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Supporting Children’s Engineering Discourse and Decision Making with Multimedia Engineering Notebook Tools (work in progress)

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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

K-12 and Pre-College Engineering Division Poster Session

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1145.1 - 24.1145.6



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Paper Authors


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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Christopher George Wright University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Dr. Wright is an Assistant Professor of STEM Education in the department of Theory & Practice in Teacher Education at the University of Tennessee.

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Patricia C. Paugh University of Massachusetts, Boston

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Patricia Paugh Ph.D. is an associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her research focuses on language and literacy education in urban contexts.

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Supporting Children’s Engineering Discourse and Decision-Making with Multimedia Engineering Notebook Tools (work in progress)Numerous recent efforts in science education have focused on supporting the ways of talking andwriting that constitute the “discourse” of science. Various groups have developed and studiedtemplates for science notebooks, videos of productive science talk, and scaffolds for scienceargumentation. An opportunity to build upon these resources for science discourse has arisenwith the prominent inclusion of engineering design in the Next Generation Science Standards.As engineering emerges as a consistent part of K-12 education, there is a need for models andtools that support students' engineering design practices across all engineering curricula. Inparticular, students need support in developing ways of talking and writing that enable practicessuch as proposing possible design solutions and redesigning. Such practices require engineers toengage in reflective decision-making in communication with others.In this work-in-progress, we are developing and studying multimedia engineering notebook toolsthat support urban elementary students’ engagement in engineering practices, particularly thosethat involve reflective decision-making with fellow students.In this three-year collaboration with teacher researchers, we are exploring the following researchquestions. 1. What patterns of language constitute reflective decision-making by elementary students during engineering design? 2. What linguistic resources for engaging in reflective decision-making do elementary school students bring to engineering design? 3. How do paper-based and digital engineering notebook tools support engineering processes (via students’ reflective decision-making) and products (students’ tangible design constructions)?We are currently identifying synergies and gaps between elementary students’ and engineeringpractitioners’ decision-making. The project’s second phase involves developing andinvestigating the impact of paper-based and digital engineering notebook tools on students’engineering processes and products. One tool is a “notebook constructor” – a sequence ofprompts that encourage students to construct and reflect on the story of their engineering designprocess. Another tool is a “sample notebook” – a completed engineering notebook authored by afictitious engineer and used both as a model for students’ own engineering notebooks and as atext to be critiqued by students.Data sources for the project include video of elementary students’ engineering discourse,photographs and posters of their design products, and copies of their engineering notebooks. Inthe project’s first phase, we are collecting these data from undergraduate students in anintroductory college-level engineering design course as they work on a design challenge. Thepurpose is to find models for the kind of engineering talk and notebook use we wish to supportamong elementary students. We are analyzing these data through the qualitative method ofconstant comparative analysis. Preliminary findings suggest that among this group ofundergraduate engineers, the disciplinary discourse practices of engineering intersect in severalessential ways with the engineers’ “everyday” or personal discourse practices. Design proposals,decisions, and suggestions for re-design are communicated via a synthesis of engineering-specific language and everyday, personal expressions.Our full poster and paper will include not only these undergraduate engineering discoursefindings but also findings from this year’s investigations of engineering talk and writing inelementary classrooms.

Wendell, K. B., & Wright, C. G., & Paugh, P. C. (2014, June), Supporting Children’s Engineering Discourse and Decision Making with Multimedia Engineering Notebook Tools (work in progress) Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23078

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