Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Pre-College Engineering Education
K-12 teachers serve a critical role in their students’ development of interest in engineering, especially as engineering content is emphasized in curriculum standards. However, teachers may not be comfortable teaching engineering in their classrooms as it can require a different set of skills from which they are trained. Professional development activities focused on engineering content can help teachers feel more comfortable teaching the subject in their classrooms and can increase their knowledge of engineering and thus their engineering teaching self-efficacy. There are many different types of professional development activities teachers might experience, each one with a set of established best practices.
VT PEERS (Virginia Tech Partnering with Educators and Engineers in Rural Communities) is a program designed to provide recurrent hands-on engineering activities to middle school students in or near rural Appalachia. The project partners middle school teachers, university affiliates, and local industry partners throughout the state region to develop and implement engineering activities that align with state defined standards of learning (SOLs). Throughout this partnership, teachers co-facilitate engineering activities in their classrooms throughout the year with the other partners, and teachers have the opportunity to participate in a two-day collaborative workshop every year. VT PEERS held a workshop during the summer of 2019, after the second year of the partnership, to discuss the successes and challenges experienced throughout the program. Three focus groups, one for each grade level involved (grades 6-8), were held during the summit for teachers and industry partners to discuss their experiences. None of the teachers involved in the partnership have formal training in engineering. The transcripts of these focus groups were the focus of the exploratory qualitative data analyses to answer the following research question: How do middle-school teachers develop teaching engineering self-efficacy through professional development activities? Deductive coding of the focus group transcripts was completed using the four sources of self-efficacy: mastery experience, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion and physiological states. The analysis revealed that vicarious experiences can be particularly valuable to increasing teachers’ teaching engineering self-efficacy. For example, teachers valued the ability to play the role of a student in an engineering lesson and being able to share ideas about teaching engineering lessons with other teachers. This information can be useful to develop engineering-focused professional development activities for teachers. Additionally, as teachers gather information from their teaching engineering vicarious experiences, they can inform their own teaching practices and practice reflective teaching as they teach lessons.
Schilling, M. R., & Paradise, T., & Grohs, J. R., & Matusovich, H. M., & Carrico, C., & Lesko, H. L., & Kirk, G. R. (2020, June), Changes in Teacher Self-efficacy Through Engagement in an Engineering Professional Development Partnership Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34272
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