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Fifth Grade Students’ Understanding of Ratio and Proportion in an Engineering Robotics Program

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Robot Mania!

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.713.1 - 22.713.21



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Paper Authors


Araceli Martinez Ortiz Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

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Araceli currently serves as the Director for Educator Quality at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. Her background includes over seven years of leadership experience in curriculum development, teaching, and policy development in public education and teacher education programs in Michigan, Massachusetts, and Texas. Her area of specialization is science, technology, engineering and math education. Her Ph.D. is in engineering education from Tufts University.

Prior to her transition to the Educational field, Araceli built a career as an engineer and business manager in the pharmaceutical, automotive and computer software industries after earning a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering from the University of Michigan and a Master’s Degree in Engineering Management.

Her research interests include the studying the role of engineering education as a curricular and instructional strategy to support students’ mathematics and science learning with a special focus on students from traditionally underserved populations and understanding challenges and solutions for improving minority students’ career readiness and college success.

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Fifth  Grade  Students’  Understanding  of  Ratio  and   Proportion  in  an  Engineering  Robotics  Program  The  research  described  in  this  study  explores  the  impact  of  utilizing  a  LEGO-­‐robotics  integrated  engineering  and  mathematics  program  to  support  fifth  grade  students’  learning  of  ratios  and  proportion  in  an  extracurricular  program.  One  of  the  research  questions  guiding  this  research  study  was  “  how  do  students’  test  results  compare  for  students  learning  ratio  and  proportion  concepts  within  the  LEGO-­‐robotics  integrated  engineering  and  mathematics  program  versus  when  using  a  non-­‐engineering  textbook-­‐based  mathematics  program?”        A  mixed  method  repeated  measures  experiment  with  a  control  group  was  conducted.  The  subjects  were  30  fifth  grade  students  from  a  large  urban  school  district  who  participated  in  one  of  two  intervention  programs,  a  LEGO-­‐robotics  integrated  engineering  and  mathematics  program  (experimental)  versus  a  non-­‐engineering  textbook-­‐based  mathematics  program  (control).  The  understanding  of  ratio  and  proportion  through  numerical  computation  was  measured  using  the  Intra-­‐Mathematical  Proportional  Reasoning  Test  (Intra-­‐Prop).  The  understanding  of  ratio  and  proportion  in  general-­‐context  mathematical  word  problems  was  measured  using  the  Extra-­‐Mathematical  Proportional  Reasoning  Test  in  a  General  Context  (Extra-­‐Prop)  and  the  understanding  of  ratio  and  proportion  in  a  LEGO  engineering  context  was  measured  using  a  mathematical  tool  called  Extra-­‐Mathematical  Proportional  Reasoning  Test  in  an  Engineering  Context  (Engin-­‐Prop).  Students’  understanding  of  select  basic  engineering  and  mathematics  definitions  was  measured  using  the  Background  and  Definitions  Test  (Definitions  Test).  Data  collected  included  classroom  video,  student  interviews  and  written  mathematical  assessments  of  ratio  and  proportion  problems  in  the  four  forms  defined  above,  using  repeated  measures  across  three  time  periods-­‐  prior  to  the  beginning  of  the  intervention  programs,  after  the  conclusion  of  the  intervention  program  and  ten  weeks  after  the  conclusion  of  the  intervention  program.  The results of this study indicated that all students were able to make significant progressin learning new concepts of ratio and proportion as a result of participating in theintervention program learning experiences. Experimental students’ performance on theIntra-Prop was not significantly higher than that of the control students’ performance.However, experimental students’ performance on the Extra-Prop, Engin-Prop, andDefinitions tests was significantly higher than that of the control students, indicating thatstudents that learn about ratio and proportion in an engineering related context improve intheir understanding significantly and retain their learning for a longer period of timewhen they encounter these situations in an extra-mathematical context versus in an intra-mathematical context. In addition, and of special note to practitioners, is the fact thatstudents in the experimental group were able to learn at least as much and as well (if notmore) the mathematics content of ratio and proportion as compared to the control groupof students, and in addition, within the same amount of time, control group studentslearned and retained engineering and related ratio and proportion mathematics concepts.

Ortiz, A. M. (2011, June), Fifth Grade Students’ Understanding of Ratio and Proportion in an Engineering Robotics Program Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17994

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