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Engineering in K–12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects
Current K–12 engineering teachers come predominantly from the ranks of technology educators. Only a few science and math teachers teach engineering; even fewer engineers have become K–12 teachers. The lack of certification or licensing for “engineering” teachers, which is an issue at the secondary school level, reflects the relative newness of the field and uncertainties about the knowledge and pedagogical skills engineering teachers need to be competent. Over the long term, it is not clear where future engineering teachers for K–12 will come from, which could delay the acceptance of K–12 engineering education as a mainstream component of the school curriculum.
RECOMMENDATION 4. The American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE), through its Division of K–12 and Pre-College Education, should begin a national dialogue on preparing K–12 engineering teachers to address the very different needs and circumstances of elementary and secondary teachers and the pros and cons of establishing a formal credentialing process. Participants in the dialogue should include leaders in K–12 teacher education in mathematics, science, and technology; schools of education and engineering; state departments of education; teacher licensing and certification groups; and STEM program accreditors. ASEE should consult with the National Center for Engineering and Technology Education, which has conducted research on this topic.
Finding 10. Based on evaluations, anecdotal reports, and our own observations, lack of diversity is a serious issue for K–12 engineering education.
As was noted in Chapter 2, the lack of diversity in post-secondary engineering education and the engineering workforce in the United States has been well documented The diversity problem in K–12 engineering is manifested in two ways. First, the number of girls and underrepresented minorities who participate in K–12 engineering education initiatives does not correspond to their proportion of the general population. Second, with a handful of exceptions, curricular materials do not portray engineering in ways likely to be meaningful to students from a broad range of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Such students often have life experiences and technological interests different from those of the curriculum developers or of the majority culture.