Technological and Engineering Design Based Learning: Promoting Upper Elementary Graphical Device Comprehension



Design Based Learning, Graphical Device Comprehension, Reading Instruction, Science Comprehension, Engineering Comprehension


The research presented is an investigation into the use of technological and engineering design based learning (T/E DBL) as an instructional strategy to facilitate student comprehension of nonfiction/informational text inclusive of graphical devices. The research design followed a mixed method exploratory embedded case study. Six 5th grade participants were examined as both a whole group and as reading level dyads (below, on, and above grade level) as they progressed through three T/E DBL challenges designed to intentionally support graphical device comprehension (GDC) instruction. Data were collected from a variety of instruments used to assess participant prior knowledge, comprehension of graphical devices, and resultant reading comprehension of both familiar and unfamiliar texts. Analysis of data generated detailed descriptions of the reading comprehension levels for each participant throughout the study. Findings indicate that T/E DBL increased text interactions and graphical device usage across all participants, promoted their development of general GDC for diagrams and tables, improved their comprehension of unfamiliar science texts, and proved to be of particular benefit to below grade level readers. These results demonstrate the viability of T/E DBL as a valuable component of elementary level reading instruction for improving student use and comprehension of graphical devices, and for improving their overall comprehension of unfamiliar science and engineering texts where embedded graphical devices present new content in a visual information genre.

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How to Cite

Wells, J., & Morgan, C. (2023). Technological and Engineering Design Based Learning: Promoting Upper Elementary Graphical Device Comprehension. The 40th International Pupils’ Attitudes Towards Technology Conference Proceedings 2023, 1(October). Retrieved from