June 20, 2010
June 20, 2010
June 23, 2010
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
15.461.1 - 15.461.13
Encouraging Conceptual Change in P-12 Mexican Teachers Through the Use of Engineering Design
Mexico is suffering from a national crisis in science and math education. At the elementary, middle, and high school level, Mexican students perform poorly on standardized tests in comparison to other developing countries. Additionally, most P-12 Mexican teachers never get the chance to learn about engineering.
In this study, 65 teachers participated in a workshop based on the engineering teaching kit (ETK) called Save the Penguins1, 2 in order to learn about how to enhance science and math learning through the use of engineering design teaching. The Save the Penguins ETK is designed to address student alternative conceptions about heat, heat transfer, and temperature, address science standards, increase interest in science and math, and give participants the opportunity to learn more about engineering through the engineering design process.
Mexican P-12 teachers received a condensed version of the ETK, in addition to demonstrations aimed at promoting conceptual change. These demonstrations relied on discrepant events, P-12 teacher prediction, and discussion, and targeted well-researched alternative conceptions about heat transfer possessed by adults. The overall purpose for the demonstrations was to engage the participants in cognitive dissonance and encourage conceptual change. P-12 teachers participated in seven workshop facilitator-led demonstrations about heat transfer. They were designed to provide the scaffolding, which would help the teachers learn scientific concepts, concepts that might be beyond their students’ reach when not assisted. After the demonstrations and a brief review of the engineering design process, teachers worked in groups of four, and were required to test materials, then design, build, and test a dwelling that reduces heat transfer in order to keep a penguin-shaped ice cube from melting. The workshop lasted 4 hours and was entirely videotaped; a graduate student took detailed observation notes, and interviewed approximately one third of the teachers, prior, during, and after the intervention. Every interview was recorded and transcribed for qualitative analysis. Quantitative analysis involved statistically analyzing the 10-item multiple-choice pre- and post-test on heat transfer that teachers took prior to starting the workshop and immediately after the ETK was completed.
Results indicate that P-12 teachers made statistically significant (p < 0.01) gains in knowledge about heat transfer. Qualitative data analysis corroborated these findings. Previous research indicates that engineering design activities while beneficial for promoting attitudes towards engineering and making science and math learning fun and enjoyable for students, are not sufficient by themselves to promote conceptual change in science understanding. A bridge is needed to connect the design activities with the correct scientific conceptions, and in this study, that bridge has been demonstrated to be these seven well-crafted and research-based demonstrations that allowed P-12 teachers to make substantial gains (obtained a post-test mean score of 6.48±1.54 with an increase of 2.17 out of 10 points) in scientific understanding regarding heat transfer.
Palou, E., & López-Malo, A., & Gazca, L. (2010, June), Encouraging Conceptual Change In P 12 Mexican Teachers Through The Use Of Engineering Design Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. https://peer.asee.org/15853
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