Pre-service teachers' engineering design practices in an integrated engineering and literacy experience.
- The National Research Council's recent Framework for K-12 Science Education (2012) and the draft Next Generation Science Standards (Achieve, Inc., 2012) bring new urgency and importance to the task of exposing K-12 students to the practices and big ideas of engineering. At the elementary school level, this task requires not only the adjustment of curriculum and pedagogy, but also a transformation ... read morein the preparation of new elementary teachers. The teacher education community is limited in its understanding of how novice teachers of elementary students learn to teach engineering. Research is needed to inform a new model for preparing pre-service elementary teachers to teach engineering. One potential model for bringing engineering to the elementary classroom and to pre-service elementary teachers is to integrate engineering and literacy (McCormick & Hynes, 2012) In the integrated engineering and literacy approach, design challenges are drawn from children's literature. Students and teachers read texts closely, analyze the plot for problems faced by the characters, design and test solutions to the problems, and then reflect in writing about the problems and solutions. The purpose of our descriptive research study was to identify the engineering practices that pre-service teachers use when they participate in an integrated engineering and literacy learning experience. We hypothesized that when solving engineering problems linked to fictional characters, teachers' identification with the characters might lead them to emphasize the practices of problem scoping (i.e., what does this character really need?) and conceptual design(i.e., what would please this character?), while neglecting the practice of iterative prototyping. The study participants were 26 graduate students enrolled in an elementary science teaching methods course. On three different occasions, these pre-service teachers worked in small group son engineering design challenges faced by the main characters in works of children's literature. We video recorded and transcribed the whole-class and small-group discussions that took place during these sessions. We used a systematic, iterative process of qualitative data analysis drawing from methods of grounded theory (Charmaz, 1995) and constant comparative analysis(Glaser & Strauss, 1967) Two researchers independently conducted line-by-line coding using apriori codes based on existing engineering design process models (Atman et al., 2007; Cardellaet al., 2008) as well as emergent codes. The researchers iterated on category definitions and assignments until they reached consensus on a set of categories and sub-categories that described the pre-service teachers' engineering practices. These included problem definition (attending to cost and safety, negotiating requirements), generating ideas (meeting characters' needs, constructing external representations of solutions, prioritizing simplicity), feasibility analysis(anticipating critiques, posing thought experiments about potential solutions), and decision(justifying proposed solutions, synthesizing across multiple solutions) Frequency analysis suggests that in an integrated engineering and literacy experience, pre-service teachers may excel at identifying problems, generating possible solutions, and attending to multiple constraints, but struggle to engage in iterative modeling and appropriate evaluation of proposed solutions. We discuss the instructional implications for pre-service teacher education that integrates engineering design with literacy experiences.read less
- Wendell, K. B. (2013, June), Pre-Service Teachers' Engineering Design Practices in an Integrated Engineering and Literacy Experience Paper presented at 2013 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Atlanta, Georgia. https://peer.asee.org/22358. © 2013 American Society for Engineering Education.