Standards for K-12 Engineering Education?
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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.
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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
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
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 potential 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 engineering; 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 introduce engineering experiences to K–12 students. Given this phenomenon, the emphasis on standards 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 developers of curricula, assessments, and textbooks.
The committee met face-to-face three times and many more times by telephone. In addition, 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
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
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 logistical 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.