To draw conclusions and make recommendations about the country’s current and future needs for engineering-literate K–12 teachers, it would be useful to know something of the make-up of the current workforce of these educators, such as their numbers, demographic characteristics, and levels of preparation. Information is also needed about the educational programs involved in preparing new K–12 teachers of engineering (e.g., schools of education) and in providing engineering-focused professional development opportunities to those already working in the classroom. Beyond the numbers, it would be helpful to understand the educational pathways and related policies, such as credentialing, that support or hinder an individual from becoming a K–12 teacher of engineering. This chapter addresses all of these important issues. As a reminder and as will be clear in what follows, the committee is using the term “teacher of engineering” to refer to any elementary or subject-matter secondary teacher who spends some portion of the school day providing engineering instruction.
In an effort to shed light on how many K–12 educators are currently teaching engineering, the committee examined data from the federal National Teacher
and Principal Survey (NTPS),1 administered by the US Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). These survey data provide estimates of the number of public school educators working in various subject areas along with relevant demographic information, such as educational background and certification status.2
Size of the Workforce
The most recent NTPS teacher questionnaire (2015–16) was filled out by a sample of 31,950 K–12 teachers and weighted to be nationally representative.3 One question asked respondents to pick from a long list the subjects, up to a maximum of 10, they taught during the school year. The subjects were assigned numerical codes and organized into categories. For the committee’s analysis, three subjects are of interest: engineering (code 214, part of the natural sciences4 category); construction trades, engineering, or science technologies (including CADD [computer-aided design and drafting] and drafting, code 246, part of the career or technical education category); and industrial arts or technology education (code 255, also part of career or technical education).5 These data are presented in table 4-1, which, for comparison, includes the number of teachers who said they taught science, mathematics, and English and language arts.
In the prior NCES teacher survey, the 2011–12 School and Staffing Survey, no respondents indicated that they taught engineering as a natural science field; they exclusively reported teaching one of the two career and technical education (CTE)–related versions of engineering. The lack of any
1 The NTPS is a redesigned version of NCES’s School and Staffing Survey (SASS).
3 The weighted total number of K–12 teachers, according to NCES, was 3,827,170. The agency recently announced it was reevaluating the weights developed for the teacher data because of concerns that the numbers may have been improperly inflated. NCES says it will release the new data in 2020.
4 The natural sciences are concerned with the description, prediction, and understanding of natural phenomena. The two main branches of the natural sciences are the biological (or life) sciences and the physical sciences (physics, chemistry, astronomy, and Earth science).
5 We include industrial arts or technology education because over the past 18 years the field of technology education has focused increasingly on the teaching of engineering. (For details of this history, see NAE and NRC 2009, pp. 31–33, and NAE and NRC 2014, pp. 17–18.) See also the discussion of the Standards for Technological Literacy in chapter 2, Science and Mathematics in the Service of Engineering.
|Subject (code)||Unweighted sample size||Weighted sample size|
|Industrial arts or technology education (255)||380||40,960|
|Construction trades, engineering, or science technologies (including CADD [computer-aided design and drafting] and drafting) (246)||180||19,280|
|All natural sciences||3,200||345,940|
|Mathematics (excluding computer science)||3,680||397,310|
|English and language arts||5,200||599,600|
SOURCE: Calculations based on data from the 2015–16 National Teacher and Principal Survey. All samples are rounded to the nearest 10 to conform to reporting requirements of the National Center for Education Statistics.
non-CTE engineering teachers in the previous survey is not due to a coding decision by NCES staff, because respondents select their teaching assignments. The previous survey was fielded prior to publication of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which prominently and explicitly connect engineering concepts and practices to the natural sciences. Even before NGSS, however, a handful of states included engineering content in their K–12 curriculum frameworks for science education (Carr et al. 2012). One possible explanation for the absence of self-identified “engineering” teachers in the prior survey could be that the number of such educators was simply too small to be captured in the survey sampling frame. For the purposes of this project, data on the two CTE-related teacher categories do not provide the degree of specificity the committee would like. In the case of code 246, because the subject includes not only engineering but also construction trades, science technologies, drafting, and CADD, it is not possible to know how many respondents selected this option to indicate that they teach engineering as opposed to one of the other subjects. In the case of code 255, because of the history of technology education (box 4-1), the committee does not have great confidence that all NTPS respondents who selected this teaching assignment were, in fact, teachers of engineering.
For the remainder of this section, we combine data for natural sciences engineering teachers and teachers of “construction trades, engineering, or science technologies” and refer to this combined dataset as “engineering
teachers.” Otherwise, in many cases the sample size of natural sciences engineering teachers would be too small to analyze separately.
In addition to reporting up to 10 teaching areas, NTPS respondents are asked to identify their “main” teaching area. About 10 percent of engineering teachers, representing .07 percent of the weighted sample of all K–12 teachers, indicated that this was engineering, but the largest share identified construction trades, engineering, or science technology as their main area (table 4-2). Ten percent of engineering teachers identified one of several science subjects as their main area of teaching.
Among those who taught industrial arts or technology, 64.2 percent said that this was their primary teaching assignment (table 4-3). An additional
|Construction trades, engineering, or science technology||14,790||52.80|
|Industrial arts or technology education||3,130||11.20|
|Biology or life sciences||570||2.10|
SOURCE: Calculations based on data from the 2015–16 National Teacher and Principal Survey. All samples are rounded to the nearest 10 to conform to reporting requirements of the National Center for Education Statistics.
|Industrial arts or technology education||26,280||64.2|
|Other career or technical education||2,880||7.0|
|Construction trades, engineering, or science technology||1,650||4.0|
|Communications and related technologies||810||2.0|
SOURCE: Calculations based on data from the 2015–16 National Teacher and Principal Survey. All samples are rounded to the nearest 10 to conform to reporting requirements of the National Center for Education Statistics.
4.0 percent of industrial arts teachers identified “construction trades, engineering, or science technology” as their main teaching area. Compared with engineering teachers, science and mathematics were much less prevalent as main teaching areas for industrial arts and technology teachers.6
6 Industrial arts or technology education teachers’ main science teaching areas included “science, general” (0.6 percent), chemistry (0.5 percent), physics (0.4 percent), physical sciences (0.3 percent), and “biology or life sciences” (0.2 percent).
Another, more indirect, way to estimate the number of teachers working in a field is to determine how many schools offer courses in the subject. For instance, a 2018 national survey of science and mathematics educators found that 46 percent of high schools in the sample7 offered at least one engineering course8 (Banilower et al. 2018); 31 percent offered non-college-preparatory and 29 percent offered first-year college preparatory engineering courses; and 17 percent offered a second-year engineering course. Taking the first data point, and assuming that an engineering course is taught by a single teacher, it is possible to estimate the number of such educators if one also knows the number of high schools in the United States. A 2011 estimate based on NCES data reported about 23,000 public and 7,300 private high schools, or about 30,300 in total, in the 2009–10 school year (Mathews 2011). Taking 46 percent of this number suggests there may have been as many as 14,000 high school educators teaching at least one engineering course in 2018. Presumably, this number would not include technology education teachers, although their field has made a turn toward engineering over the past two decades.9
This approach has shortcomings. For one thing, it does not allow estimates for engineering teachers working in middle and elementary schools, because those institutions were not asked about engineering courses in the research by Banilower and colleagues. In fact, there are a number of engineering curricula aimed at middle school students (NAE and NRC 2009, pp. 74–75), and one of the most established K–12 engineering curriculum programs in the country, with teachers delivering the curriculum in every state, is Engineering is Elementary (www.eie.org), designed for elementary students. Furthermore, there is well-documented public confusion about what engineering is (e.g., NAE 2008), and the survey instrument itself may have introduced uncertainty among respondents because of the way
7 The sample included charter and magnet schools, but there were too few of these institutions to break out data for them separately (E. Banilower, Horizon Research, personal communication, November 5, 2019).
8 The survey instructed teachers to consider engineering courses as those that “address the nature of engineering, engineering design processes, technological systems, or technology and society. Do not include career-technical education (CTE) courses that cover such things as automotive repair, audio/video production, etc.” (Banilower et al. 2018, p. C-15).
9 Guidance to teacher participants in the survey says: “For the purposes of this study, the following are not considered computer science, mathematics, science or engineering courses: Health, Hygiene, Technology Education, Business, Career-technical education (CTE) courses that cover such things as automotive repair or audio/video production” (emphasis added; Banilower et al. 2018, p. 233).
it defined engineering.10 It is thus possible that survey respondents either failed to identify courses that were engineering-focused or identified courses as engineering—such as those in the computer sciences, for example—that were not.
In summary, the available data sources have a number of limitations that hampered the committee’s ability to estimate the number of K–12 teachers of engineering. These limitations relate both to the structure of the survey instruments and to the wording of specific survey items. Even considering the noted shortcomings of NTPS for our purposes, it is sobering that less than one-tenth of 1 percent of all K–12 teachers considered themselves to be teaching engineering as their main assignment.
Demographics and Diversity
NTPS also provides demographic information about engineering and technology education or industrial arts teachers. The committee was particularly interested in the race/ethnicity and gender makeup of this population, since the engineering discipline has struggled to attract women and people of color to the field.
Just 20 percent of K–12 engineering teachers are women, the same share as graduate from undergraduate engineering programs but significantly higher than the rate of female graduation from programs in engineering technology. Engineering technology is a close cousin to traditional engineering (see box 6-2) that provides students with more hands-on, laboratory-based coursework at the two- and four-year college level (NAE 2017, pp. 22–29). The percentage of female technology teachers, at 40 percent, is much closer to parity. The vast majority of teachers in both groups are white, largely mirroring the composition of the US K–12 teacher workforce. These various comparisons are summarized in table 4-4.
Education and Certification
Along with knowledge of students and pedagogy, teacher content knowledge is a critical component of effective teaching. In K–12 STEM educa-
10 Guidance regarding engineering to survey respondents said, “This category includes such courses as: Engineering, Engineering Design, Principles of Engineering, Technological Systems, and Technology and Society” (Banilower et al. 2018, p. 234).
TABLE 4-4 Race/Ethnicity and Gender of K–12 Engineering and Technology Education or Industrial Arts Teachers and Degree Earners in Engineering and Engineering Technology Compared with Those in the US Population and K–12 Teacher Workforce, Percent, Various Years
|K–12 engineering teachersa||81.6||4.5||8.9||19.9|
|K–12 industrial arts or technology teachersa||87.8||4.8||5.0||40.3|
|4-year engineering degree recipientsb||61.5||3.8||9.6||19.8|
|4-year engineering technology degree recipientsb||63.6||10.7||10.0||12.0|
|US K–12 public school teacher workforced||80.1||6.7||8.8||76.6|
a Calculations from the 2015–16 National Teacher and Principal Survey. All samples rounded to the nearest ten to conform to National Center of Education Statistics (NCES) reporting requirements.
b Calculations from the 2014 Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System; population of institutions from the NCES.
tion, teachers’ degrees and college course taking are often used as proxies for STEM content knowledge. More direct measures of teacher content knowledge as well as confidence to teach may provide a better indication of a teacher’s ability to improve student achievement than degree status (see chapter 5). Among the STEM subjects, efforts to develop more effective measures of teacher content knowledge are most developed in mathematics; considerably more research is needed to develop and test such indicators in science and, especially, in engineering (NRC 2013, p. 23).
Lack of documented subject-matter expertise among some K–12 teachers has led to concerns about their capacity to effectively support student learning. For example, one recent study reports that only 3 percent of elementary and 42 percent of middle school science teachers have a degree in science or engineering (Banilower et al. 2018, table 2.6),11 and it is highly likely that for the vast majority of these educators, the degree is in a science field, not engineering. The prevalence of science teachers with degrees in science varies
according to subdiscipline. In the life sciences, 40 percent and 63 percent of middle and high school teachers, respectively, hold a degree in the field. By comparison, just 5 percent of middle school and 15 percent of high school earth science teachers hold a degree in that subject (table 2.15). The situation is similar in mathematics. While nearly 80 percent of high school mathematics teachers have a degree in either mathematics or mathematics education, only 45 percent and 3 percent of middle school mathematics teachers and elementary teachers, respectively, hold such degrees (table 2.6).
The same study found that only 3, 10, and 13 percent, respectively, of elementary, middle, and high school science teachers had taken at least one college course in engineering. In contrast, the share of science teachers who had taken at least one science course ranged from 31 to 95 percent, depending on grade band and science discipline (Banilower et al. 2018, table 2.7).
Data from NTPS reveal that fewer than half of engineering teachers have engineering-specific certification or education (we discuss certification at greater length in chapter 5). Only 19.4 percent of all K–12 engineering teachers majored or minored in engineering, although 41.9 percent are certified to teach engineering (table 4-5). To a certain extent, formal education and certification substitute for each other: many engineering teachers have either an engineering degree or an engineering certification, but not both. Just over a third of engineering teachers who majored or minored in engineering are not certified to teach the subject (1,900 out of 5,430). Almost 70 percent of teachers certified to teach engineering did not major or minor in engineering (8,190 out of 11,720). Fewer than 13 percent of all engineering teachers are both certified to teach engineering and majored or minored in engineering.
Information about the education and certification of industrial arts or technology education teachers is presented in table 4-6. These teachers have higher rates of majoring or minoring in the subjects they teach (30.8 percent) and of certification in those subjects (47.2 percent) than engineering teachers do in their field. Also unlike engineering teachers, the large majority, about 89 percent, of industrial arts or technology education teachers who majored or minored in one of those fields was certified to teach. Fewer industrial arts or technology education teachers, about 58 percent, were certified to teach one of those subjects and also majored or minored in one of them. Nevertheless, almost half of these educators (49.4 percent) had neither a certification nor a major or minor in industrial arts or technology education.
NTPS also asks teachers to indicate their first college major. A plurality (19 percent) of engineering teachers do not have a bachelor’s degree at all. Recalling that this category includes those who teach construction,
|Majored or minored in engineering*||5,430||19.4|
|Certified to teach engineering♦||11,720||41.9|
|Majored or minored in engineering,* but NO certification to teach engineering♦||1,900||6.8|
|Certified to teach engineering,♦ but NO major or minor in engineering||8,190||29.3|
|BOTH certified and majored or minored in engineering* ♦||3,530||12.6|
|NEITHER certified nor majored or minored in engineering* ♦||14,360||51.3|
|Total engineering teachers||27,980||100.0|
* In this table, “engineering” majors or minors include both (1) degrees in natural sciences engineering and (2) degrees in construction, engineering, and science technologies. In addition, the survey question that produced these data asked about any major or minor, not the first degree a person earns; a person minoring or majoring in engineering may have other degrees.
♦ The National Teacher and Principal Survey does not include an answer choice for “engineering” in the items that ask about certification. Thus in this table “Certified to teach engineering” means the educator is certified in “construction, engineering, or science technologies.” The committee was not able to determine whether any states have actually certified a K–12 “engineering” teacher, even though some states appear to offer such an option. This topic is discussed later in this chapter.
SOURCE: Calculations from the 2015–16 NTPS. All samples are rounded to the nearest ten to conform to NCES reporting requirements. Reported percents and numbers may diverge slightly due to rounding.
engineering, and science technologies, the high percentage of non-degree-holders may reflect the movement of skilled tradespersons with alternative qualifications, such as 2-year degrees or industrial certifications, into teaching. A small share (13.9 percent) majored in “industrial arts or technology education,” 11.3 percent majored in “construction trades, engineering, or science technologies,” and only 6.3 percent majored in “engineering.” Just as most nonengineering certifications held by engineering teachers were in closely related CTE, science, or mathematics fields, most nonengineering first majors reported by engineering teachers are in CTE, science, or mathematics fields.
The degree history of industrial arts or technology teachers is quite different. The plurality of these teachers (27.4 percent) had a first major in industrial arts or technology education, followed by 14.1 percent in busi-
|Majored or minored in industrial arts or technology education||12,610||30.8|
|Certified to teach industrial arts or technology education||19,340||47.2|
|Majored or minored in industrial arts or technology education, but NO certification to teach industrial arts or technology||1,370||3.3|
|Certified to teach industrial arts or technology education, but NO major or minor in industrial arts or technology education||8,100||19.8|
|BOTH certified and majored or minored in industrial arts or technology education||11,240||27.4|
|NEITHER certified nor major or minored in industrial arts or technology education||20,250||49.4|
|Total industrial arts or technology education teachers||40,960||100.0|
SOURCE: Calculations from the 2015–16 NTPS. All samples are rounded to the nearest ten to conform to National Center of Education Statistics reporting requirements. Reported percents and numbers may diverge slightly due to rounding.
ness management and 10.5 percent in elementary education. A small share, 5.8 percent, of industrial arts teachers had no bachelor’s degree at all, fewer than was the case for engineering teachers. Although 13.9 percent of engineering teachers had their first major in industrial arts, only 1.8 percent majored in “construction trades, engineering, or science technologies,” and just 0.9 percent of industrial arts or technology teachers had their first major in engineering. The latter point is worth emphasizing, because it stands in contrast to the field’s declared turn toward engineering a decade ago.12 Combined with evidence about the limited extent of engineering coursework in technology teacher preparation programs, noted in the following section, this reinforces the challenges associated with ensuring that this cohort of teachers of K–12 engineering has relevant content expertise.
Although the exact numbers are unknown, a small number of individuals enter K–12 teaching after working as engineers (box 4-2). These new teachers might complete a bachelor’s degree in education or an alternative certification program to develop skills in lesson planning and classroom
12 In 2010 the International Technology Education Association changed its name to the International Association of Technology and Engineering Educators, reflecting the field’s increasing emphasis on engineering education.
management, and to learn to work productively with other teachers (Grier and Johnston 2009). In interviews, many of these teachers state that the skills they acquired in their previous careers were also valuable for teaching (Chambers 2002; Grier and Johnston 2009) and enabled them to engage and motivate students (Muller et al. 2014).
To understand the country’s capacity to prepare K–12 teachers of engineering, it is critical to understand the characteristics of professional learning provided to prospective teachers as well as to teachers already working in the classroom.
Programs for Prospective Teachers
The number of teacher preparation programs producing educators equipped to teach engineering is very small, with the largest concentration in the field of technology education. For at least the last two decades, the number of graduates from these programs has steadily declined, from over 800 in the 1995–96 school year to just over 200 in the 2015–16 school year (Moye 2017). The drop in graduates is tied to a loss of preservice education programs: In 2017, there were just 41 such programs (CTETE 2017), compared with 190 programs 10 years earlier (NAITTE and CTTE 2007). Ten years ago, a survey of state technology education directors found that there were about 28,000 technology education teachers working in middle and high schools (Moye 2009). That total is comparable to the NTPS estimate of teachers whose primary teaching assignment was in industrial arts or technology education (table 4-3).
It is worth noting that the amount of engineering content in these teacher preparation programs varies, and in some programs prospective teachers are exposed to little or no engineering-related coursework (Fantz and Katsioloudis 2011). Research has also found that only about one-quarter of technology teacher preparation programs require coursework in mathematics at the level of calculus or above. Half of programs require at least one physics course, but many institutions allow for the selection of any natural science course to fulfill general education and/or major requirements (Litowitz 2014).
There are no definitive data documenting the impact of the decline in the number of technology educator preparation programs on the supply of these teachers. However, the US Department of Education’s Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listing reported 10 states with technology educator shortages in 2016 (Moye 2017). This suggests, at least in these states, that the loss of technology educators due to retirements and attrition is not being met by the supply of newly prepared and credentialed teachers. The American Association for Employment in Education (AAEE) also tracks teacher shortages. In its most recent survey (AAEE 2018), school districts and colleges and universities with education programs indicated “some shortage”13 of technology educators in the 2017–18 school year. School districts reported the highest shortages in the Rocky Mountain, Middle Atlantic, and Northeast regions. Shortage data from educational institutions indicated that technol-
13 Answer choices on AAEE survey items are given numerical values on a 5-point Likert scale. Averages of answer scores from 3.41 to 4.20 were deemed to indicate “some shortage.”
ogy educators were in a situation of “medium supply and high demand”; in two earlier periods, 2013–14 and 2015–16, these educators were in “low supply and high demand.” The apparent shortages of K–12 technology educators are occurring against a backdrop of potentially significant national teacher shortages in many other subjects, including science (Sutcher et al. 2016).
Another source of potential new K–12 teachers of engineering is programs that allow undergraduate students to combine a major in a STEM field with education coursework and certification to teach. The largest such initiative is the UTeach Natural Sciences program, which started at the University of Texas, Austin, in 1997 and has expanded to 44 universities in 22 states and the District of Columbia. As of 2018 the program had graduated over 4,500 students, nearly 90 percent of whom have become K–12 teachers (UTeach Institute 2018).14 The majority of these graduates have degrees in science or mathematics; 3 percent have degrees in engineering. Based on data from 2013, 97 percent of graduates of the program obtained STEM teaching credentials. Of these, 44 percent obtained credentials in science, 58 percent in mathematics, 1 percent in computer science, and 0.6 percent in engineering. (Credentialing is discussed in detail later in this chapter.)
Although a small number of UTeach programs have recently enabled engineering students to pair their disciplinary degree with a certificate to teach secondary STEM subjects,15 UTeach has not caught on in engineering the way it has in the natural sciences and mathematics. One reason may be that starting salaries for engineering majors are higher than any other major except computer science (NACE 2018); thus, the potential loss of income (and reduced ability to pay back a student loan) for following a teacher pathway is one obvious disincentive for engineering students to participate in UTeach. Another is that a typical undergraduate engineering program requires about 130 credit hours (Williamson and Fridley 2017), more than most other degree tracks. Finding time and space in the curriculum for students to take 20 or more education credits and complete student teaching
14 The UTeach Institute charges fees for schools that want to formally implement the UTeach program. There is an initial, one-time $50,000 curriculum-licensing fee. There are additional costs for support and evaluation services provided during a three- to five-year initial implementation period. These, along with local implementation costs to start a UTeach program, are generally covered by grant funds or local philanthropy (K. Hughes, UTeach Institute, personal communication, November 11, 2019).
15 These include Boise State University, Drexel University, University of Alabama, Birmingham, University of Arkansas, University of Colorado Boulder, University of Texas, Austin, and University of Texas, Tyler (K. Hughes, University of Texas, Austin, personal communication, August 23, 2018).
within four years is nearly impossible in most engineering programs. And extending engineering programs to five years to accommodate teacher licensure would raise costs for students.
To address some of the challenges of obtaining a teacher credential while also earning a degree in a very full engineering curriculum, the University of Colorado Boulder took a different tack. Creating a new degree program in “general engineering” as a starting point, in 2014 the school’s engineering and education colleges crafted a very different design-based engineering program, now called Engineering Plus (E-Plus). E-Plus weaves design- and teamwork-intensive coursework into traditional engineering core theory classes (statics, circuits, thermodynamics, materials science, and data analysis); requires in-depth courses in a traditional engineering discipline (of the student’s choosing); allows a choice of one of 18 “concentrations,” two of which are in secondary school science or mathematics teaching; and integrates interdisciplinary, product design courses throughout all four years. Two of the courses required in the mathematics or science teaching concentration emphasize design: “Project-Based Instruction” in the education curriculum and senior-level “Teaching Design” in the Engineering Plus curriculum.
In 2018 E-Plus enrolled about 140 students, only 8 percent of whom pursued the teaching concentration (J. Sullivan, University of Colorado Boulder, personal communication, August 23, 2018). That year two E-Plus graduates began their teaching careers, and the program was accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), the first such program to receive that recognition. Among other things, ABET accreditation means that E-Plus graduates will be eligible to take the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, the first step toward professional licensure. Program leaders believe accreditation may increase the appeal of E-Plus to matriculating engineering students interested in a broad range of concentrations, including teacher licensure.
In addition to the UTeach initiatives, another roughly half-dozen universities across the country provide engineering coursework to students enrolled in teacher preparation programs (some of these are described in NAE and NRC 2014, pp. 122–124). One of the largest is the integrative STEM education program at the College of New Jersey (TCNJ), which is housed in the College of Engineering. It offers two bachelor’s of science options for preservice teachers and a master’s of education for in-service teachers. The integrative STEM program for preservice K–8 teachers has an enrollment of about 160 and graduates between 35 and 50 teachers per year (Steve O’Brien,
School of Engineering, TCNJ, personal communication, August 17, 2018). About 70 percent of these students plan to teach technology education, and they must take seven or eight engineering courses; students who opt for a mathematics or science specialization must take two or three engineering courses. Students in the program’s technology and engineering educator preparation track must take 17 courses with engineering content. In the master’s program, in-service teachers may follow either a design sequence of courses, which requires six engineering courses, including one on engineering math for educators, or a supervisor certification sequence, which requires students to take the engineering mathematics course and one other engineering course of their choosing. The master’s program enrollment is about 35 students, and roughly 30 percent of them are in the design track. Another program is Ohio Northern University’s engineering education major, which was established in 2011 and has graduated a small number of secondary-level teachers of engineering. Because Ohio does not offer credentialing for K–12 teachers of engineering, students in the program earn licenses for teaching mathematics (Todd France, Director of Engineering Education, Ohio Northern University, personal communication, July 28, 2019).
Beyond efforts aimed primarily at engineering and technology majors, an important question is to what extent US science teacher education programs incorporate engineering instruction in their curricula, which is relevant given that two-thirds of states have either adopted or adapted the engineering-infused NGSS. The committee could find no research exploring this question directly, but one expert suggested that, in most states, science teacher preparation standards are considerably behind the K–12 academic standards, such as NGSS. As a result, most such teacher preparation programs have not adjusted their curricula to incorporate engineering (personal communication, D. Paulson, Minnesota Department of Education, January 2, 2018). This view is generally consistent with research that finds a considerable gap between current science teaching and the vision for science education presented in NGSS (NASEM 2015).
The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA16) and Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE) recently published new national standards for preservice science teacher preparation programs (Morrell et al. 2019). The standards are expected to be used beginning in 2020, once they are approved by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. Reflecting the influence of NGSS and unlike the previous version (NSTA
16 Formerly the National Science Teachers Association (until 2019).
Program leaders involved in preparing prospective teachers of K–12 engineering who were interviewed as part of research conducted for this study by the Education Development Center (EDC) (box 4-4) said there are numerous challenges to accommodating engineering pedagogy in teacher preparation. These include finding space in an already full curriculum, mustering the political will to change existing programs, and ensuring that
there are qualified faculty members to prepare prospective teachers to provide high-quality engineering experiences to their students. Interviewees acknowledged that engineering faculty could fill this role, and this has occurred in many universities. As noted by one program leader,
[M]any of the schools of education where teachers are prepared . . . have no clue how to help teachers put engineering into their classes, because they don’t have engineers in their faculty. So often, it’s faculty in engineering programs [who]
find the initiative to do it, thinking about doing some outreach. They start doing weekend programs to engage with teachers around engineering.17
While some university faculty interviewed by EDC acknowledged the benefit of programs like UTeach, they also described the challenges of infusing engineering into science methods courses for future educators across grade levels, particularly future elementary educators. To create more sustainable and systemic change in teacher preparation, universities cannot rely on the efforts of lone individuals who are passionate about engineering; there needs to be a coordinated effort prioritizing the goal of preparing preservice teachers to integrate engineering into their instruction in a meaningful way. Observed one program leader:
If we focus efforts to just improve engineering education at colleges of engineering, those places like Purdue are great and they can do a lot to develop programs,
17 To protect confidentiality, EDC anonymized all interviewee quotes.
but to reach preservice teachers…it has to go beyond colleges of engineering.… But if there is a bigger systemic thing, how are we going to fundamentally change education and get more access to high-quality engineering education?
Professional Development for Current Teachers
There are many more engineering-focused professional development (PD) programs than there are teacher preparation programs, and many more educators are reached by them. A number of these programs are associated with curriculum projects; three of the largest are Project Lead The Way (PLTW), Engineering is Elementary (EiE), and Engineering by Design (EbD) (box 4-5). Other curriculum-based engineering PD programs were described in NAE and NRC (2009), including the Infinity Project, Building Math, INSPIRES, and a World in Motion. A recent meta-analysis of research on improving STEM instructional practices (Lynch et al. 2019) found that the greatest impacts on student outcomes were for programs that combined new curriculum materials with professional development.
The 2018 administration of the National Survey of Science and Mathematics Education (NSSME) provides the only national-level data the committee could find that gives a sense of the scale of professional development related specifically to K–12 engineering. One item in the survey asked science teachers whether their professional development over the previous three years gave “heavy emphasis” to a number of areas. Twenty-five percent of elementary teachers, 34 percent of middle school teachers, and 23 percent of high school teachers indicated they had PD to deepen “their understanding of how engineering is done (e.g., identifying criteria and constraints, designing solutions, optimizing solutions)” (Banilower et al. 2018, table 3.10). The NSSME instrument also asked school leaders whether there had been any locally offered PD workshops over the previous three years with “substantial emphasis” in a number of areas. Thirty-seven percent of schools indicated the availability of PD focused on “How to engage students in doing engineering (e.g., identifying criteria and constraints, designing solutions, optimizing solutions)” (Banilower et al. 2018, table 3.16). The previous administration of NSSME, in 2012, did not include these questions, so it is not possible to know how or whether the prevalence of engineering-focused PD changed during this period. However, data on other measures of K–12 engineering activity, related to the presence of courses, competitions, and clubs (see tables 1-1 and 1-2 in chapter 1), show considerable growth over the six years between the two administrations of the survey.
Returning to the research conducted for the committee by EDC, the sample was quite diverse in terms of geographic focus, number and type of educators served, and duration of PD provided. Forty-seven percent of the programs served the Northeast, 22 percent the Midwest, 20 percent the South, and 12 percent the West; 10 percent of programs served more than
one region. In terms of educators served, over 50 percent of programs were quite small, serving fewer than 50 people in 2016; 18 percent served between 51 and 100 people; 16 percent served 101 to 500; and 10 percent served more than 1,000. In terms of duration, nearly 50 percent of programs had 50 or fewer contact hours with educators; 33 percent had between 40 and 100 contact hours; and nearly 15 percent had more than 100 hours.
The survey data are not generalizable because of the small sample size, but they nevertheless provided the committee with a sense of the design, goals, disciplinary focus, and related characteristics of programs providing some form of engineering PD to K–12 educators.18 In terms of program design, the majority, 54 percent, indicated that the aim was to help educators integrate engineering content into an existing school-based science or mathematics course. Just 10 percent of respondents said their support to educators was related to a standalone engineering course.
In answering an open-ended survey item, programs indicated a broad range of goals, but by far the most common was to improve teacher familiarity with engineering and/or NGSS (table 4-7).
Interviews with a subsample of program leaders provided additional details about the program goals and outcomes. Many leaders discussed a primary program goal of increasing teacher and student familiarity with the profession of engineering and roles of engineers. As one described it, “It is about learning the engineering design process and having a better sense of what engineers do.” Overall, programs were designed to expose educators and students to the field of engineering, which many noted is commonly overlooked in K–12 education.
Program leaders saw engineering as a natural hook to promote student learning of mathematics and science. This underlying philosophy was expressed by one program leader: “Children have [a] natural problem-solving inclination” and engineering provides a platform for capitalizing on this ability. Another program leader saw a synergy between engineering, including the NGSS, which infuse engineering, and better content learning: “Robotics is a hook in teaching the standards aligned with the day-to-day science and math these teachers are supposed to do.”
18 Forty-six of the 50 responding programs provided PD in engineering to K–12 teachers (25 did so exclusively and 21 provided both PD and some form of new-teacher preparation). Most of the data collected by EDC and presented here do not separate out responses for teacher preparation and PD programs. When information specific to one type of programs is presented, it is so noted.
|Improve teacher familiarity with engineering and/or NGSS||83||42|
|Incorporate engineering in their instruction||75||37|
|Improve science instruction through engineering||70||35|
|Improve student understanding of engineering||66||33|
|Develop knowledge of engineering design or engineering practices||40||20|
|Improve mathematics instruction or understanding||38||19|
|Enhance comfort, confidence, self-efficacy||30||15|
|Train teachers as curriculum developers and/or leaders||26||13|
|Increase/improve college/career opportunities||22||11|
|Present real-world problem solving, proficiency-based learning||12||6|
|Increase awareness of equity/focus on all or specific populations||12||6|
|Create partnerships with industry, community||6||3|
One expressed goal of boosting educator knowledge of engineering was to increase student awareness of, and interest in, careers in the field. Interviewees who described this goal also discussed concerns about equity, such as the importance of offering different types of activities for all students, especially those traditionally underrepresented in STEM, as these quotes illustrate:
We really want them to understand what engineering is because there is a lot of misinformation about what engineering is and what engineers do. They immediately reach for robotics or Legos and that makes it engineering. . . . [T]hat tunnel vision does discourage people from going into engineering [who] would be a great benefit to the field. . . . Girls, for example, may not be attracted to stereotypical robotics like boys.
If we only present one face of engineering, we will not get as many students interested in it. I do a good job showing it is diverse. It’s diverse in the kinds of problems it tries to solve as well.
In terms of measuring outcomes, the EDC survey found that PD programs for K–12 engineering educators used a variety of methods. The most common was participant surveys, used by 88 percent of initiatives (table 4-8).
|Participant interviews/focus groups||32||65|
|Observations of instruction||31||63|
|Content knowledge assessment||26||53|
|Videos of teacher practice||15||31|
|No measures used||2||4|
Interviews provided additional insights into efforts to assess program outcomes. Some program leaders described efforts to quantitatively measure teacher and student learning of engineering content and skills, as well as teacher comfort with engineering, all of which were primarily measured through surveys or pre-/postassessments. But qualitative measures were more common, in part because they are well adapted to assessing shifts in educator mindset, as illustrated in these quotes:
We’ve had a lot of teachers tell us they’ve fundamentally changed their teaching in general as a result of coming to our workshops, because they’ve realized they can do open-ended stuff.
Teachers that participate in our programs do begin to think about teaching differently. They are more enthusiastic and recognize direct instruction is not the only way or the best way, and they do design challenges and begin to write their own. We don’t measure them in any scientific way, [but] we do see it.
Interviewees noted that many of the shifts in educator practice that their programs aim to encourage are difficult to document using available tools. K–12 engineering education is relatively new and there are fewer standardized outcome measures. This makes it more difficult for programs to document change, and suggests that there is room for programs to share the tools, procedures, and protocols they develop for their projects. Program leaders noted that it can be difficult to disseminate their findings and tools, and to bring more coherence to the field, because it is hard to publish research on K–12 engineering education. One participant described the challenge this way:
To get this stuff published, you have a limited number of publications that accept this work: the Journal of Engineering Education and the International Journal of Engineering Education.19 But it’s really hard when you try to show something that is taking place in a nonengineering classroom. JEE editors are critical of that. . . . [I]f you are trying to do this in science education journals, the science education folks have not warmed up, because they are not OK with engineering in science. You have the old guard in science that really doesn’t see this as something that has capacity like science has for a long time.
Program leaders also described the challenges associated with sustaining or growing their initiatives in light of inconsistent or uncertain funding. Many discussed NSF support as instrumental to their programs but also having to piece together a portfolio of projects that address engineering education in a variety of ways. Such efforts may be complementary though not necessarily related, and maintaining programs beyond federal support is challenging. As one interviewee noted:
We’ve had different funding streams along the way. It’s difficult, now that NSF funding has ceased. The challenge really is how to sustain the program through lesser means.
Some programs have been able to build momentum over the years through strong buy-in among educators, schools, and school districts. To continue to grow, these programs have had to adapt and change the format and type of support they provide to educators. For example, some larger programs, especially those with national reach, have adopted a “train the trainer” model of professional development, as described by one program leader:
We had five hub sites around the country, and we trained leaders at colleges and out-of-school organizations. They conducted training.
In summary, a handful of teacher preparation programs include engineering instruction, and the graduates of most of these initiatives end up teaching science or mathematics. In contrast, a considerable number of programs provide engineering-related PD to current K–12 teachers. These vary in their approaches and outcomes, and the reach of most is quite limited.
Credentialing is a key element along the professional pathway to a career in teaching. As noted in the statement of task for this study (chapter 1), the committee was asked to examine the mechanisms that are or might be used to recognize expertise and support career pathways for K–12 teachers of engineering. The committee also was charged with considering the practical and policy impediments to effective credentialing options for these educators and how these barriers might be addressed.
Although the NTPS provides a helpful window into the prevalence of certain certifications for several categories of educators who may teach engineering (see Size of the Workforce above), it does not provide information about other credentialing options. To understand the credentialing landscape more fully, with help from outside consultants20 the committee attempted to determine state-level engineering-related requirements for teacher credentialing. (Basic information about teacher credentialing in the United States is provided in box 4-6.)
The effort involved a search of the official websites of state departments of education and state CTE programs for the presence of engineering and/or engineering design content (box 4-7), using credentialing terms such as “engineering,” “technology education,” “STEM,” “industrial arts,” “engineering and technology education,” and “industrial education.” The search proved challenging because of states’ multiple online locations for storing such information, less-than-optimal navigation and search features on some websites, and inconsistencies in the terminology used.
The most common credential, available in 27 states, was for “technology education.” This is not surprising, given the long history of that field in US education and its turn toward engineering over the past two decades. But as noted above (Programs for Prospective Teachers), teacher preparation in the field of technology education is in decline.
The 27 states require prospective technology teachers to pass the ETS Praxis 5051 exam, which is based in part on the Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (STL; ITEA 2007). STL calls for students to develop an understanding of the attributes of technological and engineering design (see tables 2-4 and 2-5). The test specifications for this
20 The consultants were Michael A. de Miranda, Claude H. Everett, Jr. Endowed Chair in Science and Engineering and department head, and Burhan Ozfidan, postdoctoral research associate, both in the Department of Teaching, Learning and Culture, Texas A&M University.
area of the exam, shown in box 4-8, emphasize design and concepts such as optimization, modeling, and prototyping that are central to engineering work, but do not mention engineering. A number of other states require the Praxis 5051 for credentials with names similar to technology education, such as “engineering and technology education” (e.g., Florida, Georgia, Idaho), “industrial technology” (e.g., Arkansas, Illinois, Montana), and “engineering technology” (e.g., Hawaii, New Jersey, South Carolina).
A small number of states include engineering requirements in credentials for STEM teachers. Colorado, for example, offers a STEM endorsement for secondary grades through its CTE program that can be satisfied by taking a number of STEM-related college courses, including in engineering (although engineering coursework is not required) (Colorado Department of Education 2016). Teachers can bypass the course-taking requirement if they have an independent certification, such as that of Project Lead The Way for its high school engineering curriculum.
Work experience or a national industry license or certification can also meet the content knowledge requirement for STEM teaching certification, as can passing three Praxis tests, in mathematics, science, and technology education. In Iowa, teachers in grades K–8 can get a STEM endorsement that allows them to teach science, mathematics, or “integrated STEM” (IBEE 2019, #975). The endorsement requires significant coursework in science
and mathematics as well as a minimum of three credit hours in content or pedagogy of engineering and technological design.
A number of states offer specialized CTE credentials across a range of technical topics, including engineering. For example, Arkansas grants permits in preengineering, career–aerospace engineering, career–biotechnical engineering, career–civil engineering and architecture, and career–engineering design and development (Arkansas Department of Education 2016). Under a CTE category called “engineering and science technology” (separate from technology education), Ohio offers licenses in engineering technology design, engineering technology process, and engineering technology products/services (Ohio Department of Education 2017).
With the understanding that what gets measured is often what gets taught, the committee examined a sample of state certification tests for the amount and type of engineering content. Some states put relatively little emphasis on engineering in their tests. For example, just 10 percent of multiple-choice items in Florida’s Teacher Certification Examination for engineering and technology education is devoted to “knowledge of principles of engineering” (Pearson Education 2018). Teachers who demonstrate this knowledge should be able to
- identify appropriate design and problem-solving principles and procedures in engineering design,
- analyze factors involved in engineering design (e.g., economic, safety, ergonomic, reliability),
- analyze data acquisition methods in engineering (e.g., the use of test equipment, measurement instruments, research techniques), and
- analyze legal and ethical issues in engineering.21
In Georgia, a much larger share of questions in the certification test for engineering and technology education is devoted to engineering topics. Of six areas on the test, three—Engineering Design and Application, Engineering Profession and Professional Growth, and Design and Modeling, accounting for roughly half of the assessment’s questions—have clear connections to engineering (ETS 2016). Test takers should be able to demonstrate that they
- understand the engineering design process;
- know how to apply and use engineering principles in the engineering design process;
- understand the organizational structure and history of engineering and career education and practice and how it relates to American business, industry, and careers; and
- can determine the selection and application of tools to gather, evaluate, validate, and use information.22
Texas is one of the few states that has credentialing for teachers of engineering outside of CTE. Although embedded in a combined teaching area—mathematics/physical sciences/engineering (8–12)—the engineering standards for teachers opting for this certification are ambitious (TSBEC 2004), as are the competencies based on them, which are the basis for the state certification exam (Texas Education Agency 2011). Nearly a third of test items—in two domains, the Engineering Method and the Engineering Profession—focus on engineering. (The Texas competencies are discussed in greater detail in chapter 5, Engineering Content and Practices.) Competencies in the two domains include:
- a working knowledge of engineering fundamentals (e.g., principles related to statics, dynamics, electric circuits, fluid mechanics, thermodynamics, control systems)
- understanding of the role of mathematics, science, and economics in the design process (e.g., application of knowledge of a variety of mathematical topics, including trigonometry, vectors, matrices, and calculus, to solve engineering problems)
- understanding of the engineering design process, including using technology to test design solutions and, based on that analysis, redesigning products, systems, or services.
In summary, the qualitative and nonuniform nature of the data collected about credentialing limits the committee’s ability to draw conclusions. It appears clear, however, that technology education is the most common engineering-related pathway at the state level for K–12 teachers. Many fewer options exist to demonstrate engineering expertise for credentialing. It is equally clear that there is considerable variation among states, and even within states, regarding expectations for teachers’ engineering knowledge. This can readily be seen by comparing the scope of the Praxis 5051 exam
22 The “knowledge statements” associated with this objective are: Identifies the attributes of design, Evaluates the results of the engineering design process, and Uses and analyzes modeling and prototyping.
with the more demanding engineering competencies expected of educators who seek to obtain the Texas credential in mathematics/physical sciences/engineering.
Beyond the analysis of the NTPS data, the committee was unable to determine how many people have received other types of engineering-related credentials. Efforts by de Miranda and Ozfidan to collect such information from state departments of education proved fruitless. Nevertheless, we infer from other indicators, such as the paucity of teacher preparation programs in this area, that there are relatively few K–12 teachers with engineering-related credentials other than those in technology education.
The committee’s difficulty determining certification options in K–12 engineering suggests that awareness of these options among prospective teachers and teacher educators is likely quite low. The research conducted by EDC probed awareness of state credentialing policies related to K–12 engineering among the 50 programs included in its survey: respondents were able to identify 11 states they thought had such policies, but over half (55 percent) indicated that they did not know or were unsure whether such policies existed.
The committee’s effort to determine the size and composition of the workforce of K–12 teachers of engineering in the United States was hampered by limitations in the available data. Even taking these constraints into account, one troubling data point is the preponderance of white males that appears to be working in this domain. It was not difficult to identify programs that provide some form of professional development to current classroom teachers, but it was not possible in most cases to assess their effectiveness; the reach of most of these programs is limited. There are very few postsecondary programs preparing new teachers to teach engineering, and most of these are in technology education. The credentialing landscape for K–12 teachers of engineering is hard to chart; a number of state credentials reference engineering, but it is not clear that any provide a professional pathway into teaching engineering at the K–12 level.
Despite the call in NGSS for K–12 science teachers to connect engineering ideas and practices with those of science, the committee found little evidence that current science teachers are doing so or that prospective science teachers are being given the opportunity to gain engineering knowledge as
part of their preparation to enter the classroom. College engineering course taking among science teachers is low across K–12, but it is particularly low for elementary teachers. It is somewhat encouraging that in the sample of engineering-related PD programs surveyed by EDC, over half aimed to help teachers integrate engineering content into an existing school-based science or mathematics course.
Whatever the challenges associated with describing the current workforce of K–12 teachers of engineering, it will be important to provide high-quality, effective professional learning experiences to these educators. To this end, chapter 5 presents what we know about the professional learning needs of teachers generally and of K–12 teachers of engineering specifically, and describes some of the program characteristics important to meeting those needs. Chapter 6 considers a number of factors in the larger education system that will play an important role in ensuring the availability of quality professional learning opportunities in engineering for current and prospective K–12 teachers.
This study and our data sources were guided by frameworks such as Standards for Preparation and Professional Development for Teachers of Engineering (Farmer et al. 2014; Reimers et al. 2015) and Brown and Borrego’s (2013) review of NSF-funded Math and Science Partnership Program engineering projects. These documents helped to inform the specifics of what the committee might look for in engineering educator preparation and professional development programs, and later provided a scheme for categorizing findings. In an effort to build on our understandings from these documents and our prior work, the study began with several meetings with project advisors, including informal interviews with two experts who lead engineering education programs. The purpose of these interviews was to identify survey participants and to revise and refine the topics of focus for our survey.
In collaboration with NAE staff, through the conversations with advisors and experts and an initial scan of websites and project abstracts, our team developed key program characteristics that provided a framework for building survey items. The resulting survey consisted of several sections of questions that asked respondents to describe their programs: program background, professional development goals and outcomes, and program structures and activities. Survey items also asked about reflections from across the field of educator preparation as it relates to preK–12 engineering education.23 The survey contained approximately 40 questions; question-item formats were a mix of multiple choice (respondents choose one answer), Likert (scale), multiple answer (respondents choose multiple answers), and open-ended (text box). The full survey is included in appendix 4-B.
Feedback on the survey constructs provided during the initial meeting of the committee, followed by conversations with NAE staff, informed not only the development of survey constructs and items but also the determination of inclusion criteria. Specifically, our sources informed our definitions of educators, professional development programs, engineering focus, and other criteria (see table 4-A-1).
Our scan of websites and abstracts enabled our team to also identify potential survey respondents. Our scans resulted in an initial list of over 80 programs, with information about websites and key personnel who could
23 The survey methodology and resulting survey instrument refer to preK–12 education, because they were developed before the committee decided to limit the focus of its data gathering and analysis to grades K–12.
|Who are the educators?||Formal and informal educators who provide direct instruction to preK–12 students in school classrooms, afterschool programs (e.g., Boys and Girls Clubs, 4-H), or informal environments, such as museums or other science/technology education centers.
This does not include instructional coaches (unless they also fit the educator description above), school or district administrators, school board members, or undergraduate educators.
|What constitutes preparation/professional development?||
Educator support that uses, develops, or tests a specified professional development model that may not accompany a specific curricula, and includes
|What is the engineering focus?||Programs that include the explicit instruction of engineering design and/or engineering practices as an explicit goal for the educators, either together or with other disciplines, or as a standalone discipline.|
|Other criteria||We will identify programs that are currently operating and are focused on supporting educators in the United States. Those focused on international educators and/or those not currently operating will not be included.
We will not include programs where we cannot determine details above from abstracts, interviews, and other original sources or identify a contact person.
respond to our survey. Survey items were programmed into Qualtrics. For programs that met our inclusion criteria, a link to the surveys was sent by email to key personnel, with a message from the project team briefly describing the study and the criteria by which they were selected to participate. Participants were given a window of approximately four weeks from late
January through late February 2017 to complete the survey. Reminder messages were sent to participants once a week. Out-of-office email replies were noted by the project team, and participants who were unavailable by email were sent reminder emails at the time when they were available. For emails that bounced back, when possible a second potential respondent was identified for the same program and a survey was sent to this backup respondent. In four cases, we received a bounce-back and a backup respondent was unable to be identified.
To increase our pool of respondents, we included a question on the survey asking respondents to refer us to other programs and colleagues who might fit our inclusion criteria. Therefore, the survey was sent in two waves: the first wave went to 72 respondents whom we had identified through our reviewed sources as meeting our inclusion criteria; the second wave, sent two weeks later, went to an additional 51 respondents identified through respondents to the first wave, for a total of 123 possible respondents. During the week prior to closing the survey, the project lead sent one final, more personal follow-up email, briefly describing the importance of the survey and stating the closing date. At the end of the two waves of survey administration, we received a total of 50 survey responses that met our inclusion criteria, representing a response rate of 42 percent. Characteristics of the programs represented by these survey responses are described in the results section.
Follow-up interviews were conducted with program leaders who responded to the survey. Our goal in conducting these interviews was to gather more in-depth information about programs that have the potential for a large impact and to understand the perspectives of individuals who run these programs on the opportunities and gaps across the field. Given these goals, we used several strategies to identify participants in these interviews. First, we identified programs by impact (those reaching 100 or more educators in 2016) based on their survey responses, duration (offering instructional support to educators for five or more years), and geographic focus and reach. Additional “experts” to interview were identified using a snowball approach, asking internal and external advisors, as well as other participants in these follow-up interviews, to identify others with knowledge across the field. If the identified participants had not already participated in the survey, we invited them to do so before participating in the interview. Finally, in selecting interview participants for follow-up interviews, we ensured representation of a variety of programs—for preservice and in-service teachers, providing formal and informal education, and addressing different grade levels and disciplines. We conducted 12 follow-up interviews.
Interview questions addressed the main categories of interest covered in the survey but probed for more descriptive information about the categories from the survey (background, structures, outcomes, and challenges and opportunities across the field) in addition to broader commentary on the field. The program background questions gathered additional information from the program leaders around program design and processes. For example, with respect to the program design, questions included “What are the goals of your work with educators?” and “How does your program define engineering design, and how is this communicated to educators in program activities?” The interviews also probed for more information about the research base underlying the respondents’ approach to their work with educators (“What research did you draw upon to develop this approach?”).
With respect to program structures, the interview questions emphasized understanding program processes, particularly how the program goals around engineering were communicated to, and experienced by, participating educators. Toward this end, questions requested information about what educators experience in a professional development session to get a sense of the strategies and learning experiences used to support educator learning of the practices of engineering.
This attention to process was also the goal of the interview questions on outcomes. Questions asked not only how they assess the effectiveness of the professional development offered to educators but how they use these findings to inform their work. For example, “What are the strengths of your program?” “What are areas for improvement?” and “How has your program changed over time?”
In the final section of the interview, we asked participants to offer their perceptions of challenges in preparing educators to teach engineering, and more broadly the challenges for the field and opportunities for expanding educator preparation. All interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed for analysis.
Brown P, Borrego M. 2013. Engineering efforts and opportunities in the National Science Foundation’s Math and Science Partnership (MSP) Program. Journal of Technology Education. 24(2). Available online at https://scholar.lib.vt.edu/ejournals/JTE/v24n2/brown.html (accessed December 3, 2019).
Farmer CL, Klein-Gardner SS, Nadelson L. 2014. Standards for preparation and professional development for teachers of engineering. Available online at https://www.asee.org/conferences-and-events/outreach/egfi-program/k12-teacher-professionaldevelopment (accessed August 14, 2019).
Reimers JE, Farmer CL, Klein-Gardner SS. 2015. An introduction to the Standards for Preparation and Professional Development for Teachers of Engineering. Journal of Pre-college Engineering Education Research 5(1):40–60.
Education Development Center (EDC) has been contracted by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) to conduct a landscape analysis of engineering education. The goals of the study are to describe existing efforts that support educators’ instruction of engineering and explore possible gaps and opportunities for supporting engineering instruction.
The purpose of this survey is to gather descriptive information regarding characteristics of engineering education programs that provide services for educators, whether for preservice or in-service educators in either formal (preK–12) or informal learning environments (e.g., out-of-school programs).
You are receiving this survey because you have been identified as someone who leads, directs, coordinates, or has knowledge of a project or program that includes the preparation of educators to teach engineering. This survey will ask you to describe various elements of the program and/or project(s) that you are affiliated with and should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
Your responses will be kept confidential and individuals who respond will not be shared with NAE. While the survey does ask for your name and affiliated program, this is done for tracking purposes only. Your participation in this survey is greatly appreciated, as it will contribute to an understanding of the current status of efforts across the country to prepare educators to teach engineering at the preK–12 level. Some self-selected respondents will be asked to participate in a follow-up interview in order to understand individual programs in more depth. If you have any questions about this survey, please contact Jackie DeLisi at email@example.com.
Questions about You
We are interested in hearing about the engineering education program or project that you are most familiar with. If you work with more than one program or project, please choose the one that you are most involved in to respond to the questions below.
Does your program provide professional development (PD) or training to teachers? For the purposes of this survey, when we refer to PD, we mean support for either current or future educators that is using, developing, or testing a specified professional development model, and includes (1) online, in-person, or blended “meetings” (e.g., institutes, workshops, webinars, online courses) AND (2) credentialing, credit, professional development points, informal badging mechanisms, or other outcomes that recognize the participation of the educators. Note that PD can be intended for either preservice teachers, in-service, or both.
- ❍ Yes (1)
- ❍ No (2)
- ❍ Unsure (3)
Please check all that apply. Does your program provide support to:
- ❏ Current educators of PK–12 classrooms (1)
- ❏ Future educators of PK–12 classrooms (2)
- ❏ Current educators of PK–12 students in informal settings (3)
- ❏ Future educators of PK–12 students in informal settings (4)
- ❏ None of the above (6)
- ❏ Other (please specify): (7) ____________________
Does your PD support educators in their knowledge of, and ability to teach, the engineering design process and/or engineering practices?
- ❍ Yes (1)
- ❍ No (2)
- ❍ Unsure (3)
For how many years has your program included support for engineering instruction?
- ❍ 0–3 years (1)
- ❍ 3–5 years (2)
- ❍ 5–7 years (3)
- ❍ 7–10 years (4)
- ❍ More than 10 years (5)
Who provides the PD? (Please check all that apply.)
- ❏ College or university (1)
- ❏ Industry (2)
- ❏ Nonprofit (3)
- ❏ Other (please specify): (4) ____________________
What is the grade level focus of educators in PD? (Please check all that apply.)
- ❏ Pre-school/Kindergarten (1)
- ❏ Elementary (2)
- ❏ Middle (3)
- ❏ High (4)
- ❏ Other (please specify): (5) ____________________
How is the PD provided?
- ❍ In-person (1)
- ❍ Online or through video (2)
- ❍ Blended (3)
- ❍ Other (4)
What is the locale/geographical focus of PD? Please enter all states where PD is provided in the text box below.
Are the teachers expected to teach engineering
- ❍ As a standalone course in a school (1)
- ❍ Integrated in a preexisting school-based science or math course (2)
- ❍ Embedded in other non-STEM courses in schools (3)
- ❍ As part of an afterschool or informal math or science program (4)
- ❍ As a standalone engineering-focused program in an afterschool or informal setting (5)
- ❍ Other (please specify): (6) ____________________
How many educators participated in your engineering PD in 2016? How many educators have participated, in total, throughout your program’s history?
Does your program involve educators from formal and informal settings?
- ❍ Formal (1)
- ❍ Informal (2)
- ❍ Both (3)
If both, approximately how many educators have you reached in the past year from:
- ❍ Formal Settings: (1)
- ❍ Informal Settings: (2)
What is the dosage of your PD? (duration, # of contact hours, etc.)
- ❍ Duration:
- ❍ Number of contact hours:
How do participants find out about your program?
Does the program have industry partnerships? Other partners?
- ❍ Yes (1)
- ❍ No (2)
Please list your partners.
Professional Development Program Goals and Outcomes
What are the top three goals of your engineering-focused PD?
As a result of participating in your engineering PD, what do you anticipate educators know or are able to do? (Examples: teachers report increased comfort; teachers able to implement engineering activities according to our framework; teachers understand engineering design)
What types of measures do you use to determine these educator outcomes? (Please check all that apply.)
- ❏ Survey of participants (1)
- ❏ In-person observations of educators working with students (2)
- ❏ Observations of the PD sessions (3)
- ❏ Interviews/focus groups with participants (4)
- ❏ Assessment of content knowledge (5)
- ❏ Videos of teacher practice (6)
- ❏ Teacher reflections (7)
- ❏ Our PD program employs an external evaluator (8)
- ❏ We have not yet developed measures of success (9)
- ❏ Other (please specify): (10) ____________________
What additional methods, if any, do you use to document your program’s success?
What incentives do you offer teachers? (Please check all that apply.)
- ❏ Licensure (1)
- ❏ Credentialing (2)
- ❏ Badging (3)
- ❏ Course credit (4)
- ❏ Teacher PD hours (PDP) (5)
- ❏ None (6)
- ❏ Stipends or honorariums (7)
- ❏ Curricular and/or instructional resources (8)
- ❏ Access to an online resource (platform) (9)
- ❏ Other (please specify): (10) ____________________
What engineering education credentialing, if any, is offered in your state?
Does the program have an explicit connection to a specific curriculum?
- ❍ Yes (1)
- ❍ No (2)
- ❍ Unsure (3)
Please provide the name of the curriculum for which your PD program has a connection:
Does your engineering PD program make specific connections to other disciplines?
- ❍ Yes (1)
- ❍ No, PD is only focused on engineering (2)
- ❍ Unsure (3)
What is the primary disciplinary focus of the program?
- ❍ Primary focus on math with engineering incorporated (1)
- ❍ Primary focus on science with engineering incorporated (2)
- ❍ Primary focus on engineering (3)
- ❍ Other (please specify): (4) ____________________
Please indicate which other disciplines your PD program connects to:
- ❏ Science (1)
- ❏ Math (2)
- ❏ Technology (3)
- ❏ Computer Science (4)
- ❏ Language Arts (5)
- ❏ Social Studies (6)
- ❏ Other (please specify): (7) ____________________
How important is it that your PD provide each of the following:
|Not Important (1)||Slightly Important (2)||Moderately Important (3)||Important (4)||Very Important (5)|
|Hands-on engagement by the educators in engineering activities (1)||❍||❍||❍||❍||❍|
|Educators examine student work (2)||❍||❍||❍||❍||❍|
|Educators practice teaching engineering activities with students (3)||❍||❍||❍||❍||❍|
|Educators observe others teaching engineering activities (4)||❍||❍||❍||❍||❍|
|Not Important (1)||Slightly Important (2)||Moderately Important (3)||Important (4)||Very Important (5)|
|Educators collaborate with others from the same schools and districts (5)||❍||❍||❍||❍||❍|
|Educators come from a variety of disciplines (6)||❍||❍||❍||❍||❍|
|Educators learn about an explicit engineering model (7)||❍||❍||❍||❍||❍|
|Educators are provided with activities that are aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (8)||❍||❍||❍||❍||❍|
Across the Field
This section of the survey asks about your understandings and reflections from across the field of educator preparation as it relates to preK–12 engineering education.
- Please list any other programs or projects that you know of that train educators in engineering: (Examples: programs based at institutions of higher education, nonprofits, museum settings, or industry; programs based on school-level partnerships)
- Which, if any, of the programs that you listed above prepare educators to teach a standalone engineering course where the primary goal is to teach engineering?
- Which states are you aware of that provide licensure and credentialing in engineering education?
- Thinking about your knowledge and experiences within the field of engineering education, what are some of the greatest challenges facing engineering education pre- and in-service programs?
- If an educator asked for advice on how to learn how to teach engineering, what programs (preparation or professional development) would you recommend?
- an educator asked for advice on how to learn how to teach engineering, what pathways (e.g. formal licensure or credentialing, certificates, etc.) would you suggest for becoming an engineering educator?
- Is there anything else you think we should know about your engineering-focused PD?
- Is there anything else you think we should know about the field of engineering educator preparation more broadly?
We will be conducting follow-up interviews in order to understand programs in more depth. Would you be interested in participating in a follow-up interview?
- ❍ Yes (1)
- ❍ No (2)
Thank you for your interest. What would be the best way to contact you for scheduling an interview?
Email (please provide preferred email):
Phone (please provide preferred number):
Would you be able to refer our team to a colleague that would be interested in participating in an interview? (If not, please leave this text box blank.)
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. My name is [Name of researcher] and I work for Education Development Center (EDC), a nonprofit organization located in Waltham, MA. EDC has been contracted by the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) to conduct a landscape analysis of preservice and in-service engineering education in order to explore possible gaps and opportunities that exist with regard to supporting educators’ instruction of engineering programs that support educators’ instruction of engineering in formal and informal education settings for students in grades preK–12. We are gathering this information through surveys and follow-up interviews with program directors. We identified your program for participation in this follow-up interview because of the reach and longevity of your program. The purpose of this interview is to gather more in-depth descriptive information about your program and to identify potential successes and gaps for engineering education as a field. The interview questions fall into four main categories covering the background of your program, program structures, outcomes, and across the field.
This interview should take approximately 45 minutes to an hour. You do not need to answer all of the questions asked, and we can stop the interview at any time. With your permission, I would like to audio record this conversation. If you have any questions about this study, please contact Jackie DeLisi, project director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have any questions for me before we begin?
- Tell us more about your program.
- What problem was your program designed to address?
- How long has your program been operating?
- What are the goals of your work with educators? Of the professional development (PD) specifically?
PROBE: Implement “kit” or standalone unit? Change practice? Implement design thinking?
- We know your program focuses on engineering. Can you describe the role of engineering in your program? How is engineering connected to other disciplines?
PROBE: Primary focus on engineering or integrated with math/science/literacy?
How does your program define “engineering design”?
- How is engineering design represented in your program activities?
- How is engineering design communicated to educators through PD?
- What is the underlying theoretical framework guiding your program? What are the assumptions that guided the development of your PD?
- How was this developed?
PROBE: What resources/reports did you refer to? What other programs did you rely on?
- How does your theoretical framework inform the support you provide to educators? Your model of PD?
- How was this developed?
- Describe what participants experience in a typical PD session.
- What are some of the important features of your PD? What do you feel strongly about?
PROBE: active engagement, observing or practicing in classrooms, how they meet, who leads it
- To what extent does PD involve participants in active engagement in engineering activities?
- To what extent do programs involve participants in observing or practicing in classrooms?
- How often do participants meet? How do they meet?
- Who leads the PD?
- What are some of the important features of your PD? What do you feel strongly about?
- How is your PD connected to NGSS, if at all? NGSS and your PD?
- How is this connection made?
- What changes have you made to your PD in response to NGSS?
- On the survey, we asked if your program has any partners. What support do your partners provide the program?
- How do partners support your work with educators in PD?
- In what ways and to what extent does the program involve educators working in formal and informal learning environments?
- How do you assess the effectiveness of your PD?
- What types of outcomes, if any, does your program document?
PROBE: changes in beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, and/or teaching practice
- What have you learned from these assessments?
- In general, what are the strengths of your program?
- What are the areas for improvement?
- In what ways has your program changed over time? What have you done with any of the results of the outcomes you measured?
- Why? What prompted those changes?
Across the Field
- What gaps do you see in engineering education as a field?
- Why do you think these gaps exist?
- What opportunities exist in engineering activities as a field? What trends do you see? Where do you see potential for continuing to expand or improve preparation for engineering instruction?
- Is there anything else you think is important for us to know about your program that we haven’t discussed today?
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