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Research Experiences For Teachers: Linking Research to Teacher Practice and Student Achievement in Engineering and Computer Science

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session I

Tagged Topic

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Gisele Ragusa University of Southern California

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Gisele Ragusa is a Professor of Engineering Education at the University of Southern California. She conducts research on college transitions and retention of underrepresented students in engineering and also research about engineering global preparedness and engineering innovation. She also has research expertise in STEM K-12 and in STEM assessment. She chairs USC's STEM Consortium.

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Maja J. Mataric University of Southern California

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Maja Mataric´ is professor and Chan Soon-Shiong chair in Computer Science, Neuroscience, and Pediatrics at the University of Southern California, founding director of the USC Robotics and Autonomous Systems Center (, co-director of the USC Robotics Research Lab ( and Vice Dean for Research in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering. She received her PhD in Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence from MIT in 1994, MS in Computer Science from MIT in 1990, and BS in Computer Science from the University of Kansas in 1987. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Fellow of the IEEE, and recipient of the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics & Engineering Mentoring (PAESMEM), the Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision Award for Innovation, Okawa Foundation Award, NSF Career Award, the MIT TR100 Innovation Award, and the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Early Career Award. She served as the elected president of the USC faculty and the Academic Senate. At USC she has been awarded the Viterbi School of Engineering Service Award and Junior Research Award, the Provost's Center for Interdisciplinary Research Fellowship, the Mellon Mentoring Award, the Academic Senate Distinguished Faculty Service Award, and a Remarkable Woman Award. She is featured in the science documentary movie "Me & Isaac Newton", in The New Yorker ("Robots that Care" by Jerome Groopman, 2009), Popular Science ("The New Face of Autism Therapy", 2010), the IEEE Spectrum ("Caregiver Robots", 2010), and is one of the LA Times Magazine 2010 Visionaries. Prof. Mataric´ is an associate editor of three major journals and has published extensively. She serves or has recently servied on a number of advisory boards, including the National Science Foundation Computing and Information Sciences and Engineering (CISE) Division Advisory Committee, and the Willow Garage and Evolution Robotics Scientific Advisory Boards. Prof. Mataric´ is actively involved in K-12 educational outreach, having obtained federal and corporate grants to develop free open-source curricular materials for elementary and middle-school robotics courses in order to engage student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics. Her Interaction Lab's research into socially assistive robotics is aimed at endowing robots with the ability to help people through individual non-contact assistance in convalescence, rehabilitation, training, and education. Her research is currently developing robot-assisted therapies for children with autism spectrum disorders, stroke and traumatic brain injury survivors, and individuals with Alzheimer's Disease and other forms of dementia. Details about her research are found at

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Research Experiences For Teachers: Linking Research to Teacher Practice and Student Achievement in Engineering and Computer Science

Abstract Research identifies a national urgency to improve teacher performance and student achievement in science and engineering. This paper responds to this need and presents the results of a six year Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program funded by the National Science Foundation in which engineering faculty collaborate with middle and high school teachers and their students. RET is a comprehensive teacher professional development program in which middle and high school teachers participate in an intensive summer research experience in engineering labs, build curriculum based on the laboratory research content that they learn, participate in lesson study, and implement new curriculum in their middle or high school classrooms. The program has the combined intent of bringing innovative engineering research to middle and high school students and improving student achievement through scientific inquiry. Program design includes a summer intensive experience in which teachers fully participate in engineering laboratory research and engage in an inquiry focused content-to-pedagogy teacher professional development workshop, building curriculum from their lab research experience with foci on scientific experimentation and improving students’ science achievement and literacy. The program is aligned with Common Core Math Standards and Next Generation Science Standards and addresses the research question: What is the impact of an intensive research-based teacher professional development program on teacher and student performance? Thirty-one middle and high school teachers and their 7,984 students have participated in the program. Assessment metrics used to measure the impact of the program are: a teacher instructional performance metric, the Science Teaching Efficacy Beliefs Instrument-revised, a science qualitative reading inventory, grade and content specific concept inventories, and a motivation for science questionnaire. Program results are: the teachers had a mean science teaching efficacy of 3.29 and the national average is 2.47. The mean score on teacher performance rating was 3.42 and the statewide average rating is 2.89. RET teachers had a 29.1 percent performance gain pre to post program. Results also indicate that students made significant gains during their curricular intervention resulting from their teachers’ participation in the RET program. Students gained knowledge (18.7% gain), increased their science interest and motivation (23.2% gain), and demonstrated gains in science literacy (34.9% gain) as well.

Ragusa, G., & Mataric, M. J. (2016, June), Research Experiences For Teachers: Linking Research to Teacher Practice and Student Achievement in Engineering and Computer Science Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26080

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