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Evaluation of Engineering Problem-framing Professional Development for K-12 Science Teachers

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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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


Meg E. West Ohio State University Orcid 16x16

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Meg E. West is an engineering education graduate student at The Ohio State University. She is a graduate teaching and research associate for the Department of Engineering Education.

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J. Blake Hylton Ohio Northern University Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Hylton is an Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Coordinator of the First-Year Engineering experience for the T.J. Smull College of Engineering at Ohio Northern University. He previously completed his graduate studies in Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, where he conducted research in both the School of Mechanical Engineering and the School of Engineering Education. Prior to Purdue, he completed his undergraduate work at the University of Tulsa, also in Mechanical Engineering. He currently teaches first-year engineering courses as well as various courses in Mechanical Engineering, primarily in the mechanics area. His pedagogical research areas include standards-based assessment and curriculum design, including the incorporation of entrepreneurial thinking into the engineering curriculum and especially as pertains to First-Year Engineering.

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Patrick James Herak Ohio State University

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Dr. Herak is a four time graduate of The Ohio State University: BSE (Science Education), MS (Env Sci), MS (Civil Eng), and PhD (STEM Education). As an undergrad he was a member of The Ohio State University Marching Band for 5-years and can still be found playing with the TBDBITL Alumni Band.

While at university, Dr. Herak had several jobs including as a lab assistant (in Science Education, Mechanical Engineering and Entomology) as well as a GTA (in Science Education and the first-year Engineering Program). He also worked for 4-summers on the show staff for the Columbus Zoo, training various species of birds and other animals.

Dr. Herak was a secondary science teacher for 18-years, primarily for Westerville City Schools. However, he did take a leave of absence to teach at Aldenham School near London (UK). Dr. Herak has served as an adjunct professor at Central Ohio Technical College (Environmental Science) and adjunct professor position at Ashland University - Columbus Branch (Science Education), a position he still currently holds. Dr. Herak is currently completing a Master's Degree in Foreign Secondary and Multilingual Education and serves as a Senior Lecturer in the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University.

Dr. Herak has presented at education conferences at the state, national and international level including the Science Education Council of Ohio, National Science Teachers Association, International Consortium of Research in Science and Math Education, First Year Engineering Education conference and American Society for Engineering Education conference.

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Bruce Wellman Olathe Engineering Academy at Northwest High School

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Bruce Wellman is a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT, Chemistry) who teaches Engineering Chemistry as part of Engineering Academy at Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe, KS and serves as a Co-Principal Investigator on an NSF funded (DR K-12) research project entitled “Building Informed Designers”. Wellman is a member of ASEE’s Board of Directors’ Committee on P-12 Engineering Education. Wellman completed his B.S. degree in general science (focus in chemistry) at Penn State University and his M.S. in Education at the University of Rochester (NY). He has taught overseas as an English teacher in French-speaking Africa as well as a chemistry/AP Chemistry teacher in the United States in rural, urban, and suburban settings. He received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching in 2009, served as a Teacher Ambassador Fellow at the U.S. Department of Education during the 2011-12 academic year, served as a National STEM Teacher Ambassador for the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) & the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) during the 2017-18 academic year, and he is currently serving a three-year term on the National STEM Education Advisory Panel. Wellman has also worked on several projects and consensus reports for the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.

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Todd France Ohio Northern University

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As the importance to integrate engineering into K12 curricula grows so does the need to develop teachers’ engineering teaching capabilities and knowledge. One method that has been used to aid this development is engineering professional development programs. This evaluation paper presents the successes and challenges of an engineering professional development program for teachers focused around the use of engineering problem-framing design activities in high school science classrooms. These activities were designed to incorporate the cross-cutting ideas published in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and draw on best practices for instructional design of problem-framing activities from research on design and model-eliciting activities (MEAs). The professional development (PD) was designed to include the following researched-based effective PD key elements: (1) is content focused, (2) incorporates active learning, (3) supports collaboration, (4) uses models of effective practice, (5) provides coaching and expert support, (6) offers feedback and reflection, and (7) is of sustained duration.

The engineering PD, including in-classroom deployment of activities and data collection, was designed as an iterative process to be conducted over a three-year period. This will allow for improvement and refinement of our approach. The first iteration, reported in this paper, consisted of seven high school science teachers who have agreed to participate in the PD, implement the problem-framing activities, and collect student data over a period of one year. The PD itself consisted of the teachers comparing science and engineering, participating in problem-framing training and activities, and developing a design challenge scenario for their own courses.

The participating teachers completed a survey at the end of the PD that will be used to inform enhancement of the PD and our efforts to recruit additional participants in the following year. The qualitative survey consisted of open-ended questions asking for the most valuable takeaways from the PD, their reasoning for joining the PD, reasons they would or would not recommend the PD, and, in their opinion, what would inspire their colleagues to attend the PD. The responses to the survey along with observations from the team presenting the PD were analyzed to identify lessons learned and future steps for the following iteration of the PD. From the data, three themes emerged: Development of PD, Teacher Motivation, and Teacher Experience.

West, M. E., & Hylton, J. B., & Herak, P. J., & Wellman, B., & France, T. (2020, June), Evaluation of Engineering Problem-framing Professional Development for K-12 Science Teachers Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34604

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