June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
12.265.1 - 12.265.19
Assessing English as a Second Language Middle School Students' Ability to Learn Engineering Concepts
This paper presents evidence that English as a second language (ESL) middle school students can effectively learn engineering concepts through a sequence of one hour, hands-on activities. Electrical and mechanical engineering concepts are introduced through an integrated sequence of one hour modules. These cross-disciplinary modular activities include exploring mechanical potential through flowing water, building electric circuits, and using this knowledge to build a model electric car. These engineering-based activities provide a rich source for enhancing academic language skills through speaking and writing in English. Methods for training undergraduate and graduate Engineering Teaching Fellows to work effectively with ESL students are provided. The process of creating K-12 engineering-based lessons and activities for publication in the TeachEngineering Digital Library, part of the National Science Digital Library, is outlined using the engineering-based curricular unit created in this project. This project was completed by a senior undergraduate student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Duke University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Bachelor of Science in Engineering Degree.
Introduction and Background
This paper discusses how meaningful engineering content may be taught in an English as a second language (ESL) class by undergraduate or graduate Engineering Teaching Fellows. It discusses the skills necessary for an Engineering Teaching Fellow to be able to teach effectively in an ESL classroom and examines ways of preparing Engineering Teaching Fellows to work in ESL classrooms. The work of one of the Fellows in the Engineering K-PhD Program at Duke University is used as a case study for effective teaching of engineering content in the ESL classroom. The case study was performed at Sherwood Githens Middle School in Durham, NC. In-class time consisted of seven weekly, one-hour class blocks. The class was composed of eight ESL students including six Hispanic students and two Southeast Asian students, all of whom have been in the United States for less than two years and have a novice level of English proficiency. All were in sixth grade, and their abilities to use the English language were extremely limited. Their teacher described the students’ average English reading capability as below grade level, equivalent to lower elementary. From this case study, methods for training graduate and undergraduate Engineering Teaching Fellows to work with ESL students are presented, and suggested pedagogical methods are provided. Evidence for student learning among case study participants is provided. Finally, the process of publishing these lessons and activities in the TeachEngineering digital library is described.
Engineering provides a vehicle to teach middle school students that they can use science and mathematics as tools to creatively design and build solutions to problems. Numerous outreach programs placing graduate and undergraduate engineering students in K-12 classrooms as Engineering Teaching Fellows have demonstrated the ability to positively impact K-12 students through instruction in engineering1-6. The National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate
Klenk, P., & Dreher, F., & Condon, E., & Ybarra, G., & Oliver, L., & Kelly, G., & Shaw, N. (2007, June), Assessing English As A Second Language Middle School Students' Ability To Learn Engineering Concepts Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/1641
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