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“Should we build this?”: Student reasoning in intentionally facilitated socio-technical design talks

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Kristen Wendell Tufts University

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Kristen Wendell is Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Education at Tufts University, where she is a member of the Tufts Institute for Research on Learning and Instruction (IRLI) and the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO). curriculum and instructional supports for inclusive knowledge construction by engineering learners. Major projects emphasize community-based engineering curricula and professional development, engineering discourse studies, design notebooking, undergraduate learning assistants, and responsive teaching for engineering. Kristen is an associate editor for the Journal of Engineering Education. She teaches courses in design, mechanics, electronics, and engineering education. Wendell completed her PhD in science education at Tufts, her MS in aeronautics and astronautics at MIT, and her BS in mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton.

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Jessica Watkins Vanderbilt University

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Natalie De Lucca Vanderbilt University


Tyrine Jamella Pangan Tufts University

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Tyrine Jamella Pangan is a STEM Education PhD student at Tufts University and a Graduate Research Assistant at the Tufts University Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO). She is interested in integrating social and emotional learning (SEL) in engineering, specifically within the elementary school context. Tyrine hopes to explore how Transformative SEL can be implemented to cultivate socially responsible engineers.

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Rae Woodcock


Chelsea Andrews Tufts University

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Chelsea Andrews is a Research Assistant Professor at Tufts University at the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach.

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In this paper and related poster we report on our NSF DRK-12 “Design Talks” project, funded by the Division of Research on Learning. In pre-college engineering education contexts, detailed explorations of student discourse and teacher moves have begun to emerge. However, important questions remain about how to structure whole-class engineering design conversations in K-8 school classrooms, especially from an asset-based and justice-oriented perspective. In the Design Talks project, we seek to explore these questions by enacting and characterizing multiple types of intentionally facilitated, whole-class engineering design conversations in first-grade through sixth-grade classrooms. We are developing case studies of specific types of teacher-supported conversation in which students are asked to consider design decision-making not just as a technical task, but as a complex socio-technical activity with ethical, economic, and political dimensions. In the first year of the project, we have developed two interpretive case studies, each focused on one genre of design talks as enacted in two different sixth-grade classrooms. The first is focused on “should we?” design talks, and the second is focused on “problem-scoping” design talks. We present initial findings about the socio-ethical reasoning practices that students employ as they consider both design problems and design solutions through a socio-technical lens.

Wendell, K., & Watkins, J., & De Lucca, N., & Pangan, T. J., & Woodcock, R., & Andrews, C. (2022, August), “Should we build this?”: Student reasoning in intentionally facilitated socio-technical design talks Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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