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Learning to talk engineering design: Results from an interpretive study in a Grade 4/5 classroom

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This study reports on students' engineering-related discourses before and after a unit which focused on children's development of tool-related and discursive practices in the domain of structural engineering. Video-and audiotaped small and large-group interviews, student-produced artifacts, and videotaped small and large group activities in a mixed Grade 4/5 class constituted the data sources. Comparison of students' engineering-related images and talk before and after the instructional unit revealed considerable differences. The study has implications for the design of learning environments in which developing language-inuse is fostered rather than parroting teacher-and textbook-framed definitions.

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This work was made possible by two grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, 812-93-0006 and 410-93-1127. My sincere thanks go to Sylvie Boutonné for the significant help during data collection, transcription of the videotapes, and preparation of the manuscript; to Michelle McGinn and Carolyn Woszczyna for their helpful suggestions in making this a better article; to Allan MacKinnon, Bridget Walshe, and Fiona Crofton for their assistance during the interviews; and to both teachers and all the students for their participation in this project.

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Roth, W. Learning to talk engineering design: Results from an interpretive study in a Grade 4/5 classroom. Int J Technol Des Educ 6, 107–135 (1996).

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  • classroom communities
  • discourse practices
  • STS