Doing STEM : students’ participation and experiences in argument-driven engineering

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2021-08-02

Authors

Baze, Christina Lee

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Abstract

Recent trends in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education have shifted the focus of education onto practice-based learning. Specifically, A Framework for K-12 Science Education (National Research Council [NRC], 2012) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS Lead States, 2013) encourage opportunities for students to engage in science and engineering practices (SEPs) with the goal of more meaningful participation and engagement in authentic STEM experiences for all students. Importantly, this includes the integration of engineering into K–12 science education to increase equitable access to engineering (Committee on Integrated STEM Education, National Academy of Engineering [NAE], & NRC, 2014), especially for students from historically excluded groups such as girls and students of color (Commission on the Advancement of Women and Minorities in Science, Engineering, and Technology Development, 2000; Geisinger & Raj Raman, 2013). This dissertation consists of three studies that explore the engagement and experiences of middle school students as they participate in Argument-Driven Engineering (ADE; Baze et al., 2018; Hutner et al., 2019), an instructional framework for integrating engineering into science curricula, with a focus on feminism and the unique experiences of girls. The first two studies are qualitative explorations into the epistemic criteria that student groups use when designing solutions to problems and student groups’ enactment of epistemic agency. My findings between these studies suggest that students take up meaningful roles for building knowledge and designing solutions and possess nascent epistemic abilities, and that equitable participation and shared epistemic agency was guided by the intentional effort of girls. The third study is a mixed-methods analysis of students’ engineering identities over a school year and the salient experiences which influence engineering identity. My findings suggest that authentic engineering experiences positively affect engineering identity but increasing the engineering experiences students have in school is not enough to close the gendered identity gap. Together, this work has implications around the implementation of ADE and other integrated STEM instruction, in particular, that engineering instruction should explicitly address real-world issues of social and environmental justice in order to support the engineering work of all students (e.g., Godwin & Potvin, 2015; NAE, 2008).

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