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Design Decision Processes of First Grade Students during an Engineering Design-based STEM Unit (Fundamental)

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Conference

2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Design for Elementary Students

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Page Count

25

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/32599

Download Count

4

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Paper Authors

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Amanda C. Johnston Purdue University-Main Campus, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Amanda Johnston is a PhD candidate in engineering education at Purdue University.

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Ruben Dario Lopez-Parra Purdue University-Main Campus, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Ruben D. Lopez-Parra is a graduate research assistant at Purdue University pursuing a Ph.D. in Engineering Education. Previously, he worked as a Natural Science teacher in High School where he, as a scholarly teacher, constantly assessed his performance to design better learning environments that promote students’ conceptual understanding. In 2015, Ruben earned the M.S in Chemical Engineering at Universidad de los Andes in Colombia where he also received the title of Chemical Engineer in 2012. His research interests include students' cognition and metacognition in the engineering curriculum.

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Kristina Maruyama Tank Iowa State University

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Kristina M. Tank is an Assistant Professor of Science Education in the School of Education at Iowa State University. She currently teaches undergraduate courses in science education for elementary education majors. As a former elementary teacher, her research and teaching interests are centered around improving elementary students’ science and engineering learning and increasing teachers’ use of effective STEM instruction in the elementary grades. With the increased emphasis on improved teaching and learning of STEM disciplines in K-12 classrooms, Tank examines how to better support and prepare pre-service and in-service teachers to meet the challenge of integrating STEM disciplines in a manner that supports teaching and learning across multiple disciplines. More recently, her research has focused on using literacy to support scientific inquiry, engineering design, and STEM integration.

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Tamara J. Moore Purdue University-Main Campus, West Lafayette (College of Engineering) Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-7956-4479

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Tamara J. Moore, Ph.D., is a Professor in the School of Engineering Education and Director of STEM Integration in the INSPIRE Institute at Purdue University. Dr. Moore’s research is centered on the use of engineering design-based STEM integration in K-12 and postsecondary classrooms in order to help students make connections among the STEM disciplines and achieve deep understanding. Her work focuses on defining STEM integration, including computational thinking, and investigating its power for student learning.

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Barbara Fagundes Purdue University-Main Campus, West Lafayette (College of Engineering)

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Barbara Fagundes is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Engineering Education Department at Purdue University. Her doctoral research interests involve representation of woman in the STEM field, k-12 engineering education and computational thinking.

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Abstract

Early elementary students are capable of engineering design and the decision making processes that design requires. However, young students often lack the language and ability to clearly express their ideas and justify their decisions, making it difficult to understand their thought processes and abilities. Therefore, in order to know more about the capabilities of young students, we need to better understand the ways in which they make decisions in their design. We address the research question: What resources and evidence do first grade students use to make design decisions? We analyzed classroom video data of first grade students working in small groups during an engineering design-based STEM curriculum across three classrooms. For this qualitative study, we focused on the final two lessons of the curriculum where the students worked in pairs to design and build a model of an exercise trail for a hamster, based on a set of criteria and constraints given in a series of letters from a client and scaffolded by the teacher. Through this activity, the students were particularly engaged in planning, trying, testing and redesigning to solve the proposed engineering design problem. The video recordings of each pair of students were open coded to identify themes that arose around students’ design decisions as they worked through an engineering design challenge. The coding process focused on what the students said and the actions they took during their team work. Analysis revealed that first grade students made a number of explicit and implicit decisions about their design that were based on a variety of sources. Although they based many of their actions on classroom procedures and teacher directions, some students also were able to incorporate input from their partners. Some pairs negotiated designs based on plans from both students whereas others focused on their own design and did not accept changes from their partners. Most of the students struggled to incorporate all of the criteria and constraints of the problem at once so, at different points in the design process, they focused on different constraints. These students often focused on one or a few aspects of the problem, neglecting the other aspects. However, when reminded by a partner or teacher, they were able to quickly remember key components of the problem and start to look for ways to incorporate that into their design. Other students were able to more systematically handle the constraints of the problem and developed processes to prioritize the components of the problem. Students prior knowledge and ideas also placed a role in the decisions they made, such as how they chose to negotiate with their partner and which criteria they chose to focus on the most. Based on this work, we discuss implications of this work for thinking about early engineering learning and developmentally appropriate engineering design.

Johnston, A. C., & Lopez-Parra, R. D., & Tank, K. M., & Moore, T. J., & Fagundes, B. (2019, June), Design Decision Processes of First Grade Students during an Engineering Design-based STEM Unit (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. https://peer.asee.org/32599

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