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Implementation of a Spatial Skills Curriculum in Grade 7: Analysis of the Teachers’ Concerns

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Pre-college Engineering Education Division Technical Session 16

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Camille Msall Northwestern University

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Camille Msall is a research assistant and lab coordinator at Northwestern University. She will be starting her PhD in Developmental Psychology in Fall 2020. Her research areas include cognitive development, spatial visualization, STEM learning, and developing interventions to implement in STEM classrooms.

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Grace Panther University of Nebraska, Lincoln

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Grace Panther is an Assistant Professor at the University of Nebraska Lincoln. She has experience conducting workshops at engineering education conferences and has been a guest editor for a special issue of European Journal of Engineering Education on inclusive learning environments. Her research areas include spatial visualization, material development, faculty discourses on gender, and defining knowledge domains of students and practicing engineers.

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Development of spatial skills during K-12 education is one way to better prepare students for entering and persisting in engineering and other STEM fields. Research indicates spatial skills are a greater predictor of STEM degree attainment than SAT or ACT scores. Additionally, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) names spatial skills as a necessary skill to develop, yet the curricula in K-12 education often does not explicitly teach these skills. Currently, a large Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) is underway to do just that, explicitly teach spatial skills. As part of this RCT, we examined the implementation process from the teachers’ point-of-view. Specifically, this paper analyzes the teachers’ concerns when they implemented the spatial skills curriculum in grade 7 classrooms. The data collected during implementation of the spatial curriculum included weekly teacher logs. The analysis presented here focuses on one specific question within these weekly teacher logs that asked teachers to describe their reactions and concerns specific to the spatial lesson they taught that week. These concerns were analyzed using the constant comparative method and the Concerns-Based Adoption Model (CBAM). This categorization allowed us to identify a Stage of Concern relevant to each statement. We focused on three Stages of Concern: Personal, Management, and Consequence concerns with a deeper dive into Management concerns. The teacher log data was independently coded by two researchers before being compared. The average inter-rater reliability before discussion was ~67 % and disagreements were discussed until consensus was met. As of the summer of 2019, 292 lessons were taught by 28 teachers as part of curriculum implementation. A total of 391 concerns were cited in the teacher logs and consisted of 67 Personal concerns, 137 Management concerns, and 187 Consequence concerns. Specifically, 134 of these 292 lessons involve sketching, an important component necessary to develop spatial skills and in many engineering disciplines. Within the 134 sketching lessons, teachers cited a total of 185 concerns, consisting of 33 Personal concerns, 62 Management concerns, and 90 Consequence concerns. Specifically, management concerns will provide insight into curriculum use issues that the developers can address in future iterations of implementation. The Management concerns identified directly assisted the researchers in better understanding what materials were successful and what materials can be added/discarded in future implementations. Teachers’ Management concerns tended to include discussion of what happened during the lesson, access to materials, and helpfulness when it came to the resources and manipulatives provided. Identifying the concerns of our teachers as they implement the spatial curriculum allowed for a deeper understanding of how the curriculum was utilized in this setting. Future work will focus on further analyzing the personal and consequence concerns to identify trends and themes that can assist with telling the story of implementation.

Msall, C., & Panther, G. (2020, June), Implementation of a Spatial Skills Curriculum in Grade 7: Analysis of the Teachers’ Concerns Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34771

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