Anita Benna – A Celebration of Faculty Research ~IUN~


Thanks for coming. I’m excited to share my research and one of
the things I wanted to do today was to showcase a new methodology called
epistemic network analysis. It actually has the capability of taking
qualitatively coded transcripts written or audio and quantifying it into a graph
that actually demonstrates privately held knowledge or beliefs and my
research is situated in k-12 teacher education and professional development
for urban teachers. I’m interested in looking at how they think and believe in
problem-based learning instructional practices before and after professional
development and then most significantly how those instructional best practices
impacts student learning. The field is stem and the specificity is engineering
design. So what I’d like to do is to talk to you in showcase ENA with three
studies using middle school students, third and fourth graders, and
kindergarten students, saving the best for last. So I wonder what these groups
of students know about engineers and what they do, and engineering design. So
episodic network analysis was designed by David Schafer at U Wisconsin-Madison. He was trying to figure out how to capture cognition and measure it within
a community of practice and he was looking at e-learning environments. The
questions I posed to those groups of participants are what do engineers do,
how do they impact society, and how do they know when they’ve created something
that it’s successful or the product is finished? So ENA looks like this. We can
see here that there’s three ideas. D3 is that people buy things. So this person
said that engineers design things so that D3 people can buy them. They buy
things such as D5 which is technology. Cellphones and computers and they also
buy things like infrastructure such as buildings, bridges, and roads. So middle
school student research study, I started looking at how can I determine in a
large group of students who knows how much. Can we classify these graphs of
cognitive thought in terms of novices who have a small amount of knowledge, few
connections to competence that have more to experts that have denser graphs? so
this is a novice graph. we can see few ideas. We can see that B 1 is connected
to B 2 which means that engineers build and design and that’s connected to the
largest thought of E2 which is that they do it through asking questions. When
we look at a competent graph, you see more ideas, a little more connectedness,
but you still see the strongest code because of the thickest line is from
engineers build by asking questions. We can tell here the expert graph because
it has so much more content knowledge held and that it’s denser and more
connected and we still see B 1 they build through asking questions, but we
can see in the upper left C 2 which is the idea that engineers test and retest
to design a product and B 4, slowly in there you can see B4, that’s the idea
advanced notion that engineers not only build things but they build and design
innovative ideas. So then we had third and fourth graders from Beveridge Elementary
in the Gary schools come here for a two week summer camp in 2017 and they were
involved in it weak engineering StEM summer camp. They
were in their school and they first decided projects that they wanted to
do to change their school for the better. So they came for two weeks and I
want to share some of the things that they learned. This student learned that
engineers talk about things a lot and they plan being the strongest concept. But they also realized that engineers, after those two weeks, they make rules,
they build, they love to build stuff, and how do they know when a product’s done,
when it’s working. And also they improve our world by building and painting which
is what they did when they’re here. This student’s strongest held idea was that
engineers envision first, they draw, and then they build, but all of that is tied
to negotiation. This student strongest idea was that engineers negotiate in
order to build and they do these things they draw, they build, here’s the things
they build and they have to agree. Kindergartners, the best part, they were
given a pretest and a post-test so I can actually share with you knowledge
construction over time. They had a five week unit in the fall of 2018 and a five
week unit in the spring of 2019 on engineering design principles and what
engineers are and do. So have pre and post. So this student did not have enough
information to have ENA make a graph but we know that they thought that they make
stuff like experiments and they learn new things, but after those units they
were able to articulate and construct knowledge that engineers improve our
world by growing food, that they fix things, and that when they’re building
something they try again and that you know they can tell when it’s done
because they just look around and they can tell by looking. This student had a
graph, but the graph talked about the fact that engineers know stuff and they
do like explosions and so explosions could be
considered perhaps a stereotype or even a misconception and amazingly enough
this student traded in that for the one to the right which is actually that
engineers solve problems and they actually talked about identity a
computer engineer and how they knew it was done well you know they just always
know and besides there was a timer. So this last student actually didn’t have
enough to form a graph either in the pretest, but in the post-test you can see
an expansive graph for a kindergartner and it’s all centered around the fact
that engineers solve problems and this person used identity and she said “I did
it. I was an engineer.” And she can see all the things that she did during that time. So while this may seem silly and and not very academic research, I do have some
claims that can be made from this. First of all, these are knowledge construction. ENA can actually demonstrate what they knew before and what they now know after,
effective professional development and units on engineering design. The first
claim I can make is that not one student in the pretest said that engineers solve
problems, but after those two five eight units 18 students or 33% made that
claim. Secondly, in the pretest only six students said that engineers make or
build something, but after those units fifty percent of the class or 50 or 27
students out of 54 said that engineers make can build. Lastly, the most important
claim is called the know something category. And so what we did was we
analyzed the pretest data and the post test data and we looked at, is there any
place we can see language or words that indicate they know something about
engineering like buildings or designing and we found in the pre tests that nine
students knew something or 17% about engineers and engineering design in the
post test 45 out of 54, 83% of the students
knew something about engineers and engineering design. So I’m here to claim
that ENA is robust, t displays cognitive thought, it can be
used with a pretest post-test design to measure knowledge construction,
and we’re actually using this in our Leadership Academy grant that we got
from the Chancellor’s funds on retention. We’re actually looking at how students
think about belongingness and how they think about leadership and how that
changes over time and what it takes to keep students here over the course all
the way through graduation. Thank you so much. (Applause)

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