Practice Brief 63 -- Topics: Instruction Practices Engineering

How to integrate the argumentation from evidence practice into engineering design projects

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Why It Matters To You
  • Teachers should support students as they learn to make engineering claims that include evidence and reasoning throughout the design process.
  • District staff & PD Providers should support teachers as they develop engineering design challenges that allow for a variety of rich evidence and reasoning related to science content.
  • School leaders should support teacher collaborations to intentionally incorporate robust, argument-driven engineering design projects into instruction.

What is the Issue?

As teachers focus instruction on the science and engineering practices (SEPs), students need support to use argumentation in the context of engineering design investigations. Argumentation is sometimes exclusively considered a scientific practice, rather than also being fundamental to the engineering design process. Engineers use argumentation to weigh the merits of possible designs and to evaluate their success. Students should learn how to support engineering claims with specific evidence throughout the design process.



Reflection Questions

  • How might arguing from evidence elevate trial-and-error or tinkering into more genuine engineering design?
  • How can you plan science exploration and engineering design challenges so they inform each other?
  • Are students critically evaluating the ideas of others to compare alternatives in the design process, or are they selecting ideas based on peer status?

Things to Consider

Attending to Equity

Consider providing the following accommodations:

Recommended Actions You Can Take


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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.