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Integrating Asset-based Practices, Engineering, and NGSS: Lessons from Working with Teachers through a Community-focused Approach

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: K-12 Session 1

Tagged Topics

Diversity and NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Joel Alejandro Mejia University of San Diego Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Joel Alejandro (Alex) Mejia is an assistant professor in the Department of Integrated Engineering at the University of San Diego. His research has contributed to the integration of critical theoretical frameworks and Chicano Cultural Studies to investigate and analyze existing deficit models in engineering education. Dr. Mejia’s work also examines how asset-based models impact the validation and recognition of students and communities of color as holders and creators of knowledge. His current work seeks to analyze and describe the tensions, contradictions, and cultural collisions many Latinx students experience in engineering through testimonios. He is particularly interested in approaches that contribute to a more expansive understanding of engineering in sociocultural contexts, the impact of critical consciousness in engineering practice, and development and implementation of culturally responsive pedagogies in engineering education.

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Alberto Esquinca San Diego State University

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Alberto Esquinca is an Associate Professor in the Department of Dual Language and English Learner Education at San Diego State University.

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Vitaliy Popov University of San Diego Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Vitaliy Popov is the Associate Director of Research at the Jacobs Institute for Innovation in Education (JI) at the University of San Diego (USD), a research center named after Dr. Irwin and Joan Jacobs of Qualcomm that has a history in investigating best practices for technology in education. He has both a BA and MS in Education and Learning Sciences with a focus on engineering education, as well as a PhD in Educational Technology. For his dissertation, he looked at how technologies can foster cross-cultural collaboration for students from over 55 countries. Over the last eight years, he has presented and published papers on education and technology at AERA and in journals such as Computers in Human Behavior. Currently, he is serving as a co-principal investigator on two projects funded by the National Science Foundation (Awards #1826354 (RFE) and #1713547 (AISL)); one of these projects is developing a STEM summer camp that supports career pathways for Latinx students.

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Melissa M. Arana

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Mireya Becker Roberto University of San Diego

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Nicole G. Reyes

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The goal of this NSF-funded, three-year exploratory study is to provide opportunities for middle school teachers to develop an understanding of and appreciation for funds of knowledge in relation to engineering design learning. This research project supports teachers in integrating asset-based practices (particularly funds of knowledge) into their teaching of engineering, and aims to examine how such integration of can impact Latinx students’ and English Learners/Emergent Bilinguals’ interest in, and knowledge of engineering. The project offers an opportunity to have an early impact on students’ engineering interest while also providing teachers with a broader perspective of how to develop students’ engineering habits of mind and dispositions using asset-based practices in ways that are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

The first year of the study focused on establishing a professional relationship with teachers and schools in the area using an asset-based, community-focused approach, where co-construction with the teachers was the primary goal. To this end, seven teachers were recruited to participate in a summer workshop (25 hours of professional development) to provide opportunities for multiple subjects teachers to develop an understanding of and appreciation for asset-based practices, and support them in integrating those into their classes while emphasizing engineering design and alignment with NGSS. The seven teachers included one computer science/science 8th grade teacher (female), one 8th grade bilingual science teacher (male), one 7th grade bilingual science teacher (female), one 7th grade bilingual mathematics teacher (female), one 8th grade bilingual social science teacher (male), one 7th grade Spanish teacher (female), and one 7th grade English teacher (female). For the engineering design process, the teachers learned about the importance of defining and framing problems in engineering, asking questions, searching for information, considering constraints, ideating, evaluating potential solutions, building and testing prototypes, and communicating solutions. For the asset-based practices component of the workshop, the teachers learned about funds of knowledge, explored and discussed their own funds of knowledge through a reflective activity, described the ways in which they could elicit the funds of knowledge of their students, and analyzed representative examples of culturally responsive STEM activities that draw from funds of knowledge. Finally, for the NGSS science and engineering practices the teachers identified the practices that were primarily described as science or engineering and the ways in which these practices overlapped.

As a result of this summer workshop, the teachers came up with two thematic units: (1) the sociotechnical implications of creating of new settlements in a different planet, and (2) the redesign of the school cafeteria. This paper provides a description of the components of the summer workshop, teacher’s responses to the workshop, and lessons learned from the workshop. The goal is to provide a holistic understanding of teacher development programs and their impact as more teachers and students engage in engineering at the middle school levels. In addition, this study seeks to analyze how engineering can be integrated at the middle school level not as a separate course but as the product of interdisciplinary efforts.

Mejia, J. A., & Esquinca, A., & Popov, V., & Arana , M. M., & Roberto, M. B., & Reyes, N. G. (2020, June), Integrating Asset-based Practices, Engineering, and NGSS: Lessons from Working with Teachers through a Community-focused Approach Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34838

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