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Embedding Teacher Professional Learning into the Student-focused GEAR UP Engineering Summer Camp

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Pre-college Engineering Education Division Technical Session 15

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Ryan Barlow Utah State University

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Ryan Barlow obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Utah in 2012 and his Master’s Degree in Science Education from the University of Maryland in 2016. He is currently a PhD candidate in Engineering Education at Utah State University where his research focuses on continuing professional development of engineering educators.

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Max L. Longhurst Utah State University

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Dr. Longhurst is an Assistant Professor of Science Education in the School of Teacher Education and Leadership at Utah State University. His research focuses on the appropriation of professional learning in science education. He holds a Ph.D. in Curriculum and instruction from Utah State University (2015), a Masters Degree in Instruction and Curriculum from Arizona State University (1995), a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from Brigham Young University(1993). Dr. Longhurst has directed local and large scale professional development programs providing instructional learning experiences involving over 4,000 elementary teachers annually.  Currently he coordinates the Elementary STEM Endorsement program at Utah State University.

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Kurt Henry Becker Utah State University

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Kurt Becker is the current director for the Center for Engineering Education Research (CEER) which examines innovative and effective engineering education practices as well as classroom technologies that advance learning and teaching in engineering. He is also working on National Science Foundation (NSF) funded projects exploring engineering design thinking. His areas of research include engineering design thinking, adult learning cognition, engineering education professional development and technical training. He has extensive international experience working on technical training and engineering educaton projects funded by the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and U.S. Department of Labor, USAID. Countries where he has worked include Armenia, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, China, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, and Thailand. In addition, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses for the Department of Engineering Education at Utah State University.

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The Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) grant, from the Department of Education, addresses the need for more students in STEM disciplines by focusing on increasing student interest in STEM fields. As a part of the Science, Technology, Arithmetic, Reading Students (STARS!) project, students and teachers from school districts throughout Utah and one school district in Nevada participated in the GEAR UP Engineering Summer Camp 2019 at Utah State University (USU). The engineering camp targeted 6th to 12th grade underrepresented students and STEM teachers from the participating schools. During the 2019 camp, students and teachers worked in teams to perform real-world engineering research investigations in collaboration with engineering research faculty at USU. The camp focused on the interaction of urban and natural areas and their effect on water quality and air quality in the local environment. Although the main purpose of the camp was to increase interest in and knowledge about engineering in middle-school and high school students in the state of Utah, the camp provided an opportunity to work with the participating teachers and develop their understanding of the recently approved Utah Science with Engineering Education (SEEd) Standards for K-12 and the Framework for K-12 Science Education. Teachers are facing challenges in incorporating these standards in their curriculum. Rather than have the teachers serve only as chaperones for the students, this years’ camp served as a professional learning experience for the seven participating STEM teachers. Throughout the camp, the STEM teachers participated in authentic engineering experiences with their students and engaged in professional learning discourse about three-dimensional instruction and the camp experience. They also participated in engineering education workshops led by the researchers, which included discussion about the SEEd Standards and the Framework, engineering design activities, and collaborative work sessions to plan a lesson related to engineering implementation in their own classroom. The main purpose of the teacher professional learning was to help the participating STEM teachers incorporate the recommendations from the framework for K-12 science education and the Utah SEEd Standards. During the academic year following the camp, the researchers observed the participating teachers in their own classrooms teaching the lesson plans that they created during the camp. The researchers also conducted two semi-structured interviews with the teachers, one at the end of the camp which focused on the teachers experiences at the GEAR UP Engineering Camp and the second in their own classrooms immediately following the observed lesson which focused on the implementation of what they had learned in the professional learning experience. The qualitative data obtained from the observations and the interviews allow the researchers to evaluate the combination of a teacher professional learning experience with a student-focused engineering summer camp. The data also determines if the professional learning experience helped the teachers to better implement the Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Utah SEEd Standards in their own STEM classes.

Barlow, R., & Longhurst, M. L., & Becker, K. H. (2020, June), Embedding Teacher Professional Learning into the Student-focused GEAR UP Engineering Summer Camp Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34520

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