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Design Principles for High School Engineering Design Challenges: Experiences from High School Science Classroom

Abstract

"At the University of Pittsburgh, we have been exploring a range of approaches to design challenges for implementation in high school science classrooms (Apedoe, Reynolds, Ellefson, & Schunn, 2008; Ellefson, Brinker, Vernacchio, & Schunn, 2008; Schunn, Silk, & Apedoe, in press). In general, our approach has always involved students working during class time over the course of many weeks. So, our understanding of what works must be contextualized to that situation (i.e., without significant home support, by students enrolled in traditional classrooms, involving content that is connected to traditional science classrooms). However, our approach has been implemented with thousands of students in over 80 classrooms ranging from 9th grade biology or general science to 11th grade physics, from traditional mainstream science classrooms to elective Biology II or Honors Chemistry, and from high needs urban classrooms to affluent suburban classrooms. In other words, there is some important generality to these experiences. We have also conducted a number of studies on students in these settings, to understand a range of factors that influence student learning and affect outcomes (Apedoe & Schunn, 2009; Doppelt & Schunn, 2008; Reynolds, Mehalik, Lovell, & Schunn, 2009; Silk, Schunn, & Strand-Cary, 2009). This white paper provides a brief summary of principles that appear to guide successful experiences for students."

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