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Graduate Biomedical Engineers Teaching Interdisciplinary Science Through Design at the K-12 Level

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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

Technical Session: Pedagogical Strategies and Classroom Techniques for Teaching Assistants

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Page Count


Page Numbers

26.824.1 - 26.824.22



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Paper Authors


Jaclyn K. Murray University of Georgia Orcid 16x16

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Jaclyn K. Murray is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia working toward a degree in science education. She holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and the University of Memphis. Her early research, as a biomedical engineer, investigated alternatives to spinal fusion. Since then she has taught high school physics and is currently a physics item writer, reviewer, and reader leader for ETS. After graduation she plans to investigate ways of improving traditional secondary science and post-secondary engineering science through supplementation of creative engineering activities to enhance student learning.

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Barbara Ann Crawford

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Graduate Biomedical Engineers Teaching Interdisciplinary Science through Design at the K12 LevelIn what ways do engineering doctoral fellows advance and/or impede reform-based teachingpractices in secondary science? The aim of this investigation is to explore the experiences ofgraduate students who plan to teach at the university level, and to examine their enactment ofreformed-based teaching practices. So, why examine this issue? The answer to this question istwo-fold. First, post-secondary teaching practices are rarely reform-based, relying heavily onlecture due to lack of time attributed to faculty research responsibilities (Hutchins, Huber &Ciccone, 2011). In the future, these engineering doctoral fellows will likely teach undergraduatecourses. An understanding of reform-based teaching practices could empower fellows to bethoughtful about selecting appropriate learning opportunities in their own practice. Secondly,science educators, untrained in the field of engineering, are baffled by the addition of theengineering practices contained within the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (AchieveInc., 2013). Knowledge of how engineers execute design tasks could inform the application ofengineering activities at the K-12 level.A pragmatic approach was employed to investigate three research sub-questions that concentrateon practices that align with the NGSS and knowledge of reform-based teaching practices. Inaddition researchers determined how fellows implement biomedical engineering research intosecondary science classes. Surveys, interviews, and lesson plan documents were used to analyzethe phenomenon from three fellow perspectives in the form of an instrumental collective casestudy (Creswell, 2012, & Yin, 2009). The GK-12 program operated as a community of practiceby supporting and promoting the utilization of reform-based teaching practices guided by mentorteachers and university faculty.Cases, represented with thick description, articulate the experiences of three doctoral engineeringfellows teaching secondary science. Three themes collectively link each case: student learning,communication, and science and engineering practices. The outcome revealed the warrantedassertion that engineering fellows communicate biomedical engineering research with scienceand engineering practices through an understanding of student learning. Consideration forstudent learning in a particular context guided how fellows approached lesson planning andmodule creation. The science and engineering practices were evident and interpreted differentlyby each fellow. Further investigation into how engineering fellows formulate engineering designtasks for secondary science students could provide a template for US teachers’ to approach theNGSS’s engineering practices. Lessons learned from this study may well inform institutionleaders about possible faculty pre-development options.Connecting categories to other categories is the process of pattern recognition for the purpose ofdiscovering themes (Fereday & Muir-Cochrane, 2006). Themes were generated across cases,that is, they apply to each individual case, but perhaps are expressed differently depending on thespecific context of the situation. Figure 1 illustrates the three main themes surrounded by thecategories that were created through data coding. Themes are represented in black whilecategories appear grey. The categories are shared among multiple themes as indicated by thelines connecting categories to themes. Each theme corresponds to one of the three researchquestions. Motivating Factors Communication Reform-Based Knowledge Teaching Practices Research Implementation Learning Science & Learning Student Progressions Engineering Progressions Learning Practices Reflection Transfer Transfer Fig 1 Three themes organized with associated overlapping categoriesReferencesAchieve Inc. (2013). Next Generation Science Standards. Achieve, Inc. on behalf of the twenty- six states and partners that collaborated on the NGSS.Creswell, J. W. (2012). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Sage.Fereday, J., & Muir-Cochrane, E. (2006). Demonstrating rigor using thematic analysis: A hybrid approach of inductive and deductive coding and theme development. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 5(1).Hutchings, P., Huber, Taylor M., & Ciccone, Anthony. (2011). Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Reconsidered: Institutional Integration and Impact. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass.Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (Vol. 5). Sage Publications.

Murray, J. K., & Crawford, B. A. (2015, June), Graduate Biomedical Engineers Teaching Interdisciplinary Science Through Design at the K-12 Level Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24161

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