Characterizing engineering outreach educators’ talk moves: An exploratory framework

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  • Post category:Research

The NSF-funded Role Models in Elementary Engineering Education  project has spent the past five years studying the interactions between undergraduate engineering students (outreach educators) and elementary students engaged in engineering design tasks. The project’s recent study, published in the Journal of Engineering Education, focuses on the talk moves employed by outreach educators when working with small groups of elementary students. Talk moves encompass questions, comments, and statements used by outreach educators with elementary students during brainstorming, building, and testing phases of an engineering activity. Through discourse analysis of classroom interactions captured on video, the research team examined the talk moves used by outreach educators.

The findings indicate that outreach educators employed various teaching moves to support students. Ambitious moves, such as design-check-ins, provided opportunities for students to share their design thinking and fostered their ideas and agency. Conservative moves, such as guiding students on how to fix problems, helped students navigate technical challenges and prevent frustration.

This study highlights the ability of novice educators, such as outreach educators, to adaptively utilize progressive talk moves. It also contributes to the ongoing research on the distinctive nature of engineering-related discourse. Ultimately, this research is a crucial initial step towards better understanding how outreach efforts can enhance pre-college students’ learning of engineering practices and their interest in pursuing engineering as a potential future path.

Miel, K., Swanson, R. D., Portsmore, M., Paul, K. M., Moison, E. A., Kim, J., & Maltese, A. V. (2023). Characterizing engineering outreach educators’ talk moves: An exploratory framework. Journal of Engineering Education, 112( 2), 337– 364.

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