Standards for K-12 Engineering Education?

Committee on Standards for K–12 Engineering Education

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS

Washington, D.C.
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Committee on Standards for K–12 Engineering Education

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NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: This publication has been reviewed according to procedures approved by a National Academy of Engineering report review process. Publication of signed work signifies that it is judged a competent and useful contribution worthy of public consideration, but it does not imply endorsement of conclusions or recommendations by the National Academy of Engineering. The interpretations and conclusions in such publications are those of the authors and do not purport to represent the views of the council, officers, or staff of the National Academy of Engineering. This study was supported by Contract/Grant No. DRL-0733584 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation. Additional support was provided by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and Parametric Technology Corporation, Inc. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project. International Standard Book Number 13: 978-0-309-16015-5 International Standard Book Number 10: 0-309-16015-4 Copies of this report are available from National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); online at http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org .

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COMMITTEE ON STANDARDS FOR K–12 ENGINEERING EDUCATION ROBERT M. WHITE, NAE (chair), Carnegie Mellon University, Palo Alto, California TODD R. ALLEN, Allen Research, Technologies and Services, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia CHRISTINE M. CUNNINGHAM, Museum of Science, Boston, Massachusetts HEIDI A. DIEFES-DUX, Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana MARIO A. GODOY-GONZALEZ, Royal High School, Royal City, Washington PAMELA B. NEWBERRY, Project Lead the Way, Inc., Wytheville, Virginia LINDA P. ROSEN, Education and Management Innovations, Inc., Bethesda, Maryland F. JAMES RUTHERFORD, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Berkeley, California CHRISTIAN D. SCHUNN, University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania SUSAN K. SCLAFANI, National Center for Education and the Economy, Washington, D.C. JAMES C. SPOHRER, IBM Almaden Research Center, San Jose, California ELIZABETH K. STAGE, Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley, California ROBERTA R. TANNER, Loveland High School, Colorado Project Staff GREG PEARSON, Study Director and Senior Program Officer, National Academy of Engineering MARIBETH KEITZ, Senior Program Associate, National Academy of Engineering CAROL ARENBERG, Senior Editor, National Academy of Engineering v

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Preface This report is the final product of a two-year study by the Committee on Standards for K– 12 Engineering Education, a group of experts on diverse subjects working under the auspices of the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). The committee’s charge was to assess the poten- tial value and feasibility of developing and implementing content standards for engineering education at the K–12 level in the United States. Such standards have been developed for three disciplines in STEM education—science, technology, and mathematics—but not for engineering. In fulfilling its charge, the committee reviewed existing efforts to define what K–12 students should know and be able to do related to engineering; evaluated evidence for the value and impact of content standards in other areas of K–12 education; identified elements of existing standards documents for K–12 science, mathematics, and technology that could link to engineer- ing; and considered how the various purposes for K–12 engineering education might affect the content and implementation of standards. Historically, in U.S. elementary and secondary schools, the “E” of STEM has been virtually silent. But a small and apparently growing number of efforts are being made to intro- duce engineering experiences to K–12 students. Given this phenomenon, the emphasis on stan- dards in education reform in this country, and concerns about how well we are preparing students for life and work in the highly technological 21st century, it is reasonable that we focus attention on the need for and value of standards for K–12 engineering education. This report should be of interest to a variety of audiences, including leaders in the K–12 STEM education community, STEM professional societies, policy makers at the state and federal levels, businesses and industries engaged in K–12 STEM education outreach, individuals and organizations responsible for teacher education and teacher professional development, and devel- opers of curricula, assessments, and textbooks. The committee met face-to-face three times and many more times by telephone. In addi- tion, the committee sponsored a two-day data-gathering workshop and commissioned six papers on topics relevant to the charge. The report is based on the data gathered through these efforts, as well as on the personal and professional experience and judgments of committee members. Robert M. White, Chair Committee on Standards for K–12 Engineering Education vii

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Acknowledgments This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Academies. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the committee and the National Academy of Engineering in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that it meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The reviewers’ comments and the draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Rodger Bybee, Rodger Bybee & Associates, and President Emeritus, Biological Sciences Curriculum Study Howard Gobstein, Executive Officer and Vice President, Research, Innovation and STEM Education, Co-Director, Science and Mathematics Teacher Imperative, Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities Richard Lehrer, Department of Teaching and Learning, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University Ioannis Miaoulis, President and CEO, Museum of Science, Boston Frederic A. Mosher, Senior Research Consultant to the Consortium for Policy Research in Education, Teachers College, Columbia University Teri Reed-Rhoads, Assistant Dean of Engineering for Undergraduate Education and Associate Professor of Engineering Education, Purdue University Kendall N. Starkweather, Executive Director/CEO, International Technology and Engineering Education Association Steven S. Wagner, Engineer Teacher, Highland Science High School, Henrico, Virginia Robin Willner, Vice President, Global Community Initiatives, IBM Corporation Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, and they did not see the final draft of the report before its public release. The review of this report was overseen by Linda M. Abriola, Dean of Engineering and Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts. Appointed by the NAE, she was responsible for ensuring that an independent examination of the report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution. In addition to the reviewers, many other individuals assisted in the development of this report. The committee commissioned six papers to provide a firm grounding in the current status ix

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x ACKNOWLEDGMENTS of relevant research and education. Rodger Bybee, Rodger Bybee and Associates, prepared a paper on opportunities and barriers to the development and implementation of standards for K– 12 engineering; Rodney L. Custer, Jenny L. Daugherty, and Joseph P. Meyer, Illinois State University, prepared a paper on the conceptual base for secondary-level engineering education; Marc J. De Vries, Eindhoven University of Technology/Delft University of Technology, the Netherlands, prepared a paper on standards for precollege engineering education in countries outside the United States; Jacob Foster, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, prepared a paper on the history of engineering/technology standards in his state; James Rutherford, a committee member and retired education advisor to the Executive Officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, prepared a paper on alternatives to traditional content standards; and Cary Sneider, Portland State University, and committee member Linda Rosen, of Education and Management Innovations, Inc., prepared a paper on how engineering concepts are or might be incorporated into standards for science and mathematics. A number of other thoughtful individuals provided input to the project at the committee’s July 2009 workshop. Thanks are also due to the project staff. Maribeth Keitz managed the committee’s logis- tical and administrative needs and saw to it that meetings and the workshop were run efficiently and smoothly. Carolyn Williams, Christine Mirzayan Science & Technology Policy Graduate Fellow, conducted research on precollege engineering education standards outside the United States; her work led to the commissioning of the paper by Marc J. de Vries. NAE Senior Editor Carol R. Arenberg substantially improved the readability of the report. Greg Pearson, NAE senior program officer, played a key role in conceptualizing the study and managed the project from start to finish.

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Contents EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 5 Defining Engineering, 6 A Brief History of Standards in STEM Education, 7 Project Goal, Objectives, and Study Process, 9 Content of the Report and Intended Audience, 10 References, 10 Annex, 12 2 ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST CONTENT STANDARDS FOR K–12 ENGINEERING EDUCATION 15 Special Characteristics of K–12 Engineering Education, 17 The Argument for Engineering Content Standards, 17 The Argument against Engineering Content Standards, 18 Conclusion, 19 References, 19 3 LEVERAGING EXISTING STANDARDS TO IMPROVE K–12 ENGINEERING EDUCATION 23 The Infusion Approach, 23 The Mapping Approach, 28 Conclusion, 30 References, 31 Annex, 35 4 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 37 Step 1: Reach Consensus on Core Ideas in Engineering, 37 Step 2: Provide Guidelines for the Development of Instructional Materials, 39 Step 3: Boost Research on Learning, 40 Step 4: Measure the Impact of Reforms, 42 A Final Word, 43 References, 44 Annex, 45 xi

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xii CONTENTS APPENDIXES A Committee Biographies 47 B Commissioned Papers 53 K–12 Engineering Education Standards: Opportunities and Barriers, 55 Formulating the Conceptual Base for Secondary Level Engineering Education: A Review and Synthesis, 67 Report for NAE on Non-U.S. Standards for Pre-University Engineering Education, 81 The Development of Technology/Engineering Concepts in Massachusetts Academic Standards, 99 Standards 2.0: New Models for the New Century: Alternatives to Traditional Content Standards, 110 Towards a Vision for Integrating Engineering into Science and Mathematics Standards, 114 C Agenda for Committee Workshop 143