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Factors That Support Teacher Shift to Engineering Design

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Evaluation: Exploring the Impact of Programs for K-12 Teachers.

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.762.1 - 26.762.24



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Paper Authors


Anant R. Kukreti University of Cincinnati

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ANANT R. KUKRETI, Ph.D., is Director for Engineering Outreach and Professor in the Department of Biomedical, Chemical and Environmental Engineering at the University of Cincinnati (UC), Cincinnati Ohio, USA. He joined UC on 8/15/00 and before that worked 22 years at University of Oklahoma. He teaches structural mechanics, with research in steel structures, seismic analysis and design, and engineering education. He has won five major university teaching awards, two Professorships, two national ASEE teaching awards, and is internationally recognized in his primary research field.

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Catherine Maltbie University of Cincinnati

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Dr. Cathy Maltbie is a Research Associate at the University of Cincinnati with a joint appointment with the Evaluation Services Center and the Arlitt Child and Family Research and Education Center. She has a BS in Chemical Engineering and a Doctorate in Educational Foundations. Her research areas include evaluation, cognitive and social aspects of educational environments, and STEM education from pre-K through graduate school.

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Julie Steimle University of Cincinnati

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Julie Steimle received her Bachelor of Arts in English and Secondary Education from Thomas More College. She served as development director and managed academic programs in two non-profit organizations, Pregnancy Care of Cincinnati and the Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati, before coming to the University of Cincinnati in 2009. Ms. Steimle initially coordinated UC’s Supplemental Educational Services Program. Currently, she is the Project Director of the Cincinnati Engineering Enhanced Math and Science Program.

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Factors That Support Teacher Shift to Engineering Design (RTP, Strand 1&4)As NGSS emphasizes the importance of students utilizing science and engineering practices,educators need to learn to shift their instructional practices from teacher-centered “stand anddeliver” lectures and “cookie cutter” labs to student-directed engineering design challenges. Auniversity-based program works with local middle school and high school teachers over twoyears to transform their classrooms into places where students collaboratively tackle real world,open-ended challenges by using the engineering design process.This paper will focus on three important factors to be included in professional development thatprepares teachers to incorporate engineering design process into the teaching of core sciencecontent. First, teachers need to experience engineering challenges themselves. By engaging inteamwork and collaboration, learning from failure, and experiencing the iterative nature of thedesign process for themselves, teachers can better identify with students. Second, professionaldevelopment programs must be structured such that teachers are accountable to create andimplement engineering design activities in their classrooms. It is not enough to sit in a workshopand listen to what others have done; teachers need to try engineering design in their ownclassrooms and experience the benefits over time as they refine those activities. Finally, teachersneed support and guidance as they create and implement engineering design modules. The keyto this program’s success are resource coaches, engineers and master teachers, who guide theteachers through the process of creating and implementing lessons incorporating engineeringdesign activities and provide invaluable feedback as teachers reflect on their own practice.Program evaluation focuses on teacher change in instructional practices, student growth incontent knowledge, and student engagement. By participating in engineering courses andpedagogy workshops, creating and implementing modules incorporating engineering designunique to their course content, and receiving continual support and guidance from a resourceteam of engineers and master educators, teachers report significant changes in their instructionalpractices over their two-year stint in the program. Teachers complete an instructional practicessurvey prior to program participation, at the program’s mid-point, and at the end of their two-year commitment. The survey measures the extent to which teachers incorporate keyinstructional practices associated with engineering design-based learning as well as their level ofconfidence in implementing those same practices. Results from a paired-sample t-test analysisindicate that there were statistically significant increases in the initial two cohorts’ reportedlevels of confidence for all current instructional practices listed between the pre-project and mid-project.In addition, teachers’ shift in practices to a student-centered, engineering design-based approachseems to support students’ growth in content knowledge. Included in each engineering designmodule created by teacher participants is a content-based pre and post-assessment. In a t-tail t-test of paired samples, 72 out of 77 initially created and evaluated units had a statisticallysignificant increase in scores from the pre-test to the post-test. Beyond effective contentdelivery, student engagement in engineering design challenges is high, as indicated by studentsurvey and teacher qualitative data.

Kukreti, A. R., & Maltbie, C., & Steimle, J. (2015, June), Factors That Support Teacher Shift to Engineering Design Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24099

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