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Making Meaning through Art-Integrated Engineering

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Pre-College: Teacher Impact on Student Mastery

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

Tagged Topic


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Paper Authors


Kerry Dixon Ohio State University

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Kerry Dixon is a specialist in interdisciplinary education, with particular focus on integrating visual art into science, technology, engineering and math. Formerly a member of the curatorial staff at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Kerry has also directed two education nonprofit organizations. As director of those organizations, she partnered with The Ohio State University on the creation of a national model for preparing future secondary teachers with a specialization in urban education. In that role, she lead an Innovative Curriculum Design Team and directed OSU faculty and students in the research component of the project. On the smART project, Kerry serves as the arts partner and K-12 education specialist.

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Deborah M. Grzybowski Ohio State University

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Dr. Deborah Grzybowski is a Professor of Practice in the Department of Engineering Education and the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at The Ohio State University. She received her Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering and her B.S. and M.S. in Chemical Engineering from The Ohio State University. Her research focuses on making engineering accessible to all students, including students with visual impairments, through the use of art-infused curriculum and models. Prior to becoming focused on student success and retention, her research interests included regulation of intracranial pressure and transport across the blood-brain barrier in addition to various ocular-cellular responses to fluid forces and the resulting implications in ocular pathologies.

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Jenny Vi Le Ohio State University

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Jenny Vi Le is a post-candidate biophysics graduate student at The Ohio State University

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Carlos E. Castro Ohio State University

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Madith Barton Ohio State University


Olivia R. Richardson Ohio State University

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Olivia Richardson is a third year electrical engineering undergraduate student with a minor in general design.

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This paper presents findings from a two-year mixed methods research study investigating the impact of an arts-integrated (STEAM) approach to engineering education on middle school students and their teachers. The paper explores how the science and art teachers involved in the project constructed understandings of engineering and how they viewed engineering’s relevance to their classroom practice. The major, overarching innovation of this work is the integration of biomolecular engineering and the arts to achieve personally meaningful experiences that improve students’ content knowledge and future interest in biomolecular engineering and related areas.

Broadly situated under the sociocultural umbrella (Vygotsky, 1930-34/1978), this study views learning as situated in a Community of Practice (Lave & Wenger, 1991) and learners as novices who are apprenticed into the community’s culturally bound cognitive practices by experts (Rogoff, 1990, 1991). The teachers who participated in this study were newcomers to the field of engineering who were apprenticed into engineering through their collaboration with the researchers. By working with the researchers on implementing a weekly arts-integrated engineering curriculum, they became increasingly knowledgeable about the subject of the engineering design process, engineering design challenges, DNA origami, engineering pedagogical practices, and interdisciplinary teaching and learning.

To analyze the teachers’ understanding about the engineering content, engineering pedagogy (specifically, teaching the engineering design process), and interdisciplinarity, researchers conducted a series of semi-structured individual interviews with each participant. Data were analyzed using a theme discovery approach (D’Andrade, 1995), paying particular attention to in vivo codes (Strauss, 1987; Strauss & Corbin, 1990). The constant comparative method (Charmaz, 2001; Glaser, 1978 Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss, 1987) was used to determine and test patterns emerging across the data sets.

The study design includes teachers from one school for two-years, and the second school for one-year. This paper will report on the results of the study when the data collection and analysis of year-two teachers is completed.

Dixon, K., & Grzybowski, D. M., & Le, J. V., & Castro, C. E., & Barton, M., & Richardson, O. R. (2017, June), Making Meaning through Art-Integrated Engineering Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28643

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: © 2017 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