June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Pre-College Engineering Education Division
Argumentation has become an important classroom tool to increase academic performance in science education. Tools have been developed and validated around assessing students’ learning progressions in argumentation in science. However, similar instruments for assessing students’ learning progressions in argumentation in engineering are lacking. The purpose of this exploratory study was to analyze middle students’ arguments in engineering to identify dimensions and levels of argumentation in engineering, so that these dimensions and levels could later be developed into an assessment rubric. To this end, we examined written work of 69 middle school students. These students participated in a unit where they observed prototypes of rockets and were asked to create their own rocket based on their observations. Following testing of their created rockets, students were asked to write an argument on why their rocket design was optimal. These written arguments were then coded by two individuals. The content analysis resulted in three findings. First, most students engaged in argumentation by justifying their design in multiple ways, most commonly by referring to tests, using scientific or mathematical reasoning, and referring to stated criteria and constraints. Second, at a much lower rate, some students referred to additional desirable characteristics beyond criteria and constraints to justify their designs, and they connected scientific reasoning to criteria and constraints. Third, students focused mostly on the benefits of their own rockets without weighing alternative solutions. Limitations of this study are found in the small sample size of middle school students from one school being taught by the same teacher. However, we argue that the findings from this exploratory study can inform the development of valid assessment tools that identify progressions in students' engineering argumentation.
Wilson-Lopez, A., & Garlick, J. W. (2017, June), Content Analysis of Middle School Students' Argumentation in Engineering Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. https://peer.asee.org/28072
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