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Ascertaining the Impact of P:12 Engineering Education Initiatives: Student Impact through Teacher Impact

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Pre-College: Teacher Impact on Student Mastery

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Marissa H. Forbes University of Colorado, Boulder

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Marissa Forbes is a research associate in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder and lead editor of the TeachEngineering digital library. She previously taught middle school science and engineering and wrote K-12 STEM curricula while an NSF GK-12 graduate engineering fellow at CU. With a master’s degree in civil engineering she went on to teach advanced placement and algebra-based physics for the Denver School of Science and Technology, where she also created and taught a year-long, design-based engineering course for seniors. Forbes earned her PhD in civil engineering, with an engineering education research focus.

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Jacquelyn F. Sullivan University of Colorado, Boulder

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Jacquelyn Sullivan has led the multi-university TeachEngineering digital library project, now serving over 3.3M unique users (mostly teachers) annually, since its inception. She is founding co-director of the design-focused Engineering Plus degree program and CU Teach Engineering initiative in the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. With the intent of transforming engineering to broaden participation, Sullivan spearheaded design and launch of the Engineering GoldShirt Program at CU to provide a unique access pathway to engineering for high potential, next tier students not admitted through the standard admissions process; findings are very encouraging, and the program is being adapted at several other engineering colleges. Dr. Sullivan led the 2004 launch of ASEE's Pre-College Division, was conferred as an ASEE Fellow in 2011 and was awarded NAE’s 2008 Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education.

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Denise W. Carlson University of Colorado, Boulder

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Carlson is involved with a broad range of program implementation initiatives through the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program at the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, including the TeachEngineering Digital Library. She holds a BA in economics from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. She serves as a contributing author and editor of many publications, proposals, presentations and curricula.

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The widespread need to address both science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and STEM workforce development is persistent. Underscored by the Next Generation Science Standards, demand is high for P-12 engineering-centered curricula. TeachEngineering is a free, standards-aligned NSF-funded digital library of more than 1,500 hands-on, design-rich K-12 engineering lessons and activities. Beyond anonymous site-user counts, the impact of the TeachEngineering collection and outreach initiatives on the education of children and their teachers was previously unknown. Thus, the project team wrestled with the question of how to meaningfully ascertain classroom impacts of the digital engineering education library and—more broadly—how to ascertain the impacts of teacher-focused P-12 engineering education initiatives. In this paper, the authors approach the classroom impact question through probing self-reported differentials in 1) teachers’ confidence in teaching engineering concepts and 2) changes in their teaching practices as a result of exposure to (and experiences with) K-12 engineering education resources and outreach opportunities. In 2016, four quantitative and qualitative surveys were implemented to probe the impact of the TeachEngineering digital library and outreach on four populations of K-12 teachers’ confidence and practices, including the frequency with which they integrate engineering into their pre-college classrooms. Survey results document the teacher experience and perception of using hands-on K-12 engineering curricular materials in the classroom and help create a data-driven understanding of where to best invest future resources. The results suggest that the TeachEngineering curricular resources and outreach initiatives help teachers build confidence in their use of engineering curriculum and pedagogy in K-12 classrooms, impact their teaching practices, and increase their likelihood of teaching engineering in the classroom in the future.

Forbes, M. H., & Sullivan, J. F., & Carlson, D. W. (2017, June), Ascertaining the Impact of P:12 Engineering Education Initiatives: Student Impact through Teacher Impact Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27616

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