Over the past several decades there has been a call to raise student technological literacy. To take such an abstract concept and produce a program that will increase student science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) literacy was not an easy task. However, it was accomplished. During the past two years many United States school districts have offered several Engineering byDesign[TM] courses. Teachers of one of the courses, Foundations of Technology, enjoyed teaching the course and unanimously agree that it will help raise student technological literacy. This article will discuss the Foundations of Technology course and provide results of a study that determined teachers' feelings concerning the course.
Engineering byDesign[TM] and Foundations of Technology
Addressing the lack of technological literacy in the United States, the International Technology Education Association--Center to Advance the Teaching of Technology and Science (ITEA-CATTS) developed the Engineering byDesign[TM] (EbD[TM]) National Model Program. The program was developed in consultation and collaboration with "ITEA-CATTS Consortium, Technology Education Advisory Council, ITEA Institutional Members, and the Mathematics, Science, and Engineering communities" (ITEA-CATTS, 2006, p. 2). The EbD[TM] program mission is to provide courses of study enabling students to meet local, state, and national standards for technological literacy. The program currently consists of 10 standards-based courses starting in the sixth grade and continuing through college-level coursework.
Foundations of Technology is the cornerstone high school Engineering by Design[TM] course. The course focuses on three dimensions of technological literacy, "knowledge, ways of thinking and acting, and capabilities" (ITEA, 2006, p. 12). The course addresses 12 standards from ITEA's Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (ITEA, 2000/2002/2007), 17 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics technological issue benchmarks (NCTM, 2000), and 23 American Association for the Advancement of Science technological issue benchmarks (AAAS, 1993).
Foundations of Technology is constructed with eight units of study. Each unit contains an overview, standards, and benchmarks addressed in the unit, a unit "big idea," list of objectives, a pretest, lessons, and posttest. Table 1 identifies the Foundations of Technology course content outline.
Sixteen Maryland high schools offered the course during the fall 2007 semester. An evaluation of the course was necessary to ensure that, "students are provided with relevant, rigorous, and contextual connections to the technological world" (ITEA, 2003, p. 82). A survey was sent to Foundations of Technology teachers to gain their opinions of the course concerning its ease of understanding, presentation, and if they felt it would increase student science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) literacy. The survey consisted of 21 closed-form and five open-form questions. For the purposes of this article, only 10 questions and responses are addressed. The 10 selected questions are representative of the overall survey and the teachers' answers. The questions were:
1. I enjoyed teaching the Foundations of Technology course.
2. In my opinion, the majority of the students enjoyed the course.
3. The course guide was correctly organized.
4. The course guide was easy to follow.
5. I had sufficient time to complete each lesson of each unit.
6. Lessons provided scenarios relevant to students' lives.
7. The course content was too difficult for students to understand.
8. The use of mathematics was clearly required for students to complete their activities.
9. The use of science was clearly required for students to complete their activities. …