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Effectiveness of Professional Development: Integration of Educational Robotics into Science and Math Curricula

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Faculty Development

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

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Paper Authors


Hye Sun You New York University

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Hye Sun You received a Ph.D. from a STEM education program at the University of Texas at Austin. She earned her master's degree in science education and bachelor's degree in chemistry from Yonsei University in South Korea. Prior to entering academia, she spent several years teaching middle school science. Her research interests center upon interdisciplinary learning and teaching, and technology-integrated teaching practices in STEM education. In her dissertation work, she developed and validated a new interdisciplinary assessment in the context of carbon cycling for high school and college students using Item Response Theory. She is also interested in developing robotics-embedded curricula and teaching practices in a reform-oriented approach. Currently, a primary focus of her work at New York University is to guide the development of new lessons and instructional practices for a professional development program under a DR K-12 research project funded by NSF.

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Vikram Kapila New York University Orcid 16x16

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Vikram Kapila is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering (NYU Tandon), where he directs a Mechatronics, Controls, and Robotics Laboratory, a Research Experience for Teachers Site in Mechatronics and Entrepreneurship, a DR K-12 research project, and an ITEST research project, all funded by NSF. He has held visiting positions with the Air Force Research Laboratories in Dayton, OH. His research interests include K-12 STEM education, mechatronics, robotics, and control system technology. Under a Research Experience for Teachers Site, a DR K-12 project, and GK-12 Fellows programs, funded by NSF, and the Central Brooklyn STEM Initiative (CBSI), funded by six philanthropic foundations, he has conducted significant K-12 education, training, mentoring, and outreach activities to integrate engineering concepts in science classrooms and labs of dozens of New York City public schools. He received NYU Tandon’s 2002, 2008, 2011, and 2014 Jacobs Excellence in Education Award, 2002 Jacobs Innovation Grant, 2003 Distinguished Teacher Award, and 2012 Inaugural Distinguished Award for Excellence in the category Inspiration through Leadership. Moreover, he is a recipient of 2014-2015 University Distinguished Teaching Award at NYU. His scholarly activities have included 3 edited books, 8 chapters in edited books, 1 book review, 59 journal articles, and 133 conference papers. He has mentored 1 B.S., 21 M.S., and 4 Ph.D. thesis students; 38 undergraduate research students and 11 undergraduate senior design project teams; over 400 K-12 teachers and 100 high school student researchers; and 18 undergraduate GK-12 Fellows and 59 graduate GK-12 Fellows. Moreover, he directs K-12 education, training, mentoring, and outreach programs that enrich the STEM education of over 1,000 students annually.

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This paper explores how a robotics-embedded professional development (PD) program effects teachers' self-efficacy, knowledge of different domains of TPACK (technological-pedagogical-content knowledge), and reflection on the PD program. Recent literature on STEM education attests that effective integration of robotics kits into K-12 education has the potential to promote students' engagement and their conceptual understanding of core concepts. This work is based on a recently implemented three-week summer PD program (15 sessions, 8h per session) for middle school science and math teachers. In this PD program, teachers are expected to deepen their TPACK, develop lesson plans by utilizing robotic kits for the underlying science and math curricula, and improve their students' STEM interest and achievement through classroom enactment of their new learning.

This paper is based on survey data collected from 20 in-service science and math teachers who participated in the PD program. The participants were asked questions about their self-efficacy towards robotics, content knowledge for robotics-based lessons, and reflections about the PD program, as well as personal demographic information. To analyze pre and post data of self-efficacy and content knowledge, a one-tailed pairwise t-test was used if the difference between dependent variables resembled a normal distribution while the non-parametric Wilcoxon Singed-Rank Sum test was performed if the difference between dependent variables did not resemble a normal distribution. A reflective survey comprised of 55 questions with a 5-point Likert scale provided exploratory results regarding the effectiveness of the PD program.

Analysis of the self-efficacy survey responses using either pairwise t-test or Wilcoxon Signed- Rank Sum test showed statistically significant differences between the means of the pretest and posttest responses for all the TPACK domains as indicated by the following: a) TK: p = 0.012; b) CK: p < 0.001, c) PK: p < 0.001, d) TCK: p = 0.003, e) PCK: p = 0.001, f) TPK: p < 0.001, g) TPACK: p = 0.012. The effect size, as determined by Cohen's d, ranged from 0.683 for the PCK to 0.525 for the TPK, indicating a medium effect size. Teachers' content knowledge increased after receiving the PD training from a score of 14.05 (SD = 2.72) at pretest to 18.45 (SD = 3.47) at post-test (t(19)=4.274, p < 0.001). The effect size was 0.700. Additionally, the analysis of reflection responses regarding the PD workshop revealed that the teachers had positive perceptions towards all the items: engagement, learning outcomes, satisfaction, facilitators' expertise, successfulness, and attitude. The mean value of all reflective responses was 3.87 ± 0.42 out of 5. Almost all teachers answered that they were highly engaged in the activities implemented during the PD workshop (4.46/5) and achieved positive learning outcomes towards robotics (3.88/5). Although some teachers indicated that facilitators' expertise needed further improvement (3.31/5), overall, the teachers were satisfied with their PD experience.

This study presents not only the evidence of benefits that can be gained by the PD but also the necessary components for the desirable qualities of the PD. In on-going work, teachers are developing and implementing math and science lessons using robotics based on their knowledge, beliefs, and practices gained in the PD to enhance students' interests and learning outcomes.

You, H. S., & Kapila, V. (2017, June), Effectiveness of Professional Development: Integration of Educational Robotics into Science and Math Curricula Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28207

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