COVID-19 as a Magnifying Glass: Exploring the Importance of Relationships as Education Students Learn and Teach Robotics via Zoom

Document Type


Publication Date




Publication Title

Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research






8 (143-165)


Ed+gineering, an NSF-funded program, adapted hands-on robotics instruction for online delivery in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This qualitative multiple case study shares the experiences of participating education students in spring 2021 as they collaborated virtually with engineering students and fifth graders to engineer bioinspired robots in an afterschool technology club adapted to be virtual. The online context reduced the education students’ interactions with people other than the engineering students and fifth graders on their team and thus positioned COVID-19 as a metaphorical magnifying glass amplifying the critical role that these relationships played in influencing the project’s outcomes. Through analyzing short-answer reflections, the researchers observed patterns in the ways the education students’ interactions with their engineering and fifth-grade partners shaped their teaching self-efficacy and intention to integrate engineering and coding. Education students appeared to gain the most self-efficacy from feeling supported by, but not dependent upon, their engineering partners, and from adopting engineering-teaching roles. Satisfying interactions with fifth graders and successful production of functioning robots appeared to enhance education students’ intention to integrate engineering and coding into their future instruction. Education students reported gaining self-efficacy for both engineering and coding during the experience, but were more likely to report feeling confident about teaching engineering than teaching coding at the project’s end. Implications and lessons learned are shared, which may be particularly relevant for educators who prepare elementary education students to teach engineering in K-6 settings.


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0000-0002-9339-7574 (Gutierrez), 0000-0003-4348-7798 (Pazos), 0000-0003-3376-0252 (Ringleb)

Original Publication Citation

Kidd, J., Kaipa, K., Gutierrez, K., Lee, M. J., Pazos, P., & Ringleb, S. I. (2022). COVID-19 as a magnifying glass: Exploring the importance of relationships as education students learn and teach robotics via Zoom. Journal of Pre-College Engineering Education Research, 12(2), 143-165, Article 8.