June 26, 2011
June 26, 2011
June 29, 2011
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering and Educational Research and Methods
22.1468.1 - 22.1468.9
The impact of engineering-based science instruction on science content understanding This paper presents our ongoing study of the impact of using engineering-based scienceinstruction on elementary students’ science content understanding and attitudes. In 2008/2009,fourteen third- and fourth-grade teachers from six urban public schools in the northeasternUnited States implemented at least one of our four engineering design-based science units. Eachof the four curriculum units poses an overarching engineering design challenge as a motivator forscience investigations, uses interlocking construction (LEGOTM) elements for prototyping,requires approximately 12 hours of instructional time, and addresses a particular science domain(animal adaptations, simple machines, material properties, or sound). The learning objectives foreach unit are aligned with local and national standards of science learning. Participatingintervention teachers attended a 30-hour workshop on the content and pedagogy of these units. Data collection for this study involved pre and post paper-and-pencil science content testsas well as attitudinal surveys. In addition to the thirteen intervention classrooms, these pre-posttests and surveys were also administered in twelve comparison classrooms (from six public andtwo private schools) of the same grade levels and in the same geographical area. Comparisonclassrooms conducted science instruction on the same topics (animal adaptations, simplemachines, material properties, or sound) but did not involve LEGO engineering design activities. Analysis of the 2008/2009 school year science content test scores using repeated-measures ANOVA, with curriculum treatment (engineering-based vs. comparison) as thebetween-subjects factor, and pre- and post-test score as the within-subjects factor found asignificant interaction between treatment group and time of test, F(1, 640) = 23.276, p < .001;the increase in science content score from pre-to post-test was much greater for the engineering-based students than for the comparison students. This means that although the engineering-basedstudents began the units with less science content knowledge than the comparison students, atunit completion they had equivalent science content knowledge, as measured by paper-and-pencil tests. Furthermore, analysis of the attitudinal surveys revealed that the engineering-basedstudents had positive attitudes toward science and engineering (nengineering = 232; ncompare = 228).Students in the engineering-based science classrooms and comparison classrooms showed nosignificant differences in their agreement with the statement “I am good at science” (p=0.80) orwith the statement “I can use what I learn in science class in my life” (p=0.32). However, theengineering-based students did show significantly stronger agreement with the statement “I feelcreative during science class” than did the comparison students (p<0.05). The findings are supportive of the usefulness of engineering-based science instruction asan effective and engaging method of science education. This paper will share additionalconclusion and implications from 2008/2009 data analysis as well as results from the analysis ofthe 2009/2010 data that is being conducted during Fall/Winter 2010.
Wendell, K. B., & Portsmore, M. D., & Wright, C. G., & Rogers, C., & Jarvin, L., & Kendall, A. (2011, June), The Impact of Engineering-Based Science Instruction on Science Content Understanding Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. https://peer.asee.org/18768
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