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The Tiny House Project: Building Engineering Proficiency and Self-Efficacy through Applied Engineering at the High School Level (Evaluation)

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2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Tampa, Florida

Publication Date

June 15, 2019

Start Date

June 15, 2019

End Date

June 19, 2019

Conference Session

Engineering Design Process Activities with Secondary Students

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education

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Paper Authors


Jessica D. Gale Georgia Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16

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Dr. Jessica Gale is a Research Scientist II at Georgia Tech's Center for education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC). Her research focuses on project-based learning, STEM integration at the elementary and middle grades levels, design-based implementation research, and fidelity of implementation. Dr. Gale has a particular interest in project-based engineering in elementary school communities and the socio-cultural dimensions of pre-college engineering education. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. in Educational Studies from Emory University.

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Beth Ann White

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This study presents outcomes of a project implemented in an Applied Engineering course at one purposively selected public K-12 school. Inspired by student interest in addressing scarcity in local affordable housing, the course devoted an entire school year to the collaborative design and construction of a Tiny House. With guidance from their teacher and support from various community partners, students (n = 15) researched and designed all systems within the house, used CAD software to iteratively develop floor plans and models of their Tiny House designs, sourced materials for the Tiny House, and completed initial construction of the Tiny House. Using a case study approach (Merriam, 1998), the study triangulates observation, interview, and survey data to explore student engagement in the engineering design process over the course of the project. Drawing on social cognitive theory (Bandura, 1997) the study also examines students’ engineering self-efficacy. The study addresses the following research questions: • To what extent and in what ways did participating in the Tiny House project foster proficiency with the engineering design process? • To what extent did participating in the Tiny House project foster students’ self-efficacy for engineering? Classroom observations were collected over the course of the project, with a minimum of two observations each month. Observation data were collected using a rubric-based protocol to document the overall progress of the project along with evidence of individual student engagement with various stages of the engineering design process. Observations also included informal interviews in the form of short discussions in which students were asked to describe the engineering activity they were currently engaged in. Rubric ratings assigned based on observations were compiled in matrices to illustrate student mastery of the engineering design process at various points in the project. This observation data, when triangulated with field notes and interview data, indicated that the project afforded multiple opportunities for each student to demonstrated proficiency with each stage of the engineering design process. Self-efficacy was measured using the engineering design self-efficacy instrument (Carberry, Lee, & Ohland, 2010), which was administered online at the beginning and end of the course. Although statistical analysis of this data is somewhat limited by the small sample size, examining student- and item-level pre-post responses suggests that students began the course with relatively high levels of self-efficacy for engineering design that were either maintained or increased by the end of the course. Data from observations, informal interviews, and student responses to open-ended survey items administered at the end of the course provide additional evidence regarding particular aspects of the course that served as significant mastery experiences influencing students’ engineering self-efficacy.

Gale, J. D., & White, B. A. (2019, June), The Tiny House Project: Building Engineering Proficiency and Self-Efficacy through Applied Engineering at the High School Level (Evaluation) Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--33430

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