Technology and Engineering Education Doctoral Students' Perceptions of Their Profession

By Martin, Gene; Ritz, John et al. | Journal of Technology Studies, Fall 2014 | Go to article overview

Technology and Engineering Education Doctoral Students' Perceptions of Their Profession


Martin, Gene, Ritz, John, Kosloski, Michael, Journal of Technology Studies


INTRODUCTION

University faculty work to pass on knowledge of their disciplines and some add to this knowledge through research and development activities. This amalgamation of knowledge is a result of synthesizing one's own ideas, others' ideas, and concepts generated through practice and research. Universities that offer doctoral degrees educate students in best research practices, as well as the knowledge of their disciplines. These same university professors also mentor doctoral students as they guide them through their classes and research projects. Some faculty have expectations that students will present at conferences, write professional papers, and become active members within the professions that operate to support their disciplines (Campbell, Fuller, & Patrick, 2005; Wright, 1999).

In the area of technology and engineering education, there are fewer programs for the preparation of teachers and university faculty (Moye, 2009; Ritz & Martin, 2013). New doctoral students have many tasks ahead of them as they graduate and move into professorships. One area of their work will be to recruit and teach students to become future teachers. Depending upon their employment (e.g., research universities), some will be required to design and undertake an active research agenda. In this task, they will develop research proposals for funding and publish manuscripts on the data they collect. Depending on whether they are employed with a teaching or a research university, some will provide service to school systems, their K-12 state departments of education, and state and national professional associations.

The content for technology education, now called technology and engineering education, emerged from ideas considered in the 1940s that translated to the knowledge that needed to be taught to students, so they might achieve technological literacy (DeVore, 1968; International Technology Education Association [ITEA], 2000; Warner, 1947). With ideas and research produced through the National Center for Engineering and Technology Education (Householder & Hailey, 2012), and the research and development efforts of others, engineering content and processes have moved into the technology and engineering curriculum. In addition, STEM educational reform has added additional attention to science and mathematics within technology and engineering curriculum and instruction (Banks & Barlex, 2014).

With the reformulation of the content for K-12 technology and engineering education, a change has occurred in the focus of activities taught in this school subject. Projects made from templates have been replaced with open-ended design problems where engineering design is the focal point of instruction. Along with the development of new content and instructional practices, changes are emerging in how future teachers will be prepared. Digital technologies now allow courses to be delivered online using various instructional delivery methods.

Professional associations that support the teaching of K-12 programs are also changing. How are associations meeting the needs of professionals teaching technology and engineering education? Will associations also change as the content, methods, and the delivery of teacher education programs change within our school subject? How will new Ph.D.s provide leadership to these organizations as they professionally mature in the 21st century? This research seeks answers to questions of those educators who should emerge as the new leaders of the professions for technology and engineering education. The researchers wanted to further explore the perceptions of current doctoral students in technology and engineering education to determine their views on the content and methods that will be used to deliver K-12 education, strategies to be used to prepare future teachers, if and where they plan to publish, and if they plan to take on an active role in service to their professions.

RESEARCH PROBLEM

This study seeks to identify and provide a better understanding of the perspectives of graduate students currently seeking the doctoral degree on the future of the K-12 school subject of technology and engineering education and the professions that aid in guiding its practice. …

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