Major challenges in engineering education include retention of undergraduate engineering students (UESs) and continued engagement after the first year when concepts increase in difficulty. Additionally, employers, as well as ABET, look for students to demonstrate non-technical skills, including the ability to work successfully in groups, the ability to communicate both within and outside their discipline, and the ability to find information that will help them solve problems and contribute to lifelong learning. Teacher education is also facing challenges given the recent incorporation of engineering practices and core ideas into the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and state level standards of learning. To help teachers meet these standards in their classrooms, education courses for preservice teachers (PSTs) must provide resources and opportunities to increase science and engineering knowledge, and the associated pedagogies. To address these challenges, Ed+gineering, an NSF-funded multidisciplinary collaborative service learning project, was implemented into two sets of paired-classes in engineering and education: a 100 level mechanical engineering class (n = 42) and a foundations class in education (n = 17), and a fluid mechanics class in mechanical engineering technology (n = 23) and a science methods class (n = 15). The paired classes collaborated in multidisciplinary teams of 5-8 undergraduate students to plan and teach engineering lessons to local elementary school students. Teams completed a series of previously tested, scaffolded activities to guide their collaboration. Designing and delivering lessons engaged university students in collaborative processes that promoted social learning, including researching and planning, peer mentoring, teaching and receiving feedback, and reflecting and revising their engineering lesson.
The research questions examined in this pilot, mixed-methods research study include: (1) How did PSTs’ Ed+gineering experiences influence their engineering and science knowledge?; (2) How did PSTs’ and UESs’ Ed+gineering experiences influence their pedagogical understanding?; and (3) What were PSTs’ and UESs’ overall perceptions of their Ed+gineering experiences? Both quantitative (e.g., Engineering Design Process assessment, Science Content Knowledge assessment) and qualitative (student reflections) data were used to assess knowledge gains and project perceptions following the semester-long intervention. Findings suggest that the PSTs were more aware and comfortable with the engineering field following lesson development and delivery, and often better able to explain particular science/engineering concepts. Both PSTs and UESs, but especially the latter, came to realize the importance of planning and preparing lessons to be taught to an audience. UESs reported greater appreciation for the work of educators. PSTs and UESs expressed how they learned to work in groups with multidisciplinary members—this is a valuable lesson for their respective professional careers. Yearly, the Ed+gineering research team will also request and review student retention reports in their respective programs to assess project impact.
The full paper will be available to logged in and registered conference attendees once the conference starts on
June 22, 2020, and to all visitors after the conference ends on June 26, 2021