Research Products

RETainUS Project

Mohamed Abdelrahman, Ph.D. - Lead PI

Several states have been failing in multiple categories including post-secondary readiness of the work force and academic achievement of low income and minority students. To address this problem, a program, Research Experiences for Teachers in Manufacturing for Competitiveness in the United States (RETainUS) was carried out via an NSF grant. The goal of this program was to influence the manufacturing base in the US by making changes in teachers’ understanding of manufacturing and how it relates to the math and science curriculum. The objectives of this grant included: 1) teach the teachers through intense involvement in the process of engineering research; 2) improve participants’ perspectives on manufacturing as a self-fulfilling environment, fertile with research and development opportunities; 3) improve the learning environment for students; and 4) achieve a lasting improvement in the curriculum for Grades 9–12.

Tennessee Technological University (TTU) and Texas A & M University at Kingsville (TAMUK) offered a 6-week summer research institute to 30 high school teachers. With the help from faculty mentors and graduate students, the teachers each developed a relevant research question and became the principal investigators for their part(s) of the research, with the mentors and graduate students supporting them as facilitators and consultants. Participant projects were based on ongoing research activities from multiple engineering disciplines including electrical and computer engineering (ECE), mechanical engineering (ME), chemical engineering (ChE), industrial engineering (IE) and manufacturing and industrial technology (MIT). Thus, the teachers experienced examples of how “silos” of knowledge are integrated within manufacturing applications. Links to curriculum were then established to support the integration of the research into classroom learning modules.

The Legacy Cycle Module was the framework utilized as the modular instruction tool The Legacy Cycle lesson format consists of six stages 1) a challenge question, 2) generate ideas, 3) multiple perspectives, 4) research and revise, 5) test your mettle, and 6) go public. The cycle is based on current learning theory presented in How People Learn: Mind, Brain, Experience, and School. The teacher participants presented a final Legacy Cycle Module at the Legacy Cycle Module Conference in June following a year of beta testing their product.

Unit 1 includes the description of the project, RETainUS, description of Legacy Cycles, and the common core. Chapter 1 discusses the main elements of the experience including description of sample research projects, summer institute and design of the legacy cycles. Chapter 2 presents more details on legacy cycles as a vehicle for transfer of research into learning modules. Chapter 3 presents a description of the common core standard which has been adopted by many states in the US. The next two units describe examples of legacy cycles. Unit 2 (chapters 4 – 11) contains detailed descriptions of 8 legacy cycles along with references to the common core standards that they address. Unit 3 (chapters 12 – 19) contains outlines for eight more legacy cycles. Each of these legacy cycle chapters will include the components of the RETainUS program for one of the research projects; the related standards, Legacy Cycle, and research abstract. Unit 4, Chapter 20 presents best practices in running research experience programs. It is intended to help educators including teachers who want to create such a program for students or other educators. Some of the papers and poster sessions presented at regional and national conferences by teachers who participated in RETainUS are made available in the Appendix.

The information published in this book will hopefully be utilized by science and mathematics teachers and pre-service teachers. This will result in multiplying the effect of the program beyond the teacher participants to include future teachers as well as math and science teachers.
Marie-Anne Mundy, Ed.


I would like to acknowledge the support from the National Science Foundation which has made all this work possible. This work was supported by two awards: EEC-0908672 and EEC-1106529. Both awards supported the project titled Research Experience for Teachers in Manufacturing for Competitiveness in the United States (RETainUS). The former supported the implementation of RETainUS at Tennessee Technological University (TTU) and the latter at Texas A&M University-Kingsville (TAMUK). This effort would not have been successful without the help of many of my colleagues at both universities. I want to especially thank Drs. Holly Anthony, Sally Pardue and Melissa Geist from TTU for their help in conceiving, implementing and assistance in carrying out all aspects of the project. I want to wholeheartedly thank Ms. Evangeline Thurber who has worked diligently to edit and revise the legacy cycles to be in a format that can be shared with other teachers. I want to acknowledge and thank the faculty mentors from TTU and TAMUK for their dedication in working with the teachers during the summer institute and follow up sessions, namely Drs. Biernacki, Canfield, Currie, Fidan, Oyander, Rice, Stretz and Visco from TTU and Drs. Clapp, Mills, Nekovei, Peel, Ramirez, and Yilmaz from TAMUK. I would like to thank all the teachers for taking time from their short summer to participate in RETainUS.

Dr. Mohamed Abdelrahman
Principal Investigator, RETainUS

This page was last updated on: August 14, 2015