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The Influence of Toy Design Activities on Middle School Students' Understanding of the Engineering Design Processes

Abstract

"The societal demand for inspiring and engaging science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students and preparing our workforce for the emerging creative economy has necessitated developing students' self-efficacy and understanding of engineering design processes from as early as elementary school levels. Hands-on engineering design activities have shown the potential to promote middle school students' self-efficacy and understanding of engineering design processes. However, traditional classrooms often lack hands-on engineering design experiences, leaving students unprepared to solve real-world design problems. In this study, we introduce the framework of a toy design workshop and investigate the influence of the workshop activities on students' understanding of and self-efficacy beliefs in engineering design. Using a mixed method approach, we conducted quantitative analyses to show changes in students' engineering design self-efficacy and qualitative analyses to identify students' understanding of the engineering design processes. Findings show that among the 24 participants, there is a significant increase in students' self-efficacy beliefs after attending the workshop. We also identified major themes such as design goals and prototyping in students' understanding of engineering design processes. This research provides insights into the key elements of middle school students' engineering design learning and the benefits of engaging middle school students in hands-on toy design workshops."

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