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The Engineering Education Epistemology of a Science Teacher (RTP, Strand 1)

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Research to Practice: STRAND 1 – Addressing the NGSS: Supporting K-12 Teachers in Engineering Pedagogy and Engineering Science Connections (Part 1)

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1529.1 - 26.1529.21



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Paper Authors


Katey Shirey University of Maryland, College Park Orcid 16x16

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Katey Shirey graduated from the University of Virginia with bachelor’s degrees in physics and sculpture. She received her master’s in secondary science education, also from Virginia. After graduation, Katey spent five years teaching Physics at Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, VA during which she participated as a teacher liaison to the IceCube Neutrino Observatory at the South Pole. Katey is now a second-year graduate student in science education at the University of Maryland. Her current research interests are related to the ways that creativity relates to learning in physics instruction and how understanding creativity in the process of engineering design can inform physics instruction.

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The Role of Teacher Beliefs in Engineering Implementation in Science (RTP, Strand 1)The Next Generation Science Standards (2013) places an emphasis on engineering practices andcontent within science standards. “Because engineering requires the application of mathematicsand science through the development of technologies, it can provide a way to integrate theSTEM disciplines meaningfully” (Moore, Glancy, Tank, Kersten, Smith, & Stohlmann, 2014,p.2). As states and schools phase in NGSS it will be current science teachers’ responsibility toteach engineering "...from kindergarten to twelfth grade” (NGSS, 2013, p. 103).Even for experienced science teachers, this transition could be potentially difficult. To combineengineering and science curriculum, teachers will need to identify and reconcile theirfundamental understandings of what counts as learning and teaching both science andengineering. They must decide, for instance, how much to emphasize engineering content vs.practices. Previous waves of reform suggest that schools and school districts will form teams ofteachers changed with creating lessons to bring engineering into science classrooms. Researchshows that such development groups are most productive when teachers’ collaboration issituated and acknowledges teachers’ own practice, experience and culture and can articulate anddebate their underlying disciplinary learning goals and associated epistemological assumptions(Laferriè, Lamon, & Chan, 2006). Teachers’ shared values and visions are significant indicatorsof working group success (Stoll, Bolam, McMahon, Wallace, & Thomas, 2006). This case studyof lesson post-mortem and planning session illustrates potential pitfalls such groups can face,when discussions of the details of lesson features and local goals obscure deep epistemologicaldisagreements.A nine-day summer science and math enrichment camp occurred in July of 2014 in a suburbancollege-town outside of a large Midwest metropolis. The theme of the camp was engineeringdesign. The campers were at-risk youth, with 50% of the campers returning for a second or thirdyear at camp. I co-planned and co-taught the camp with a small team of five teachers, three of usreturning, and two new to the camp. The teachers were novice and experienced, science andmath teachers, one was previously a career engineer. Camp activities, planning meetings, andartifacts were recorded using field notes, video, audio, photography, and interview.The camp teachers struggled to negotiate their individual priorities in teaching the camp. In theanalysis of the early conflicts I identify ways that conflicts over lesson planning mask underlyingconflicts over personal values and experiences, which guide their engineering epistemologies andthe ways that each teacher envisions success in engineering. This study suggests that identifyingand overcoming conflict between engineering epistemologies will be an important part ofengineering integration in science classes.This study will help to inform new and current science teachers about potential friction points intheir use of engineering in science classes. It will also inform K-12 teacher educators so thatthey can encourage new science teachers to address their own conflicts between traditionalscience education practice and the new requirements of engineering education. ReferencesLaferrière, T., Lamon, M., & Chan, C. K. K. (2006). Emerging E-Trends and Models in Teacher Education and Professional Development. Teaching Education, 17(1), 75–90. doi:10.1080/10476210500528087Moore, T., Glancy, A., Tank, K., Kersten, J., Smith, K., & Stohlmann, M. (2014). A Framework for Quality K-12 Engineering Education: Research and Development. Journal of Pre- College Engineering Education. 4(1), 1-13.NGSS Lead States. (2013). Next generation science standards: For states, by states. Washington, D.C: National Academies Press.Stoll, L., Bolam, R., McMahon, A., Wallace, M., & Thomas, S. (2006). Professional learning communities: A review of the literature. Journal of Educational Change, 7(4), 221-258.

Shirey, K. (2015, June), The Engineering Education Epistemology of a Science Teacher (RTP, Strand 1) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24867

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