Networks Supporting Problem-Based Invention Education

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Cristina Saenz
Michelle Sullivan
Katrina Hull
Jazmin Morales Rodriguez


Problem-based invention education engages students in complex processes of solving ill-defined problems with the support of teachers who act as facilitators of the learning process. Guided by interactional ethnographic epistemology (Green et al., 2012), we examine who and in what ways supported a high school team and their teacher working to invent a solution to a real-world problem students identified in their community. Our primary dataset included video recordings and a historian’s notebook collected by the InvenTeam historian during their invention project. Additional data included recordings of conversations with the teacher and the student historian who collaborated with university researchers in analyzing the InvenTeam year data. Through ethnographically informed domain and discourse analysis we identified three levels of the ecosystem that supported the team: local, national, and both. Analyses highlighted the role of technical mentors as a local support and the Lemelson-MIT program as a national support. Our study demonstrates the importance of the drawing on supports beyond the school to enable students and teachers to engage in problem-based invention education.

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Author Biography

Audra SKUKAUSKAITE, University of Central Florida

Dr. Audra Skukauskaite is an Associate Professor in the Department of the Learning Sciences and Educational Research in the College of Community Innovation and Education at the University of Central Florida. 


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