Academic journal article Journal of STEM Education : Innovations and Research

Innovative and Creative K-12 Engineering Strategies: Implications of Pre-Service Teacher Survey

Academic journal article Journal of STEM Education : Innovations and Research

Innovative and Creative K-12 Engineering Strategies: Implications of Pre-Service Teacher Survey

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study sought to find student perceptions of how the engineering design process is learned and applied by pre-service teachers at the University of Georgia. The course description read "demonstration and hands-on learning, including problem solving, designing, construction and testing of prototypes, and activities that increase aesthetic, psychomotor, and cognitive development", according to the UGA bulletin. A total of 12 students participated in this qualitative study. The four questions asked were about course expectation, outstanding experiences, definition of engineering process, and relevance of the course to future career plans. Six themes were drawn from student responses.

John M. Mativo

University of Georgia

Jae H. Park

Korean Council for University Education

Introduction

Many attempts have been made to provide a K-12 engineering experience to students through stressing the importance of design in both identification and solving of problems (Katehi, Pearson, & Feder, 2009; Kemsley, 2010). As English (2008) said, "Given the increasing importance of engineering and its allied fields in shaping our lives, it is imperative that we foster in students an interest and drive to participate in engineering from a young age" (pp. 189). Materials for student learning in K-12 engineering have been developed through private and government channels such as Project Lead The Way, EngineeringbyDesign and Probase activities. State governments such as Ohio, Massachusetts and New York have provided resources and established avenues to access K-12 engineering related materials. As noted above, most of the initiatives at K-12 engineering have been "add on" activities geared towards in-service teachers. In their discussion about in-service programs, Custer and Daugherty (2009) observed that teachers were engaged in exciting activities, worked with well-developed curricular materials, and interacted with one another in constructive and positive ways. They further argued that the primary focus of in-service workshops should be tools usage, techniques, processes, and technical details and not teaching methods or learning processes. In his view, Hill (2004) had observed that significant commitment will be required if members of the profession were to upgrade analytical knowledge and skills to meet K-12 engineering teaching preparation. The in-service programs do not seem to provide time for a significant commitment.

On the other hand, pre-service initiatives for K-12 engineering are few, sparse and diverse across the United States. For example, "three K-12 engineering models" currently practiced at highly ranked research universities include a purely engineering undergraduate degree as the case is for Colorado State University; a technology education curriculum with infusion of engineering basics as in Utah State University; and a technology education curriculum within Career and Technical Education at the University of Georgia. Although this is a rich mix of curriculum models for teacher preparation, its diverse approach does not promote a common cause for the discipline and the graduates are illequipped for knowledge and skill transferability for careers or graduate school. A need exists to find a suitable platform on which the pre-service teacher can fully build upon. Though the study was conducted with elementary education pre-service teachers, authors intentionally include general K-12 engineering education because in many cases, teacher preparation programs do not separate the elementary from the high school engineering and technology teacher preparation. Authors set out to find what the literature had on K-12 engineering and compare it with pre-service teacher experience.

Literature Review

Nature of K-12 Engineering Education

K-12 engineering is different from collegiate engineering education and also from science and mathematics. It strives to integrate concepts mainly from math and science to establish a method or process of problem solving techniques. …

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