Supporting Teachers to MASTER Science and Engineering Research Practices

by Jennifer Jackson, The Pennsylvania State University; & Kathleen M. Hill, The Pennsylvania State University

Many secondary teachers often lack experience in actual science and engineering research, as their preparation programs are structured to lead to certification in a particular science field, with science learning constrained to participating in undergraduate lectures and lab courses. As a result, they often hold a view of research through the lens of the traditional scientific method in which research is linear, static, and sterile such that each step is discrete and only occurs when the prior step is complete (Windschitl, 2004; Windschitl et al., 2008). With a focus of NGSS on the science and engineering practices (SEPs), teachers need ongoing professional development that increases their understanding of the ways in which experts do their work and builds their capacity to incorporate these practices into student learning experiences. To address this need, the CSATS Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program introduces teachers to the Modeling Authentic STEM Research (MASTER)model, which serves as a useful tool and intervention for understanding high-level science and engineering research. Therefore, this paper presents an innovative framework that (1) allows teacher educators to create diagrammatic depictions of science and engineering research and (2) enables using these diagrams in programs with teachers. Through the creation of MASTER models, researchers can assist with bridging the communication gap that exists between scientists/ engineers and the K-12 community.

Is This an Authentic Engineering Activity? Resources for Addressing the Nature of Engineering With Teachers

by Jacob Pleasants, University of Oklahoma

Including engineering as part of K–12 science instruction has many potential benefits for students, but achieving those benefits depends on having classroom teachers who are well prepared to effectively implement engineering instruction. Science teacher educators, therefore, have an essential role to play in ensuring that engineering is incorporated into science instruction in productive ways. An important component of that work is developing teachers’ understanding of the nature of engineering: what engineering is, what engineers do, and how engineering is both related to yet separate from science. Teachers must understand these concepts to implement engineering design activities that authentically reflect the field. In this article, I describe a sequence of instructional activities designed to help teachers, either preservice or inservice, develop their knowledge of the nature of engineering. At the core of the instructional sequence is a set of stories that provide teachers with descriptions of authentic engineering work. Surrounding the stories are activities that help teachers draw accurate conclusions about the nature of engineering and draw out the implications of those conclusions for instructional decision-making. I provide an overview of the instructional sequence and also share details from my own work with teachers, including transcripts of classroom conversations and the impact of instruction on teachers’ knowledge.