New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
Pre-College Engineering Education Division
Advancements in technology offer new ways for teachers to inspire and educate students; however, implementation of new technology in the learning environment creates unique challenges for educators. These challenges require professional development (PD) programs that are capable of increasing teacher knowledge about the technology as well as the teacher’s ability to create learner-centered experiences.
The LEGO Mindstorms EV3 robotics kit is an example of such a technology. The robotics kit offers an interactive and fun addition to the learning environment for helping to engage students through intrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivators are driven by a person’s internal desires, interests, or reward system. Although this may not be a factor for every student, for many students accustomed to a traditional learning environment, the novelty and high-tech nature of the LEGO EV3 kits engenders self-interest, thus producing the incentive of intrinsic motivation. Alternatively, extrinsic motivation occurs when a person performs a task to avoid punishment or seek external rewards. In such a case, the opportunity to work with the robotics kit itself is a reward, which can serve as a hook to promote teaching and learning of math and science concepts. The robotics platform can flexibly embed real-world applications within learning situations in math and science classrooms.
This paper examines the design-based research (DBR) process as it is applied to iteratively generate and evolve a PD program. A team of education and engineering experts collaborated to develop robotics activities for enhancing student learning while meeting the Common Core Math Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards. These activities were presented to a pilot cohort of pairs of math-science teachers from two middle schools. The three week PD was designed to increase the confidence and ability of the teachers to integrate robotics activities in their lessons. Each week the PD sessions were altered as necessary to effect changes determined through the iterative design process by the research group.
The education researchers and engineers designed the PD sessions consistent with situated learning where the collaborative group was centered on learning situations such as building the robot with specific learning standards in mind, using the robot as a pedagogical tool, and designing lessons that utilize the robot in specific situations. All involved engaged in “legitimate peripheral participation” which informed the format of PD dynamically. One key objective of the research was to evaluate the use of situated learning for the purposes of PD by means of DBR.
Following the PD, the lessons developed were implemented at two urban middle schools in math and science classrooms. Researchers observed lesson implementations to determine the efficacy of the PD and to identify additional changes warranted to improve the designed lessons and the next iteration of the PD offering. Through this process, the research team aims to show that DBR is an effective method for creating and iteratively refining curricula and PD program capable of endowing teachers with skills necessary to utilize technology in a meaningful way that not only supports student learning but increases student engagement.
Moorhead, M., & Elliott, C. H., & Listman, J. B., & Milne, C. E., & Kapila, V. (2016, June), Professional Development through Situated Learning Techniques Adapted with Design-Based Research Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25967
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