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Middle School Engineering Teachers’ Enactment of Pedagogies Rooted in Funds of Knowledge and Translanguaging: A Comparative Case Study (Fundamental)

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Pre-College Engineering Education Division Technical Session 12

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Amy Wilson-Lopez Utah State University

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Amy Wilson-Lopez is an associate professor at Utah State University who studies culturally sustaining engineering pedagogies and literacies with linguistically diverse students.

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Jorge Americo Acosta Feliz

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Latinx students should have opportunities to learn and do engineering in learning environments that foreground and sustain their cultural and linguistic practices. However, little is known about how middle school engineering teachers understand and enact these environments. To address this gap in research and practice, this comparative case study describes the different ways in which two middle school technology and engineering (TE) teachers enacted pedagogies rooted in funds of knowledge and translanguaging. The teachers and research team engaged in a professional learning community, which focused on funds of knowledge and language-based pedagogies, for over one year. The teachers enacted pedagogies that incorporated principles of funds of knowledge and translanguaging, reflected on their teaching, and sought to improve their pedagogy in subsequent iterations of teaching. In this context, the research team analyzed the following data sources: (a) transcripts from classroom observations over the during a minimum of four engineering design challenges per teacher; (b) teacher and student artifacts (e.g., lesson plans, curriculum materials, student work products); and (c) monthly reflection sessions and interviews with each teacher. Thematic analysis of these data were used to answer the following research question: How did the teachers enact funds of knowledge and translanguaging pedagogies? Analyses indicated similarities and differences in how the teachers enacted funds of knowledge and translanguaging pedagogies. Similarities included (a) providing students with bilingual materials; (b) grounding engineering design challenges in the context of students’ communities; and (c) positioning parents as core intellectual resources. While the two teachers enacted pedagogies in similar ways, they also demonstrated differences. Alex, a bilingual teacher who had lived in Peru, enacted funds of knowledge pedagogies through sharing narratives and explaining how they mapped onto the engineering design challenges. He also encouraged Spanish in the classroom and frequently spoke to students in Spanish. Andrew, a white monolingual teacher who had lived and taught in his community for decades, enacted funds of knowledge pedagogies through experiential and place-based learning, and through incorporating popular culture. This study highlights different ways that engineering teachers practiced pedagogies that incorporated students' languages and funds of knowledge as resources for learning and doing engineering.

Wilson-Lopez, A., & Acosta Feliz, J. A. (2021, July), Middle School Engineering Teachers’ Enactment of Pedagogies Rooted in Funds of Knowledge and Translanguaging: A Comparative Case Study (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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