logo logo European Journal of Mathematics and Science Education

EJMSE is is a, peer reviewed, online academic research journal.

Subscribe to

Receive Email Alerts

for special events, calls for papers, and professional development opportunities.


Publisher (HQ)

Eurasian Society of Educational Research
7321 Parkway Drive South, Hanover, MD 21076, USA
7321 Parkway Drive South, Hanover, MD 21076, USA
engineering design elementary science teacher education

Elementary Teachers’ Responsiveness to Supporting Students’ Engineering Design Feedback

Jeffrey Radloff , Brenda M. Capobianco

Using engineering design to teach science requires teachers to engage in noticing, interpreting, and responding to students’ needs in real-time..


Using engineering design to teach science requires teachers to engage in noticing, interpreting, and responding to students’ needs in real-time. While research has begun to focus on how elementary teachers do so, less is known about how teachers instructionally support and optimize students’ ideas through engineering design feedback. In this study we investigate what instructional moves two elementary teachers’ employ to leverage students’ ideas and reasoning and create opportunities for students to exchange design feedback. Data were gathered using classroom observations of teachers’ implementations of a design task focused on sound and energy transformation. Observations were coded for teachers’ use of high-leverage practices, and event maps were created to chronicle teachers’ implementation of the task from start to finish. Event maps were analyzed and compared for discrete instructional activities and modes of classroom organization that supported opportunities for feedback. Findings suggested that while teachers used similar instructional moves, how and when they created opportunities for student design feedback differed, resulting in diverse ways of assessing and supporting students’ understandings. Implications suggest design feedback as both a purposeful and naturally present phenomenon throughout the design process, reflective of the nature of engineering design.

Keywords: Engineering design, elementary science, teacher education.

cloud_download PDF
Article Metrics


Adams, R. S., Daly, S. R., Mann, L. M., & Dall'Alba, G. (2011). Being a professional: Three lenses into design thinking, acting, and being. Design Studies32(6), 588-607.

Adams, R. S., Turns, J., & Atman, C. J. (2003). Educating effective engineering designers: The role of reflective practice. Design Studies24(3), 275-294.

Ajjawi, R., & Boud, D. (2018). Examining the nature and effects of feedback dialogue. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education43(7), 1106-1119.

Aranda, M. L., Lie, R., Guzey, S. S., Makarsu, M., Johnston, A., & Moore, T. J. (2020). Examining teacher talk in an engineering design-based science curricular unit. Research in Science Education50(2), 469-487.

Atman, C. J., Adams, R. S., Cardella, M. E., Turns, J., Mosborg, S., & Saleem, J. (2007). Engineering design processes: A comparison of students and expert practitioners. Journal of Engineering Education96(4), 359-379.

Ball, D. (1993). With an eye on the mathematical horizon: Dilemmas of teaching elementary school mathematics. The Elementary School Journal, 93(4), 373-397.

Ball, D., & Forzani, F. (2009). The work of teaching and the challenge for teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 60(5), 497-511.

Batrouny, N. (2019). Student strategies for collaborative disciplinary decision making in an elementary engineering teaching experiment (Publication No. 13877486) [Doctoral dissertation, Tufts University]. https://shorturl.at/amsAD

Bjorklund, S. A., Parente, J. M., & Sathianathan, D. (2004). Effects of faculty interaction and feedback on gains in student skills. Journal of Engineering Education93(2), 153-160.

Borrego, M., Froyd, J. E., Henderson, C., Cutler, S., & Prince, M. (2013). Influence of engineering instructors’ teaching and learning beliefs on pedagogies in engineering science courses. International Journal of Engineering Education29(6), 34-58.

Boud, D. and Molloy, E. (2013). Rethinking models of feedback for learning: The challenge of design. Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education, 38(6), 698-712.

Braaten, M., & Sheth, M. (2017). Tensions teaching science for equity: Lessons learned from the case of Ms. Dawson. Science Education101(1), 134-164.

Brophy, S., Klein, S., Portsmore, M., & Rogers, C. (2008). Advancing engineering education in P‐12 classrooms. Journal of Engineering Education97(3), 369-387.

Bucciarelli, L. L. (2001). Design knowing & learning: A socially mediated activity. In C. Eastman, W. Newstetter & M. McCracken (Eds.), Design knowing and learning: Cognition in design education (pp. 297-314). Elsevier Science.

Capobianco, B. M., DeLisi, J., & Radloff, J. (2018). Characterizing elementary teachers’ enactment of high‐leverage practices through engineering design‐based science instruction. Science Education, 102(2), 342-376. https://doi.org/10.1002/sce.21325

Capobianco, B. M., Radloff, J., & Lehman, J. D. (2020). Elementary science teachers’ sense-making with learning to implement engineering design and its impact on students’ science achievement. Journal of Science Teacher Education, 63(1), 1-23. https://doi.org/10.1080/1046560X.2020.1789267

Capobianco, B. & Rupp, M. (2014). STEM teachers’ planned and enacted attempts at ımplementing engineering design-based ınstruction.  School Science and Mathematics, 114(6), 258-270.

Clandinin, D. J., & Connelly, F. M. (2000). Narrative inquiry. Jossey-Bass.

Creswell, J. W., & Creswell, J. D. (2017). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage Publications.

Cunningham, C. M., Lachapelle, C. P., & Davis, M. E. (2018). Engineering concepts, practices, and trajectories for early childhood education. In L. English, & T. Moore (Eds.), Early engineering learning (pp. 135-174). Singapore.

Daly, S. R., & Yilmaz, S. (2016). Directing convergent and divergent activity through design feedback. In R. S. Adams & J. A. Siddiqui (Eds.), Analyzing design review conversations (pp. 413–430). Purdue University Press.

Darling, A. L., & Dannels, D. P. (2003). Practicing engineers talk about the importance of talk: A report on the role of oral communication in the workplace. Communication Education, 52(1), 1–16.

Eichinger, D. C., Doherty, E. K., Lehman, J. D., Merwade, V. (2013). Design of musical instruments for a rock band. STEMEd Hub. https://stemedhub.org/resources/1768

Dias, W. P. S., & Blockley, D. I. (1995, November). Reflective practice in engineering design. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers-Civil Engineering, 108(4), 160-168.

Dorst, K. (2011). The core of ‘design thinking’ and its application. Design Studies32(6), 521-532.

Dorst, K., & Cross, N. (2001). Creativity in the design process: Co-evolution of problem–solution. Design Studies22(5), 425-437.

Eekels, J., & Roozenburg, N. F. (1991). A methodological comparison of the structures of scientific research and engineering design: their similarities and differences. Design Studies12(4), 197-203.

Fortus, D., Dershimer, R. C., Krajcik, J., Marx, R. W., & Mamlok‐Naaman, R. (2004). Design‐based science and student learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching41(10), 1081-1110.

Gotwals, A. W., & Birmingham, D. (2016). Eliciting, identifying, interpreting, and responding to students’ ideas: Teacher candidates’ growth in formative assessment practices. Research in Science Education46(3), 365-388.

Grossman, P. (2018). Teaching core practices in teacher education. Harvard Education Press.

Hammer, D.  & vanZee, E. (2006). Seeing the science in children’s thinking: Case studies of student inquiry in physical science. Heinemann.

Haverly, C., Barton, A. C., Schwarz, C. V., & Braaten, M. (2020). "Making space": How novice teachers create opportunities for equitable sense-making in elementary science. Journal of Teaching Education, 71(1), 63-79.

Hynes, M. M. (2012). Middle-school teachers’ understanding and teaching of the engineering design process: A look at subject matter and pedagogical content knowledge. International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 22(3), 345–360.

Jordan, M. E. (2014). Influence of public design critiques on fifth graders collaborative engineering design work. International Society of the Learning Sciences.

Karatas, F. O., Micklos, A., & Bodner, G. M. (2011). Sixth-grade students’ views of the nature of engineering and images of engineers. Journal of Science Education and Technology20(2), 123-135.

Katehi, L., Pearson, G., & Feder, M. (2009). The status and nature of K-12 engineering education in the United States. The Bridge39(3), 5-10.

Krajcik, J. (2015). Three-dimensional instruction: Using a new type of teaching in the science classroom. Science and Children53(3), 6-8.

Lampert, M., Beasley, H., Ghousseini, H., Kazemi, E., & Franke, M. (2010). Using designed instructional activities to enable novices to manage ambitious mathematics teaching. In M. K. Stein & L. Kucan (Eds.), Instructional Explanations in the Disciplines (pp. 129-141). Springer Science & Business Media.

Lawson, B., & Dorst, K. (2013). Design expertise. Routledge.

Lee, O., Miller, E. C., & Januszyk, R. (2014). Next generation science standards: All standards, all students. Journal of Science Teacher Education25(2), 223-233.

Lewis, T. (2006). Design and inquiry: Bases for accommodation between science and technology education in the curriculum? Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 43(3), 255–281.

McFadden, J., & Roehrig, G. (2019). Engineering design in the elementary science classroom: Supporting student discourse during an engineering design challenge. International Journal of Technology and Design Education29(2), 231-262.

Merwade, V., Eichinger, D., Harrigar, B., Doherty, E., & Habben, R. (2014). Understanding sound through engineering design. Science and Children, 51(6), 30-36.

Meyer, X. S., & Crawford, B. A. (2015). Multicultural inquiry toward demystifying scientific culture and learning science. Science Education99(4), 617-637.

Next Generation Lead States. (2013). Next Generation Science Standards. National Academies Press.

Pahl, G., & Beitz, W. (2013). Engineering design: A systematic approach. London, UK: Springer Science & Business Media.

Pleasants, J., & Olson, J. K. (2019). What is engineering? Elaborating the nature of engineering for K‐12 education. Science Education103(1), 145-166.

Rahman, F., & Andrews, C., & Wendell, K. B., & Batrouny, N. A., & Dalvi, T. S. (2019, June), Elementary Students Navigating the Demands of Giving Engineering Design Peer Feedback (Fundamental) [Paper presentation]. 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Tampa, Florida, USA.

Razzouk, R., & Shute, V. (2012). What is design thinking and why is it important? Review of Educational Research82(3), 330-348.

Robertson, A., Scherr, R., & Hammer, D. (2016). Responsive teaching in science and mathematics. Taylor & Francis.

Rodriguez, A. J. (2015). What about a dimension of engagement, equity, and diversity practices? A critique of the next generation science standards. Journal of Research in Science Teaching52(7), 1031-1051.

Roozenburg, N. F., & Dorst, K. (1998). Describing design as a reflective practice: Observations on Schön’s theory of practice. In E. Frankenberger, P. Badke-Schaub & H. Birkhofer (Eds.), Designers: the Key to Successful Product Development (pp. 29-41). New York, NY: Springer.

Saldaña, J. (2015). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. Sage.

Selcen Guzey, S., & Aranda, M. (2017). Student participation in engineering practices and discourse: An exploratory case study. Journal of Engineering Education106(4), 585-606.

Thompson, J., Hagenah, S., Kang, H., Stroupe, D., Windschitl, M., & Colley, C. (2016). Rigor and responsiveness in classroom activity. Teachers College Record, 118(7), 1–58.

Thompson, J., Windschitl, M., & Braaten, M. (2013). Developing a theory of ambitious early-career teacher practice. American Educational Research Journal50(3), 574-615.

Thomspon, J., Hagenah, S., Kang, H., Stroupe, D., Braaten, M., Colley, C., & Windschitl, M. (2016). Rigor and Responsiveness in Classroom Activity. Teachers College Record118(5), 1-29.

Topping, K.J., (2009) Peer Assessment. Theory into Practice, 48(1), 20-27.

Valkenburg, R., & Dorst, K. (1998). The reflective practice of design teams. Design Studies19(3), 249-271.

Vinck, D. (2003). Everyday engineering: An ethnography of design and innovation. MIT Press.

Wallace, J., & Loughran, J. (2012). Science teacher learning. In B. J. Fraser, K. Tobin & C. J. McRobbie (Eds.), Second international handbook of science education (Vol.1, pp. 295-306). Springer.

Watkins, J., McCormick, M., Wendell, K. B., Spencer, K., Milto, E., Portsmore, M., & Hammer, D. (2018). Data‐based conjectures for supporting responsive teaching in engineering design with elementary teachers. Science Education102(3), 548-570.

Wendell, K. B., Andrews, C. J., & Paugh, P. (2019). Supporting knowledge construction in elementary engineering design. Science Education103(4), 952-978.

Wendell, K. B., Watkins, J., & Johnson, A. W. (2016). Noticing, assessing, and responding to students’ engineering: Exploring a responsive teaching approach to engineering design. In Proceedings of the 123rd American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference (pp. 26-29). American Society for Engineering Education.

Wendell, K. B., Wright, C. G., & Paugh, P. (2017). Reflective decision-making in elementary students’ engineering design. Journal of Engineering Education, 106(3), 356–397.

Windschitl, M. A., & Stroupe, D. (2017). The three-story challenge: Implications of the Next Generation Science Standards for teacher preparation. Journal of Teacher Education, 68(3), 251–261.

Windschitl, M., Thompson, J., & Braaten, M. (2018). Ambitious science. Boston, MA: Harvard Education Press.

Windschitl, M., Thompson, J., Braaten, M., & Stroupe, D. (2012). Proposing a core set of instructional practices and tools for teachers of science. Science Education96(5), 878-903.

Windschitl, M., Thompson, J., Braaten, M., & Stroupe, D. (2012). Proposing a core set of instructional practices and tools for teachers of science. Science Education96(5), 878-903.

Yilmaz, S., & Daly, S. R. (2016). Feedback in concept development: Comparing design disciplines. Design Studies, 45, 137-158.