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A Teacher’s Use of Engineering Language in an Engineering Design-based STEM Integration Unit (Fundamental)

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Middle School Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Emilie A. Siverling Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Emilie A. Siverling is a Ph.D. Candidate in Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an M.S.Ed. in Science Education from Purdue University, and she is a former high school chemistry and physics teacher. Her research interests are in K-12 STEM integration, primarily using engineering design to support secondary science curricula and instruction.

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Tamara J. Moore Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Tamara J. Moore, Ph.D., is a Professor in the School of Engineering Education and Director of STEM Integration in the INSPIRE Institute at Purdue University. Dr. Moore’s research is centered on the integration of STEM concepts in K-12 and postsecondary classrooms in order to help students make connections among the STEM disciplines and achieve deep understanding. Her work focuses on defining STEM integration and investigating its power for student learning. Tamara Moore received an NSF Early CAREER award in 2010 and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2012.

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Siddika Selcen Guzey Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Guzey is an assistant professor of science education at Purdue University. Her research and teaching focus on integrated STEM Education.

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Engineering practices and concepts are increasingly expected to be taught in pre-college classrooms, as reflected in state and national science standards (e.g., the Next Generation Science Standards). One important practice for pre-college students and teachers to develop is the ability to communicate engineering effectively, which includes understanding and using engineering design language. Additionally, in STEM integration curricula, it is important for the integration to be made explicit. As such, in integrated STEM units, it is important that engineering language be used not only during lessons in which engineering content and practices are the focus, but also in the non-engineering design-focused lessons. The first step in using engineering language in the classroom is through teachers’ use of engineering terminology. Therefore, this study explores how a teacher used engineering language during non-engineering design-focused lessons of an engineering design-based STEM integration unit. Specifically, this is divided into two sub-questions: a) What engineering language does the teacher use?, and b) When in each lesson and in what contexts is engineering language used?

The teacher who was the focus of this study had previously worked with two other seventh-grade life science teachers to develop the engineering design-based STEM integration unit Loon Nesting Platforms. This unit integrated science concepts related to ecology, mathematics concepts related to area and proportions, and an engineering design challenge. During the first five lessons of the unit, students learned about the engineering challenge and the science and mathematics content needed to generate engineering solutions during the last two lessons. Video data, including the teacher’s audio and relevant gestures, from these first five non-engineering design-focused lessons were analyzed via thematic analysis. Deductive analysis was done using a framework of engineering language that was developed by merging three prominent pre-college engineering education documents. These excerpts of engineering language were also inductively analyzed to determine when and in what context the engineering language was used.

Preliminary results show that the word used most frequently by the teacher during the non-engineering design-focused lessons was “build/building,” with the next four most common terms also representing steps in problem scoping and early solution generation: design/designing, (engineering) problem, explore/exploring, and plan/planning. With one exception, the teacher used engineering language in the first or last 10 minutes of each class period, and the most common context of the language was as a unit timeline reference. In other words, the teacher frequently used engineering language to tell the class where they currently were in the design process and where they were going next. This study demonstrates how engineering language can be used to provide context during lessons for which the main focus is science or mathematics content. However, it also suggests a need for professional development leaders and teacher to be explicit and purposeful with engineering language.

Siverling, E. A., & Moore, T. J., & Guzey, S. S. (2018, June), A Teacher’s Use of Engineering Language in an Engineering Design-based STEM Integration Unit (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--29741

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