Center for Stem Research

The Center for STEM Research has been conducting research studies in STEM since its founding 25 years ago.  We have always been interested in interconnected learning, particularly the role of informed engineering design in improving learning in math, science and language arts.  To this end we have been funded by many National Science Foundation projects and have disseminated our research findings through publications.  Some of our most recent publications are listed below.  You can click on the link below the paper to access the full text version.

  • Fu, X., Befferman, T. and Burghardt, M.D. (2016).  Link Report: Outcome Analysis of Informal Learning at Scale.  L@S 2016, Edinburgh, UK.
    Abstract: We present LINK-REPORT, a distributed learning outcome analysis module that is integrated with the WISEngineerng platform for supporting informal learning in engineering. LINK-REPORT provides a coherent workflow of outcome analysis: starting from development of learning outcome goals, to learner behavior collection, to automated grading of open-ended short answer questions, and to report generation and aggregation.  It generates learning data for research opportunities in the modeling of learning traits.
  • Hecht, D. and Burghardt, M.D. (2016).  Children’s Engineering.  NSF 2016 Video Showcase.
    Abstract: Our video focuses on the key questions: What is Children’s Engineering? How is it connected to the practice of engineering?  It explores how children and practicing engineers create and shape the human made world.  The video further illustrates that the same habits of mind—optimism, collaboration, creativity and STEM knowledge—apply, the context are different.
  • Almendral, C., Burghardt, M.D., and Gilken, J.G. (2016). WISEngineering Kindergarten Kids: A Feasibility Case Study2016 Hawaii International Conference on Education. Honolulu, HI.
    Abstract: The current research documents findings from a qualitative feasibility case study of a blended learning environment design project, WISEngineering Kindergarten Kids, implemented by five families with their kindergarten aged children (5 or 6 years old).  Specifically, the study explores the feasibility of implementation, parental and child engagement, and appropriateness of activity level.   The study considers similarities and differences in the way parents implement the activity with their children.  Educational implications are discussed.
  • Burghardt, M. D., Lauckhardt, J., Kennedy, M., Hecht, D., and McHugh, L. (2015). The Effects of a Mathematics Infusion Curriculum on Middle School Student Mathematics Achievement. School Science and Mathematics. 115(5).
    Abstract: Increasing mathematical competencies of American students has been a focus for educators, researchers, and policy makers alike. One purported approach to increase student learning is through connecting mathematics and science curricula. Yet there is a lack of research examining the impact of making these connections. The Mathematics Infusion into Science Project, funded by the National Science Foundation, developed a middle school mathematics-infused science curriculum. Twenty teachers utilized this curriculum with over 1,200 students. The current research evaluated the effects of this curriculum on students’ mathematics learning and compared effects to students who did not receive the curriculum. Students who were taught the infusion curriculum showed a significant increase in mathematical content scores when compared with the control students.
  • Burghardt, M. D., Chiu, J.L, and Hecht, D. (2013). Infusing Informed Engineering Design Pedagogy in K-12 Math and Science Courses. 2013 Hawaii International Conference on Education. Honolulu, HI.
     Abstract:  The paper describes how K-12 Engineering can be an important pedagogical approach in mathematics and science courses.  K-12 Engineering is examined in a STEM context with examples provided.  Building on sponsored research, a framework has been developed using informed engineering design and results from several studies indicated positive improvement in student content knowledge and disposition towards STEM and STEM careers.
  • Chiu, J. L., Hecht, D., *Malcolm, P., *DeJaegher, C., *Pan, E. Bradley, M., & Burghardt, M. D. (2013). WISEngineering: Supporting Precollege Engineering Design and Mathematical Understanding. Computers & Education, 67, 142-155.
    Abstract: Introducing engineering into precollege classroom settings has the potential to facilitate learning of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concpets and to increase interest in STEM careers.  Successful engineering design projects in secondary schools require extensive support for both teachers and students.  Comptuer-based learning environments can support both teachers and students to implement and learn from engineering design projects.  However, there is a dearth of empirical research on how engineering approaches can augment learning in authentic K-12 settings.  This paper presents research on the development and pilot testing of WISEngineering, a new web-based engineering design learning environment. Three middle school units were developed using a knowledge integration perspective and a scaffolded, informed engineering approach with the goal of improving understanding of standards-based mathematical concepts and engineering ideas.  Students significantly improved their mathematical scores from pretest to posttest for all three projects on state standardized tests.
  • Chiu, J.L., Pan, E. and Burghardt, (2012). WISEngineering: A Web-Based Engineering Design Learning EnvironmentASEE Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX.
    Abstract: In this paper we introduce WISEngineering, a new curriculum delivery, assessment, and feedback system that uses engineering design to teach science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) concepts to middle school and high school students. WISEngineering is a free, open source environment that supports STEM learning by guiding students through informed engineering design projects1 . WISEngineering includes learning modules that involve extensive hands-on engineering for real-world problems and integrate computer-aided design (CAD) and digital fabrication technologies. Here we present three facets of WISEngineering that we predict will make it well suited to teach STEM concepts: (i) engineering authenticity, (ii) student documentation that drives learning and assessment and (iii) whole-class and peer collaboration. We describe the design and development of WISEngineering and its theoretical underpinnings. We will briefly describe the partnership of teachers, researchers, developers and engineers that created and refined the environment. Finally, we report on preliminary usability studies with undergraduate pre-service students.
  • Russo, M., Hecht, D., Burghardt, M.D., et al. (2011). Development of a Multidisciplinary Middle School Mathematics Infusion Model. Middle Grades Research Journal. 6(2).
    The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded project Mathematics, Science, and Technology Partnership (MSTP) developed a multidisciplinary instructional model for connecting mathematics to science, technology and engineering content areas at the middle school level. Specifically, the model infused mathematics into middle school curriculum through the alignment of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) curriculum, creating a mathematics infused curriculum planning template for teachers, and the implementation of connected STEM professional development workshops in middle schools. Through data collected from teachers, administrators, and faculty members involved in these activities, it was found that all involved were satisfied with connected curriculum, STEM teachers were able to successfully increase their own mathematics pedagogy and content knowledge, and students were able to grasp mathematical concepts when they were applied in science, technology, or engineering content areas.
  • Young, R.,  (2009).  Parent Leadership Institute.
    Abstract: The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Mathematics, Science, and Technology Partnership (MSTP) included the Parent Leadership Institute (PLI).  This paper includes an overview of the PLI as well as implementation plans for each year of the project: 2005 – 2009.  It also includes appendices; such as, Building Bridges Between Home and School (50 Ideas for Parent Involvement), An Eight Step Approach for developing a Parent Involvement Program, The MSTP Parent Survey, Hallmarks of Effective Parent Involvement Programs, and Barriers to Effective Parent involvement Programs.