Engineering integration in elementary science classrooms: Effects of disciplinary language scaffolds on English learners' content learning and engineering identity

Zenaida Aguirre-Muñoz, Michelle Pantoya, Magdalena Pando, Elias S. Loria Garro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Limited research examines the effects of integrated science and engineering (SE) instruction emphasizing disciplinary literacy and language activities on engineering identity and content understanding. Far fewer studies target English learners (ELs). Purpose: The impact of an SE intervention on the development of science, engineering, and technology knowledge as well as engineering identity was examined. To address ELs' learning needs, the curricular design was built on a validated SE model by integrating (1) developmental, (2) language scaffolds, and (3) culturally based accommodations. Design/Method: Separate analysis of variance examined the effects of the intervention on science, engineering, and technology knowledge as well as engineering identity. The relationship among engineering identity and content outcomes was also examined. ELs from kindergarten to second grade classrooms were randomly assigned to the integrated SE group or control group. Results: Integrated SE instruction significantly increased ELs' science, engineering, and technology knowledge as well as a substantially developed engineering identity. Overall, ELs' engineering identity is associated with an increase in science, engineering, and technology content knowledge. However, second grade girls' identity development was not associated with learning measures. These correlations suggest the context of the engineering activity may have reinforced gendered stereotypes and reduced the effects for girls' engineering attitudes. Conclusions: Integrated SE instruction emphasizing disciplinary literacy and cultural accommodations increases early elementary ELs' learning and engineering identity. Future studies should examine the unique effects of language scaffolds and cultural modifications on student learning and the impact of gender stereotypes on girls' engineering attitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)517-544
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Volume110
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2021

Keywords

  • English learners
  • elementary school
  • engineering curriculum
  • identity
  • instruction
  • student diversity

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