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As the integration of STEM becomes increasingly important in pre-college education, it is important to study models of STEM integration. One model, engineering design-based STEM integration, has shown promising results in terms of student science content learning. This study’s purpose was to explore one student team’s use of heat transfer conceptions as they participated in an engineering design-based STEM integration curriculum. A case study research design, along with procedures from qualitative content analysis, were used to identify scientific and alternative conceptions that the seventh-grade students communicated during the unit. The main result is that the students spoke and wrote about many heat transfer conceptions. For some concepts, they used scientific conceptions when other studies have shown that their peers tend to use alternative conceptions. However, the student team also created a new set of alternative conceptions in which they confused ideas from conduction and radiation as they attempted to create one set of rules about how well materials transfer heat. These results suggest that students can learn science content through design-based curricula, but they can also reveal their alternative conceptions when they need to combine and apply those conceptions to a novel context such as an engineering challenge.

This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under grant number NSF 1238140. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations conveyed in this study are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


Integrated Engineering

Siverling & Moore (NARST 2020) Heat Transfer Conceptions in Engineering Design.pdf (3430 kB)
Siverling & Moore (NARST 2020) Heat Transfer Conceptions in Engineering Design Presentation Slides