Project Probase: Engaging Technology for 11th and 12th Grade Students: Project Probase Was Conceived to Address the Shortage of Standards-Based Technology Education Curricula at the Upper High School Level

Article excerpt

Journal manuscripts and national reports published during the last 20 years (Bensen, 1993; DeVries, 1996; AAAS, 1989; National Academy of Engineering, 2002; ITEA, 1996; Zuga, 1989) presented a defensible rationale for the technology education profession and focused on the delivery of technological literacy for the nation's youth. This call for action was affirmed when the International Technology Education Association published Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (STL) (ITEA, 2000/2002). The new standards provide professional members with a structure and framework for future curriculum development efforts. One such effort is Project Probase. This project, funded by the National Science Foundation's Advanced Technological Education program, is creating a standards-based technology education curriculum targeted for 11th and 12th grade students. The curriculum is designed to prepare the students for post-secondary education in engineering or other technical fields through a series of complex, context-based technological problems.

The Need

Project Probase was conceived to address the shortage of standards-based technology education curricula at the upper high school level as well as to provide the more specialized knowledge base mandatory for postsecondary engineering or technical education.

Although a number of technology education curriculum projects have been completed during the past decade (e.g. Integrated Mathematics, Science, and Technology--IMaST; the Center to Advance the Teaching of Technology and Science--CATTS), most of the curriculum projects have been focused at the basic levels of technological literacy. Additionally, most of these curriculum projects were initiated to develop curriculum materials for use in the middle school or early high school levels. Technology education programs designed to impact students at the 11-12th Grade levels, however, are struggling for a focus and direction (Wicklein, 2003). There is a serious gap between the general technological literacy curricular emphasis (appropriate K-10) and the curriculum developed for the postsecondary professional and technician-oriented programs (Custer & Daugherty, under review).

Probase Overview

The Probase curriculum has been designed to address several needs. Specifically, Probase will promote technological literacy, facilitate the delivery of Standards for Technological Literacy, deliver technical content in a censtructivist/problem-centered fashion, and meet the need for a focused, upper-level technology education curriculum.

The Probase curriculum is being developed by four groups, all of which have specific roles in the curriculum development process. The first group is the project leadership team that manages the daily operations of the project, edits the curriculum, and prepares it for the various stages of testing. The steering panel, comprised of representatives from community colleges, secondary level technology education teachers, and content matter experts, provides oversight and guidance to the project. A third group, the community college consortium, consists of leaders from six Illinois-based community colleges who have been instrumental in developing a set of bridge competencies--skills and knowledge that will allow students to enter community college technical programs more successfully--and to ensure that they are infused throughout the curriculum. Finally, the national curriculum writing team gathers for a two-week-long summer writer's symposium. The writer's symposium consists of intense brainstorming, conceptualizing, writing, and rewriting, and at the conclusion of the symposium, solid draft materials of the learning units are submitted to the Probase leadership team for refinement, revision, and layout.

Project Goals

The primary goal of Project Probase is to develop technological-problem-based curriculum materials for 11th and 12th Grade technology education students. …