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Volume 20  Issue 4  

Qualitative Research on the Influence of Engineering Professional Development on Teacher Self-Efficacy in a Rural K-5 Setting

by Kelly Ficklin, Michele Parker & Tammy Shaw-Ferguson
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As part of an embedded mixed-method study, qualitative research was conducted to understand how Engineering Is Elementary (EiE) professional development influenced the self-efficacy of K-5 elementary teachers required to teach engineering in a rural school in Southeastern, North Carolina. In fall 2016, proportional stratified sampling was used to select 14 teachers by grade level and specialty area who participated in EiE training. Teachers were interviewed to obtain in-depth information about their perceived self-efficacy. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed for content by person, by interview questions, and across all interviews using narrative data analysis methods. The data showed three themes: (a) teachers feel preparation programs lack STEM training, (b) integrating engineering is achievable in the K-5 classroom, and (c) professional support is an issue in improving this engineering initiative. The results demonstrated how elementary educators’ self-efficacy evolved while engaging in professional development to prepare to teach engineering. Implications for educational practice and research are provided.

Volume 20  Issue 4  

Teacher Self-Efficacy in a Rural K-5 Setting: Quantitative Research on the Influence Of Engineering Professional Development

by Michele Parker, Kelly Ficklin & Margaret Mishra
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This study investigated the influence of Engineering Is Elementary (EiE) professional development on teachers’ self-efficacy of integrating engineering into the K-5 curriculum in a rural school district in southeastern North Carolina. In fall 2016, the researchers conducted an embedded mixed-method study. The focus of this paper is the quantitative aspect of the study, which involved using the engineering components of the T-STEM survey to measure teachers’ self-efficacy via Qualtrics. The survey was used to compare teachers’ self-efficacy before and following EiE professional development and 4 weeks after the last EiE intervention. Forty-three teachers completed these online questionnaires. Across the three intervals, the results of the repeated measures were statistically significant. There were increases in teachers’ (a) engineering teaching efficacy and beliefs, (b) engineering teaching outcome expectancy, and (c) engineering instruction. Teachers’ self-efficacy toward engineering was likely influenced by EiE professional development. The findings suggest that elementary teachers’ self-efficacy about integrating engineering into the curriculum can increase by offering EiE professional development over time. This study can help inform future education policy, practice, and research.

Volume 20  Issue 3  

Toward a Productive Definition of Technology in Science and STEM Education

by Joshua Ellis, Jeanna Wieselmann, Ramya Sivaraj, Gillian Roehrig, Emily Dare & Elizabeth Ring-Whalen
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The lack of a definition of the T in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) acronym is pervasive, and it is often the teachers of STEM disciplines who inherit the task of defining the role of technology within their K-12 classrooms. These definitions often vary significantly, and they have profound implications for curricular and instructional goals within science and STEM classrooms. This theoretical paper summarizes of technology initiatives across science and STEM education from the past 30 years to present perspectives on the role of technology in science-focused STEM education. The most prominent perspectives describe technology as the following: (a) vocational education, industrial arts, or the product of engineering, (b) educational or instructional technology, (c) computing or computational thinking, and (d) the tools and practices used by practitioners of science, mathematics, and engineering. We have identified the fourth perspective as the most salient with respect to K-12 science and STEM education. This particular perspective is in many ways compatible with the other three perspectives, but this depends heavily on the beliefs, prior experiences, and instructional goals of teachers who use technology in their science or STEM classroom.

Volume 20  Issue 2  

Electrifying: One Teacher’s Discursive and Instructional Changes Through Engagement in E-Textiles to Teach Science Content

by Colby Tofel-Grehl, Eliza Jex, Kristin Searle, Douglas Ball, Xin Zhao & Georgia Burnell
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This paper shares findings from the first of its kind quasi-experimental mixed methods study exploring the potential impacts on teacher instruction through engagement with making and e-textiles. Because engagement in hands-on inquiry has demonstrated strong promise for increasing student interest and engagement in STEM careers, finding curricular approaches that engage students in project-based learning remains important. As such, the Maker Movement and making has gained traction as a possible effort to improve such outcomes. This study shares outcomes from analyses of one teacher’s first engagement with teaching eighth-grade science through e-textiles. Four of his classes were taught using his traditional science curriculum while four of his classes were taught with an equivalently designed e-textiles curriculum. Findings indicated that his instruction during e-textiles classes was different in terms of classroom discourse opportunities and engagement. Specifically, students taught in classes with e-textile were afforded more opportunities to engage their own questions with the teacher and engage on a more personal level with him.