Elementary Engineering Teacher Professional Development: Initiation to Integration

Presenter: Heidi Diefes-Dux
Elementary teacher professional development with engineering education needs to support teachers’ progress through three stages: initial fear, first implementation, and integration with fidelity. The Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE) at Purdue University has developed professional development materials and practices to facilitate teachers’ growth through these stages. This session highlights how these stages manifest themselves and how professional development has been designed by INSPIRE to address each stage.

Heidi Diefes-Dux, Associate Professor and Director for Teacher Professional Development, Institute for P–12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE), College of Engineering, Purdue University
Heidi Diefes-Dux leads an NSF DR K–12 project focused on elementary engineering education. The research questions guiding this project are: What is desired student KAB (knowledge, attitudes, behaviors) as a result of integrating engineering into formal elementary education? What teacher KAB are necessary for successful and sustained integration of engineering in elementary classrooms? What attributes of quality professional development and teacher community support are needed to sustain integration of engineering for desired student achievement? The INSPIRE project has provided professional development to more than 150 teachers in the Arlington Independent School District (Texas), impacting more than 1,000 students this year alone. Diefes-Dux coordinates and teaches within a required first-year engineering course in the First-Year Engineering Program at Purdue University, which engages over 1,850 students annually in open-ended problem solving and design. Her research focuses on the development, implementation, and assessment of model-eliciting activities with realistic engineering contexts. Diefes-Dux was a co-investigator for an NSF Gender in Science and Engineering (GSE) project that looked at the impact of engineering instruction on elementary school girls’ perceptions of engineering and career aspirations. Diefes-Dux is a committee member for the National Academy of Engineering (Exploring Content Standards for Engineering Education in K–12, 2008–2010) and the Indiana Department of Education (Revision of Science Standards, 2008–2009). She received her BS and MS in Food Science from Cornell University and her PhD in Food Process Engineering from the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Purdue University.