June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
Educational Research and Methods
15.200.1 - 15.200.8
Development of an Instrument to Assess Elementary Teachers’ Design Process Knowledge: Findings from a Pilot Test Abstract
As more states are adding engineering to their teaching and learning standards, teacher professional development activities are necessary to foster teachers’ familiarity with engineering and design content. We are in the process of developing an instrument to assess teachers’ knowledge of the engineering design process. This paper describes findings from one pilot test of the instrument.
The instrument (the design process knowledge task) was piloted with sixty-two elementary school teachers who attended a professional development workshop that introduced an engineering design process model that the teachers could use in their classrooms. The design process knowledge task was given to the teachers before and after the workshop. Quantitative analysis showed that there were significant differences between pre-test scores and post-test scores. We discuss the findings from this pilot study in terms of the concepts of design for which the instrument captured differences as well as the concepts where the instrument did not capture differences. The findings from the study provide insights into how the instrument can be further refined as well as insights into potential areas where teachers may need additional scaffolding in order to infuse engineering in their classrooms.
Engineering design has been identified as one of the key concepts to be learned at the K-12 level1. Recent studies have provided evidence that learning engineering content, especially engineering design, can motivate students and facilitate the learning of science2. One of the frameworks that researchers use to understand design is to characterize the process of design 3, 4. New reports on engineering education have also recognized the design process as an important part of K-12 engineering learning5.
Consequently, more and more states are adding engineering content, including design, as part of their K-12 teaching and learning standards. Efforts to include engineering at the K-12 level need to include teachers as one of the primary agents of engineering education. However, studies like the one conducted by Yasar et al. pointed out that K-12 teachers exhibited low familiarity with design and engineering content 6, which pointed out the need for teacher preparation in the field. There is a need to explore ways to assess teachers’ familiarity with engineering and design content in order to i) understand teachers’ initial understating of engineering and design and ii) make suggestions on the scaffolding we can give to teachers. We describe in this paper the efforts we made to develop an instrument that measures teachers’ knowledge about the engineering design process as well as some findings from a pilot study of the instrument.
In order to assess elementary school teachers’ understanding of the engineering design process, we are in the process of developing an instrument based on an existing instrument used to
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