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Examining Student and Teacher Talk Within Engineering Design in Kindergarten

Abstract

"Quality science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) experiences during the early years provide young learners with a critical foundation for future learning and development. Engineering design is a context that can be used to facilitate connections and learning across STEM, however there is limited research examining the use of engineering design-based STEM integration within the early childhood classroom. This study examines how an engineering design-based STEM integration unit was enacted across three kindergarten classrooms. Classroom observation and video data were collected and a coding scheme was used to document the ways that engineering and engineering design were enacted as well as the role of the teacher and students within the lessons. Results suggest that kindergarten students were able to meaningfully engage in and with multiple stages of an engineering design process while also building understanding of scientists and engineers related to teacher and student interactions, there were multiple instances of student-initiated talk, student to student response, the use of explicit engineering language and of students making connections to prior learning. This suggests that the enactment of engineering design in early childhood should incorporate multiple aspects of engineering and engineering design, include interdisciplinary content and provide a context for STEM integration."

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