Asee peer logo

Urban Elementary School Students' Reflective Decision-making During Formal Engineering Learning Experiences (Fundamental)

Download Paper |

Conference

2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015

ISBN

978-0-692-50180-1

ISSN

2153-5965

Conference Session

Fundamental: K-12 Students and Engineering Design Practices (Part 1)

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

16

Page Numbers

26.1636.1 - 26.1636.16

DOI

10.18260/p.24972

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/24972

Download Count

105

Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Kristen Bethke Wendell University of Massachusetts Boston

biography

Christopher George Wright University of Tennessee, Knoxville

visit author page

Dr. Wright is an Assistant Professor of STEM Education in the Department of Theory & Practice in Teacher Education at the University of Tennessee.

visit author page

author page

Patricia C Paugh University of Massachusetts Boston

Download Paper |

Abstract

Urban elementary school students’ reflective decision-making during formal engineering learning experiences (Fundamental)In its Framework for K-12 Science Education, the National Research Council writes, “Engineers,too, make decisions based on evidence that a given design will work; they rarely rely on trial anderror” (2012, p. 62). For engineers to plan feasible solutions and revise solutions they havealready tested, they need to engage in reflective decision-making that takes into accountinformation about design options. This is a key component of engineering design cognition.Therefore, as the Next Generation Science Standards ask K-12 students to learn the practices ofengineering design, those students need to be equipped for reflective decision-making. In ourresearch program, we explore the nature of reflective decision-making in elementary schoolengineering design. In this qualitative descriptive research study, we investigated the researchquestion, what does reflective decision-making look like among urban elementary schoolstudents participating in a formal engineering design curriculum?Participants in our study were students in seven classrooms ranging from second to fifth grade.During each of eight Engineering is Elementary (EiE) units, we video recorded classroomlessons and collected all of the students’ written work. We also audio recorded our de-briefingmeetings with the classroom teachers.After reviewing engineering cognition literature and analyzing the content of the EiE curriculummaterials, we constructed an a priori definition of reflective decision-making. Then, we usedqualitative microethnographic methods to analyze data from classrooms and teacher/researchermeetings in order to confirm or disconfirm the parts of that definition. Members of the researchteam brought data of interest to the entire group, and themes about elementary students’reflective decision-making emerged from the group’s discussion. Characteristics of reflectivedecision-making were added to our findings when they were confirmed by multiple episodes ofclassroom data and not able to be disconfirmed by other data.To summarize our findings, we describe reflective decision-making in children’s engineering asthe multi-faceted practice of taking stock, analyzing, and moving forward.In particular, we found that during engineering planning, children are often engaged in reflectivedecision-making when they: 1. Articulate and review more than one idea about how to solve a problem; 2. Consider multiple options according to the criteria and constraints of the problem, mathematical and scientific principles, and critique by other children and adults; 3. Intentionally select a potential solution to pursue.We also found that during engineering re-design, children seem to be using reflective decision-making when they: 1. Re-tell the performance of a possible solution; 2. Analyze possible solution(s) according to several types of evidence, including results of physical tests, data from scientific investigations, information from external sources, and critique by other children or adults; 3. Purposefully choose how to move forward to improve the proposed solution.In our paper we will describe specific episodes of data that support each element of reflectivedecision-making listed above. Our goal in characterizing children’s reflective decision-making isto describe the behaviors, habits, or skills that should be emphasized as we work to supportelementary students in meaningful learning of engineering design practices.

Wendell, K. B., & Wright, C. G., & Paugh, P. C. (2015, June), Urban Elementary School Students' Reflective Decision-making During Formal Engineering Learning Experiences (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24972

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015