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Contemporary STEM Issues: Engineering Training of Pre-Service Teachers for Middle School STEM Curriculum Development (Evaluation)

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Professional Development for Pre-Service and In-Service Teachers

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Sylvia W. Thomas University of South Florida

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Dr. Sylvia Wilson Thomas is currently an Associate Professor in Electrical Engineering and former Assistant Dean for the College of Engineering at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. She holds several patents and has over twenty-five years of experience in industry and academia.

Research Interests

Sylvia Wilson Thomas, Ph.D. leads the Advanced Materials Bio and Integration Research (AMBIR) laboratory at USF. Dr. Thomas' research and teaching endeavors are focused on advanced materials for alternative energy sources, sustainable environments, aerospace, and bio-applications from the micro to the nano scale. Her research investigates the fabrication of inorganic and organic thin films and nanofibers for device integration. Thomas’ research group specializes in characterizing, modeling, and integrating materials that demonstrate high levels of biocompatibility, thermal reflectivity, mechanical robustness, and environmental sustainability, such as carbides, sol-gel coatings, high temperature oxides, and several polymers. Her research is interdisciplinary in nature and fosters collaborations with Chemical and Biomedical, Mechanical, and Environmental Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, Public Health, Medicine, and the Nanotechnology Research and Education Center (NREC). In addition, she has several years of experience in mentoring, advising, and educating diverse students.

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Scott W. Campbell University of South Florida

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Dr. Scott Campbell has been on the faculty of the Department of Chemical & Biomedical Engineering at the University of South Florida since 1986. He currently serves as the department undergraduate advisor. Scott was a co-PI on an NSF STEP grant for the reform of the Engineering Calculus sequence at USF. This grant required him to build relationships with engineering faculty of other departments and also faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences. Over the course of this grant, he advised over 500 individual calculus students on their course projects. He was given an Outstanding Advising Award by USF and has been the recipient of numerous teaching awards at the department, college, university (Jerome Krivanek Distinguished Teaching Award) and state (TIP award) levels. Scott is also a co-PI of a Helios-funded Middle School Residency Program for Science and Math (for which he teaches the capstone course) and is on the leadership committee for an NSF IUSE grant to transform STEM Education at USF. His research is in the areas of solution thermodynamics and environmental monitoring and modeling.

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Manopriya Devisetty Subramanyam University of South Florida Orcid 16x16


Cheryl R. Ellerbrock University of South Florida

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Cheryl R. Ellerbrock is an Associate Professor of Middle Grades and General Secondary Education at the University of South Florida. Her research and teaching interests center on ways to promote responsive secondary school experiences for young adolescent learners and middle level preservice teacher preparation.

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Contemporary STEM Issues: Engineering Training of Pre-Service Teachers for Middle School STEM Curriculum Development (Evaluation)

Abstract Essential to meeting the challenge for a “world-leading STEM workforce and a scientifically, mathematically, and technologically literate populace” is the effective integration of technology and engineering in K-12 curricula. Key to this process is current teachers, and even more critical, future teachers (pre-service). This work is particularly interested in the engineering training of pre-service teachers during their engagement with middle school students, their understanding of their role in strengthening the engineering pipeline, and their development of STEM lesson plans. Engineering faculty instruct pre-service teachers to explore STEM issues in a capstone course entitled “Contemporary STEM Issues”. Successes and challenges of the course are presented relative to 1) pre-service teachers’ preparation (through a capstone course) to effectively incorporate engineering into their curricula; 2) the Engineering Design Cycle approach in STEM and relevance to real-world problems; and 3) the five sequence stages for teaching and learning [Engage, Explore, Explain, Elaborate, and Evaluate (5E’s)] integration into a STEM Lesson Plan (course product). The goal of the course is to provide high impact experiences for middle school pre-service teachers in their preparation to development and teach STEM curriculum and engage future STEM innovators. The course is driven by problem-solving, discovery and exploratory learning that requires pre-service teachers to actively explore the nature of technology, engineering design, systems thinking, independent and collaborative projects, critical thinking, and innovative instructional strategies. The key deliverables used to evaluate the impact of the course include the completion of a technology research paper, reflection paper, and Instructional STEM unit. The reflection paper is a critical self-assessment about “how the learning experience has changed them” or “how did their impression of STEM teaching change as a result of the course” or “how will they use the learning to influence their teaching”. At the conclusion of the course, pre-service mathematics and science teachers should be able to: (1) Describe different skills and knowledge that scientists, mathematicians, engineers and technologists explore in technological advancement of new products and processes. (2) Work within an interdisciplinary group to design a new product or process using an engineering design cycle. (3) Describe different ways STEM activities can be incorporated into curricula and extra-curricular activities by developing a grade-appropriate instructional STEM unit. Implementation and evaluation of the CSI course in conjunction with other components of a STEM Middle School Residency Program have led to the successful career placement of pre-service teachers (up to 100% in 1 cohort), excellent retention (82-100% over 4 cohorts), and integration of STEM into lesson plans.

Thomas, S. W., & Campbell, S. W., & Devisetty Subramanyam, M., & Ellerbrock, C. R. (2019, June), Contemporary STEM Issues: Engineering Training of Pre-Service Teachers for Middle School STEM Curriculum Development (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32545

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