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Board 219: Asset-Based Practices in a Steam Middle School: Lessons Learned from Teachers’ Perspectives

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2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Joel Alejandro Mejia The University of Texas, San Antonio Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Joel Alejandro (Alex) Mejia is an Associate Professor with joint appointment in the Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering and the Department of Bicultural-Bilingual Studies at The University of Texas at San Antonio. His research has contributed to the integration of critical theoretical frameworks in engineering education to investigate deficit ideologies and their impact on minoritized communities. His work seeks to analyze and describe the assets, tensions, contradictions, and cultural collisions many Latino/a/x students experience in engineering through testimonios. He is particularly interested in approaches that contribute to a more expansive understanding of engineering in sociocultural contexts, the impact of critical consciousness in engineering practice, and the development and implementation of culturally responsive pedagogies in engineering education.

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Alberto Esquinca San Diego State University

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Alberto Esquinca is an Associate Professor in the Department of Dual Language and English Learner Education at San Diego State University.

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Luis E Montero-Moguel The University of Texas, San Antonio

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Luis Montero is a Ph.D. student in Interdisciplinary Learning and Teaching specializing in STEM Education at The University of Texas at San Antonio. The University of Texas at San Antonio. He holds a graduate certificate in iSTEM Education from The University of Texas at San Antonio and is currently pursuing a graduate certificate in Engineering Education at the same institution. His research focus is expanding equitable and high-quality learning opportunities for engineering students through mathematical modeling. His research focuses on exploring the process of refining mathematical ideas and engineering concepts that students develop while engaging in model-development curricular sequences built in real engineering contexts.

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This NSF-funded study sought to explore the ways in which middle school teachers developed an understanding and appreciation for funds of knowledge. The study provided teachers with opportunities to collaborate with a group of researchers with expertise in bilingual education, engineering education and learning sciences to create activities that integrated a funds of knowledge approach. To counter the idea that language and STEM content are mutually exclusive, we sought to challenge deficit models in STEM by co-constructing learning experiences with teachers and acknowledging the wealth of knowledge that Latino/a/x students possess. In this paper, we focus on how middle school teachers from science, language arts and social sciences integrated aspects of funds of knowledge and STEAM to develop and implement an activity. Eight teachers from a STEAM-focused middle school near the U.S.-Mexico border were recruited to participate in this study. The research question that guided this study was: What strategies were most helpful in developing teachers’ understanding and elicitation of funds of knowledge? In this paper, we focus on four of the teachers that were part of the project throughout the four years. The four teachers included one computer science/science teacher (female, white), one bilingual mathematics teacher (female, Latina), one bilingual social science teacher (male, Latino), and one 7th grade Spanish teacher (female, Latina). We collected data from classroom observations, teacher interviews, group discussions with the research team, and teacher meeting check-ins. For this paper, we focused on classroom observations and teacher interviews. The data collected were analyzed using inductive and deductive coding, starting with a list of a-priori codes. Four members of the research team analyzed the data using Dedoose after agreement was reached on a singular coding scheme. Data suggests that teachers were already taking actions to elicit students’ funds of knowledge in different ways, such as facilitating classroom discussions with prompts and scaffolds. In addition, teachers were reminded that language is an important fund of knowledge that should be considered as a fundamental part of learning STEAM-related content. The most helpful strategies included reading materials related to funds of knowledge, the professional development workshops, the one-on-one meetings with teachers, and the coaching strategies used by the research team. Overall, these strategies let to the use of role models, bringing their own personal experiences into STEAM teaching, using anecdotes, co-creating materials with researchers, and engaging in cross-disciplinary collaborations to recognize and elicit funds of knowledge. The results from this research suggest teachers can develop STEAM units or activities by observing and documenting the spaces, practices, and knowledge familiar to their students, particularly their U.S.-Mexico border experiences (i.e., transfronterize experiences).

Mejia, J. A., & Esquinca, A., & Montero-Moguel, L. E. (2023, June), Board 219: Asset-Based Practices in a Steam Middle School: Lessons Learned from Teachers’ Perspectives Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--42642

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