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Teaching by Design: Preparing K-12 Teachers to Use Design Across the Curriculum

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

K-12 Teacher Professional Development

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1240.1 - 25.1240.16



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Paper Authors


Louis Nadelson Boise State University

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Louis S. Nadelson is an Associate Professor in the College of Education at Boise State University. His research interests include STEM teaching and learning, faculty development, in-service and pre-service teacher professional development, program evaluation, and multidisciplinary research. He has published research ranging from faculty professional development to the impact of inquiry on STEM learning. Nadelson earned a B.S. degree in biological and physics science from Colorado State University, a B.A. with concentrations in computing, mathematics, and physics from the Evergreen State University, a secondary teaching certificate from University of Puget Sound, an M.Ed. in instructional technology leadership from Western Washington University, and a Ph.D. (research-based, not theoretical) in educational psychology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

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Anne Louise Seifert Idaho National Laboratory

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Jill K. Hettinger Boise State University

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Teaching By Design: Preparing K-12 Teachers to Use Design across the Curriculum Engaging and motivating students to learn is enhanced when they are actively involved inproblem solving activities and project based learning. Further, the ability to rely on and applyprior knowledge is more likely to happen when learners are not constrained to find a single rightanswer, but are provided with contexts that inspire them to explore and find working solutions.The context afforded by engineering design engages learners in ways that readily capitalize onand promote activation of the elements that have been identified as essential to learning. Combining what we know about how people learn (National Research Council, 1999),best instructional practices (Chickering & Reisser, 1993) and cognitive psychology (Sternberg,Mio, & Mio, 2008) with the elements and process of engineering design, provides a context richwith opportunities and likelihood for high levels of student learning. However, most K-12teachers have had little or no exposure to the engineering design process, which hinders theirability to use design as an instructional context and integrate design based activities into thecurriculum. In recognition of the instructional and curricular ties to design, the potential for positiveinfluences on students learning, and the likely lack of K-12 teacher preparation in design wedeveloped and implemented a 4 day residential professional development summer institutes forK-12 teachers centered on design. Our i-STEM summer institute used a combination of keynotepresentations, group activities, content strands, and field trips to enhance the 250 attendingeducators’ knowledge, awareness, and comfort with design and STEM education. To research the effectiveness of our summer institute we assessed an array of associatedvariables. Salient to our focus on teacher knowledge and applications of engineering design weremeasures of comfort teaching STEM, knowledge of the design process, and understanding of thesimilarities and differences between inquiry and design. Our research has revealed significantincreases in comfort (p < .01) and knowledge of the design process (p < .01) and substantiallydeeper communication of the understanding of the similarities and differences between designand inquiry. In our full paper we will detail the summer institute, the assessment, the results, and thefollow-up professional learning community conversations regarding teacher implementation ofdesign with their students.

Nadelson, L., & Seifert, A. L., & Hettinger, J. K. (2012, June), Teaching by Design: Preparing K-12 Teachers to Use Design Across the Curriculum Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21997

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