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The Formation and Dynamics of Teacher Roles in a Teacher-Student Groupwork during a Robotic Project

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual On line

Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

Pre-college Engineering Education Division Technical Session 19

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Pooneh Sabouri New York University

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Pooneh Sabouri received her Ph.D. in Teaching and Learning, focusing on science education at New York University. She has a master’s degree in mathematics education and statistics from The University of Texas at Austin and earned her bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology in Iran. Pooneh is interested in teacher learning and how to co-develop theoretical tools with teachers to inform and expand their teaching practices. She is a postdoctoral associate at Tandon School of Engineering at New York University, where she studies teachers' experiences as they learn about robotics, how they envision incorporating robotics in their curriculum and challenges that they face.

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Shramana Ghosh New York University Tandon School of Engineering

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Shramana Ghosh received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from University of California, Irvine in 2017, her Masters in Industrial Engineering from Texas A&M University in 2013, and her Bachelors in Manufacturing Processes and Automation Engineering from University of Delhi in 2011.
She is currently working as a postdoctoral associate at the Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering Department, NYU Tandon School of Engineering, NY, USA. In this role she supports and studies use of robotics in K-12 STEM education. Her other research interests include robotics, mechanical design, and biomechanics.

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Abhidipta Mallik New York University Tandon School of Engineering

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Abhidipta Mallik received his B.Tech. degree in Electronics and Communication Engineering from the West Bengal University of Technology, Kolkata, India, and M.Tech. degree in Mechatronics from the Indian Institute of Engineering Science and Technology, Shibpur, West Bengal, India. He has one year and ten months of research experience at the CSIR-CMERI, India. He is currently a Ph.D. student in Mechanical Engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, Brooklyn, NY, where he is serving as a research assistant under an NSF-funded ITEST project.

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Vikram Kapila NYU’s 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, 63 journal articles, and 164 conference papers. He has mentored 1 B.S., 40 M.S., and 5 Ph.D. thesis students; 64 undergraduate research students and 11 undergraduate senior design project teams; over 500 K-12 teachers and 130 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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Over the last decade, with the ever-increasing demand of STEM majors for the job market and the introduction of Next Generation Science Standards, the need for introducing and integrating engineering practices within the K-12 curriculum has risen. Accordingly, professional development (PD) programs have been seeking to prepare teachers for incorporating various engineering practices into their curriculum. Several research studies have examined the effectiveness of PD programs by evaluating teacher knowledge, self-efficacy, and student learning outcomes about engineering practices. However, often, teachers themselves are novices to engineering practices. Thus, in the context of PD programs that simultaneously engage teachers and students, it is pertinent to ask “How do teachers resolve the tension between learning alongside their students and teaching them?” In this paper, we seek to address this question by examining the interactions between two teachers and four students as they learned about robotics and worked together as a group to address an engineering design problem. We asked: (a) what actions and strategies did the teachers utilize within the group (teacher’s roles)? and (b) how did these actions impede or facilitate students’ learning about robotics and engineering practices?

The context of this case study is a four-week summer robotic education program for high school teachers. One of the requirements for attending was that each teacher applicant recruit two students from their schools and participate in the program as a team. This novel structure of participation (teachers with students) was decided in response to feedback from earlier PD workshops conducted by the project leaders. It was envisioned that teachers working alongside students would help inform their strategies concerning how to adapt their PD lessons and activities for classroom implementations. Moreover, we anticipated that working as a team would reveal the various actions that teachers might take as they work with their students during school year.

A total of 10 teachers and 22 students from 8 inner-city schools attended the program. In this paper, we focus on one group of two teachers and four students. We video-recorded their interactions throughout the program, took field notes, and interviewed the teachers during the second, third, and last week of the program. We used a thematic analysis approach for coding the field notes, studying the videos, and excerpts from interviews to understand how teachers perceived their roles within the group, what actions they took to manifest their initial goals, and if and how their intended roles changed because of working with students.

The results of preliminary analysis show that, initially, the teachers facilitated students’ learning and the distribution of tasks among them. As the group began facing technical challenges and failures, the teachers intervened more often to fix problems or suggest solutions. The final paper will present a narrative of the roles that teachers played within the group and how their actions might impact students’ learning. The results of this study can contribute to our knowledge about teacher’s pedagogical actions that can facilitate or hinder student learning and how to promote positive strategies within the PDs.

Sabouri, P., & Ghosh, S., & Mallik, A., & Kapila, V. (2020, June), The Formation and Dynamics of Teacher Roles in a Teacher-Student Groupwork during a Robotic Project Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--35323

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