Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"How Do We Make This Happen?" Teacher Challenges and Productive Resources for Integrating Engineering Design into High-School Physics
by Shirey, Katherine Levenick, Ph.D., University of Maryland, College Park, 2017, 347; 10268822
Abstract (Summary)

Recent attention on social, civil, and environmental problems has caused policy-makers and advisors to advocate for more integrated science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) instruction. Although integrated STEM education promises to prepare U.S. students to tackle the crises of our times and the future (Lander & Gates, 2010), the integration of engineering design into high-school physics may prove difficult for teachers whether or not they’ve been previously trained in engineering design. This dissertation addresses a gap in classroom observation-based research on engineering integration in physics (Dare, Ellis, & Roehrig, 2014) by drawing on rich, qualitative, participant-observation data to investigate engineering-design instruction in high-school physics.

The first study explores tensions that three high-school physics teachers encountered as they planned and executed a terminal velocity engineering design challenge. Separating out physics content came into tension with truly integrated engineering-design instruction as envisioned in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013d), time and technical constraints came into tension with adequate data collection for making design decisions, and teachers’ supportive classroom routines came into tension with students’ divergent design thinking and agency. The first study concludes that even highly motivated and supported teachers may experience tensions between their regularly productive instructional practices and engineering design that could threaten the authenticity of the engineering design in which students engage.

The second study identifies some of teacher “Leslie’s” productive resources (locally coherent patterns of thoughts and actions) activated as she implemented her first engineering design challenge in physics. Leslie called up some of the same resources when she taught engineering design as when she facilitated open, guided, and structured-inquiry investigations. This study suggests that finding and calling upon resources that are assistive in other instruction, such as inquiry instruction, might be useful for science teachers attempting engineering-design integration.

Science education reform implementation researchers, teacher educators, and professional development providers need to acknowledge tensions that teachers may face with engineering-design integration, and the role that teachers’ existing resources can play in supporting reform adoption. Finally, this study agrees with other work (Katehi, Perason, Feder, & Committee on K-12 Engineering Education, 2009) emphasizing the need for more research on engineering-design integration in high-school physics.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Elby, Andrew
Commitee: Brantlinger, Andrew, Fourney, William, Gupta, Ayush, Levin, Daniel, Redish, Edward F.
School: University of Maryland, College Park
Department: Education Policy, and Leadership
School Location: United States -- Maryland
Source: DAI-A 78/12(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Education
Keywords: Engineering design, Engineering education, High-school science, NGSS, Physics education, Science reform
Publication Number: 10268822
ISBN: 978-0-355-06195-6
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