Graduate biomedical engineers teaching interdisciplinary science through design at the K12 level

Jaclyn Kuspiel Murray, Barbara Ann Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The purpose of this study is to determine how engineering doctoral fellows enact reform-based methods in secondary science classrooms. As engineering fellows near employment in the role of faculty members, they are well prepared in science, math, and engineering content and practice, however, they generally lack training in student learning and instruction. A pragmatic approach guided the investigation lead by three research sub-questions related to: a) practice alignment with the United States Next Generation Science Standards; b) knowledge of reform-based teaching practices; c) how fellows implement biomedical engineering research into secondary science classes. Surveys, interviews, and lesson plan documents were utilized to analyze the phenomenon from three perspectives in the form of an instrumental collective case study. The National Science Foundation GK-12 program, the context of the study, operated as a community of practice1,2 and supported and promoted the utilization of reform-based teaching practices with the help of mentor teachers and university faculty. Reform-based teaching practices, as defined here, are those instructional strategies that facilitate student learning within inquiry learning environments. According to constructivists' views of learning, students gain a deeper understanding of concepts when actively engaged with science content and practice.3,4,5,6 At the premier level reform-based teaching practices refer to student-centered exercises pertaining to the investigation of scientific phenomenon and/or the design of products and processes. Inquiry-based practice is a common phrase employed to differentiate this level. The passive dissemination of information in the form of lecture-based strategies exemplifies traditional teaching, a teacher-centered approach. Instructional teaching strategies lie along a continuum from teacher-centered to student-centered. The former features pure lecture without student questioning, and the latter showcases students' active engagement with investigation or design as the instructor facilitates. The findings reveal the warranted assertion that engineering fellows communicate biomedical engineering research with science and engineering practices through a belief about student learning. It was an individual personal belief about student learning that determined how fellows constructed modules; activities that represent or parallel dissertation work, and planned related pursuits to facilitate student understanding of the content and practice associated with biomedical engineering. The three participants chosen for explication signify varying approaches to teaching and each are positioned along the traditional/reform-based teaching practices continuum at different locations dependent on specific learning objectives. Consideration for student learning within a particular context directed how fellows approached lesson planning and module creation. The science and engineering practices were evident and interpreted differently by each fellow. Further investigation into how engineering fellows formulate engineering design tasks for secondary science students could provide insight as to how teachers could approach the Next Generation Science Standard's engineering practices. In addition this study may inform institution leaders about possible options for faculty pre-development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
Volume122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Making Value for Society
Issue number122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition: Making Value for...
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Event2015 122nd ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition - Seattle, United States
Duration: Jun 14 2015Jun 17 2015

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Engineering(all)


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