June 14, 2015
June 14, 2015
June 17, 2015
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
26.1451.1 - 26.1451.15
System Analysis Methodology for Teaching Algebra: A Foundation in Engineering EducationThe public school system in Virginia is implementing more challenging standards andassessments to ensure that all of their graduates possess the knowledge and skills needed forsuccess in college and the workplace. One of the standards calls for increased rigor through anemphasis of solving multistep problems and applications. The implementation of this approachwill require a change of thinking in the way the teachers approach subject matter for preparingstudents to study engineering and other related fields. We proposed a ‘system analysis’approach as a model solution to address developing and teaching word problems in algebracourses beginning at the middle school level. The initial implementation of the approach wastested during teachers’ circle workshops and 2-week summer institutes for mathematics,technology, and art middle school teachers from three school divisions in the southeasternregion of Virginia. In addition, mathematics and engineering/technology faculty members fromcommunity colleges were also part of the institute.This paper focuses on the development of the system analysis approach for teaching algebrausing bridge design and shipping terminal design problems as applications. Our approachillustrates to teachers how to solve word problems algorithmically using equations andvariables, and how to teach this methodology to their students. This approach takes the designand/or problem-solving process from a blind-folded endeavor to a systematic, efficient process.It demonstrates how an engineering methodology can be applied effectively in K-12 education.It focuses on teachers gaining deeper understanding in representing a problem and itsconstraints by systems of equations and/or inequalities, and interpret solutions as viable ornonviable options in a modeling context; rearranging formulas to highlight a quantity ofinterest, using the same reasoning as in solving equations; and understanding solving equationsas a process of reasoning and explaining the reasoning as required by the algebra standards oflearning. As a result of the program, the teachers could teach their students the differencebetween true problem solving and the trial-and-error approach.Several assessment tools were administered for the evaluation of the summer institutes andthe teachers’ circles, namely, Questionnaire for Evaluation of Teachers’ Circles before the startof the Summer Institute, Pre- and Post- Surveys for the Evaluation of the Summer Institutes,and Daily Content and Inquiry reflections. The results from these tools indicated that theteachers exhibited significant changes in their confidence in demonstrating examples on theuse of critical thinking skills, and actually providing opportunities to solve problems relating toreal life situations.
Akyurtlu, J. F., & Nare, O. E., & Harnett, L. (2015, June), System Analysis Methodology for Teaching Algebra: A Foundation in Engineering Education Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24788
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