The engineering design process (EDP) is one tool teachers can use to facilitate STEM integration. As part of a larger three-year longitudinal research project regarding engineering identity development among middle school youth in a summer robotics outreach program, this study aims to understand teachers’ willingness to incorporate engineering design in their classrooms through an exploration of their perceptions of the EDP, its applications to their subject matter and classroom context, methods of enacting the EDP, and perceived challenges to and supports for doing so. We conducted a qualitative case study and drew our results from focus groups and semi-structured interviews with eight teacher participants. Participants were successful in describing the EDP and its cyclical nature. However, classroom enactment of the EDP was predominantly indirect and often used to solve non-subject-specific classroom problems. Direct enactment was limited to projects already part of the existing curriculum. Issues with instructional resources, lesson planning, time, and student background were the EDP enactment barriers most frequently noted, while supports described were all responses to the identified barriers. The EDP offers a promising way to integrate engineering with math and science. However, additional support is needed for more meaningful classroom enactment of the EDP.


case study, teacher professional development, engineering design, STEM integration

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Eugenia Vomvoridi-Ivanovic is an associate professor of mathematics education at the University of South Florida. Her research investigates teacher education that is responsive to the funds of knowledge of culturally diverse mathematics teachers and seeks to prepare culturally responsive mathematics teachers who promote equity and social justice in mathematics education. Please direct correspondence to eugeniav@usf.edu .

Dr. Tonisha B. Lane is an assistant professor of higher education at Virginia Tech. Dr. Lane studies the experiences and outcomes of underrepresented groups in STEM. Her research also focuses on the representation, retention, and well-being of Black students and professionals in higher education. Please direct correspondence to tblane@vt.edu.

Dr. Leia K. Cain is an assistant professor in the Evaluation, Statistics, and Methodology program at The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Dr. Cain primarily utilizes qualitative and mixed-methods research. Her areas of expertise include critical methods, narrative metho ds, interview methods, queer and feminist methods, and the link between researcher identities and ethical reasoning. Please direct correspondence to leiacain@utk.edu.

Salam Ahmad is a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics education at the University of South Florida. Her research examines notions of equity and accessibility in mathematics curriculum. She is also responsible for training culturally responsive mathematics teachers. Please direct correspondence to sahmad1@usf.edu.

Dr. Selene Willis is Deputy Director of The Ingenuity Project, Inc. Her research focuses on equity and curriculum development and placing social justice at the forefront of ST EM courses. She is currently the Deputy Director of the Ingenuity Project and Accelerated Math and Science program.

Dr. Jonathan E. Gaines is the inaugural Associate Chair for Inclusive Excellence at the G. W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering. His research interests focus on engineering identity development with special populations of underserved students. In addition, he has research and teaching expertise in data acquisition, engineering design, remote sensing, and robotics.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
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