Funds of knowledge are historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of cultural, social, historical and cognitive knowledge and skills that are essential for household and individual functioning and well-being. Using funds of knowledge in the classroom has been noted as an asset-based approach because students’ assets are explored while deficit notions of students’ abilities are challenged. The Asset-based Practices in Engineering Design (APRENDE) project focuses on both middle school students and their teachers. It offers the opportunity to have an early impact on students’ engineering interest while also providing teachers with a broader perspective of how to develop students’ engineering habits of mind and dispositions using funds of knowledge. The goal of this three-year project is (1) to provide opportunities for teachers to develop an understanding of and appreciation for funds of knowledge, (2) to support them in integrating funds of knowledge into their engineering design class, and (3) to examine how such integration of funds of knowledge can impact Latinx students’ and English Language Learners’ interest in and knowledge of engineering. We posit that effective engineering learning happens when teachers blend funds of knowledge with the engineering design process.
The overarching goal of this mixed methods study is to generate knowledge on how and to what extent the integration of funds of knowledge and engineering design can serve as a pathway to and through engineering for Latinx students while helping teachers and students recognize funds of knowledge as assets in solving engineering problems. The first year of this study is guided by the following research question: What strategies are most helpful in developing teachers' understanding and elicitation of students' funds of knowledge? Data collected from interviews, focus groups, classroom observations, and digital reflective logs will be used to identify how participation in the APRENDE Project impact teachers' understanding of funds of knowledge and how these can be aligned to engineering design processes, habits of mind, and dispositions. The data will be collected as the teachers work with the research team in co-constructing engineering activities and subsequent implementation in their classrooms. This poster and associated paper will report on the initial findings of this exploratory study during the first year.
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