Saturday, June 9, 2012

University of Texas Interns Learn at Decker Elementary School

During the SPRING 2012 academic year I taught an Elementary Science Methods course at Decker Elementary School in Manor, TX. This course focused on project based instruction and was a real pleasure to teach. Below is a description of the course as well as the larger coordinated effort going on with The University of Texas at Austin's College of Education and the Manor School District. -Dr. Petrosino

Decker Elementary has partnered with the University of Texas at Austin this past year through a relationship with Cohort N- a group of twenty-one students from their College of Education. This relationship began in the Fall of 2011, when these students took a class on campus at Decker and tutored students in reading from Ms. Tang’s second grade class.

Since January 2012, eleven UT students have come on board at Decker as interns working in second - fifth grades, partnering with their Cooperating Teachers to design and implement a Project Based Learning unit. The entire cohort received PBL training on-site led by Decker and other Manor ISD teachers. Cohort N also took their university classes at Decker.

Through these classes, the UT students have had the opportunity to interact with Decker students in a variety of disciplines, including math with first graders, rocket launches with fifth graders, reading tutoring with third graders, and science fair judging. This partnership will continue into the Fall of 2012 as Cohort N takes on student teaching alongside some of Decker’s Master Teachers.

Picture: SPG 2012 Cohort N

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Learning to Design: Authenticity, Negotiation, and Innovation (Svihla, Petrosino and Diller; 2012)

The following article was recently published in the International Journal of Engineering Education. The article's lead author is my colleague Dr. Vanessa Svihla and my fellow co-author is Dr. Ken Diller. I believe this work makes a significant contribution to the incorporation of engineering principles into project based instruction, focusing specifically on the idea of design. As many of you know, engineering design is a collaborative and complex process, and our understanding of how to support student teams in learning to design remains limited. By considering in-situ student design teams in a capstone biomedical engineering course, we are afforded the opportunity to contrast two version of a non-sponsored project, then consider expert perceptions of their later sponsored designs. Findings indicate that a redesigned project led students to value customer needs and to use them to define the design problem, whereas in a kit-based version this did not occur. We also found that greater perceived opportunities to negotiate one's understanding within a team predicted more innovative designs. -Dr. Petrosino

Svihla, Petrosino Diller (2012) Learning to Design