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Supporting Upper Elementary Students’ Engineering Practices in an Integrated Science and Engineering Unit

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Conference

2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Pre-college Engineering Education Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

17

DOI

10.18260/1-2--35258

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/35258

Download Count

129

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Paper Authors

biography

Sarah Lilly University of Virginia

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Sarah Lilly is a PhD student in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education at the University of Virginia. She holds a B.S. in Mathematics and English and an M.A.Ed. in Secondary Education from The College of William and Mary. Her research centers on STEM education, particularly using qualitative methods to understand the integration of math and science concepts with computational modeling and engineering design practices in technology-enhanced learning environments. Prior to beginning doctoral work, she taught secondary mathematics for four years as well as created and implemented an interdisciplinary, project-based mathematics, science, and principles-of-technology curriculum for freshmen and sophomore high school students in Albemarle County, Virginia.

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Anne Marguerite McAlister University of Virginia

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Anne McAlister is a PhD student in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education in the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. She holds a BS in Chemical Engineering from The Ohio State University. Her research centers on engineering education, focusing on identity development in higher education.

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Sarah J. Fick University of Virginia Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0001-8789-7807

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Sarah Fick, PhD is a professor in the department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education at Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. She holds a BA in Biology and Environmental Studies from Bowdoin College, an MA in Science Education, an MS in Environmental Informatics, and a PhD in Science Education, all from the University of Michigan. Her research focuses on using qualitative methods to understand the intersection of teaching and learning in science education. She specifically focuses on the teaching practices needed to support students’ to develop knowledge of the content, practices, and analytical lenses used to develop science knowledge.

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Jennifer L. Chiu University of Virginia

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Jennifer Chiu is an Associate Professor of STEM Education at the University of Virginia School of Education and Human Development. She holds a B.S. in Engineering (Product Design) from Stanford University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Science Education from UC Berkeley. She researches how to support K-12 students, teachers, and preservice teachers across science, engineering, mathematics, and computer science disciplines as well as how to support STEM in informal learning contexts. Before becoming a professor, she worked as an engineer at Hewlett Packard and taught high school mathematics and science in California and Oklahoma.

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Kevin W. McElhaney Digital Promise

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Kevin McElhaney is Senior Research Scientist in STEM & CS Education with the Learning Sciences Research group at Digital Promise. He holds a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Stanford University, an M.S. in Materials Science and Engineering from Northwestern University, an Ed.M. in Teaching and Curriculum from Harvard University, and a Ph.D. in Science Education from UC Berkeley. He conducts design and implementation research on K-12 teaching, curriculum, and assessment across the science, engineering, and computer science disciplines. Previously, he conducted research on electronic materials at Intel Corporation and taught high school mathematics and science in California and Missouri.

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Abstract

To support teachers in providing all students with opportunities to engage in engineering learning activities, it is important to examine the ways that elementary teachers scaffold engineering ideas and practices to meet the diverse needs of learners. This study focuses on teachers’ verbal scaffolds in classroom discussions across two sections of a fifth grade class. These class sections were co-taught by two teachers implementing a four-week, NGSS-aligned unit that challenged students to redesign their school to reduce water runoff. School-level placement of students in the class sections was based on student achievement in mathematics; one class section had a large proportion of students with disabilities. Therefore, we examine the research question: How and to what extent do teachers verbally scaffold students’ engagement with engineering practices differently across sections in an NGSS-aligned integrated science unit?

This study focuses particularly on three of the unit’s activities where the student goals were to 1) generate design solutions to limit the impact of water runoff on their school playground based on their knowledge of the strengths and weaknesses of different design materials and 2) test their design solutions using a computational model to determine which best meets the criteria of the design challenge. Classroom audio data was collected daily in both class sections and coded to represent instances in which the teachers scaffold students’ engagement with engineering practices. These instances were further analyzed to differentiate the quality of scaffolds within various types of teacher talk.

The results of this study illustrate the ways that teachers adapted an NGSS-aligned curriculum differently to meet the needs of students within their leveled class sections. Initial results reveal the quality of teachers’ talk often varied between the class sections depending on the instructional activity. Results indicate that teachers utilized a variety of scaffolds to support students’ engagement in different engineering practices. Further, our results reveal that the quality of teacher scaffolding also widely varied between the class sections. This difference in quality of scaffolds may decrease the opportunities for students to rigorously engage with the engineering practices. Results from this study will inform future research on the kinds of educative supports needed within engineering and other NGSS-based curriculum as well as professional development for elementary teachers. As teachers implement integrated engineering activities across different class levels, we hope to support their teaching so that all students can equitably engage in engineering learning opportunities.

Lilly, S., & McAlister, A. M., & Fick, S. J., & Chiu, J. L., & McElhaney, K. W. (2020, June), Supporting Upper Elementary Students’ Engineering Practices in an Integrated Science and Engineering Unit Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35258

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