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Novel Curriculum Exchange: Research-based teacher professional development strategies to support Elementary STEM curriculum

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Thinking Outside the Box! Innovative Curriculum Exchange for K12 Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.1106.1 - 22.1106.13



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Paper Authors


John C. Bedward North Carolina State University

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John Bedward is in the Department of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education at NC State University. Is a Science Education doctoral student and graduate research assistant with the Graphic-Enhanced Elementary Science project at the NC State Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. He received his B.S./M.S. in Technology Education from NC State, taught middle school technology education, and led informal science investigations at the Science House, a learning outreach initiative at NC State. His research interests include STEM research education, scientific and technical visualization, multimodal literacy, learning objects, and cognition.

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Eric N. Wiebe North Carolina State University

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Eric N. Wiebe, Ph.D.
Dr. Wiebe is an Associate Professor in the Department of STEM Education at NC State University and Senior Research Fellow at the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. A focus of his research and outreach work has been the integration of multimedia and multimodal teaching and learning approaches in STEM instruction. He has also worked on research and evaluation of technology integration in instructional settings in both secondary and post-secondary education. Dr. Wiebe has been a member of ASEE since 1989.

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Lauren Madden North Carolina State University

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Exchange -- Emerging teacher professional development based on evidence-based research For the past two years the Graphically Enhanced Elementary Science (GEES), an NSF-funded initiative, has pursued research in student and teacher scientific representational practicesduring inquiry-based elementary science. Through multiple modes of data collection—includingclassroom observations, photographing student science notebook pages, and teacher and studentinterviews—various aspects of professional development has emerged. At numerous stages ofthe project, teacher professional development was provided as a series of one-day, half-day,small group and individual sessions. Over the course of these sessions, ideas surrounding theimportance of graphics in elementary science were introduced and expanded upon. Techniquesof how to integrate graphics within the curriculum were shared and practiced in the classroom.As a result of these professional development initiatives, an online presence showcasing teacherand student involvement with graphic-modeling tools, along with ongoing fieldwork supportingteacher practice is underway. In order to develop effective professional development, recursiveand reflective long-term engagement with teachers is central; it informs both the practitioner andresearcher as to what is necessary for effective teacher development. We observed elementary teachers from one area school for six months during theirscience instruction. An observational protocol was designed to record teacher pedagogicalpractices, the use of graphics during student science investigations and aspects of scientific andtechnical discourse (e.g., how graphics were leveraged during whole-class and individual sensemaking). Prior to the following academic year, teachers from six area elementary schools wereinvited to participate in a one-day workshop where we solicited and shared our ideas aroundgraphics and inquiry-based science. For the next year, we requested and were invited into theirscience classrooms to observe some of our pedagogical tools in action. As a result of theseobservations, half-day and small group sessions were designed to encourage and supplementteacher instructional practice. Our techniques can be a challenge for teachers who are notaccustomed to incorporating graphical modes of representation, as it exposes new scienceconcepts that are not always highlighted through verbal or written forms. As a result of our face-to-face professional development we created an online presence, which demonstrates modelingtechniques suitable for elementary science curriculum across grades 2-5. Lastly, fieldwork isunderway with four area elementary teachers to extend pedagogical practices. Communication of science and technology concepts is a multimodal endeavor. Some ofthe teachers build narratives around our proposed graphic-modeling tools. For instance, oneteacher used a tug-of-war analogy to introduce the Vector tool as a way to describe balanced andunbalanced forces in a motion and design investigation. In another instance, the Frames tool,which illustrates a temporal sequence, progression or continuous series, was introduced in a plantgrowth investigation, by discussing changes in the growth rate of a child. Finally, the Magnifiertool, was presented during a landforms stream table investigation as a way to illustrate differentrates of soil settlement at the microscopic level. Other modes of thinking such as gesturingaccompanied these graphic-modeling tools as a way to further student understanding ofphenomena. In order to encourage pedagogical best practices, teachers need a sense of ownership inthe process and delivery of classroom innovation. Teachers need to experiment with thesegraphic tools, share their understanding and at times modify their approach. They need to besupported in the classroom, given opportunity with peers to share ideas and increasingly rely onvirtual resources to compliment their pedagogical strategies. Similarly, the providers ofprofessional development (the researchers) need to reflectively make use of ongoing classroomobservations and teacher feedback to modify their instructional strategies in support of teachers.The communication between practitioner and researcher must remain open and continuous ifthoughtful innovations are going to take hold in the classroom. Models and modeling in scienceand engineering are central components to these disciplines.

Bedward, J. C., & Wiebe, E. N., & Madden, L. (2011, June), Novel Curriculum Exchange: Research-based teacher professional development strategies to support Elementary STEM curriculum Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--18781

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