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Student Videos as a Tool for Elementary Teacher Development in Teaching Engineering: What Do Teachers Notice? (Research to Practice)

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Addressing the NGSS, Part 1 of 3: Supporting K-8 Science Teachers in Engineering Pedagogy and Engineering-Science Connections

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1127.1 - 24.1127.18



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Paper Authors


Mary McCormick Tufts University

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Mary McCormick is a PhD student in STEM Education at Tufts University. She received a BS in Civil Engineering from University of Massachusetts Lowell and an MS in Civil Engineering from Tufts University. Her current research involves exploring how elementary students' nascent resources for engineering design emerge during integrated engineering and literacy activities.

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Kristen B. Wendell University of Massachusetts Boston

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Kristen B. Wendell is Assistant Professor of Elementary Science Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and the Center of Science and Mathematics in Context at the University of Massachusetts Boston.

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Brian Patrick O'Connell Tufts University

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Brian O’Connell received his undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2006. He then worked for Kollmorgen Electro/Optical as a mechanical engineer developing periscopes and optrontic masts. In 2011, he returned to academia to pursue his Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. He aspires to become a professor of mechanical engineering after graduation focusing his research in engineering design, educational technologies, and engineering education.

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Student Videos as a Tool for Elementary Teacher Development in Teaching Engineering: What Do Teachers Notice? (research to practice)The Next Generation Science Standards call for all K-12 students to participate inpractices of engineering and to consider core disciplinary ideas of engineering design.This inclusion of engineering in the NGSS heightens the engineering educationcommunity’s need to develop effective supports for K-12 teachers learning to teachengineering.In our work, we explore approaches to supporting elementary school teachers as theylearn to facilitate integrated engineering and literacy experiences in their classrooms. Weare interested in effective ways to help teachers learn to conduct these engineeringactivities so that their students take agency not just in building prototypes based onchildren’s books but also in the important engineering practices of problem scoping,conceptual planning, and realizing and testing design ideas. Our goal is to support in-service elementary teachers in learning to identify and respond productively to thebeginnings of engineering in their students.In this qualitative research study, we investigated student video as a tool for elementaryteacher development in engineering. We used clinical interviews to answer the researchquestion, how do elementary teachers identify and respond to children’s engineering in avideo episode viewed before formal professional development? Our purpose was todiscern teachers’ baseline analysis of student engineering so that we could designprofessional development programs better tailored to help teachers improve theirengineering pedagogy.Five teachers participated in the clinical interviews. All five were new to the integratedengineering and literacy approach. In the interviews, the teachers described how theyfacilitate small group projects in their own classrooms. They then watched an episode ofthree third-grade students solving an engineering problem based on a non-fiction textabout the colonial era in America. Finally, they shared what they noticed about thestudents’ engineering work in the video episode and how they might respond to thestudents in the episode.We analyzed the interview transcripts using a systematic, iterative process drawing frommethods of grounded theory and constant comparative analysis. We (the three authors)comprehensively reviewed all transcripts and generated emergent codes for the areaswhere teachers focused their attention and the ways that teachers were framing the videoanalysis task. We then conducted line-by-line coding to assign each utterance a code forfocus of attention and a code for task framing. We iterated on code definitions andassignments until reaching consensus on a set of themes that described the different waysthe teachers approached the task of identifying and responding to student engineeringwork. The three most salient stances taken by teachers were empathizer with studentperspective, holder of engineering knowledge, and authoritative instructor and assessor.Our analysis suggests that these three stances were not mutually exclusive but thatteachers shifted among the stances depending on the focus of their attention and thesupport of the interviewer. In this paper, we present the full findings from our analysis.We discuss the implications of these results for designing professional development thatsupports teachers’ productive identification of and response to the beginnings ofengineering in students’ work.

McCormick, M., & Wendell, K. B., & O'Connell, B. P. (2014, June), Student Videos as a Tool for Elementary Teacher Development in Teaching Engineering: What Do Teachers Notice? (Research to Practice) Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23060

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