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Investigating Secondary Students’ Engagement with Web-based Engineering Design Processes

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-College Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.820.1 - 24.820.11



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Paper Authors

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Crystal Jean DeJaegher University of Virginia

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Jennifer L. Chiu University of Virginia

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Investigating Secondary Students’ Engagement with Web-based Engineering Design ProcessesThe National Academy of Engineering suggests that K-12 engineering education shouldfocus on the process of engineering design (2010). Similarly, the Next GenerationScience Standards incorporate engineering design processes alongside scientific inquiryin K-12 settings (NGSS Lead States, 2013). Using engineering design as a mediumthrough which to learn related STEM content has shown promise (Daugherty, Reese, &Merrill, 2010), yet it may be difficult for precollege instructors to incorporate into theirpractice because many K-12 teachers and students lack explicit exposure to engineeringdesign. Students who do engage in engineering projects often rely on trial-and-errorapproaches that may or may not connect to deeper conceptual understanding, or focusheavily on building structures without engaging in other design processes (Williams,Peretti, Lee, & Gero, 2012).Modeling engineering design explicitly can help students develop design fundamentals,much like the principles of cognitive apprenticeship or explicit models of inquiry(Collins, Brown, & Holum, 1991; White & Frederiksen, 2005). WISEngineering is anonline learning environment that scaffolds engineering design for precollege studentswith demonstrated learning outcomes (Chiu et al., 2013). Instructional modules withinWISEngineering guide students through hands-on design projects. In addition toproviding students with opportunities to engage with CAD and digital fabricationtechnologies, projects within WISEngineering are structured to correspond with authenticengineering design processes (i.e. iteration, generating multiple solutions, prototyping,etc.) using an informed engineering design pedagogy (Burghardt & Hacker, 2004).This study investigates what kinds of engineering design processes middle schoolstudents engage in with WISEngineering. Although projects in WISEngineering suggesta sequence of steps to complete design projects, students can navigate freely within theenvironment. Using log data from students engaged in a Community Garden designproject, we will investigate how scaffolding informed engineering design can helpstudents become involved in engineering design processes. Classroom observationscombined with the analysis of system log file data to explore the time devoted to variousengineering design processes will help us answer the following research questions: 1. How can scaffolding engineering design processes through WISEngineering help middle school students engage in authentic engineering practices? 2. What types of patterns in design processes do students exhibit? Results from this study will inform other precollege engineering educators abouthow to support design projects in authentic classrooms as well as illustrate commondesign patterns for middle school students. ReferencesBurghardt, M. David, & Hacker, M. (2004). Informed design: A contemporary approach to design pedagogy as the core process in technology. The Technology Teacher, 64 (1), 6.Bybee, R. W. (2010). K–12 engineering education standards: Opportunities and barriers. Committee on Standards for K–12 Engineering Education (Ed.), Standards for K–12 engineering education, 55-66.Chiu, J. L., Hecht, D., Malcolm, P., DeJaegher, C., Pan, E. Bradley, M., & Burghardt, M. D. (2013). WISEngineering: Supporting Precollege Engineering Design and Mathematical Understanding. Computers & Education, 67, 142-155.Collins, A., Brown, J. S., & Holum, A. (1991). Cognitive apprenticeship: Making thinking visible. American Educator, 6(11), 38-46.Daugherty, J. L., Reese, G. C., & Merrill, C. (2010). Trajectories of mathematics and technology education pointing to engineering design. Journal of Technology Studies, 36(1), retrieved from: Lead States. (2013). Next generation science standards: For states, by states. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.National Academy of Engineering (2010). Standards for K-12 Engineering Education.Washington, D.C.: The National Academies Press.Williams, C., Paretti, M., Lee, Y., & Gero, J. (2012). Exploring the effect of Design Education on the Design Cognition of Sophomore Engineering Students. Proceedings of the Annual Conference of the American Society for Engineering Education, San Antonio, TX.White, B., & Frederiksen, J. (2005). A theoretical framework and approach for fostering metacognitive development. Educational Psychologist, 40(4), 211-223.

DeJaegher, C. J., & Chiu, J. L. (2014, June), Investigating Secondary Students’ Engagement with Web-based Engineering Design Processes Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--20712

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