April 9, 2021
April 9, 2021
April 10, 2021
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
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