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Engineering Design Process Knoweldge: Comparison between Teachers New to Engineering and More Experienced Teachers

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

K-5 Teacher Transformation

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.503.1 - 23.503.10



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Paper Authors


Ming-Chien Hsu Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Ming-Chien Hsu is a doctoral candidate of Engineering Education at Purdue University with research interest in students’ transformative learning experiences. Hsu’s past experience in electrical engineering and her current pursuit in engineering education prompt her interest in exploring how learning experiences, e.g. design and interdisciplinary experiences, foster epistemological, interpersonal, and intrapersonal development.

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Monica E Cardella Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Monica Cardella is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She is also the Director of Informal Learning Environments Research for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Learning and Research (INSPIRE). She conducts research on undergraduate engineering students' design and mathematical thinking in formal and informal contexts in addition to research on how children develop engineering thinking in informal learning environments.

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Engineering Design Process Knowledge: Comparison between Teachers New to Engineering and More Experienced Teachers (Research to Practice) Interest in introducing engineering concepts to elementary school aged children hascontinued to increase in recent years for a variety of factors, some of which include concerns oflacking STEM literacy and global competitiveness. Recent studies have provided evidence thatlearning through engineering design can promote deep approaches to learning. As more states areadding engineering content, including design, as part of their K-12 learning standards, there is aneed to understand teachers’ knowledge and concerns of incorporating engineering intoclassrooms. In this study, we ask the question: what aspects of an engineering design process dothe teachers address in their responses to a design process knowledge task? How does previousprofessional development and engineering teaching experience affect teachers’ knowledge of anengineering design process? Fifty-nine in-service elementary teachers from a school district in an urban school districtin Texas attended a week-long workshop on how to incorporate engineering, technology, anddesign into their classrooms. Twenty three of these teachers had attended a similar workshop thesummer before (Cohort 1), and they also taught at least one unit and up to four units of theEngineering is Elementary curriculum during the school year. The other 36 teachers (Cohort 2)had not received any training, nor did they have experience in teaching engineering or design. Before the beginning of the workshop, all the teachers partook in a task of critiquing aGantt chart showing the timeline of a student’s engineering design process. The task is adaptedfrom an instrument used to evaluate college engineering students’ and professional engineers’knowledge of design process. The teachers commented on what was good about the process andwhat needed to be changed. Their responses were analyzed qualitatively regarding aspects ofdesign process and then given quantitative scores. An independent t-test revealed a significant difference in the mean scores of Cohort1 andCohort 2, meaning that Cohort 1 teachers discussed more aspects of a design process than theCohort 2 teachers. Looking into different aspects of design reveals that the two groups’responses differed significantly on idea generation and time allocation, but not the other aspectsof engineering design process, for example, testing and improving. None but one Cohort 1teacher commented on the problem definition stage of a design process. The results suggest that Cohort 1 teachers were more comfortable with the ideas andlanguages of engineering design. However, at the same time they were more aware of the timeneeded for the design activities in the classrooms than teachers who did not have design teachingexperience. The results suggest time allotment issues should be addressed during engineeringprofessional development activities.

Hsu, M., & Cardella, M. E. (2013, June), Engineering Design Process Knoweldge: Comparison between Teachers New to Engineering and More Experienced Teachers Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19517

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