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A Workshop to Aid High School Science Teachers in Developing Engineering Design Activities (Evaluation)

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division: Evaluation: Exploring the Impact of Programs & Professional Development for K-12 Teachers

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Kathleen A. Harper The Ohio State University

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Kathleen A. Harper is a senior lecturer in the Department of Engineering Education at The Ohio State University. She received her M. S. in physics and B. S. in electrical engineering and applied physics from Case Western Reserve University, and her Ph. D. in physics from The Ohio State University. She has been on the staff of Ohio State’s University Center for the Advancement of Teaching, in addition to teaching in both the physics department and college of engineering. Her research interests address a broad spectrum of educational topics, including teaching of problem solving skills and incorporating research-based methods in K-20 classrooms.

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The Ohio State University has offered a series of workshops in science Modeling Instruction for area chemistry and physics teachers for over a decade. During the history of this program, the nation has seen an increased awareness of the importance of incorporating engineering topics in high schools. While some schools have chosen to offer specialized engineering courses, this is not possible at many schools. Even where specific engineering courses are an option, students with already full schedules may not be able to devote an entire term to exploring what it means to be an engineer. While it might not take the place of a dedicated course, a more realistic option for schools in those situations might be to incorporate engineering design activities into existing science courses.

In the summer of 2015, a special one-week workshop was made available to previous Modeling participants. This workshop was advertised to “help teachers incorporate engineering concepts into their existing chemistry and physics courses.” The workshop introduced the participants to engineering design concepts, described how engineering problem solving differs from much of the problem solving presented in science courses, and presented an overview of engineering accreditation. The bulk of the time, though, was dedicated to teachers developing new engineering design activities, testing them on each other, and then refining them based on the subsequent feedback.

The teachers developed and tested two different types of activities. The first kind was to be a relatively quick project (designed to take one or two class periods) to serve as a vehicle for introducing an engineering design process to students. For the second activity, teachers designed an engineering design challenge that they could use to replace an already existing lab practicum in their curriculum. The resulting design activities involved a variety of science concepts and involved several engineering disciplines.

Teachers found the workshop to be worthwhile and are planning to share their experiences with other Modeling teachers at events during the school year. The instructor is preparing to visit classrooms of several of the teachers late in the school year to observe their implementations of some activities. Based upon the quality of the products developed and the teachers’ feedback, the workshop will be improved and offered in subsequent years.

Harper, K. A. (2016, June), A Workshop to Aid High School Science Teachers in Developing Engineering Design Activities (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26484

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