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The InterLACE Project: Examining the Barriers to Implementing Collaborative, Inquiry-based Investigations

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Examining Problem-based Learning

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1318.1 - 25.1318.16



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Paper Authors


Morgan M. Hynes Tufts University

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Morgan Hynes is a Research Assistant Professor in the Tufts University Education Department and Education Research Program Director for the Tufts Center of Engineering Education and Outreach. Hynes received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering in 2001 and his Ph.D. in engineering education in 2009 (both degrees at Tufts University). In his current positions, Hynes serves as PI and Co-PI on a number of funded research projects investigating engineering education in the K-12 and college settings. He is particularly interested in how students and teachers engage in and reflect upon the engineering design process. His research includes investigating how teachers conceptualize and then teach engineering through in-depth case study analysis. Hynes also spends time working at the Sarah Greenwood K-8 school (a Boston Public School) assisting teachers in implementing engineering curriculum in grades 3-8.

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Ethan E. Danahy Tufts University

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Ethan Danahy is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department Computer Science at Tufts University outside of Boston Mass., having received B.S. and M.S. degrees in computer science in 2000 and 2002, respectively, and a Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering in 2007, all from Tufts. Additionally, he acts as the Engineering Research Program Director at the Center for Engineering Education and Outreach (CEEO), where he manages educational technology development projects while researching innovative and interactive techniques for assisting teachers with performing engineering education and communicating robotics concepts to students spanning the K-12 through university age range.

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Danielle Dowling Tufts University

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Center for Engineering Education and Outreach

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The InterLACE Project: Examining the Barriers to Implementing Collaborative, Inquiry-Based InvestigationsA growing body of research suggests that inquiry-based pedagogical practices, explicitscaffolding of instruction, and the use of technology can greatly enhance a student’s learningexperience in a science/engineering classroom. However, these approaches are not widelyemployed owing to the fact that they are often challenging, time-consuming, and costly toimplement; additionally, they require a support system that many teachers lack. To address theseproblems and to promote cyber-learning strategies that enhance STEM education, the InteractiveLearning and Collaboration Environment, or InterLACE, Project is designing, developing, andtesting an innovative online collaborative education environment that supports teachers inpresenting inquiry- and project-based lessons to their high school science/engineering classes. Aswe begin to construct the blueprint for InterLACE’s suite of technological tools, we’veconducted focus group meetings among the teachers on our design team, individual teacherinterviews, and classroom observations to identify the obstacles that stand in the way of inquiry-based learning from the perspective of both teachers and students. To investigate thecollaborative aspect of the implementation of such lessons within the classroom community, weare using social network analysis to examine how shared meanings are built and collectivecomprehension is reached—not just through the interaction between two students but through theinteractions among every pair of students in the class involved in completing the same assignedtask. By collecting and analyzing such data, our goals are twofold: (1) to create a superior suiteof technological tools that can advance science/engineering education in the high schoolclassroom; and (2) to further the appreciation of the epistemological benefits and drawbacks ofcollaborative, inquiry-based learning with regard to science/engineering education. This paperspecifically presents our preliminary data relating to the barriers in the classroom that preventmeaningful and collaborative inquiry-based practices. Collected in fall 2011, the data draws fromthe aforementioned meetings, interviews, and observations.

Hynes, M. M., & Danahy, E. E., & Dowling, D. (2012, June), The InterLACE Project: Examining the Barriers to Implementing Collaborative, Inquiry-based Investigations Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22075

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