Infusing Engineering Concepts: Teaching Engineering Design

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NCETE, Page: 1-12

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Daugherty, Jenny L.
K-12 engineering; STEM; engineering concepts; Engineering; Engineering Education
report description
Engineering has gained considerable traction in many K-12 schools. However, there are several obstacles or challenges to an effective approach that leads to student learning. Questions such as where engineering best fits in the curriculum; how to include it authentically and appropriately; toward what educational end; and how best to prepare teachers need to be answered. Integration or infusion appears to be the most viable approach; instead of stand-alone engineering courses squeezing into the already crammed curriculum. An integrative approach whereby engineering is infused into the existing curriculum, within science, technology, mathematics or other courses, appears to be the best approach to expose students to engineering learning. Given this perspective, emerging new national assessments and calls for new standards to include engineering strands, suggest a new curriculum structure, as well as more effective teacher preparation to deliver instruction. For example, the National Research Council 2011 report, A Framework for K-12 Science Standards, includes engineering as one of four strands and identifies cross-cutting concepts in engineering and in science education. However, little is yet known about how best to infuse engineering concepts into the K-12 curriculum. What does it mean to infuse engineering concepts into high school instruction? This question raises significant issues that need to be addressed in order to integrate appropriate engineering concepts and accomplish important learning outcomes. In order to explore this larger question, an expert focus group meeting was convened to inform the development of a model or descriptions for infusing engineering concepts into high school instruction and to address some of the pertinent questions involved. This meeting was funded by the National Center for Engineering and Technology Education1 (NCETE) and builds upon earlier work funded by NCETE to study teacher professional development and identify an engineering concept base for secondary teachers (Custer, Daugherty, & Meyer, 2010; Daugherty, 2009; Daugherty & Custer, 2010). The focus group was assigned the primary task of identifying the instructional design problems encountered when infusing engineering concepts into high school science instruction. The primary questions guiding this focus group were: What does it mean to infuse engineering concepts into instruction? What are the implications for infusing engineering concepts into instruction?