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A methodological approach for researching online teacher professional development

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Conference

Middle Atlantic ASEE Section Spring 2021 Conference

Location

Virtual

Publication Date

April 9, 2021

Start Date

April 9, 2021

End Date

April 10, 2021

Page Count

23

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/36280

Download Count

52

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Paper Authors

biography

Matthew M Johnson Penn State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-6987-2670

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Matt is an Assistant Professor with the Center for Science and the Schools in the College of Education at Penn State University. His research interests focus on how teachers learn about epistemic practices of engineers through in-service teacher professional development programs and how they provide opportunities for students to engage in them to learn disciplinary content.

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Tiffany M. Lewis Penn State Center for Science and the Schools

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Tiffany is a STEM Education Outreach Specialist at the Penn State Center for Science and the Schools (CSATS) and a former high school biology teacher. Her role at CSATS is to work with Penn State research faculty to bring current research to the classroom by developing content-specific professional development for precollege teachers. Tiffany’s main interest lies in helping teachers break down the walls of the traditional classroom by engaging students in the practices of scientists and engineers through classroom research projects based on authentic research.

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Christine M Cunningham Pennsylvania State University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-1922-7101

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Dr. Christine Cunningham is an educational researcher who works to make engineering and science more relevant, accessible, and understandable, especially for underserved and underrepresented populations. She is currently a Professor of Education and Engineering at Penn State University where she focuses on developing research-based, field-tested curricula, professional development, and research. For sixteen years, she worked as a vice president at the Museum of Science where she was the Founding Director of Engineering is Elementary, a groundbreaking program that integrates engineering concepts into preschool, elementary, and middle school curriculum and teacher professional development. Her recent book, Engineering in Elementary STEM Education, describes what she learned. Cunningham has previously served as director of engineering education research at the Tufts University Center for Engineering Educational Outreach, where her work focused on integrating engineering with science, technology, and math in professional development for K-12 teachers. She also directed the Women’s Experiences in College Engineering (WECE) project, the first national, longitudinal, large-scale study of the factors that support young women pursuing engineering degrees. At Cornell University, where she began her career, she created environmental science curricula and professional development. Cunningham has received a number of awards; in 2017 her work was recognized with the prestigious Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education. Cunningham holds joint B.A. and M.A. degrees in biology from Yale University and a Ph.D. in Science Education from Cornell University.

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Chantal Giroux Balesdent Penn State University

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Dr. Chantal Balesdent is the PK-12 Engineering Education Manager in the College of Education at Penn State University. Her work aims to increase educators’ confidence in teaching engineering with children across the country. She manages an experienced team working to develop the next generation of precollege engineering curricular materials and professional learning opportunities.

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Abstract

COVID-19 has altered the landscape of teaching and learning. For those in in-service teacher education, workshops have been suspended causing programs to adapt their professional development to a virtual space to avoid indefinite postponement or cancellation. This paradigm shift in the way we conduct learning experiences creates several logistical and pedagogical challenges but also presents an important opportunity to conduct research about how learning happens in these new environments. This paper describes the approach we took to conduct research in a series of virtual workshops aimed at teaching rural elementary teachers about engineering practices and how to teach a unit from an engineering curriculum.

Our work explores how engineering concepts and practices are socially constructed through interactions with teachers, students, and artifacts. This approach, called interactional ethnography has been used by the authors and others to learn about engineering teaching and learning in precollege classrooms. The approach relies on collecting data during instruction, such as video and audio recordings, interviews, and artifacts such as journal entries and photos of physical designs. Findings are triangulated by analyzing these data sources.

This methodology was going to be applied in an in-person engineering education workshop for rural elementary teachers, however the pandemic forced us to conduct the workshops remotely. Teachers, working in pairs, were sent workshop supplies, and worked together during the training series that took place over Zoom over four days for four hours each session. The paper describes how we collected video and audio of teachers and the facilitators both in whole group and in breakout rooms. Class materials and submissions of photos and evaluations were managed using Google Classroom. Teachers took photos of their work and scanned written materials and submitted them all by email. Slide decks were shared by the users and their group responses were collected in real time. Workshop evaluations were collected after each meeting using Google Forms. Evaluation data suggest that the teachers were engaged by the experience, learned significantly about engineering concepts and the knowledge-producing practices of engineers, and feel confident about applying engineering activities in their classrooms.

This methodology should be of interest to the membership for three distinct reasons. First, remote instruction is a reality in the near-term but will likely persist in some form. Although many of us prefer to teach in person, remote learning allows us to reach many more participants, including those living in remote and rural areas who cannot easily attend in-person sessions with engineering educators, so it benefits the field to learn how to teach effectively in this way. Second, it describes an emerging approach to engineering education research. Interactional ethnography has been applied in precollege classrooms, but this paper demonstrates how it can also be used in teacher professional development contexts. Third, based on our application of interactional ethnography to an education setting, readers will learn specifically about how to use online collaborative software and how to collect and organize data sources for research purposes.

Johnson, M. M., & Lewis, T. M., & Cunningham, C. M., & Balesdent, C. G. (2021, April), A methodological approach for researching online teacher professional development Paper presented at Middle Atlantic ASEE Section Spring 2021 Conference, Virtual . https://peer.asee.org/36280

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2021 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015