June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
26.857.1 - 26.857.12
How Fifth Grade Students Apply Data Analysis and Measurement in Engineering Design Challenges (Fundamental)As countless newspaper headlines can attest, we are living in the age of Big Data. Increasingly,the ability to work with, understand, and interpret data is becoming more of a necessity, not justfor engineers and scientists, but also for the general public. Data analysis and measurementskills have had a place in K-12 mathematics and science curricula since at least the earlier 1990s,and they continue to gain stature in those realms. Unfortunately, it appears that most students areleaving high school ill prepared to make sense of the data they encounter in the media let alonewhat they might encounter in a STEM career.Researchers in statistics education and mathematics education have made much progress indetermining what key concepts students need to know, when they should be introduce to them,and best practices for teaching these concepts; however, this research has also revealed thatstudents’ ability to apply these ideas is highly dependent on the context in which it is beingapplied. Despite the use of similar concepts and techniques, data analysis tasks in science appearvery different than those in engineering or social contexts. This study contributes to thisliterature by examining, in detail, the processes by which students use data analysis andmeasurement skills in one specific context, namely within an engineering design challenge.Engineers use data in almost all aspects of their work. Data are used to weigh the relativeimportance of constraints. They are used to make design decisions, and ultimately engineers usedata to test their design solutions. Engineering as a career demands a certain level of fluencywith data analysis and measurement techniques, and as such, a well rounded K-12 engineeringeducation should provide students with opportunities to develop and apply their statistical skills.The curricular unit on which this study focuses was designed to provide these opportunities forthe students by explicitly asking them to test and evaluate their design solutions with data.Using a case study methodology, this study follows four groups of students as they work throughthe testing, evaluation, and redesign phase of an engineering design challenge. The students arefifth graders in an urban, mid-western school district. The engineering design challenge is partof a unit in their science classes which focuses on physical science content, specifically simplemachines and forces. Students develop a device that will launch a ball of clay accurately andconsistently. Once designed, they test the accuracy and precision of their device and use thisinformation to redesign and in the final presentation of their product. Using qualitative methodsbased in grounded theory, this case study analyses the ways in which students apply (or do notapply) statistical concepts as they attempt to collect, organize, and make sense of the data fromtheir tests. Specifically, it identifies obstacles and affordances to the students’ success with dataanalysis tasks in engineering contexts. Additionally, these findings are compared to findings inother contexts, and implications for supporting students’ development of data analysis andmeasurement skills in engineering contexts are made.
Glancy, A. W., & Moore, T. J., & Guzey, S. S., & Smith, K. A. (2015, June), How Fifth Grade Students Apply Data Analysis and Measurement in Engineering Design Challenges (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24194
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