CAREER: ENGINEERING DESIGN ACROSS NAVAJO CULTURE COMMUNITY AND SOCIETY

Project: Research project

Description

ENGINEERING DESIGN ACROSS NAVAJO CULTURE, COMMUNITY, AND SOCIETY This study seeks to (1) explore the ways in which Navajo students and professionals experience and understand engineering design in the context of their culture, community, and society; (2) create a classroom evaluation instrument that measures how Navajo students experience engineering design; and (3) conduct a design-based research study on the development of culturally-contextualized curriculum modules that will be piloted in several schools on the Navajo reservation. These modules will be embedded into the existing STEAM Machines + CAREER program, which challenges teams of middle school students to learn and apply the engineering design process and other science concepts to build Rube Goldberg-style machines in a project- and standards-based learning environment. The program also exposes students to higher education and careers in STEM fields. Under the theoretical frameworks of social constructivism (Vygotsky, 1978) and culturally relevant pedagogy (Ladson-Billings, 1995), this study will use a phenomenographic approach (Marton, 1981) to explore the ways that Navajo students and professionals experience engineering design in the context of their culture, and a design-based research approach (Barab& Squire, 2004) to apply the results from the phenomenography in the iterative development of culturallycontextualized engineering curricula. The primary research questions are: RQ1. What are the ways in which Navajo students and professionals experience, understand, and apply engineering design in the context of their culture, community, and society? RQ2. How can Navajo students experience and understanding of engineering design in the context of their culture, community, and society be measured? RQ3. How do culturally contextualized curricula affect the experience and understanding of engineering design, sense of cultural identity, and cultural attitudes of Navajo students? In (1) above, approximately 20 Navajo students and professionals with exposure to engineering design (typical of phenomenographic research in engineering education) will be sampled purposefully and stratified by where they grew up and work (on/off reservation). Transcripts from semi-structured interviews will be analyzed through a phenomenographic lens, resulting in an emergent taxonomy describing how participants experience and apply engineering design in their community and society. In (2) above, the results from (1) above will be converted into a quantitative classroom instrument (Micari, Light, Calkins,& Streitwieser, 2007) to measure how Navajo students experience engineering design. In (3) above, the results from (1) above will inform a design-based research study to develop and pilot culturally-contextualized curriculum modules. This proposal builds on PI Jordans previous research involving context in engineering design and experience piloting K-12 outreach on the Navajo reservation over the last 2 years to uniquely qualify him to pursue a career studying context in engineering design. Intellectual Merit: This study will advance the limited knowledge of how Navajo students experience, understand, and apply engineering design in the context of their culture, community, and society, which can be measured through the instrument developed and can inform the design of culturally-contextualized curriculum. A culturally-contextualized curriculum will be piloted as part of a design-based research study, and the research methodology applied to understand the intersection between engineering design and culture in other cultures. Broader Impact: With the focus on engineering in the Next Generation Science Standards, the results of this study will provide critical insight into how to engage and evaluate Navajo students in culturally-contextualized engineering design curricula, which will illuminate pathways for higher education and careers in STEM fields. In addition, a Navajo undergraduate research assistant will be hired to support this study
StatusFinished
Effective start/end date1/1/149/30/19

Funding

  • National Science Foundation (NSF): $455,125.00

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career
engineering
community
student
curriculum
professional experience
experience
Society
Other Sciences
education
classroom
constructivism
Jordan
research approach
cultural identity
taxonomy
assistant
learning environment