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Where do We Go from Here? Conversations with K-6 Principals Following Three Years of Engineering Education Professional Development for Their Faculty

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

K-12 and Pre-college Engineering: Research on Teachers' Perceptions, Attitudes and Impacts of Teacher PD

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1376.1 - 24.1376.30



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Paper Authors


Louis S. Nadelson PhD Boise State University

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Louis S. Nadelson is an associate professor in the College of Education at Boise State University, with a PhD in educational psychology from UNLV. His scholarly interests include all areas of STEM teaching and learning, inservice and preservice teacher professional development, program evaluation, multidisciplinary research, and conceptual change. Nadelson uses his over 20 years of high school and college math, science, and engineering teaching to frame his research on STEM teaching and learning. Nadelson brings a unique perspective of research, bridging experience with practice and theory to explore a range of interests in STEM teaching and learning.

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Janet Callahan Boise State University Orcid 16x16

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Janet Callahan is the Associate Dean for the College of Engineering at Boise State University and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. Dr. Callahan received her Ph.D. in Materials Science, her M.S. in Metallurgy and her B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Connecticut. Her educational research interests include freshmen engineering programs, math success, K-12 STEM outreach, professional accreditation, and retention and recruitment of STEM majors.

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Where do We Go from Here? Conversations with K-6 Principals Following Three Years of Engineering Education Professional Development for Their FacultyPreparing elementary level teachers to teach engineering as part of their curriculum is fundamental tomeeting the goals of the Next Generation Science (and Engineering) Standards, and for addressing theprofessional engineering pipeline. To address the NGSS goals and pipeline we engaged teachers from 6elementary schools in summer workshops over a three-year period with ongoing school year professionaldevelopment and support to enhance their understanding and integration of engineering concepts andcontent in teaching and learning.The results of our professional development efforts (multiple reports to be cited) reveal substantialincreases in the teachers’ knowledge and implementation of engineering lessons with their students. Wedocumented increases in the scope and depth of lessons, and shifts in the level of design control from theteachers to the students indicating a shift in faculty role from deliverer of information to facilitator oflearning.At the conclusion of our three year initiative, we were curious about the impact of the project on theculture of the school, the nature of interactions between teachers, and future directions for STEM relatedprofessional development particularly associated with engineering. To do this, we developed aninterview protocol and contacted the principals in each of the 6 schools and scheduled time to talk withthese school leaders. We conducted interviews of the six principals to determine most salient professionaldevelopment issues and topics for their faculty and the direction they were attempting to guide the cultureof the school.Our analysis revealed a transformation in school culture such as the formation of teacher cohorts whichwere led by teachers who acted as mentors. The mentors provided ideas and motivation for integratingengineering into the curriculum and were supportive of the risk taking and sharing the activities. Themotivation and ideas manifested in teacher engagement of students across a wide range of engineeringdesign challenges and projects. In terms of future professional development needs, principals voiced theneed for linking engineering projects and activities to general curriculum standards. We will providedetailed analysis of the interviews in our full paper as well as a theoretical foundation and justification forpreparing and supporting engineering education in K-6.

Nadelson, L. S., & Callahan, J. (2014, June), Where do We Go from Here? Conversations with K-6 Principals Following Three Years of Engineering Education Professional Development for Their Faculty Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23309

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