27 SES 03 A, Parallel Paper Session
Parallel Paper Session
The ENGINEER project is a three year, EU-funded project, which aims to support the development of an inquiry-based learning approach in primary science across ten European countries. The project seeks to promote interest in science and technology via engagement with a suite of engineering design challenges, based on the successful ‘Engineering is Elementary’ (EiE) model developed by the Boston Museum of Science in the USA (Cunningham and Lachapelle, 2012).
This paper focuses on the opportunities and challenges of borrowing and sharing a curriculum innovation across different European countries. It considers interactions of the local, the regional and the global in constructing a new curriculum initiative for science and technology learning in primary education. The paper addresses three key questions related to the ENGINEER project as an example of curriculum/pedagogy ‘borrowing’ based on a ‘what works’ approach to education:
1. the nature of interdisciplinary learning to support science education;
2. the dynamics involved in transferring a particular pedagogic approach into a range of new historical/cultural contexts, and
3. the parameters within which we should evaluate success in a cross-European education project.
The basic concept underpinning EiE and hence ENGINEER is that individual engineering challenges are matched to an area of the primary science curriculum. Then, when pupils learn particular science concepts followed by a related engineering challenge, their learning of science and their understanding of ‘what is engineering’ will be enhanced (Lachapelle et al, 2010). However, the nature of the match is far from straightforward. As Heywood and Parker (2001) note, naïve conceptual understanding is often at odds with scientific understanding, and it is not always clear how scientific enquiry skills lead directly to developing conceptual understanding. We are even less clear about how and whether engagement in engineering processes will actually enhance science understanding. For example, while we might improve our understanding of what makes a successful bridge structure, we do not necessarily gain understanding of how the scientific principles of forces or the molecular structure of materials underlying this success actually work. Thus one set of questions for the ENGINEER project involves understanding the link between the engineering design process and the scientific enquiry process: How does science inform the engineering problem solving process, and how does this in turn inform scientific understanding?
A related issue concerns the impact on teachers’ practice of inquiry-based pedagogy, which is central to the EiE/ENGINEER design process (Cunningham et al, 2010). There are early signs that what is understood by inquiry-based learning varies enormously across different countries and contexts. A challenge for the ENGINEER project is therefore the design of units which can meet the brief of changing local pedagogic cultures, radically in some areas, whilst working within varying curriculum and accountability contexts which have been identified in a baseline survey.
Together these issues raise questions of how best to evaluate progress and success in the project, in particular the extent to which teaching and learning, and curriculum innovation, should be directly connected to the assessment of pupil knowledge and outcomes.
Cunningham, C. M., & Lachapelle, C. P. (2012). Research and evaluation results for the Engineering is Elementary project: An executive summary of the first eight years. Boston, MA: Museum of Science; available from http://www.mos.org/eie/pdf/research/EiE_Executive_Summary_Jan2012.pdf accessed 27/01/12 Cunningham, C. M., Lachapelle, C. P., & Keenan, K. (2010). Elementary teachers’ changing ideas about STEM and STEM pedagogy through interaction with a pedagogically supportive STEM curriculum. Presented at the P-12 Engineering and Design Education Research Summit, Seaside, OR; available from http://www.mos.org/eie/pdf/research/Cunningham_R1362.pdf accessed 27/01/12 Heywood, D. & Parker, J. (2001) ‘Describing the Cognitive Landscape in Learning and Teaching about Forces’. International Journal of Science Education. 23, 11: 1177-1199 Lachapelle, C. P., Cunningham, C. M., Lee-St. John, T. J., Cannady, M., & Keenan, K. (2010). An investigation of how two Engineering is Elementary curriculum units support student learning. Presented at the P-12 Engineering and Design Education Research Summit, Seaside, OR; available from http://www.mos.org/eie/pdf/research/INSPIRE_paper_evaluation_FINAL.pdf accessed 27/01/12
- Search for keywords and phrases in "Text Search"
- Restrict in which part of the abstracts to search in "Where to search"
- Search for authors and in the respective field.
- For planning your conference attendance you may want to use the conference app, which will be issued some weeks before the conference
- If you are a session chair, best look up your chairing duties in the conference system (Conftool) or the app.