Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Education Sciences in 2017
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 14; doi:10.3390/educsci8010014 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
Peer review is an essential part in the publication process, ensuring that Education Sciences maintains high quality standards for its published papers.[...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
‘Sometimes They Are Fun and Sometimes They Are Not’: Concept Mapping with English Language Acquisition (ELA) and Gifted/Talented (GT) Elementary Students Learning Science and Sustainability
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 13; doi:10.3390/educsci8010013 -
Abstract
This study presents an ‘education for sustainability’ curricular model which promotes science learning in an elementary classroom through equity pedagogy. A total of 25 fourth-grade students from an urban, public school in Denver, Colorado participated in this mixed-methods study where concept maps were
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This study presents an ‘education for sustainability’ curricular model which promotes science learning in an elementary classroom through equity pedagogy. A total of 25 fourth-grade students from an urban, public school in Denver, Colorado participated in this mixed-methods study where concept maps were used as a tool for describing and assessing students’ understanding of ecosystem interactions. Concept maps provide a more holistic, systems-based assessment of science learning in a sustainability curriculum. The concept maps were scored and analyzed using SPSS to investigate potential differences in learning gains of English Language Acquisition (ELA) and Gifted/Talented (GT) students. Interviews were conducted after the concept maps were administered, then transcribed and inductively coded to generate themes related to science learning. Interviews also encouraged students to explain their drawings and provided a more accurate interpretation of the concept maps. Findings revealed the difference between pre- and post-concept map scores for ELA and GT learners were not statistically significant. Students also demonstrated an increased knowledge of ecosystem interactions during interviews. Concept maps, as part of an education for sustainability curriculum, can promote equity by providing diverse learners with different—yet equally valid—outlets to express their scientific knowledge. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Teaching and Learning Science in the 21st Century: Challenging Critical Assumptions in Post-Secondary Science
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 12; doi:10.3390/educsci8010012 -
Abstract
It is widely agreed upon that the goal of science education is building a scientifically literate society. Although there are a range of definitions for science literacy, most involve an ability to problem solve, make evidence-based decisions, and evaluate information in a manner
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It is widely agreed upon that the goal of science education is building a scientifically literate society. Although there are a range of definitions for science literacy, most involve an ability to problem solve, make evidence-based decisions, and evaluate information in a manner that is logical. Unfortunately, science literacy appears to be an area where we struggle across levels of study, including with students who are majoring in the sciences in university settings. One reason for this problem is that we have opted to continue to approach teaching science in a way that fails to consider the critical assumptions that faculties in the sciences bring into the classroom. These assumptions include expectations of what students should know before entering given courses, whose responsibility it is to ensure that students entering courses understand basic scientific concepts, the roles of researchers and teachers, and approaches to teaching at the university level. Acknowledging these assumptions and the potential for action to shift our teaching and thinking about post-secondary education represents a transformative area in science literacy and preparation for the future of science as a field. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Teachers’ Thoughts on Student Decision Making During Engineering Design Lessons
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 9; doi:10.3390/educsci8010009 -
Abstract
In this paper, I share the results of a study of teachers’ ideas about student decision-making at entry into a professional development program to integrate engineering into their instruction. The framework for the Engineering Design Process (EDP) was based on a Challenge-Based Learning
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In this paper, I share the results of a study of teachers’ ideas about student decision-making at entry into a professional development program to integrate engineering into their instruction. The framework for the Engineering Design Process (EDP) was based on a Challenge-Based Learning (CBL) model. The EDP embedded within the CBL model suggests teachers should provide opportunities for students to make decisions throughout the design process. The differentiation consolidation decision-making framework was used to understand the decision-making process. Study data was gathered from 16 teacher participants, interviewed and surveyed at entry into the program. The data were analyzed to understand the kinds of decision-making activities the teachers’ identified as possible for students to make based on eleven engineering design scenarios and the teachers’ current use of, and confidence in applying, lessons that engaged students in decision-making. The results indicated the teachers most frequently identified students that engaged in stage one decisions-making activities, i.e., problem identification and clarification. When the teachers discussed stage two and stage three decision-making activities, they most frequently discussed general problem solving or design process type activities with little differentiation of specific details of how the decision-making was to take place. In addition, in most cases teachers did not mention teaching or supporting student decision-making strategies. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Enhancing Pre-Service Special Educator Preparation through Combined Use of Virtual Simulation and Instructional Coaching
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 10; doi:10.3390/educsci8010010 -
Abstract
To meet the ever-increasing teaching standards, pre-service special educators need extensive and advanced opportunities for pedagogical preparation prior to entering the classroom. Providing opportunities for pre-service special educators to practice such strategies within a virtual simulation environment offers teacher preparation programs a way
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To meet the ever-increasing teaching standards, pre-service special educators need extensive and advanced opportunities for pedagogical preparation prior to entering the classroom. Providing opportunities for pre-service special educators to practice such strategies within a virtual simulation environment offers teacher preparation programs a way to individualize the teaching and practice of various pedagogical aspects needed when new educators enter their first classroom. Coupling such simulations with specific instructional coaching allows for increased and individualized remediation of the way instruction is given, classroom management practices, or getting to know your student population. This exploratory case study investigated the extent to which virtual simulations combined with instructional coaching impacted the way pre-service educators learned how to provide opportunities to respond (OTR) to the avatar students through the repeated teaching of a lesson over four sessions. Full article
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Open AccessConcept Paper
Designing and Implementing an Assistive Technology Lab for Postsecondary Education
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 11; doi:10.3390/educsci8010011 -
Abstract
A literature review discusses how teacher knowledge of assistive technology significantly impacts student success with assistive technology and that many teachers enter the field feeling unprepared to implement these technologies with students. This article explores one university’s process in setting up an assistive
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A literature review discusses how teacher knowledge of assistive technology significantly impacts student success with assistive technology and that many teachers enter the field feeling unprepared to implement these technologies with students. This article explores one university’s process in setting up an assistive technology laboratory for students to explore. Such experiential learning opportunities are vital to the success of special education educators. This paper explores how the lab is set up and the activities visitors complete to provide a foundation for those looking to develop a similar lab. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Machine Learning-Based App for Self-Evaluation of Teacher-Specific Instructional Style and Tools
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 7; doi:10.3390/educsci8010007 -
Abstract
Course instructors need to assess the efficacy of their teaching methods, but experiments in education are seldom politically, administratively, or ethically feasible. Quasi-experimental tools, on the other hand, are often problematic, as they are typically too complicated to be of widespread use to
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Course instructors need to assess the efficacy of their teaching methods, but experiments in education are seldom politically, administratively, or ethically feasible. Quasi-experimental tools, on the other hand, are often problematic, as they are typically too complicated to be of widespread use to educators and may suffer from selection bias occurring due to confounding variables such as students’ prior knowledge. We developed a machine learning algorithm that accounts for students’ prior knowledge. Our algorithm is based on symbolic regression that uses non-experimental data on previous scores collected by the university as input. It can predict 60–70 percent of variation in students’ exam scores. Applying our algorithm to evaluate the impact of teaching methods in an ordinary differential equations class, we found that clickers were a more effective teaching strategy as compared to traditional handwritten homework; however, online homework with immediate feedback was found to be even more effective than clickers. The novelty of our findings is in the method (machine learning-based analysis of non-experimental data) and in the fact that we compare the effectiveness of clickers and handwritten homework in teaching undergraduate mathematics. Evaluating the methods used in a calculus class, we found that active team work seemed to be more beneficial for students than individual work. Our algorithm has been integrated into an app that we are sharing with the educational community, so it can be used by practitioners without advanced methodological training. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
First-Year Mathematics and Its Application to Science: Evidence of Transfer of Learning to Physics and Engineering
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 8; doi:10.3390/educsci8010008 -
Abstract
Transfer of mathematical learning to science is seen as critical to the development of education and industrial societies, yet it is rarely interrogated in applied research. We present here research looking for evidence of transfer from university mathematics learning in semester one to
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Transfer of mathematical learning to science is seen as critical to the development of education and industrial societies, yet it is rarely interrogated in applied research. We present here research looking for evidence of transfer from university mathematics learning in semester one to second semester sciences/engineering courses (n = 1125). A transfer index measure was derived from extant university assessments, calculated on content-matched questions requiring mathematical concepts and skills in students’ completed mathematics and science/engineering exams. We found that transfer could be measured in this way, and present path models of how transfer is associated with educational attainment and other factors. However, transfer was observed only in physics (n = 258) and engineering (n = 426); biology and molecular bioscience assessments did not provide opportunities for students to demonstrate their mathematical learning. In physics and engineering courses, mathematical attainment had a strong, direct, positive effect, with transfer of learning providing an additional direct and mediating effect upon students’ performance in these subjects. In physics and engineering, transfer was also associated with higher levels of educational attainment in general. This new, applied approach to examining transfer trialed here may provide opportunities for analysing, evaluating, and improving cross-disciplinary transfer of learning within universities. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
ARTutor—An Augmented Reality Platform for Interactive Distance Learning
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 6; doi:10.3390/educsci8010006 -
Abstract
Augmented Reality (AR) has been used in various contexts in recent years in order to enhance user experiences in mobile and wearable devices. Various studies have shown the utility of AR, especially in the field of education, where it has been observed that
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Augmented Reality (AR) has been used in various contexts in recent years in order to enhance user experiences in mobile and wearable devices. Various studies have shown the utility of AR, especially in the field of education, where it has been observed that learning results are improved. However, such applications require specialized teams of software developers to create and maintain them. In an attempt to solve this problem and enable educators to easily create AR content for existing textbooks, the ARTutor platform was developed. It consists of a web-based application that acts as an AR authoring tool, and an accompanying mobile application that is used to access and interact with the educational AR content. In addition, the ARTutor application allows students to ask questions verbally and receive answers based on the contents of the book. This means that the system is suitable for distance learning and promotes self-study and independent learning. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Improving the Success of First Term General Chemistry Students at a Liberal Arts Institution
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 5; doi:10.3390/educsci8010005 -
Abstract
General Chemistry is a high impact course at Benedictine University where a large enrollment of ~250 students each year, coupled with low pass rates of a particularly vulnerable student population from a retention point of view (i.e., first-year college students), make it a
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General Chemistry is a high impact course at Benedictine University where a large enrollment of ~250 students each year, coupled with low pass rates of a particularly vulnerable student population from a retention point of view (i.e., first-year college students), make it a strategic course on which to focus innovative pedagogical development. Although our institution is not alone in the challenges that this particular course presents, we have prioritized implementing interventional strategies targeting academically underprepared students to increase their success by providing a preparatory course prior to this gateway course. Focusing on the persistence framework to guide curricular decisions, progress towards aligning our general chemistry curriculum to the academic profile of our students has afforded much higher pass rates than even two years ago. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Integrated STEM: Focus on Informal Education and Community Collaboration through Engineering
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 4; doi:10.3390/educsci8010004 -
Abstract
This article showcases STEM as an interdisciplinary field in which the disciplines strengthen and support each other (not as separate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines). The authors focus on an open-ended, complex problem—water quality—as the primary teaching and learning task. The participants,
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This article showcases STEM as an interdisciplinary field in which the disciplines strengthen and support each other (not as separate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines). The authors focus on an open-ended, complex problem—water quality—as the primary teaching and learning task. The participants, middle school female students (aged 9–15 years), interacted in an informal educational setting (i.e., Girl Scouts) on a research project investigating river quality following the river’s restoration. The community, including Girl Scout participants, leaders, parents, university faculty, graduate students, and others, utilized an action research (AR) approach when interacting with the participants. Methods such as observational field notes, focus groups, and collected artifacts were commonly employed. The authors describe the history of STEM and AR leading to authentic science research projects through eight engineering skills/practices (incorporating science, technology, and mathematics) and showcase participant interactions, implementation, and community engagement in the STEM water quality river project. Findings indicate that informal engineering based projects can serve as opportunities for participants to connect with integrated STEM. Implications include the need for engaging participants in informal authentic science to support traditional school STEM learning and encouraging community engagement in integrated STEM to support traditional K-12 classroom instruction. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Quality of the ECEC Workforce in Romania: Empirical Evidence from Parents’ Experiences
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 2; doi:10.3390/educsci8010002 -
Abstract
The quality of the early childhood workforce is central to service provision in this area, being a major factor in determining children’s development over the course of their lives. Specific skills and competencies are expected from early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce.
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The quality of the early childhood workforce is central to service provision in this area, being a major factor in determining children’s development over the course of their lives. Specific skills and competencies are expected from early childhood education and care (ECEC) workforce. Well-trained staff from ECEC settings are an extremely important factor in providing high-quality services which will positively influence the outcomes of children. The present paper analyses the quality of early childhood education and care workforce from the parents’ perspective in the context of Romania’s early childhood reform agenda. A critical review of the specific situation of the early childhood system in relation to the workforce from this sector is made in the first part of the paper in order to highlight the complexity of this issue. In the second part, the authors will present the results of empirical research developed in 2017 using qualitative and quantitative methods in order to assess the activity of early childhood education and care staff. The main challenges in this field as they emerge from research will be analyzed, the findings having implications for policy-makers and practitioners in the field of ECEC services. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Early Childhood Education Intervention Programs in the Netherlands: Still Searching for Empirical Evidence
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 3; doi:10.3390/educsci8010003 -
Abstract
Early childhood education (ECE) intervention programs nowadays are the core of the educational disadvantage policy in the Netherlands. They offer institutional compensatory activities to young children who lack educational stimulation in the home environment. Target groups mainly comprise children from deprived socioeconomic backgrounds
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Early childhood education (ECE) intervention programs nowadays are the core of the educational disadvantage policy in the Netherlands. They offer institutional compensatory activities to young children who lack educational stimulation in the home environment. Target groups mainly comprise children from deprived socioeconomic backgrounds and of immigrant origin. ECE is confronted with several bottlenecks, including the definition of the target groups, the quality of ECE staff, and the ECE programs. Most important is the controversy surrounding the empirical evidence of effects of ECE provisions. This article presents a description of state-of-the-art Dutch ECE, with special attention to recent Dutch studies on the effectiveness of ECE programs. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Curriculum Integration in Distance Learning at Primary and Secondary Educational Levels on the Example of eTwinning Projects
Educ. Sci. 2018, 8(1), 1; doi:10.3390/educsci8010001 -
Abstract
Curriculum integration is one of the concepts which has been discussed for years. Telecollaborative projects, which employ elements of distance learning, provide opportunities for putting the idea into practice. Analysis of eTwinning projects undertaken in Polish schools aims at demonstrating the integrative role
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Curriculum integration is one of the concepts which has been discussed for years. Telecollaborative projects, which employ elements of distance learning, provide opportunities for putting the idea into practice. Analysis of eTwinning projects undertaken in Polish schools aims at demonstrating the integrative role of distance learning approaches and their contribution to integration of various themes in educational context. As the eTwinning framework is very flexible, allowing for teacher and students autonomy the projects may vary in the topics, age and number of participants, duration scope within curriculum etc. The study shows various levels and perspectives of curriculum integration which take place in eTwinning projects. It also discusses the role of distance learning at primary and secondary educational levels. The challenge is to transform international collaboration of selected schools an everyday practice for all learners and teachers. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Problem-Based Learning (PBL) and Student Interest in STEM Careers: The Roles of Motivation and Ability Beliefs
Educ. Sci. 2017, 7(4), 92; doi:10.3390/educsci7040092 -
Abstract
Amid growing concerns about the future of the U.S. economy and workforce, educators and policymakers alike have increasingly emphasized the need to expand the number of students interested in, qualified for and actually pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The
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Amid growing concerns about the future of the U.S. economy and workforce, educators and policymakers alike have increasingly emphasized the need to expand the number of students interested in, qualified for and actually pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The current study draws on survey responses from a sample of 3852 high school students at inclusive STEM schools across the U.S. to investigate how project- and problem-based learning (PBL) may work to address this need. Multivariate regression results indicate that student ratings of PBL are associated with interest in pursuing a career in STEM, as well as with intrinsic motivation for science and students’ ability beliefs for both science and math. Further, mediation analysis using Hayes’ (2014) MEDIATE macro suggests that science intrinsic motivation and ability beliefs mediate the relationship between perceived PBL experiences and student interest in a future STEM career (IFSC). Our results highlight the important potential of PBL for increasing student STEM attitudes and interest in future STEM careers. As one of the only large-scale quantitative analyses of its kind, this study provides critical information for educators, school administrators and policymakers as they continue to seek effective ways of encouraging students to pursue STEM careers. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Prediction of Students’ Use and Acceptance of Clickers by Learning Approaches: A Cross-Sectional Observational Study
Educ. Sci. 2017, 7(4), 91; doi:10.3390/educsci7040091 -
Abstract
The student response system (a.k.a clickers) had been widely used in classrooms for various pedagogical purposes these years. However, few of the studies examine students learning approaches toward both technology and engagement. The present study adopted a cross-sectional study method to investigate the
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The student response system (a.k.a clickers) had been widely used in classrooms for various pedagogical purposes these years. However, few of the studies examine students learning approaches toward both technology and engagement. The present study adopted a cross-sectional study method to investigate the relationship between students’ user acceptance of clickers, learning approaches, and general engagement in the clicker classes. A group of 3371 university students were investigated by an online questionnaire that contained with Unified Theory of Use and Acceptance of Technology, Study Process Questionnaire, and National Survey of Student Engagement across a two-semester span in 2015 and 2016. A regression analysis had been adopted to examine the relationship between those variables. Results indicated that a deep learning approach significantly predicted all user acceptance domains towards using clickers and significantly predicted several engagement domains such as collaborative learning and reflective and integrative learning. We concluded that deep learners tend to share a constructive attitude toward using clickers, especially when their peers are also using the clickers. While deep learners prefer integration of knowledge and skills from various sources and experiences, we hypothesize that their willingness to integrate clicker activities in their learning process stems from seeing clickers as a medium for consolidation in the learning process. Future research is, therefore, necessary to provide more detailed evidence of the characteristic of deep learners on the qualitative arm or in a way of mixed research method. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Academic Advising Systems: A Systematic Literature Review of Empirical Evidence
Educ. Sci. 2017, 7(4), 90; doi:10.3390/educsci7040090 -
Abstract
This paper aims to provide the reader with a comprehensive background for understanding current knowledge on Academic Advising Systems (AAS) and its impact on learning. It constitutes an overview of empirical evidence behind key objectives of the potential adoption of AAS in generic
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This paper aims to provide the reader with a comprehensive background for understanding current knowledge on Academic Advising Systems (AAS) and its impact on learning. It constitutes an overview of empirical evidence behind key objectives of the potential adoption of AAS in generic educational strategic planning. The researchers examined the literature on experimental case studies conducted in the domain during the past ten years (2008–2017). Search terms identified 98 mature pieces of research work, but inclusion criteria limited the key studies to 43. The authors analyzed the research questions, methodology, and findings of these published papers and categorized them accordingly. The results have highlighted three distinct major directions of the AAS empirical research. This paper discusses the emerged added value of AAS research and highlights the significance of further implications. Finally, the authors set their thoughts on possible uncharted key questions to investigate both from pedagogical and technical considerations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Narrative Inquiry on the Teaching of STEM to Blind High School Students
Educ. Sci. 2017, 7(4), 89; doi:10.3390/educsci7040089 -
Abstract
This study aimed to elevate the experiences and voices of teachers who led the STEM informal education program summer series: National Federation of the Blind Engineering Quotient (NFB EQ). Through its integration with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), NFB EQ opened opportunities
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This study aimed to elevate the experiences and voices of teachers who led the STEM informal education program summer series: National Federation of the Blind Engineering Quotient (NFB EQ). Through its integration with science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), NFB EQ opened opportunities from 2013–2016 in Baltimore, Maryland, for 60 blind students (Grades 9–12) to learn about engineering. The purpose of this narrative inquiry study was to understand how teachers foster interest towards STEM among blind students. The participants were two sighted teachers, one blind teacher, one sighted teacher–researcher, and one sighted researcher participant. We collected data in the form of field notes, semi-structured interviews, personal narratives, collective narratives, a focus group discussion, and teaching artifacts. We engaged in conversation analysis and used MAXQDA 12 software for data analysis. Guided by the principles of community of practices and universal design for learning, our results identified the importance of teacher awareness and positionalities in guiding blind students’ inclusion and identity in the STEM classroom. Findings also suggest teachers are in a unique position to allow or prevent inclusive opportunities from occurring in their classrooms. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Identifying Initial Conceptions of Engineering and Teaching Engineering
Educ. Sci. 2017, 7(4), 88; doi:10.3390/educsci7040088 -
Abstract
The present study reports the use of an interview task to identify the initial conceptions of engineering and teaching engineering held by secondary mathematics and science teachers upon entering a professional development program. Results obtained from this task gave insight on several points,
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The present study reports the use of an interview task to identify the initial conceptions of engineering and teaching engineering held by secondary mathematics and science teachers upon entering a professional development program. Results obtained from this task gave insight on several points, including: (1) the requirements for a task to be considered engineering; (2) the role of a student in practicing engineering; (3) the role of the teacher in teaching engineering; and (4) the differences in discourse choices, between mathematics and science teachers, pertaining to conceptions of engineering and teaching engineering. Through understanding the beliefs of our teachers, appropriate action may be taken to ensure that we are fostering desirable classroom environments, as well as better understand how to prepare them for challenges that may present themselves in the classroom. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Evaluating Undergraduate Research Experiences—Development of a Self-Report Tool
Educ. Sci. 2017, 7(4), 87; doi:10.3390/educsci7040087 -
Abstract
Despite many millions of dollars being spent each year to support undergraduate research experiences for students in the sciences, there has been little in the way of solid evaluation of these experiences. Recently, research has surfaced that addresses this issue and provides tools
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Despite many millions of dollars being spent each year to support undergraduate research experiences for students in the sciences, there has been little in the way of solid evaluation of these experiences. Recently, research has surfaced that addresses this issue and provides tools that are useful for researchers and evaluators to assess the gains students make from participation. This paper offers a new tool that can be used to measure student gains as a result of participation in these experiences. We discuss the development of the tool and use confirmatory factor analysis to evaluate the quality of the tool for measuring change over time in student confidence. Full article
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