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Factors That Support Teacher Shift to Engineering Design


"This paper presents a professional development (PD) program conducted at the University of Cincinnati for middle school and high science and math teachers. Teachers commit to the National Science Foundation (DUE-1102990) funded Cincinnati Engineering Enhanced Science and Math Program (CEEMS) for two years and learn to transform their classrooms into places where students collaboratively tackle real world, open-ended challenges by using the engineering design process. This paper focuses on three important elements of the PD that prepares teachers to incorporate engineering design process into the teaching of core science and math content. First, teachers experience engineering challenges themselves. By engaging in teamwork and collaboration, learning from failure, and experiencing the iterative nature of the engineering design process for themselves, teachers better identify with students. Second, the PD program is structured such that teachers are accountable to create and implement engineering design activities in their classrooms. Finally, teachers are supported and guided as they create and implement engineering design modules. This is accomplished using resource coaches, engineers and master teachers, who guide the teachers through the process of creating and implementing lessons incorporating engineering design activities and provide invaluable feedback as teachers reflect on their own practice. Program evaluation focuses on teacher changes in instructional practices, student growth in content knowledge, and student engagement. Related evaluation results and teacher feedback are documented. As indicated by teacher self-report current instructional practices, teachers' shift in practices to a student-centered, engineering designbased approach seems to support students' growth in content knowledge as measured by pre-post assessment results. Beyond effective content delivery, student engagement in engineering design challenges is high, as indicated by teacher qualitative data."

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