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Teaching Science with Technology: Scientific and Engineering Practices of Middle School Science Teachers Engaged in a Robot-Integrated Professional Development Program (Fundamental)

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

October 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Professional Development using Robotics Activities

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Hye Sun You NYU Tandon School of Engineering

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Hye Sun You received a Ph.D. from a STEM education program at the University of Texas at Austin. She earned her master's degree in science education and bachelor's degree in chemistry from Yonsei University in South Korea. Prior to entering academia, she spent several years teaching middle school science. Her research interests center upon interdisciplinary learning and teaching, and technology-integrated teaching practices in STEM education. In her dissertation work, she developed and validated a new interdisciplinary assessment in the context of carbon cycling for high school and college students using Item Response Theory. She is also interested in developing robotics-embedded curricula and teaching practices in a reform-oriented approach. Currently, a primary focus of her work at New York University is to guide the development of new lessons and instructional practices for a professional development program under a DR K-12 research project funded by NSF.

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Sonia Mary Chacko NYU Tandon School of Engineering

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Sonia Mary Chacko received her B.Tech. degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam, India, and M.Tech degree in Mechatronics Engineering from NITK, Surathkal, India. She is currently a Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Brooklyn, NY. She is serving as a research assistant under an NSF-funded DR K-12 project.

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Vikram Kapila NYU Tandon School of Engineering Orcid 16x16

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Vikram Kapila is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering (NYU Tandon), where he directs a Mechatronics, Controls, and Robotics Laboratory, a Research Experience for Teachers Site in Mechatronics and Entrepreneurship, a DR K-12 research project, and an ITEST research project, all funded by NSF. He has held visiting positions with the Air Force Research Laboratories in Dayton, OH. His research interests include K-12 STEM education, mechatronics, robotics, and control system technology. Under a Research Experience for Teachers Site, a DR K-12 project, and GK-12 Fellows programs, funded by NSF, and the Central Brooklyn STEM Initiative (CBSI), funded by six philanthropic foundations, he has conducted significant K-12 education, training, mentoring, and outreach activities to integrate engineering concepts in science classrooms and labs of dozens of New York City public schools. He received NYU Tandon’s 2002, 2008, 2011, and 2014 Jacobs Excellence in Education Award, 2002 Jacobs Innovation Grant, 2003 Distinguished Teacher Award, and 2012 Inaugural Distinguished Award for Excellence in the category Inspiration through Leadership. Moreover, he is a recipient of 2014-2015 University Distinguished Teaching Award at NYU. His scholarly activities have included 3 edited books, 9 chapters in edited books, 1 book review, 62 journal articles, and 154 conference papers. He has mentored 1 B.S., 35 M.S., and 5 Ph.D. thesis students; 58 undergraduate research students and 11 undergraduate senior design project teams; over 500 K-12 teachers and 118 high school student researchers; and 18 undergraduate GK-12 Fellows and 59 graduate GK-12 Fellows. Moreover, he directs K-12 education, training, mentoring, and outreach programs that enrich the STEM education of over 1,000 students annually.

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The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) reimagine science education wherein student learning and performance result from combination of active engagement in authentic practices of science and engineering with applications of crosscutting concepts to elucidate core disciplinary ideas. The NGSS proposed eight scientific and engineering practices (SEPs) to reformulate classroom instruction: ask questions and define problems; develop and use models; plan and carry out investigations; analyze and interpret data; use mathematics and computational thinking; construct explanations and design solutions; engage in argument from evidence; and obtain, evaluate, and communicate information. The SEPs can be leveraged by teachers when incorporating technology into instructional planning and implementation for students’ deep understanding and meaningful learning experiences. However, teachers often express concern about their lack of understanding of technology use in the context of science teaching and learning.

Recently, we developed and conducted professional development (PD) workshops on using robotics to create a supportive environment for teachers to experience the use of robotics for classroom teaching and to lower their apprehension about its classroom integration. The PD workshops were facilitated by engineering and education researchers with robotics expertise. Through the PD, participants were expected to deepen their self-efficacy in Technological, Pedagogical, Content Knowledge and develop NGSS-aligned lessons using robotic kits. They developed lessons to integrate technology and sought feedback from peers on their viability. Over three years, 43 teachers participated; however, this paper focuses on case studies of four science teachers to provide a picture of how NGSS-based instructional practices are embodied in middle school science classrooms. We examine which SEPs are in use and which are less frequently enacted and the challenges teachers encounter in lesson implementation. Specifically, we examine two research questions. 1) How did teachers integrate the SEPs in classrooms as they enacted robotics-integrated science lessons? 2) What limitations in teacher or student understandings were observed or reported by teachers that may be potential barriers to teachers incorporating the SEPs in classrooms when using robotics-based lessons?

Our findings indicate teachers’ instruction did not cover all the NGSS recommended practices. For example, “modeling” was not used even though it is one of the effective teaching practices. However, students learned science by active engagement in hypotheses testing by gathering empirical evidence and sharing ideas with teachers through questioning, which advanced students’ conceptual understanding. Their use of scientific words, question generation, and documentation of results familiarized students with the scientific inquiry process. For four lessons, the paper will detail observations and analysis performed in a deductive manner. The results of follow-up interviews of the participants will also be included. This study addresses a void in the research linking the NGSS-based teaching practices using a technology tool in science classrooms. Through the findings, we can understand how teachers who previously engaged in the robotics-integrated PD employed desirable teaching practices and what additional scaffolds may make them more comfortable with the integration of technology. This study will provide insights for teachers, educators, instructional coaches, PD leaders, and researchers as the field begins full implementation of the NGSS.

You, H. S., & Chacko, S. M., & Kapila, V. (2019, June), Teaching Science with Technology: Scientific and Engineering Practices of Middle School Science Teachers Engaged in a Robot-Integrated Professional Development Program (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33353

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