Engineering in the K-12 STEM Standards of the 50 U.S. States: An Analysis of Presence and Extent
Carr, Ronald L., Bennett, Lynch D., Strobel, Johannes, Journal of Engineering Education
Federal initiatives promoting STEM education to bridge the achievement gap and maintain the nation's creative leadership inspired this study investigating engineering content in elementary education standards. The literature review concluded that common national P-12 engineering education standards are beneficial, particularly when amplified by the common core standards movement.
Compilation and analysis of engineering present in states' academic standards was performed to determine if a consensus on the big ideas of engineering already exists and to organize and present those big ideas so that they can be infused into state or national standards.
Extensive examination and broad coding of mathematics, science, technology and vocational/career standards in all 50 states identified instances of engineering content in existing standards. Explicit coding categorized engineering-relevant standards by subject area. Manual and electronic content analysis identified key engineering skills and knowledge in existing standards. Inter-rater reliability verified consistency among five individuals through descriptive statistical measures.
Engineering skills and knowledge were found in 41 states' standards. Most items rated as engineering through strict coding were found in either science or technology and vocational standards. Engineering was found in only one state's math standard. Some states explicitly mentioned engineering standards without any specifics. A consensus of big ideas found in standards is provided in the discussion.
While engineering standards do exist, uniform or systematically introduced engineering standards are less prevalent. Now is the time to move forward in the formation of national standards based on the state standards identified in this study.
engineering standards, national standard, policy research, state standards
K-12 engineering education is an area of growing national interest, winning attention not only in the engineering community but within the general education community as well. The National Academy of Engineering recendy published two books: (1) an inventory of the state of the art in curricula and conceptualizations entided Engineering in K-12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects (2009), and (2) a position statement on national standards in K-12 engineering education entitled Standards for K-12 Engineering Education? (2009). Just recently, the National Research Council published a national science standards framework entitled A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts and Core Ideas (2011), containing for the first time substantial engineering components. The National Assessment Governing Board is preparing for the first national assessment of technology and engineering literacy for all K-12 students as outlined in their report Technology and Engineering Literacy Framework for the 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).
The current inclusion of engineering into the K-12 context has historical predecessors and ancestory in various initiatives originating in numerous parts of the country: Curricula with engineering-inspired components, such as Engineering is Elementary (EiE), Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and numerous others (see Brophy, Klein, Portsmore, Oc Rogers, 2008 for a summary) are widely used across different states. Curriculum providers are now experimenting with various methods of bolstering science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education from the elementary to high school levels. These efforts include integration of engineering themes, content, processes, and multidisciplinary methods (Carr & Strobel, 2011). New pre-service teacher education programs are being developed to facilitate transition of scientists and engineers into teaching roles (Grier & Johnston, 2009). …