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K-8 Teachers’ Responses to Their First Professional Development Experience in Engineering

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2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Atlanta, Georgia

Publication Date

June 23, 2013

Start Date

June 23, 2013

End Date

June 26, 2013



Conference Session

K-12 Professional Development II

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

23.838.1 - 23.838.21



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Paper Authors


So Yoon Yoon INSPIRE, Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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So Yoon Yoon, is an INSPIRE post-doctoral research associate at Purdue University. She received her Ph.D. and M.S.Ed. in Educational Psychology with specialties in Gifted Education and Research Methods & Measurement, respectively, from Purdue University. She also holds a M.S. in Astronomy & Astrophysics and a B.S. in Astronomy and Meteorology from Kyungpook National University in South Korea. Her work centers on the development and validation of instruments, particularly useful for P-16 STEM education settings (e.g., the Revised PSVT:R and the TESS), the evaluation of engineering teacher professional development programs, and the investigation of P-16 students’ spatial ability to understand its association with their academic performance and talents in STEM fields.

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Yi Kong Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Yi Kong is a doctoral student in biology education and a graduate research assistant for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE) at Purdue University. She received her M.S. in agriculture in Fishery Resources from Huazhong Agricultural University and B.S. in Biological Science from Shaanxi Normal University in China. Her research includes investigating elementary school teachers’ evaluations of teacher professional development (TPD) in engineering and identifying students’ stereotyped images of engineering and engineers.

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Heidi A. Diefes-Dux Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Heidi A. Diefes-Dux is an associate professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her B.S. and M.S. in Food Science from Cornell University and her Ph.D. in Food Process Engineering from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University. She is a member of Purdue’s Teaching Academy. Since 1999, she has been a faculty member within the First-Year Engineering Program at Purdue, the gateway for all first-year students entering the College of Engineering. She has coordinated and taught in a required first-year engineering course that engages students in open-ended problem solving and design. Her research focuses on the development, implementation, and assessment of model-eliciting activities with realistic engineering contexts. She is currently the Director of Teacher Professional Development for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE).

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Johannes Strobel Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Johannes Strobel is director of INSPIRE, Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning, and Assistant Professor of engineering education and learning design and technology at Purdue University. NSF and several private foundations fund his research. His research and teaching focuses on policy of P-12 engineering, how to support teachers and students’ academic achievements through engineering learning, the measurement and support of change of ”habits of mind,” particularly in regards to sustainability and the use of cyber-infrastructure to sensitively and resourcefully provide access to and support learning.

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Elementary Teachers’ Evaluations of Professional Development in Engineering (research-to-practice)Bringing engineering into elementary-level classrooms is desirable because it opens a window ofopportunity not only to learn about engineering but also to reinforce STEM learning1. However,elementary teachers, as well as students, know little about engineering due to a lack of formalinstruction2. Thus, teacher professional development (TPD) in engineering is essential to enrichteachers’ pedagogical content knowledge and to improve their teaching practices, so they can besuccessful at teaching engineering3. When TPD is provided, however, there has rarely beenresearch to investigate teachers’ evaluations of their engineering TPD. Thus, this study examinesteachers’ feedback on engineering TPD by utilizing post-TPD survey data.An institute established by a midwestern university has offered one-week engineering TPD forelementary teachers since 2006. Following each TPD week, the institute administered a survey toinvestigate the impact of the program on teachers. The research questions for this study are: (a)what are the most important things teachers learn from the engineering TPD?; (b) which aspectsof the engineering TPD motivate teachers?; (c) what are teachers’ plans to integrate engineeringinto their instruction?; and (d) what are teachers’ suggestions to improve engineering TPD?From 2008 to 2011, 302 elementary teachers, who received engineering TPD for the first time,responded to the survey consisting of ten 5-point Likert-type questions and seven open-endedquestions. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses confirmed that the Likert-type questionsindicate two latent constructs (Overall satisfaction with the engineering TPD and EngineeringTPD effect on teachers’ instructional strategy) which quantify teachers’ perceptions regardingthe engineering TPD. To analyze the seven open-ended questions, an inductive approach wastaken to examine teachers’ qualitative evaluations of the engineering TPD4. Two researcherscoded the teachers’ raw responses to the open-ended questions, which inquired about teacher’splans for future classroom instruction, their motivations, and suggestions for improving theengineering TPD.The preliminary results using the ten-Likert type questions show that, overall, teachers weresatisfied with the engineering TPD program. They rated the program Good (N = 302, M = 4.26,SD = 0.73) with indications of meaningful and motivating learning compared to other TPDprograms. Regarding the effect on teachers’ instructional strategies, teachers rated the programGood (N = 301, M = 4.34, SD = 0.94), meaning that the engineering TPD contributed to theirgrowth in using new instructional strategies with confidence.Fourteen themes concerning teachers’ learning were identified from the qualitative data.Teachers highly valued learning about the engineering design process, engineering andtechnology, and integration of engineering. The data suggests that teachers would like to teachengineering and technology and integrate engineering activities into their classroom. Teachers’responses also indicated that they will motivate their students to learn about engineering anddevelop students’ thinking and problem solving abilities through engineering activities. Whileteachers’ engineering experience is limited to the program offered by the institute, we expect theresults reveal the effect of the engineering TPD from the teachers’ point of view.Bibliography1. Katehi, L., Pearson, G., & Feder, M. (Eds.). (2009). Engineering in K-12 education: Understanding the status and improving the prospects (Committee on K-12 Engineering Education, National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council). Washington, DC: National Academies Press.2. Author, et al. (2011). Journal of Engineering Education.3. Darling-Hammond, L. (1996). The quiet revolution: Rethinking teacher development. Educational Leadership, 53, 4-11.4. Thomas, D. R. (2006). A general inductive approach for analyzing qualitative evaluation data. American Journal of Evaluation, 27, 237-246.

Yoon, S. Y., & Kong, Y., & Diefes-Dux, H. A., & Strobel, J. (2013, June), K-8 Teachers’ Responses to Their First Professional Development Experience in Engineering Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. 10.18260/1-2--19852

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