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Effects of Continuous Teacher Professional Development in Engineering on Elementary Teachers

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Addressing the NGSS, Part 1 of 3: Supporting K-8 Science Teachers in Engineering Pedagogy and Engineering-Science Connections

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.461.1 - 24.461.14



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Paper Authors


So Yoon Yoon Texas A&M University Orcid 16x16

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So Yoon Yoon, Ph.D., is a post-doctoral research associate at Texas A&M University. She received her Ph.D. and Educational Psychology with the specialties in Gifted Education and Research Methods & Measurement, respectively, from Purdue University. Her work centers on the development and validation of instruments, particularly useful for P-16 STEM education settings (e.g., the Revised PSVT:R, the Teaching Engineering Self-efficacy Scale [TESS], the extended Student Attitudinal Success Inventory [e-SASI]), the evaluation of engineering teacher professional development programs, and the investigation of P-16 students’ spatial ability to understand its association with their academic performance and talent development in STEM fields.

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Yi Kong Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Yi Kong is a doctoral student in biology education and a graduate research assistant for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE) at Purdue University. She received her M.S. in agriculture in Fishery Resources from Huazhong Agricultural University and B.S. in Biological Science from Shaanxi Normal University in China. Her research includes investigating elementary school teachers’ evaluations of teacher professional development (TPD) in engineering and identifying students’ stereotyped images of engineering and engineers.

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Heidi A. Diefes-Dux Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Heidi A. Diefes-Dux is a Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Food Science from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in Food Process Engineering from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. She is a member of Purdue’s Teaching Academy. Since 1999, she has been a faculty member within the First-Year Engineering Program, teaching and guiding the design of one of the required first-year engineering courses that engages students in open-ended problem solving and design. Her research focuses on the development, implementation, and assessment of model-eliciting activities with authentic engineering contexts. She is currently the Director of Teacher Professional Development for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE) and a member of the educational team for the Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN).

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Johannes Strobel Texas A&M

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Dr. Johannes Strobel is Director, Educational Outreach Programs and Associate Professor, Engineering and Education at Texas A&M. After studying philosophy and information science at three universities in Germany, he received his M.Ed. and Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He worked at Concordia University, Montreal and has been the director of the Institute of P-12 Engineering Research and Learning at Purdue University. NSF and several private foundations fund his research. His research and teaching focuses on engineering as an innovation in P-12 education, policy of P-12 engineering, how to support teachers and students' academic achievements through engineering, the measurement and support of the change of 'engineering habits of mind' particularly empathy and the use of cyber-infrastructure to sensitively and resourcefully provide access to and support learning.

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Effects of Continuous Teacher Professional Development in Engineering on Elementary Teachers (research-to-practice)As the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) embraces engineering as practices interactingwith science, technology, and society, engineering becomes one of the key disciplines for K-12education for future generations1. To prepare teachers to teach K-12 engineering, continuoussupport for teachers through teacher professional development (TPD) is necessary. In the past 20years, many teachers have experienced TPD in engineering2. However, it has been a one-timeopportunity for most teachers.TPD is designed to change teachers’ attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions; such changes areexpected to influence teachers’ classroom practices and result in improved student learning3,4. Asone-time TPD is not enough to achieve desired teacher change (for various reasons5), there is aneed to provide continuing support for teachers through follow-on TPD4. Thus, continuousprofessional development (CPD) is considered essential for furthering teachers’ contentknowledge, improving teacher practice, and making teachers successful in their teaching6. This isparticularly true for engineering which is a new content area for most teachers. While theimportance of CPD is well documented in the literature, few studies have investigated theoutcomes of CPD in K-12 engineering education. This study examines how CPD withengineering impacts elementary teachers differently from their first to their second TPDparticipation.As part of a five-year longitudinal project, an institute at a Midwestern public university offereda one-week introductory engineering TPD program each summer and a three-day follow-on TPDprogram the following year for grades 2-4 teachers in a south-central United States schooldistrict 7. Since the follow-on TPD is one kind of CPD, we examined changes in teachers’ beliefsand attitudes from their first to their second TPD participation to understand how engineeringCPD makes a difference to them. The research questions are: (a) how did the most importantthings that teachers learned from the engineering TPD change from their first to second TPDexperience?; and (b) how did the meaningful aspects of the engineering TPD for teachers changefrom their first to second experience?From 2008 to 2011, 157 elementary teachers received engineering TPD for the first time; 98teachers returned the following year after teaching engineering in their classrooms. After eachTPD, teachers responded to a survey consisting of seven open-ended questions concerning theirevaluation of the engineering TPD7. To analyze their responses, an inductive approach was taken.The preliminary results revealed apparent shifts in teachers’ perceptions of engineering TPDbetween their first and second engineering TPD. While teachers perceived the most importantlearning from their first TPD related to new content knowledge, they considered practical aspectsof integrating engineering into their curriculum as the most important after their second TPD. Inaddition, teachers valued peer interactions as a meaningful aspect of engineering TPD more intheir second TPD than in their first TPD. While teachers’ engineering experience is limited to theprogram offered by the institute, the results reveal the effects of the engineering CPD from theteachers’ point of view.Bibliography1. NGSS Lead States (2013). Next Generation Science Standards: For States, by States. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.2. Katehi, L., Pearson, G., & Feder, M. (Eds.). (2009). Engineering in K-12 education: Understanding the status and improving the prospects (Committee on K-12 Engineering Education, National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council). Washington, DC: National Academies Press.3. Guskey, T. R. (1986). Staff development and the process of teacher change. Educational Researcher, 15, 5-12.4. Guskey, T. R. (2002). Professional development and teacher change. Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, 8, 381-391.5. Loucks-Horsley, S., Harding, C. K., Arbuckle, M. A., Murray, L. B., Dubea, C., & Williams, M. K. (1987). Continuing to learn: A guidebook for teacher development. Andover, MA: Regional Laboratory for Educational Improvement of the Northeast & Islands.6. Bredeson, P. V. (2000). Teacher learning as work and at work: exploring the content and contexts of teacher professional development. Journal of In-Service Education, 26, 63-72.7. Author et al. (2013). Proceedings of 2013 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition.

Yoon, S. Y., & Kong, Y., & Diefes-Dux, H. A., & Strobel, J. (2014, June), Effects of Continuous Teacher Professional Development in Engineering on Elementary Teachers Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20352

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