June 23, 2013
June 23, 2013
June 26, 2013
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
23.775.1 - 23.775.12
Integrating K-12 Engineering and Science: Balancing Inquiry, Design, Standards and Classroom RealitiesThe new Framework for K-12 Science Education, developed by the National Academy ofSciences, proposes markedly increasing the profile of engineering practices and concepts withinthe domain of K-12 science education. Concurrently, there is also a move to increase thevisibility and rigor of the science and mathematics concepts that underlie activities taught in K-12 engineering/technology classes. And in all areas there is a push to increase the level ofexperiential and constructivist learning. The challenge for developers of K-12 instructionalmaterials for K-12 education, both for core science classes as well as engineering/technologyclasses, is to create educational experiences where students learn the disciplinary concepts andpractices mandated by state and national standards, while concurrently exposing students toimportant concepts from other domains and maximizing the experiential nature of the studentexplorations. To be effective and sustainable, the curriculum also needs to be mindful of therealities and limitations inherent in our modern system of schools: accountability pressures,regular benchmark testing of students, large classes, ranges in teacher pedagogical contentknowledge, and the pervasiveness of annual standardized testing.The (*** Institute of Higher Education) currently has multiple large sponsored programs thatrequire the development of curricula for 8th grade physical science and 8th grade engineering/technology courses. The curricula need to align with the Next Generation Science Standards,meet state curriculum standards, and be implementable in regular public school classrooms. Ourteam, consisting of curriculum developers, educational researchers, and classroom teachers, isdeveloping curricula through iterative design and implementation cycles, borrowing fromdesign-based research. Successive redesigns are based on multiple sources of data and feedback:task analysis and research on science content learning, alpha-testing of the activities inthe laboratory (without students), curriculum design with our teachers during professionaldevelopment workshops, and pilot testing curriculum in authentic contexts (i.e., with our partnerteachers implementing the curriculum in their classrooms). Instruments include design decisionlogs, classroom observation protocols, surveys, student artifacts, and concept inventories.The level of experiential or constructivist learning in science classrooms is generallyconceptualized by levels of inquiry. A common scale of inquiry encompasses ConfirmationInquiry, Structured Inquiry, Guided Inquiry, and Open Inquiry. Often there seems to be animplicit assumption among reform science educators and learning science researcher that themore “open” inquiry the better. The constraints of modern schools and the requirement thatstudents master defined and assessable disciplinary content mandate a level of scaffolding that isseemingly inconsistent with Open Inquiry. Likewise, researchers studying the engineeringdesign process have developed hierarchical categories of design, with Free Design beinganalogous to Open Inquiry. This paper will explore the different curricular compromises thatmust be made when creating multi-week instructional units for science and engineering classesthat encourage deep learning and increased student engagement, but that can also be realisticallyimplemented in regular schools by regular teachers.
Usselman, M., & Ryan, M., & Rosen, J. H., & Stillwell, F., & Robinson, N. F., & Gane, B. D., & Grossman, S. (2013, June), Integrating K-12 Engineering and Science: Balancing Inquiry, Design, Standards and Classroom Realities Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19789
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