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Talking About Design: Teacher Talk About Design Ideas with Teams of Middle Schools During Engineering Design Projects

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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 7

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Amanda Johnston Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Amanda Johnston is a PhD candidate in engineering education at Purdue University.

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Tamara J. Moore Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Tamara J. Moore, Ph.D., is a Professor in the School of Engineering Education and Director of STEM Integration in the INSPIRE Institute at Purdue University. Dr. Moore’s research is centered on the integration of STEM concepts in K-12 and postsecondary classrooms in order to help students make connections among the STEM disciplines and achieve deep understanding. Her work focuses on defining STEM integration and investigating its power for student learning. Tamara Moore received an NSF Early CAREER award in 2010 and a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 2012.

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Siddika Selcen Guzey Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Dr. Guzey is an assistant professor of science education at Purdue University. Her research and teaching focus on integrated STEM Education.

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The ways in which teachers talk to their students greatly affects how students conceptualize and approach their learning. In order for students to authentically practice engineering design, teachers must provide their students the freedom to develop and try out their own ideas, but must still maintain support when needed. This study analyzes these competing roles by examining the ways in which teachers talk to teams of middle school students as they work on engineering design projects, addressing the research question: How do middle school teachers use their talk to scaffold students’ design ideas during teacher team interactions throughout engineering design projects? This study used data from the classrooms of six teachers, two teachers each from sixth, seventh, and eighth grade who all taught in the same rural, midwestern school district during their implementation of 3-5 week long engineering design-based STEM integration units. This study focused on interactions between the teacher and teams of three to four students. The data consisted of transcripts of all the interactions between each teacher and two target teams per classroom over the course of the unit. A content analysis was conducted using a coding scheme that was developed around different types of support of design ideas from the teacher. These types were: prompts to elicit student ideas, followup, critique, and directly suggesting ideas. Results indicate that teachers often used their talk as prompts to elicit student ideas to initiate interactions and gather information to formatively assess their students. These examples also provided opportunities for students to practice explaining their ideas. When students struggled with mathematics or science concepts that they needed for their design, the teachers often used followup questions to prompt further thinking and challenge misconceptions that the students held. When students struggled with their design ideas or with implementing their ideas, teacher often directly suggested ideas rather than using the other types of talk to direct their thinking. By directly suggesting ideas, the teachers often took away opportunities for students to learn from their struggle and from the failure of their ideas.

Johnston, A., & Moore, T. J., & Guzey, S. S. (2020, June), Talking About Design: Teacher Talk About Design Ideas with Teams of Middle Schools During Engineering Design Projects Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35267

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