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Teacher Implementation of Structured Engineering Notebooks in Engineering Design-based STEM Integration Units (Fundamental)

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Professional Development for Teachers

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors

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Hillary E. Merzdorf Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Amanda C. Johnston Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16


Kerrie A. Douglas Purdue University, West Lafayette Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Douglas is an Assistant Professor in the Purdue School of Engineering Education. Her research is focused on improving methods of assessment in large learning environments to foster high-quality learning opportunities. Additionally, she studies techniques to validate findings from machine-generated educational data.

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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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Engineering notebooks are an important aspect of how engineers record their ideas. In the classroom, engineering notebooks allow students to develop their ideas, take notes, record testing and observations, and reflect on what they have learned. Structured notebooks are used to help students engage with material at greater depth through analyzing questions, formulating predictions, and interpreting results. Notebooks are an important resource for teachers to formatively assess students’ ideas. By incorporating notebooks into classroom instruction and using them to guide feedback to students, teachers can use notebooks to support student learning of engineering design in STEM integration.

This study investigates how teachers implement structured engineering notebooks within an engineering design-based STEM integration unit in upper elementary and middle school science classrooms. The study is guided by the research question: What are the variety of ways in which teachers implement structured engineering notebooks during an engineering design-based STEM integration unit? Twelve science teachers were studied with students in grades 4-8 who implemented engineering design-based STEM integration units. Although the context of the units was different, each contained a structured design challenge and had the same notebook prompts to scaffold students in the engineering design process. The teachers had a range of experiences with engineering and years of teaching experience, but they all participated in a professional development program for curriculum implementation, including use of the notebooks. Over the course of the units, ranging from 10 to 20 class periods, teachers were observed and classroom videos were analyzed along with the students’ notebooks to identify implementation strategies. Teachers implemented engineering notebooks in a variety of ways during the unit. Most teachers used them as a place for students to record individual ideas that they could then share with small group or whole class discussions. Some teachers expected students to record their individual ideas and later rewrite a response that matched the class consensus, whereas others accepted a variety of responses based on small group discussion, even if their answers were not as robust. Teachers also varied on the scaffolding they provided to students before their individual responses, and in their explicit expectations and instructions around the use of the notebooks.

This study provides insights into the ways in which teachers utilize engineering notebooks to guide their students to complete an engineering challenge and integrate their science and mathematics knowledge with engineering. It has implications to consider the effectiveness of the different methods in teaching engineering design to intermediate grade students.

Merzdorf, H. E., & Johnston, A. C., & Douglas, K. A., & Moore, T. J. (2018, June), Teacher Implementation of Structured Engineering Notebooks in Engineering Design-based STEM Integration Units (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31044

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