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The Attitudes of Elementary Teachers towards Elementary Engineering (research to practice)

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-college Engineering: Research on Teachers' Perceptions, Attitudes and Impacts of Teacher PD

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1188.1 - 24.1188.24



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Paper Authors


Cathy P. Lachapelle Museum of Science

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Dr. Cathy Lachapelle is the director of research and evaluation for EiE. She leads the assessment efforts for the EiE curriculum, designing assessment instruments, pilot and field testing them, and conducting research on how children use the EiE materials. She has worked on a number of research and evaluation projects related to K-16 STEM education, including the Women's Experiences in College Engineering (WECE) study of factors influencing the persistence of undergraduate women in engineering schools. She is particularly interested in how students learn science, engineering, and mathematics through collaborative interaction and through scaffolded experiences engaging in disciplinary practices. Cathy received her S.B. in cognitive science from MIT, and her Ph.D. in psychological studies in education from Stanford University.

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Jonathan D Hertel Engineering is Elementary, Museum of Science, Boston


Muhammad Faiz Shams Museum of Science - EiE

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Muhammad Shams is a research and evaluation associate, working for the Engineering is Elementary (EiE) curriculum development group based in the Boston Museum of Science. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth with a B.S. in mathematics. Prior to joining EiE, he worked as a research assistant in the field of numerical analysis, focusing on computational mathematics topics such as Improving Fourier Transform approximations and Radial Basis Function (RBF) interpolation. With the EiE team, Muhammad is responsible for data collection, data analysis, and reporting research.

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Chris San Antonio Museum of Science, Boston

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Chris is a Senior Research & Evaluation Associate at Engineering is Elementary (EiE), located within the Museum of Science, Boston. Before joining the research team, he worked in the school districts of New Hampshire and Vermont as a teen drop-out prevention specialist. He also brings experience in focus group facilitation, survey design, and data analysis. At EiE, he supports the development of research initiatives designed to improve our understanding of how elementary students best learn science and engineering. He received his BA in Psychology from Saint Michael’s College and his Ed.M. in Education Research from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

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Christine M Cunningham Museum of Science Orcid 16x16

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The Attitudes of Elementary Teachers towards Elementary Engineering (research to practice) In this paper, we ask: What attitudes do elementary school teachers hold about engineering education in the elementary grades? How do those attitudes change after they attend professional development for implementing elementary engineering? How do attitudes change after they implement an engineering curriculum in their own classrooms? What are the psychometrics and scales for the instrument? As part of a large‐scale research study of the efficacy of an engineering curriculum, we recruited ~250 teachers from 150 schools and randomly assigned them (at the school level) to treatment and comparison conditions. We devised a STEM attitudes survey based upon previously published instruments, and revised after validity testing with several hundred subjects. We administered our new STEM attitudes survey to these teachers before our introductory PD workshop; we also administered the same survey before and again after implementing a new engineering unit. Results thus far show the instrument is reliable, with the expected scales also showing internal consistency reliability. Further details of psychometrics will be given in the final paper. From the pre‐survey, we have found that elementary teachers are far more positive about the benefits of teaching science than about the benefits of teaching engineering. They more strongly agree that science, rather than engineering, should be taught to “promote an understanding of how science/engineering affects society”, “to educate future scientists, engineers, and technologists for industry”, “to prepare young people for their future career options”, “to help my students develop  an understanding of the natural/human‐made world”, and “to promote an enjoyment of learning”. Teachers also more strongly agreed that science, rather than engineering, “should be taught during preschool”, “should be taught during elementary school”, and should be studied at the university level. Their answers indicated that they believed science is more important for citizens to understand. They also indicated a greater desire and more positive feeling about teaching science than engineering. Further details about the survey, including characterization of teachers’ stereotypical ideas about engineering, will be presented in the final paper. As the post‐survey data is entered and analyzed, we will also be able to answer questions about how teachers’ attitudes change due to their participation in the engineering education professional development and curriculum. 

Lachapelle, C. P., & Hertel, J. D., & Shams, M. F., & San Antonio, C., & Cunningham, C. M. (2014, June), The Attitudes of Elementary Teachers towards Elementary Engineering (research to practice) Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23121

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