New Orleans, Louisiana
June 26, 2016
June 26, 2016
August 28, 2016
With the recent development of the Common Core State Standards for mathematics, teachers have now been recommended a set of standards that cover not only the content of their mathematics classrooms, but also the practices with which to engage students as they learn that content (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010). These practice standards include objectives such as “make sense of problems and persevere in solving them”, “use appropriate tools strategically”, and “look for and make use of structure”. While there are ways to address these practice standards solely within the domain of mathematics, there are many rich connections to these practice standards within the field of engineering. The eight practice standards contained within the Common Core standards share many similarities to the Engineering Design Process (EDP). As mathematics teachers look for ways to engage their students in these mathematical practices, the EDP can be leveraged as a way to encourage students to simultaneously think as a mathematician, and as an engineer.
This paper describes a project based learning experience (Dym, Agogino, Eris, Frey, & Leifer, 2005) conducted at a large private university in the Northeas in which beginning mathematics teachers and engineering students attempted to learn engage with mathematics content through an engineering design experience. The goals of this project were to build a tower that could support a marshmallow, optimizing the height of the tower, while also minimizing the cost of the tower’s supplies. Participants in the session were first introduced to the EDP, looking at the different phases including identifying the problem and constraints, developing possible solution paths, selecting a path and building a prototype, evaluating the process and making improvements. Attendees worked in pairs, designing different towers, constructing, and refining their towers in an iterative process.
At the conclusion of this activity, the session participants engaged in conversations about the mathematical content of the engineering task, as well as the connections between the EDP and the standards of mathematical practice. Through the discussion, participants were able to see how this one task could be utilized to have students think about a variety of mathematics content, from geometric visual and spatial reasoning, to algebraic systems of linear equations. Especially powerful during this discussion was the comparison of the engineering design process to the practice standards they had already begun discussing in their coursework. Participants felt that there was significant overlap between the EDP and the work they were doing already in their classrooms to engage students with the standards for mathematical practice.
There are many kinds of knowledge that go into effective teaching including knowledge of the content, knowledge of the curriculum, and a horizon content knowledge across the subjects areas (Ball, Thames, & Phelps, 2008). This paper illustrates one example of how the teaching and learning of mathematics can be strengthened by incorporating ideas from engineering. The engineering design process allows students to engage with key ideas of investigating and solving problems as they work toward a greater understanding of content and more richly connected habits of mind.
References Ball, D. L., Thames, M. H., & Phelps, G. (2008). Content Knowledge for Teaching: What Makes It Special? Journal of Teacher Education, 59(5), 389–407. Dym, C. L., Agogino, A. M., Eris, O., Frey, D. D., & Leifer, L. J. (2005). Engineering Design Thinking, Teaching, and Learning. Journal of Engineering Education, 94(1), 103–120. http://doi.org/10.1002/j.2168-9830.2005.tb00832.x National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, & Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Washington, DC: National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers.
Brakoniecki, A., & Ward, M., & Fougere, G. (2016, June), Using the Engineering Design Process to Complement the Teaching and Learning of Mathematics Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.27167
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: © 2016 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