Asee peer logo

Evaluating the Impact of Curriculum-Integrated Engineering Design Modules in Middle Grades Classrooms

Download Paper |


2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Fundamental: Metrics & Assessment for K-12 Engineering Education

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.691.1 - 26.691.20



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Jessica M Harlan University of South Alabama

visit author page

Jessica M. Harlan is a PhD student in Instructional Design and Development at the University of South Alabama (USA). Her research interests include educational evaluation and measurement. Jessica's current research focuses on integrated STEM education, including evaluating a middle school engineering design curriculum. She will complete her degree in Spring 2016, and her dissertation research examines the relationship between the fidelity of implementation of inquiry-oriented engineering design modules and student STEM attitudes and beliefs. In addition to her graduate work, Jessica is currently an intern with the Smithsonian Institution's Office of Policy and Analysis, where she is developing evaluation tools and guidance for museums and libraries that receive federal grant funding.

Prior to working at USA, Jessica was a training officer for the Office of Research at the University of California, Davis. She continues to work as an instructional design consultant for multiple UC campuses. Jessica also has a Master of Arts in Psychology with an emphasis in program evaluation from California State University, Stanislaus. She has nine years of experience teaching undergraduate psychology online and in person. Additionally, Jessica has provided program evaluation, program development, and instructional design services as a consultant for non-profit and local government agencies.

visit author page

author page

James Van Haneghan University of South Alabama


Melissa Divonne Dean Mobile Area Education Foundation

visit author page

Melissa Dean is a respected leader in STEM education based on engineering content in the Mobile, Alabama community. In her time at the Mobile Area Education Foundation (MAEF), she has co-led the Engaging Youth through Engineering Program. In that capacity, she has led the development of a series of STEM modules for middle school grades that truly integrate science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning in the classroom. Currently, she leads all K-8 math, reading, science, and career exploration programs at MAEF.
Ms. Dean is an experienced science educator having lead for years the development of informal curriculum and programs for the Science Centers in Alabama and Louisiana. She is highly experienced in curriculum development, writing, training and implementation. She has lead teacher development programs, as well as conducted pilot engineering design lessons in the classrooms. She works closely with STEM teachers in the 60,000 students Mobile County Public School System and has the reputation as a teacher leader and change agent. Her work with K-12 students, teachers and education administrators is gaining attention and respect nationally.
Melissa Dean received her bachelors of science from Louisiana State University in Shreveport and is currently working toward her graduate degree in Instructional Design and Development at the University of South Alabama in Mobile.

visit author page


Susan A. Pruet STEMWorks, LLC

visit author page

Dr. Susan Pruet has been actively involved in STEM education for over 30 years – as a teacher, teacher educator and director of reform initiatives. Since 1998 she has directed two STEM reform initiatives for the Mobile Area Education Foundation (MAEF): the Maysville/Mobile Mathematics Initiative and, most recently, Engaging Youth through Engineering (EYE), a K-12 workforce development and STEM initiative in Mobile, Alabama. Both initiatives, funded largely through NSF grants, involve valuable partnerships with the Mobile County Public School System, the University of South Alabama, and area business and industry. Change the Equation, a non-partisan, CEO-led commission focused on mobilizing business communities to improve the quality of STEM learning in America, recognized the EYE Modules as one of Change the Equation’s STEM Works Programs. Dr. Pruet has served on a number of education boards and committees including vice chair of the Board of Directors of the Alabama Mathematics, Science, Technology, and Engineering Coalition (AMSTEC) and the Executive Board of the American Society of Engineering Educators (ASEE) K-12 & PreCollege Division. Dr. Pruet received her undergraduate degree in mathematics from Birmingham-Southern College, her master’s degree in secondary education from the University of Alabama in Birmingham, and her doctorate from Auburn University in mathematics education. Currently, as president of STEMWorks, LLC, Dr. Pruet consults with various education organizations around designing, funding, implementing and sustaining integrated STEM programs, especially those serving populations under-represented in STEM careers.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Evaluating the Impact of Curriculum-Integrated Engineering Design Modules in Middle Grades Classrooms (Evaluation) The X Modules were developed as the middle grades part of a current K-12partnership driven effort to meet a community’s 21st century workforce needs. Theyhave been collaboratively implemented over five years in middle grades classrooms bymath and science teachers. One purpose of the middle grades X Modules is to positivelyaffect students’ beliefs about and interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineeringand Mathematics). Additionally, the X Modules aim to improve student STEMperformance, including engineering habits of mind. While the X Modules weredeveloped prior to development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), the XModules support the following NGSS standards:  MS-ETS1-1: Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.  MS-ETS1-2: Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem  MS-ETS1-3: Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.  MS-ETS1-4: Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved The partnership between the ABC Foundation, University of XYZ, and the localschool district to implement these modules over five years has served as a catalyst fordistrict level STEM reform. STEM reform related to the X Modules is defined as localcurriculum standards that require using engineering design challenges and the relateddesign process to integrate required mathematics and science content for all middlegrades students as they develop solutions to problems of relevance in the world today.Engineering is defined “to mean any engagement in a systematic practice of design toachieve solutions to particular human problems.” As part of a National Science Foundation award, a longitudinal comparison study ofthe impact of the X Modules has been completed. There is evidence that participation inthe X Modules has a positive impact on participating students, as well as teachers. Inaddition to early indications of the Modules’ impact on students and teachers, oneimpressive result is the impact of the Modules on the large, diverse school district inwhich they have been implemented, (65,000 students, 100 schools, 70% poverty, 50%African American). As a result of our efforts, the School District has reformed itsscience and mathematics curricula to now require the implementation of engineeringdesign challenges as the integrator of the STEM disciplines.

Harlan, J. M., & Van Haneghan, J., & Dean, M. D., & Pruet, S. A. (2015, June), Evaluating the Impact of Curriculum-Integrated Engineering Design Modules in Middle Grades Classrooms Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24028

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015