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The Intersection of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Engineering Design in Secondary STEM (Research to Practice)

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2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Minneapolis, MN

Publication Date

August 23, 2022

Start Date

June 26, 2022

End Date

June 29, 2022

Conference Session

PCEE Session 13: Equity in P-12 Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Mariam Manuel University of Houston

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Dr. Mariam Manuel is an Instructional Assistant Professor/Master Teacher for teachHOUSTON, a secondary STEM teacher preparation program in the Department of Mathematics at University of Houston. In addition to preservice STEM teacher education courses, Dr. Manuel teaches Physics for Middle School Teachers and has authored/taught graduate level coursework in Engineering Design Education, for the UH STEM Master’s program. Dr. Manuel serves on multiple grants and actively publishes and presents at national research conferences. Her research interests include STEM teacher preparation, engineering design education, and culturally responsive pedagogy.

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The instructional practices of the engineering design process and culturally responsive pedagogy have each garnered national attention through multiple decades of research. The findings from the literature associated with each field urge educators and policy-makers to integrate the pedagogical constructs in K-12 instruction. Moreover, scholars have argued that the implications of immersion for each construct within science and mathematics content include heightened student engagement and improved academic achievement. There is a significant amount of research that supports the positive student outcomes associated with each approach. Still, there remains a lack of literature that addresses the beliefs and agency of teachers upon integration of these critical practices in their content areas.

The movement around educational reform is rooted in teachers serving as learners; however, understanding how teachers learn and respond to reform is largely overlooked. Consequently, this dissertation study is grounded under the assertion that it is of great significance to examine the way in which teachers perceive and define new pedagogical approaches upon implementation. The author explores how, and in what ways, are secondary mathematics and science teacher pedagogical beliefs and sense of agency related to the integration of the engineering design process and culturally responsive pedagogy within their content curricula. The core properties of agentic behaviors, rooted in social cognitive theory, include: intentionality, forethought, self-reactiveness, and self-reflection. The author utilized a comparative multiple case study design using an embedded mixed methods approach, allowing for the qualitative and quantitative data to be collected and analyzed concurrently. The data collected allowed for case analysis for each teacher along with cross-case analysis between the teachers. These cases represent experiences of the select secondary math and science teachers enrolled in graduate-level coursework and professional development on the topics of culturally responsive pedagogy, and, the engineering design process.

The findings from this study add to the significant gap in literature surrounding how teachers perceive the engineering design process and culturally responsive pedagogy upon implementation. The self-reported pedagogical beliefs suggest a synergistic relationship between the two constructs. Accordingly, the participating teachers expressed a strong preference towards the enactment of a culturally responsive engineering design process. Furthermore, the agentic behaviors examined contribute to the literature on the defining categories and assertions about teachers theorized as change agents. The research also suggests that teacher agency is driven by the pursuit of positive student outcomes. Overall, findings documented offer valuable recommendations for teacher educators, professional development providers, policy-makers, and researchers. The results from this research underscore the importance of empowering teachers with professional development, around implementation of novel pedagogical approaches, that is shaped and informed by their beliefs and experiences.

Manuel, M. (2022, August), The Intersection of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy and Engineering Design in Secondary STEM (Research to Practice) Paper presented at 2022 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Minneapolis, MN.

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