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Discourse Analysis of Middle School Students’ Explanations during a Final Design Review (Fundamental)

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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

Communication in Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Jenny P. Quintana-Cifuentes Purdue University

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Jenny Quintana is a Ph.D. student in Engineering Education at Purdue University. Ms. Quintana completed her undergraduate studies on Technological Design in Universidad Pedagogica Nacional , Colombia. The degree focuses on preparing teachers in technology education for K-12 settings. After her graduation, she worked as a technology teacher for six years. It helped her to gain experience in teaching as well as develop curricula in her field, Technology Education. However, Ms. Quintana did not only work as a technology teacher, but she also had experience in teaching computer science and physics courses for tenth grades. She also held the position of Director of the Technology Department at the COLGE Colegio Gabriel Echavarria school. Ms. Quintana has a master’s degree in Technology Leadership and Innovation with a focus on Engineering and Technology education, from Purdue University. During her master’s degree, she had the opportunity to discover her research interests and their alignment with the Engineering Education program.

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Senay Purzer Purdue University Orcid 16x16

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Ṣenay Purzer is an Associate Professor in the School of Engineering Education. She serves on the editorial boards of Science Education and the Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education (JPEER). She received a B.S.E with distinction in Engineering in 2009 and a B.S. degree in Physics Education in 1999. Her M.A. and Ph.D. degrees are in Science Education from Arizona State University earned in 2002 and 2008, respectively.

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Molly H. Goldstein University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Orcid 16x16

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Molly H. Goldstein is Senior Lecturer in the Industrial and Systems Engineering & Design at the University of Illinois. She earned her B.S. in General Engineering (Systems Engineering & Design) and M.S. in Systems and Entrepreneurial Engineering from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and Ph.D. in Engineering Education from Purdue University. Her research interests include design education research at K-16 levels.

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Recent reform efforts in K-12 education, in the United States and globally, have necessitated further research on design learning among K-12 students. One of the key competencies necessary for design and solving problems is the ability to fluently transition between concrete aspects of a problem (such as artifacts and problem context) and abstract concepts such as scientific and mathematical principles. While such fluency is difficult even for adult learners, contemporary studies show that young children can transition between abstract and concrete ideas and can effectively make trade-off decisions. The purpose of this study is to understand how students make these connections as they defend their trade-off decisions and final design solutions during a design review session. Using discourse analysis methods, we analyzed interviews between nine middle school students and two external judges that occurred during a final design review session. We used the Legitimation Code Theory to study semantic gravity (their trade-offs decisions are highly depending on the context or students empirical reasoning) and semantic density (transitions between specific design criterion and multiple trade-offs) in student explanations. This study confirms the importance of eliciting student ideas with targeted questions and helping students make fluent transitions between concrete aspects of a solution and abstract concepts while balancing design trade-offs. We argue that such dialogue is necessary for students to develop a deep understanding of disciplinary core concepts and successful design solutions.

Quintana-Cifuentes, J. P., & Purzer, S., & Goldstein, M. H. (2019, June), Discourse Analysis of Middle School Students’ Explanations during a Final Design Review (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32668

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