Virtual On line
June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
Pre-College Engineering Education
There is a growing body of literature within the engineering education community about how to help teachers learn to teach engineering at the elementary level. Much of what we know comes in the form of what has worked for particular programs, the use of well-tested curricula, and an emphasis on engineering habits of mind and an engineering design process. Our work aims to help elementary teachers practice one very important discussion within engineering design: post-testing argumentation discussions. These discussions occur after each design team has created and tested their designs and considered how their designs performed and could be improved. The discussion goal is for each team to re-consider their design performance and improvement ideas in light of their peers’ designs, critiques, and suggestions. By the end of the discussion, each team should ideally have more informed ideas. We have identified this as an “argumentation” discussion because it provides an opportunity for teams to: encounter additional evidence and ideas from other teams and revise their initial claims about design performance and improvement.
We used an online simulated classroom environment composed of five upper elementary student avatars to pilot a performance task that we designed to help teachers practice a post-testing engineering argumentation discussion. We received feedback from a panel of engineering education experts during the selection and refinement of a discussion task, which included materials to prepare teachers to lead the argumentation discussion and corresponding materials to train the “interactor” (who acts the parts of all five student avatars) to respond as the student avatars in the discussion. The challenge related to the task, “Design a Shoreline,” involved the avatar students applying knowledge of erosion, wetlands, riprap, and terrapin habitat to re-design a piece of shoreline so that it reduces erosion into a bay and provides habitat for terrapins.
We invited inservice elementary teachers from two regions to facilitate a post-testing engineering argumentation discussion with the avatars using this engineering performance task. For the present study, we utilized survey and interview data that we collected from all participants. Our research questions inquired about teacher perceptions of: (1) the clarity and helpfulness of the task; (2) the authenticity of the task as compared to what they would teach to elementary students; and (3) the authenticity of the student avatars as compared to real elementary students.
A convenience sample of 19 teachers participated. The majority of participants found the task components to be understandable and helpful in preparing them for the discussion. Although they perceived the student avatars to be somewhat like real elementary students—in general, better behaved and more compliant, but less familiar and able to follow teachers’ classroom norms—they perceived the task to be authentic. Our future work includes further revision and improvement of our task, analysis of the quality of teachers' performances facilitating the discussion (via video analysis), and studying how the teachers respond to formal feedback about their teaching performance and try again to lead the same discussion.
Lottero-Perdue, P. S., & Mikeska, J., & Orlandi, E. (2020, June), Development and Teacher Perceptions of an Avatar-based Performance Task for Elementary Teachers to Practice Post-testing Argumentation Discussions in Engineering Design Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34444
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