Urban elementary school students' reflective decision-making during formal engineering learning experiences (Fundamental).
Wright, Christopher George.
Paugh, Patricia C., 1956-
- 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 and error" (2012, p. 62) For engineers to plan feasible solutions and revise solutions they have already tested, they need to engage in reflective decision-making that takes into account information about design ... read moreoptions. This is a key component of engineering design cognition. Therefore, as the Next Generation Science Standards ask K-12 students to learn the practices of engineering design, those students need to be equipped for reflective decision-making. In our research program, we explore the nature of reflective decision-making in elementary school engineering design. In this qualitative descriptive research study, we investigated the research question, what does reflective decision-making look like among urban elementary school students 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 classroom lessons and collected all of the students' written work. We also audio recorded our de-briefing meetings with the classroom teachers. After reviewing engineering cognition literature and analyzing the content of the EiE curriculum materials, we constructed an a priori definition of reflective decision-making. Then, we used qualitative microethnographic methods to analyze data from classrooms and teacher/researcher meetings in order to confirm or disconfirm the parts of that definition. Members of the research team brought data of interest to the entire group, and themes about elementary students' reflective decision-making emerged from the group's discussion. Characteristics of reflective decision-making were added to our findings when they were confirmed by multiple episodes of classroom data and not able to be disconfirmed by other data. To summarize our findings, we describe reflective decision-making in children's engineering as the multi-faceted practice of taking stock, analyzing, and moving forward. In particular, we found that during engineering planning, children are often engaged in reflective decision-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 reflective decision-making listed above. Our goal in characterizing children's reflective decision-making is to describe the behaviors, habits, or skills that should be emphasized as we work to support elementary students in meaningful learning of engineering design practices.read less
- 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. © 2015 American Society for Engineering Education.