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Classroom Teacher-Enrichment Teacher Pairs: Co-Teaching as a Means to Implement Elementary Engineering Education

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Research Related to Learning and Teaching Engineering in Elementary Classrooms

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.329.1 - 22.329.31



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Paper Authors


Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue Towson University

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Dr. Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue is an Assistant Professor of Science Education in the Department of Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences at Towson University. She began her career as process engineer, taught high school physics and pre-engineering, and has been involved in both Project Lead the Way and Project FIRST robotics. She was a Hub Site Partner for Engineering is Elementary (EiE) through their National Dissemination through Regional Partners program. As a pre-service teacher educator, she has added engineering to her elementary and early childhood science methods courses. She has taught engineering to children in informal settings, and is a partner with Harford County Public Schools (Maryland) on a district-wide project to implement elementary engineering instruction using EiE units of instruction. Her research includes examining the ways in which children and adults critically analyze technologies, and investigations of factors that support and those that hinder elementary teachers as they learn to teach engineering.

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Classroom Teacher - Enrichment Teacher Pairs: Co-Teaching as a Means to Implement Elementary Engineering EducationCo-teaching is when teachers work together to prepare to teach, teach, and reflect on teachingand learning. This paper describes co-teaching by 28 classroom and 8 enrichment teachers from7 schools as they taught integrated science-technology-engineering (STE) units of instruction forthe first time to a total of 24 3rd grade and 19 4th grade classrooms. Mixed methods were utilizedto explore teacher perspectives on the nature and value of their co-teaching experiences.Background. The 36 teachers participated in the 2009-2010 pilot year of the “SySTEmicProject,” which aims to integrate one Engineering is Elementary (EiE) unit into one science unitin each of grades one through five for all children in a 40,000-pupil district by 2014. Enrichmentteachers (generally, one per school) were included to provide support to classroom teachers viaco-teaching. Enrichment teachers received two 9-hour long professional development sessionsfor the 3rd and 4th grade STE-integrated units, respectively. Classroom teachers attended a singlesession for their grade level only.Research Questions. This study was part of a larger investigation of teacher perspectives onfactors that support or hinder STE instruction. Research questions regarding co-teaching were asfollows:1. What were teachers’ perceptions about co-teaching in general and co-teaching the STE-integrated units, specifically? How did these perceptions change throughout the implementation process?2. What factors seemed to affect the nature and quality of co-teaching experiences?3. What were teachers’ perspectives on the essential actions enrichment teachers can take to support STE instruction?Methodology. This study was conducted in three phases. Phase I involved two co-teaching pairsin an early pilot (spring 2009) of the 3rd-grade STE-integrated unit. Co-teaching issues wereidentified via analysis of interview data and classroom observations. These issues informed thedevelopment of three survey instruments for Phase II. These surveys measured the 36 teachers’perceptions of co-teaching at three points during the 2009-2010 year. Response rates were: 1)pre-implementation, 100%; 2) mid-implementation, 92.9%; and 3) post-implementation, 94.4%.In Phase III, 21 of the 36 teachers were interviewed to add depth to the survey data.Findings. The paper describes the development of survey instruments from Phase I, as well asthe quantitative and qualitative findings from the Phase II surveys and Phase III interviews.Explored in depth is the importance of co-teaching during key parts of the engineering designprocess. These key parts require not only an “extra pair of hands,” but also the participation of anadditional informed person in the classroom who can ask probing questions to get students toexplain their thinking and design choices.Impact. By exploring the aforementioned research questions, co-teaching models in theSySTEmic Project can be shaped to meet the needs of children and teachers as the SySTEmicProject grows. Further, others engaged in efforts to teach engineering at the elementary level willbenefit from this work by being able to consider the strengths and potential problems of usingclassroom-enrichment teacher pairs as a means to implement elementary engineering instruction.

Lottero-Perdue, P. S. (2011, June), Classroom Teacher-Enrichment Teacher Pairs: Co-Teaching as a Means to Implement Elementary Engineering Education Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17610

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