June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
23.612.1 - 23.612.15
In recent years, there has been a surge in demand for high school engineering classes. For example, Texas wants to have at least one trained engineering teacher in each of its 2000+ high schools. Since “engineering” includes many specializations such as mechanical, electrical, and chemical engineering, numerous experts agree that at the high school level, engineering should focus on design, allowing the course to draw from all of these fields. With the growing view of design engineering as creative work on novel problems, it is useful to frame engineering education in terms of adaptive expertise. Adaptive experts work both efficiently (use core knowledge to solve common problems quickly and accurately) and innovatively (think fluidly to solve new problems). Traditional lecturing tends toward increasing efficiency, but not necessarily innovation. In contrast, challenge-‐based instruction (CBI) has been shown to improve both efficiency and innovation in undergraduate engineering students. This work centers on a new high school engineering curriculum that has adapted CBI for engineering design, called design-‐based instruction (DBI), to increase student innovation. The subjects of the study are students in seven schools that implemented the pilot high school engineering curriculum during the 2010-‐2011 school year. The schools span several districts in urban and suburban settings and include both high and low socio-‐economic populations. Data was collected from over 100 consented students in the course. The pilot curriculum consisted of four major units: 1) Energy: Students learned about various methods of energy generation, and they designed, built, tested, and optimized wind turbine blades. 2) Reverse Engineering: Using a hair dryer as an example, students performed a needs analysis, wrote performance metrics, and predicted the inner workings of the dryer. 3) Robotics: Students used LEGO MINDSTORMS© to perform various tasks while learning mechanical engineering concepts and basic programming. 4) Final design project: Students worked on a multi-‐week capstone group project concluding with a class presentation. For each of the first three units, students were given pre and posttests consisting of questions that attempt to illicit innovative thinking from the students, typically requiring them to think at a broader level of abstraction. Example items include asking students to explain outcomes, to imagine situations, and to use their judgment. In addition, we surveyed the participants about their beliefs on innovation and efficiency in engineering design at the beginning and end of the course. We used repeated measures ANOVAs in our analysis. Students’ scores increased significantly from pre to posttest on both the energy and robotics units. The improvement on the reverse engineering test was insignificant. Students’ beliefs about innovation and efficiency did not change significantly over time, but they related engineering design to innovation significantly more than to efficiency. This pilot engineering course exhibits the promise of DBI to improve innovation in high school students over a single academic year. The curriculum writers will be tuning the curriculum to increase the impact of DBI on student design knowledge and beliefs.
Ko, P., & Peacock, S. B., & Martin, T., & Rudolph, J., & Ramos, N. H. (2013, June), Fostering Adaptive Expertise: Design Based Instruction in High School Engineering Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19626
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