Practice Brief 39 -- Topics: Engineering Instruction Culture

How can students’ everyday experiences support science learning through engineering design?

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Why It Matters To You
  • Teachers should adapt existing curricula to build on students’ everyday knowledge and experiences and set up grading structures that support iterative cycles of design, including learning from productive failure.
  • District Staff & PD Providers should support teachers to adapt existing curricula and learn instructional techniques to support culturally relevant instruction.
  • School Leaders should learn how to recognize collaborative, creative, and iterative design work in the classroom.

What Is The Issue?

Engineering can be a meaningful way to engage students’ wide range of prior experiences in STEM, helping open the field to be more culturally relevant and meaningful to young learners. It can give students opportunities to deepen their science knowledge by engaging in problem-solving around locally-relevant issues. However, engineering kits and curricula rarely incorporate students’ everyday knowledge, expertise, and practices. Small adaptations to curricula can help students use their everyday experiences to learn about science topics through engineering design.



Reflection Questions

How does this “everyday expertise” approach to engineering instruction fit with your current approach?

How do differing views on the enterprise of engineering impact instructional designs for learners? What types of knowledge get privileged in these learning spaces?

Things To Consider

Everyday Expertise Instructional Model for Engineering Design

Attending to Equity

Recommended Actions You Can Take

As highlighted in the diagram below, the following is a model for adapting engineering lessons to engage students in science learning inspired by their everyday objects and experiences:


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Work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 Unported License. Others may adapt with attribution. Funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). Opinions expressed are not those of any funding agency.