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Engineering Teaching Behaviors in PK-3 Classrooms

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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

24.508.1 - 24.508.16



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Paper Authors


Scott C. Molitor University of Toledo

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Dr. Scott Molitor earned his B.S.E. in Engineering Science at the University of Michigan and later earned his Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Following his Ph.D., he completed two postdoctoral fellowships in otolaryngology - head and neck surgery; the first at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the second at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Molitor joined the University of Toledo Department of Bioengineering in 2000 and is currently an Associate Professor and the Bioengineering Undergraduate Program Director.

Dr. Molitor’s research interests include molecular mechanisms of cellular excitability, computational modeling of neuronal function, auditory neuroscience and treatments for traumatic brain injury. He has supervised the thesis and dissertation work of numerous graduate students working in these research areas. His educational interests include preparing high school and first year college students to study engineering mathematics, and the teaching of science and mathematics to young children.

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Joan N. Kaderavek University of Toledo

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Joan Kaderavek, Ph.D., has been awarded the title “Distinguished University Professor” of Early Childhood Education at the University of Toledo. Dr. Kaderavek’s research has focused on classroom discourse and linkages between discourse and academic achievement.

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Hoangha Dao University of Toledo

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Nicholas J. Liber

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Regina Rotshtein University of Toledo

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Geoff Milewski The University of Toledo


Charlene M. Czerniak The University of Toledo

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Charlene M. Czerniak is a professor at The University of Toledo in the department of Curriculum and Instruction. She received her Ph.D. in science education from The Ohio State University. A former elementary teacher in Bowling Green, OH, she teaches classes in grant writing, elementary science education, and science teacher leadership. Professor Czerniak has authored and co-authored over 50 articles. Her publications have appeared in the Journal of Science Teacher Education, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, School Science and Mathematics, Science Scope, and Science and Children. Professor Czerniak is co-author of a textbook published by Routledge on project based science teaching. She also has five chapters in books and illustrated 12 children’s science education books. Most recently, Czerniak authored a chapter entitled Interdisciplinary Science Teaching in the Handbook of Research on Science Education, published by Lawrence Erlbaum and Associates. Professor Czerniak has been an author and director of numerous grant funded projects in excess of $30 million dollars that targeted professional development of science teachers.She has made frequent presentations at national and regional conferences that focus on her research interests on teachers’ beliefs about teaching science, professional development for elementary and middle grades teachers, science education reform, and school improvement. She is an active member in the Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE), the National Association of Research in Science Teaching (NARST), the School Science and Mathematics Association (SSMA), and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and reviews manuscripts for the journals associated with these organizations. For five years, she served as editor of the Journal of Science Teacher Education, the professional journal of the Association for Science Teacher Education. She has served on numerous committees for AETS, NARST, SSMA, and NSTA. Charlene Czerniak was the President of the School Science and Mathematics Association for two years, and she served as the President of the National Association for Research in Science Teaching (NARST) from 2008-2009. She received the 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award for Service from The University of Toledo Judith Herb College of Education and the 2008 Research Award from the Judith Herb College of Education. In 2010, she received the George Mallinson Distinguished Service Award from the School Science and Mathematics Association (SSMA), which is the highest award given by SSMA. In 2012, she was named Distinguished University Professor at The University of Toledo, which the highest award bestowed on faculty.

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Engineering teaching behaviors in PK-3 classroomsGuidelines provided by the National Research Council’s (NRC) Framework for K-12 ScienceEducation and subsequent implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)require that both science and engineering content be delivered in K-12 classrooms. Furthermore,this content must be delivered as students engage in science and engineering practices, and mustpoint toward larger principles known as cross-cutting concepts that span multiple scientific andengineering disciplines.As part of the NURTURES program, a 5 year project funded by a NSF Math-SciencePartnership, we have developed and delivered summer institutes for PK-3 teachers to improvethe quality of science and engineering education in early childhood classrooms and to facilitatethe implementation of the NGSS in an urban school system. As part of this project, we havedeveloped an instrument known as the Systematic Characterization of Inquiry Instruction inEarly LearNing Classroom Environments, or SCIIENCE instrument, to measure the efficacy ofour professional development and to improve pedagogical practices in PK-3 classrooms.The SCIIENCE instrument was designed to objectively capture the presence of specific bestpractices outlined in the NRC Framework as they occur within a science lesson and focuses onteacher behaviors. The goals of the SCIIENCE instrument are (a) to provide a standardized toolbased on the NRC Framework for assessing the quality of science and engineering instruction inPK-3 classrooms; (b) to capture the instructional practices that engage students in their scienceand engineering lessons, promote scientific and engineering practices, and encourage higher-level thinking; and (c) to provide a feedback mechanism for guiding professional development ofPK-3 teachers designed to facilitate NGSS implementation.This paper describes the aspects of the SCIIENCE instrument that measure teacher behaviorsassociated with engineering practices specified by the NGSS that are appropriate for PK-3classrooms. Furthermore, we show results from the application of the SCIIENCE instrumentthat demonstrate a substantial improvement in teaching practices with regards to NGSSengineering content and practices following completion of our summer institute. A comparisonof these results to similar results for teaching behaviors associated with scientific inquiry showsthat PK-3 teachers may be more amenable to the implementation of engineering practices in theirclassrooms.

Molitor, S. C., & Kaderavek, J. N., & Dao, H., & Liber, N. J., & Rotshtein, R., & Milewski, G., & Czerniak, C. M. (2014, June), Engineering Teaching Behaviors in PK-3 Classrooms Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20399

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