Engineering Literacy and Engagement in Kindergarten Classrooms

Zenaida Aguirre-Muñoz, Michelle L. Pantoya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: Little is understood about how kindergarten students respond to literacy-enriched engineering activities and how engineering-centered literature (picture and story books) can be used to support engineering engagement and content understanding. Purpose: This study sought to understand the effect of engineering-centered literature and academic conversations to enhance linguistically diverse kindergarten students' engagement with engineering content. Design/Method: A withdrawal single-case study with multiple measures was conducted to document the effects of the literacy-enriched engineering intervention program. The frequencies of three types of engagement were recorded: behavioral, affective, and cognitive engagement. Participation in discussions was also recorded to monitor academic conversations. Six female kindergarten students whose first language was not English, representing three ability levels, were targeted for data collection. Results: The relative value of the types of engagement and discussion participation increased. These increases generally declined when the intervention was withdrawn. All ability levels showed significant increase during intervention. Engagement peaked during hands-on engineering design activities for all students. A second peak occurred during the engineering picture book read-aloud with active engagement activities. Conclusion: The combination of activities in the intervention is effective for English language learners and can improve engagement for all ability levels. Academic conversations enhanced all lessons by increasing discussion participation. Results show a functional relationship between enjoying the learning activities and being motivated to participate in discussion. Taken together, engineering-centered literature and academic conversations are effective tools for broadening meaningful participation in engineering education.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)630-654
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Engineering Education
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2016


  • case study
  • elementary school
  • engagement
  • learning modality
  • scientific literacy


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