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Engineering in K–12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects
engineering-design approach as well or better than through science or mathematics instruction;
how engineering design can be used as a pedagogical strategy in science and mathematics instruction; and
the implications for professional development of using engineering design as a pedagogical tool for supporting science and mathematics learning.
Finally, our review of curricula showed that technology in K–12 engineering education has primarily been used to illustrate the products of engineering and to provide a context for thinking about engineering design. There were few examples of engineering being used to elucidate ideas related to other aspects of technological literacy, such as the nature and history of technology and the cultural, social, economic, and political dimensions of technology development.
Professional Development Programs
Compared with professional development opportunities for teaching other STEM subjects, the opportunities for engineering are few and far between. Nearly all in-service initiatives are associated with a few existing curricula, and many do not have one or more of the characteristics (e.g., activities that last for at least one week, ongoing in-classroom or online support following formal training, and opportunities for continuing education) that have been proven to promote teacher learning.
The committee found no pre-service initiatives that are likely to contribute significantly to the supply of qualified engineering teachers in the near future. Indeed, the “qualifications” for engineering educators at the K–12 level have not even been described. Graduates from a handful of teacher preparation programs have strong backgrounds in STEM subjects, including engineering, but few if any of them teach engineering classes in K–12 schools.
RECOMMENDATION 4. The American Society for 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