June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Pre-College Engineering Education Division
We present a model for professional development that emerged from our work with 24 middle school mathematics and science teachers in rural Appalachia. The model utilizes iterative design/redesign to address “the engineering problem” of building teacher content knowledge. Teachers Engaged in STEM and Literacy (TESAL) is a three year Math Science Partnership providing proximal context for developing this model. TESAL involved two weeks professional development each summer, two days each semester, and classroom observations/support. Teachers participated all three years and created then implemented and refined two lesson plans per year. TESAL involved 24 participating teachers from four counties with 41% to 67% low-income students, less than 80% highly qualified mathematics or science teachers, and below average mathematics and science test scores in a state well below the national average.
Our model includes the following steps, which we will explain in detail in the full paper should this abstract be accepted.
Step 1: Identify mathematics and science knowledge gaps utilizing established standardized assessments (e.g., Diagnostic Teacher Assessments in Mathematics and Science [DTAMS], Force Concept Inventory [FCI]).
Step 2: Engage teachers as learners in design tasks requiring that knowledge and including mathematical modeling for prediction prior to building and testing designs.
Step 3: Evaluated productive struggle and teacher learning through observations, focus group interviews, and pre-post testing with standardized assessments.
Step 4: Redesigned design tasks to further support teacher learning, and require participating teachers to implement design lessons addressing related knowledge gaps with their students.
As an example, we focus here on Real World Newtonian Physics (Next Generation Science Standard MS-PS2-2) where 12 of 24 teachers incorrectly identified relative motion of a dropped object and how to consider friction forces in initial DTAMS testing. Teachers experienced a roller coaster design project lesson as learners with the task to build a paper roller coaster so a marble took 45 seconds to traverse the track. Conversations during the coaster project and later classroom observations highlighted content knowledge gaps where teachers had misconceptions about how mass of a marble influences travel on the track; confusing how potential energy, kinetic energy, force, and speed differentiate. We developed new design modules for teachers requiring them to build and test ramps at various heights to launch small and large marbles first to hit a target and later to hit target with enough force to break a napkin. Measurements from designs with small marbles were used to build mathematical models predicting mechanics with large marbles.
We will provide in the full paper detailed supporting evidence for the model from classroom observations, focus groups, and content knowledge tests. Briefly, teachers improved targeted FCI items and overall DTAMS scores. In focus groups, teachers talked about productive struggle with critical mathematical and science content, understanding the process deeply enough to guide their students effectively, the importance of redesign, and how this professional development experience was dramatically different and more valuable than others they had experienced.
Curtis, R., & Bolyard, J., & Cairns, D., & Loomis, D. L., & Mathew, S., & Watts, K. L. (2017, June), Building Middle School Teacher Mathematics and Science Content Knowledge through Engineering Design (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27989
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