Journal of STEM Teacher Education


The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and recent efforts in STEM education have highlighted a multi-disciplinary vision of teachers’ integrating science education and engineering design problem-solving for student learning and critical thinking development. However, elementary pre-service teachers (PSTs) typically are unfamiliar with engineering design. Since research is limited on elementary PSTs’ ability to notice student thinking for engineering problem-solving, the purpose of this exploratory study was to identify patterns in PSTs’ written reflections from their fourth-grade practicum teaching experience with an integrated science/engineering STEM unit. We adapted Barnhart and van Es’s (2015) teacher noticing coding scheme to examine PSTs’ level of focus (low, basic, or strong) in their professional noticing (attending, analyzing, and responding) of students’ thinking and engineering disciplinary core ideas. The results indicated that PSTs’ reflections focused more on attending to students’ engineering ideas than on analyzing and responding to students’ thinking. For NGSS engineering disciplinary core ideas, the PSTs reflected the least on defining and delimiting the engineering problem, focusing more on students’ idea generation to solve the problem and students’ thinking to optimize their design with less emphasis on evaluating design ideas. These findings suggest possible areas of emphasis for teacher educators to prepare elementary PSTs in developing their ability to attend to, analyze, and respond to students’ engineering thinking when integrating engineering design with science education.