Tools for Teaching and Learning Engineering Practices: Pathways Towards Productive Identity Work in Engineering


Sep 01, 2019


Apr 30, 2022
Funding Agency
Michigan State University and the National Science Foundation

The Discovery Research K-12 program (DRK-12) seeks to significantly enhance the learning and teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by preK-12 students and teachers. Projects in the DRK-12 program build on fundamental research in STEM education and prior research and development efforts that provide theoretical and empirical justification for proposed projects. Identifying with engineering is critical to help students pursue engineering careers.


This project responds to this persistent large-scale problem. The I-Engineering framework and tools address both the learning problem (supporting students in learning engineering design) and the identity problem (supporting students in recognizing that they belong in engineering). I-Engineering will support identity development as a part of learning two core practices in engineering: 1) defining problems and 2) designing solutions. In particular, the I-Engineering framework and tools will help middle grades teachers and students engage in the engineering design process using meaningful, authentic and often youth-driven contexts. The project will ground this work in two engineering design challenges: 1) safe and green commutes and 2) portable energy, both of which exemplify engineering for sustainable communities. The objectives are to:

  1. To develop research-based understandings of how to support identity development among middle school students from underrepresented backgrounds in the context of learning engineering.
  2. To develop and refine a framework and tools (I-Engineering) in support of student learning and identity development in engineering with a focus on sustainability.
  3. To collaborate with grades 6 and 7 teachers to implement and refine I-Engineering for classroom use.
  4. To study whether the I-Engineering framework/tools support identity development in engineering among middle school students from underrepresented backgrounds.

The project draws upon design-based implementation research to develop and test the I-Engineering framework and tools among students and teachers in grades 6 and 7. Using social practice theory, how aspects of the learning environment shape identity development will be identified, yielding information on the impact of the instructional tools generated.

Primary Investigator(s)

Chair, Educational Studies; Professor, School of Education

More Awards

Award Start Date
Sep 15, 2018
Award End Date
Aug 31, 2023
Award Start Date
Aug 01, 2018
Award End Date
Jul 31, 2023