products

The Virtual Solar Grid (http://vsg.concord.org) and the Smart High School IoT Platform


SmartCAD: Guiding Engineering Design with Science Simulations: Purdue University (Collaborative Research)

PI: Alejandra Magana-de-Leon | Co-PI: Brenda Capobianco

Description of Innovation

The major goal of the project is toexplore the educational value of science simulations for guiding secondary students through complex, authentic engineering design assisted by the envisioned SmartCAD in classrooms.

The research hypothesis is that appropriate applications of SmartCAD in the classroom will result in three learning outcomes: (1) science knowledge gains as indicated by a deeper understanding of the involved science concepts and their integration at the completion of a design project; (2) design competency gains as indicated by the increase of iterations, informed design decisions, and systems thinking over time; and (3) design performance improvements as indicated by a greater chance to succeed in designing a product that meets all the specifications within a given period of time. The foundational research questions are: What types of feedback from simulations to students are effective in helping them attain the outcomes? Under what conditions do these types of feedback help students attain the outcomes?

This project conducts design-based research on SmartCAD, a computer-aided design (CAD) system that supports secondary science and engineering with three embedded computational engines capable of simulating the mechanical, thermal, and solar performance of the built environment. These engines will allow SmartCAD to analyze student design artifacts on a scientific basis and provide automatic formative feedback in forms such as numbers, graphs, and visualizations to guide student design processes on an ongoing basis.

Findings/Results

The identification of the impact of a SmartCAD on students’ integrated STEM learning is the primary contribution of this project. A secondary contribution of this project is the identification of pedagogical methods and scaffolding strategies to support student learning and teacher professional development.

The grade-specific lesson plans that leverage and promote teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge integrate aspects of how teachers chose to provide guidance and feedback so students could better make sense of the science concepts and engineering practices mediated by the representations and feedback provided through SmartCAD. The proper orchestration of pedagogical methods with scaffolding strategies along with the affordances of SmartCAD for facilitating engineering design was identified as an effective approach to promote integrated STEM learning. Specifically, we identified that (a) Learning by Design was a useful pedagogical framework to design curriculum materials to effectively integrate science experiments with engineering design; (b) argumentation prompts along with design journals can support students to connect their science learning to inform their engineering design decisions; and (c) as teachers implemented these pedagogies and scaffolding strategies along with SmartCAD, they developed technological pedagogical content knowledge. A byproduct of these efforts has resulted in the development of a blueprint for SmartCAD teacher workshops based on the technological pedagogical content knowledge framework. This workshop has provided opportunity for the teachers to play the role of design partners in this research and help us refine our classroom resources.

A second outcome of this study relates to the identification of learning products that resulted from the engagement of the developed lesson plans and curriculum materials. Our curriculum materials have facilitated seamless learning of disciplinary concepts infused with science inquiry, engineering design, mathematical reasoning, and technological skills. For instance, a research study conducted in a middle school in the US with more than 400 students identified that students developed (a) better understanding of the relationships between variables and underlying science concepts, (b) used various mathematical analysis tools and graphical representations embedded in the available technology to inform their engineering design decisions, and (c) demonstrated idea fluency and performed systematic controlled experiments. The learning environment afforded formative feedback to understand the relationship between variables, provided converging evidences using multiple analytical tools, and enabled visual problem decomposition using a suboptimal model to engage students in integrated STEM learning. However, we have also encountered some challenges. So far we have identified that middle school students struggle with graph interpretation, and there is a lack of resources that support this critical process. Now, we have designed new resources for supporting students’ graph interpretation and are testing their effectiveness in the classrooms.

To explain students’ differences in the way they benefited from the learning materials, we further investigated students’ possible changes in their self-generated heuristics of science concepts before and after engaging in a design challenge using SmartCAD. We identified two groups: the naïve developing heuristic group and the semi-knowledgeable fixated heuristic group. The majority of the students in the naïve developing heuristic group demonstrated poor to below basic levels of heuristics use before they participated in the learning intervention. On the other hand, the majority of the students in the semi-knowledgeable fixated heuristic group demonstrated basic contextual and contextual levels of heuristics use. However, after being exposed to the learning intervention, students in the naïve developing heuristic group demonstrated significant learning gains, whereas students in the semi-knowledgeable fixated group did not increase their performance.

In addition, we have characterized students’ experimentation strategies in engineering design using logged data from SmartCAD. This work describes the different experimentation strategies within a continuum from beginning designer to informed designer. Students’ interactions with SmartCAD were recorded in the form of JSON files. These files were first cleaned and then loaded into a script that automatically counted the number of experiments as well as the number of controlled experiments. The number of uncontrolled and controlled experiments performed by students showed the different experimentation strategies employed by students.

The curriculum materials and findings of the research associated with this project have had a direct impact on middle school students and preservice teachers. In addition to new knowledge, this project generated curriculum materials and lesson plans that can be easily adapted and adopted by teachers to facilitate integrated STEM learning in the classroom, along with professional development.

As we performed design-based research throughout the duration of this project, more than 989 students were impacted at the K–12 level and 174 at the undergraduate level. Similarly 120 preservice teachers and 92 in-service teachers developed technological pedagogical content knowledge to implement these learning resources in their current and future classrooms. Moreover, one postdoctoral associate, one doctoral student, two master’s students, and three undergraduate students received training in educational research methods and learning design as part of this project.

Products

Publications

Presentations

  • Taleyarkhan, M., Dasgupta, C., Mendoza-Garcia, J. A., Magana, A., & Purzer, S. (2016). Investigating the impact of an educational CAD modeling tool on student design thinking. 123rd ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition. New Orleans, LA. https://peer.asee.org/investigating-the-impact-of-an-educational-cad-modeling-tool-on-student-design-thinking
  • Seah, Y. Y., Vieira, C., Dasgupta, C., & Magana, A. J. (2016). Exploring students' experimentation strategies in engineering design using an educational CAD tool. In Proceedings of the Frontiers in Education Conference (FIE) (pp. 1–5). New York, NY: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.  https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/abstract/document/7757470
  • Dasgupta, C. & Magana, A., & Chao, J. (2017). Scaffolding teachers for maximizing student learning of engineering design practices in formal classrooms. In Proceedings of the 2017 National Association for Research in Science Teaching. Reston, VA: NARST.
  • Dasgupta, C., Magana, A. J., & Chao, J. (2017). Investigating teacher's technological pedagogical content knowledge in a CAD-enabled learning environment. In Proceedings from the 124th ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition. Washington, DC: American Society for Engineering Education. https://peer.asee.org/28586.pdf
  • Piedrahita Uruena, Y., Rebello, C. M., Dasgupta, C., Magana, A., & Rebello, S. N. (2017). Impact of contrasting designs and argumentation scaffolds on elementary pre-service teachers? Use of science ideas in engineering design tasks. In Proceedings for the 2017 Physics Education Research Conference. Physics Education Research Topical Group (PERTG) and the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). https://www.compadre.org/per/items/detail.cfm?ID=14655
  • Vieira, C. Magana, A. J., & Purzer, S. (2017). Identifying engineering students? Design practices using process data. 2017 Research in Engineering Education Symposium (REES2017). Bogota, Colombia. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Camilo_Vieira2/publication/31868541...'_Design_Practices_Using_Process_Data/links/5977a430a6fdcc30bdbadb5c/Identifying-Engineering-Students-Design-Practices-Using-Process-Data.pdf
  • Rebello, C. M., Piedrahita Uruena, Y., Dasgupta, C., Magana, A., & Rebello, S. N. (2018). Contrasting designs and argumentation scaffolds impact pre-service elementary teachers' science ideas in engineering design tasks. In Proceedings of the 2018 National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) Annual International Conference. Reston, VA: NARST.

Theses


SmartCAD: Guiding Engineering Design with Science Simulations: Purdue University (Collaborative Research)

PI: Charles Xie | Co-PI: Saeid Nourian

Description of Innovation

This project is developing and testing a revolutionary artificial intelligence (AI) engine to automatically assess student designs in an integrated computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided engineering (CAE) environment that we have created for learning and teaching engineering design. Reliable assessment of complex design is extremely challenging because of its massive open-endedness. Sometimes, even seasoned engineers make mistakes in judging a design decision. Our tabula rasa AI engine is not reliant on human experience—it uses evolutionary computation to generate in real time a vast number of possible design options within the same solution space where the student works and then compares the student solution with those options. The distance between an optimal solution generated by AI and the student solution approximately represents the quality of the latter—if the student has already designed a good solution, it should be near an optimum; the further the student solution is away from an optimum, the more room it has for improvements. Feedback to the student can thus be automatically generated based on this analysis. With these advanced capabilities, our interactive AI technology promises to offload instructional burdens on teachers when implementing authentic engineering design projects, making it more likely for them to adopt project-based learning materials for engineering education. The technology is highly scalable and personalized—every student is equipped with an AI design assistant that can adapt to their pace within the zone of proximal development guaranteed by the computer algorithms.

Findings/Results

We are currently conducting a controlled study to compare the results of AI assessment and peer assessment. We have completed three rounds of clinical trials through which we iteratively improved our technologies and materials for both control and experimental groups. We are planning mid-scale pilot tests in the fall of 2019.

Products

Energy3D: An open-source research platform for studying design intelligence and computational creativity (http://energy3d.concord.org).