Research Experiences for Teachers

The Grand Challenges-Focused Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) with Stratified Teaming Program concentrates on both implementing and examining stratified teaming. A team consisting of a K-12 teacher, a community college STEM faculty member, a pre-service teacher and an engineering undergraduate student will undergo a shared experience in the lab of a partnering engineering faculty member.

High school students with visual impairments or blindness attended a 2016 summer camp at NC State's Engineering Place.

Program Overview

Description

Both the College of Engineering at NC State University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) will serve as host institutions. Durham and Charlotte-Mecklenburg County Public Schools will work together to recruit partner teachers for the RET experience. The colleges of Education at NC State and UNCC will help recruit pre-service teachers.

The idea for this teaming approach grew out of experience with the graduate students in a K-12 program sponsored by NSF, through which NC State and UNCC were both funded. Local industry, including SAS Institute, will serve as both partners and participants in the project.

The site will place teams in partner labs focused on one of four sub areas of the Grand Challenges for Engineering: sustainability (solar energy), health (biomechanics), security (computer network security), and joy of living (aerospace engineering). The teams will spend mid-June through July on site at each of the universities, concluding with an overall summit at NC State to which other RET sites will be invited to send their teachers.

High school students with visual impairments or blindness attended a 2016 summer camp at NC State's Engineering Place. Their activities included lab tours with participants from the College of Engineering's Research Experiences for Teachers Program.

High school students with visual impairments or blindness attended a 2016 summer camp at NC State's Engineering Place. Their activities included lab tours with participants from the College of Engineering's Research Experiences for Teachers Program.

Intellectual Merit

Previous research on teaming for undergraduate engineering students, graduate students and teachers has shown dichotomous effects for each participant. In addition to the traditional products of an RET site, which include classroom activities and techniques linked to cutting edge research that can be taken to the K-12 classroom, this RET will also inform the body of knowledge concerning partnerships between K-12 schools and universities. The project research will enumerate the types and depth of effects on each of the six different constituents of the teams: K-12 teachers, pre-service teachers, community college faculty, undergraduate engineering students, graduate students in engineering and university faculty.

Broader Impact

The project will have impact beyond its own reach in several ways. The information gathered from the research questions will be applicable to other RET sites around the nation. The end of the summer curriculum exchange conference will serve as a platform for the participants to share knowledge among themselves and with teachers from RET sites across the country. The design of both the project staff development and the curriculum exchange will include aspects of teaching underrepresented students through challenge-based learning, including students with disabilities as well as girls and underrepresented ethnicities.

Goals

  1. Create positive benefits for each participant (increased STEM efficacy for teachers, improved classroom technique for both teachers and faculty members, increased engineering efficacy for undergraduate engineering students and enhanced retention).
  2. Research the impact of participation in the RET on each participant as they return to their native environment.
  3. Discover elements of stratified team design that are most efficacious in meeting the above goals to inform the design of future RET programs.

Research Questions

1. How does the construct of the RET teams affect the “desired outcomes” for the participants?

Team Member Outcome
NC State/UNCC Faculty Member Increased engagement with undergraduate engineering students in order to increase retention rate
Community College Faculty Member Increased use of challenge-based learning related to engineering and knowledge about engineering career paths
Undergraduate Engineering Student
  • Ability to apply current research in broader impact environment
  • Increased ability to communicate to diverse audiences
Undergraduate Education Student (Pre-Service Teacher)
  • Increased ability to define the engineering design process and grand challenges of engineering
  • Increased ability to design activities that meet science standards and incorporate engineering habits of mind
High School Teacher (In-Service Teacher)
  • Increased knowledge of the nature of engineering as well as engineer career pathways
  • Ability to design challenge-based learning activities that meet learning standards and incorporate engineering habits of mind
  • Increased use of engineering activities to teach math and science concepts
  • Increased student performance in science and/or math
  • Increased use of pedagogical approach based to student-led learning

2. How does the construct of the RET teams affect the quality of curriculum generated?

Engineering and education professionals will assess activities developed by the participants at the end of each summer. These activities will also be implemented in the classroom during the school year, and the teachers will complete a self-evaluation and reflection about the activities.

Research Design

Year Dr. Kate Saul’s Lab
(NC State)
Dr. Brendan O’Connor’s Lab
(NC State)
Dr. Tiffany Barnes’ Lab
(NC State)
Dr. Chris Vermillion’s Lab (UNCC)
2016-17
(4 Integrated Teams)
  • 1 In-Service Teacher
  • 1 Pre-Service Teacher
  • 1 Community College Faculty
    Member
  • 2 Engineering Undergrads
  • 1 In-Service Teacher
  • 1 Pre-Service Teacher
  • 1 Community College Faculty Member
  • 2 Engineering Undergrads
  • 1 In-Service Teacher
  • 1 Pre-Service Teacher
  • 1 Community College Faculty Member
  • 2 Engineering Undergrads
  • 1 In-Service Teacher
  • 1 Pre-Service Teacher
  • 1 Community College Faculty Member
  • 2 Engineering Undergrads
2017-18
(3 Homogenous Teams +
1 Integrated Team)
  • 3 In-Service Teachers
  • 2 Engineering Undergrads
  • 3 Community College Faculty Members
  • 2 Engineering Undergrads
  • 3 Pre-Service Teachers
  • 2 Engineering Undergrads
  • 1 In-Service Teacher
  • 1 Pre-Service Teacher
  • 1 Community College Faculty Member
  • 2 Engineering Undergrads
2018-19 Duplicate construct of the year yielding most efficacious to test reliability and repeatability

 

Assessment Tools

Team Member Assessment Tool
NC State/UNCC Faculty Member Existing survey instruments used by Women in Engineering program
Community College Faculty Member MISO teacher attitude and self-efficacy assessment (T-STEM)
Undergraduate Engineering Student
  • Advisor pre- and post-evaluation
  • Self evaluation
  • Rubric for pre- and post-presentations (filled out by teachers)
  • Student focus groups
Undergraduate Education Student
(Pre-Service Teacher)
  • Advisor pre- and post-assessment
  • Partner teacher observation report
High School Teacher
(In-Service Teacher)
  • Video of teaching submitted before and after participation each year
  • MISO teacher attitude and self-efficacy assessment (T-STEM)
  • Principal observation
  • Project staff observation
  • Content knowledge assessment as linked to subject taught
  • Student performance data, as supplied by school
  • MISO student attitude and self efficacy assessment (S-STEM)

Schools and Labs

Engineering undergraduate students, education undergraduate students, K12 teachers and Community College faculty members are chosen from partnering programs to participate in the laboratory experience on both North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte campuses. These partnering programs include:

You can find descriptions of the participating labs at the links below:

  • Dr. Katherine Saul (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, NC State): Movement Biomechanics Laboratory
    www4.ncsu.edu/~ksaul/
  • Dr. Brendan O’Connor (Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, NC State): O’Connor Research Group
    www.mae.ncsu.edu/oconnor/
  • Dr. Tiffany Barnes (Computer Science, NC State): Game to Learn Lab
    eliza.csc.ncsu.edu
  • Dr. Christopher Vermillion (Aerospace Engineering, UNCC): The Control and Optimization for Renewable Energy Lab (CORE)
    coefs.uncc.edu/cvermill/

Advisory Board

The advisory board consists of members throughout the community with unique perspectives who help guide the program planning. Members include:

  • Lisa Hibler, Assistant Director, Kenan Institute for Engineering/Technology
  • Margaret Henderson, Director, Magnet Programs, Durham Public Schools
  • Paola Sztajn, Department Head, Math Education, College of Education, NC State University
  • Melissa Thibault, Vice Chancellor, Distance Education and Extended Programs, North Carolina School of Science and Math
  • Larry Richards, Professor, Mechanical/Aerospace Engineering, University of Virginia
  • Edward Summers, Manager Accessibility, SAS Institute
  • Ben Fleishman, Student Programs Manager, Engineering World Health
  • Ben Glass, CEO/CTO, Alteros Energies
  • Gina Messere, Manager of Manufacturing Engineering, John Deere Corporation
  • Rob Creighton, President, Windlift
  • Paul Klenk, Director of Customer Insights, Research Square
NSF Logo

The Grand Challenges-Focused RET with Stratified Teaming Program is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. EEC-1542377.

Grant No. EEC-1542377