Asee peer logo

Kindergartners Planning in the Design Process: Drawn Plans and how they Relate to First Try Design Attempts (Fundamental)

Download Paper |


2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Design for Elementary Students

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue Ph.D. Towson University

visit author page

Pamela S. Lottero-Perdue, Ph.D., is Professor of Science and Engineering Education in the Department of Physics, Astronomy & Geosciences at Towson University. She has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, worked briefly as a process engineer, and taught high school physics and pre-engineering. She has taught engineering and science to children in multiple formal and informal settings. As a K-8 pre-service teacher educator, she includes engineering in her elementary and early childhood science methods courses and developed and taught an engineering methods course for middle school teachers. She also developed a graduate-level engineering education course for PreK-6 teachers. Dr. Lottero has provided professional learning experiences in multiple schools and school systems in Maryland. She has co-authored numerous engineering-focused articles for the teacher practitioner journal, Science and Children, and presents her research regularly through the American Society for Engineering Education. Her current research includes investigating how K-5 students plan, fail, and productively persist. She is the Director of the Integrated STEM Instructional Leadership (PreK-6) Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program at TU. She currently serves as the Immediate Past Chair of the Pre-College Engineering Education Division of ASEE.

visit author page


Ming C. Tomayko Towson University

visit author page

Dr. Tomayko teaches mathematics content and pedagogy courses at Towson University. She is interested in teacher education, teacher induction, and professional development.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Kindergartners can engineer solutions to simple problems using engineering design processes. However, currently there is no empirical research that focuses on kindergartners’ planning processes within engineering design. Some kindergarten engineering curricula include drawn plans; some do not. Kindergartners can and do draw objects and ideas and can articulate the meanings behind their drawings; however, these drawings may not be as accurate or detailed as for older children. In this study, we explore the connectedness between kindergartners’ drawn plans and their physical first try attempts. We investigated the plans and first try attempts of 28 kindergartners in the second half of their kindergarten year from five classrooms across one rural, one urban, and one suburban school. Students were engaged in a science-integrated engineering design challenge in which the primary construction materials were non-interconnecting building blocks. Students were individually interviewed and video-recorded as they engaged in the design challenge, drew and explained their plans, and constructed their first design attempts. We transcribed and analyzed semi-structured interview data and categorized plans into one of three types: top view block (11 students), side view block (7), or top view line (10). We developed rubrics to assess three variables: 1) plan quality; 2) the relationship between the plan and the first try; and 3) first try quality (i.e., how well it met design criteria). In the full paper, we will provide images of each type of plan and first try with varying levels of quality across the three variables. Five raters applied the rubrics to all 28 students using plan and first try images and interview transcripts. Inter-rater reliability (IRR) was calculated using Krippendorff’s alpha. IRR was strongest for top view block drawings: 57% of 14 criteria had high IRR (alpha>0.8), 29% had low IRR (.67 <.79), and 14% had very low IRR (<.67). IRR for line drawings (10 rubric criteria) was: 50% high, 30% low, and 20% very low. IRR was weakest for side view block drawings (12 rubric criteria): 50% high, 8% low, 42% very low. Side view block and top view line drawings were limited in the clarity of information they provided – one reason that IRR was lower for these plan types. We calculated scores for each student for each variable, normalizing each score out of 100 points. Averages (and standard deviations) were as follows: plan quality, 47 (27); plan to first try relationship, 39 (23); first try quality, 53 (24). Students’ first try quality was higher than their plan to first try relationship (t-test; p = 0.03); the correlation between these variables was low (0.18). Plan quality and first try quality did not correlate and were not significantly different from one another. Overall, this study suggests that while some kindergartners’ plans strongly resemble their first try attempts, most plans only loosely resemble these first tries. More work, including improvement of our rubrics and a comparison between these 28 students and 26 others who showed but did not draw their plans, needs to be done to explore this work further.

Lottero-Perdue, P. S., & Tomayko, M. C. (2019, June), Kindergartners Planning in the Design Process: Drawn Plans and how they Relate to First Try Design Attempts (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33037

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2019 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015