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Assessing Technological Literacy In The United States

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Installing & Assessing Technology Literacy Courses

Tagged Division

Technological Literacy Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.243.1 - 11.243.10



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Paper Authors


John Krupczak Hope College

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John Krupczak, Associate Professor of Engineering, Hope College. Prof. Krupczak’s course in technogical literacy began in 1995 and has educated over 1,000 students in multiple disciplines including pre-service teaching since 1995. Prof..Krupczak is the inaugural chair of the new Technological Literacy Constituent Committee of the ASEE.

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Greg Pearson National Academy of Engineering

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Greg Pearson is a program officer at the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), where he directs the academy’s efforts related to technological literacy and public understanding of engineering. Mr. Pearson most recently served as the responsible staff officer for the Committee on Assessing Technological Literacy, a joint project of the NAE and the National Research Council. He also oversaw an earlier project that resulted in publication of the report, Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology.

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David Ollis North Carolina State University

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David Ollis is Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering, North Carolina State University. He has created a device dissection laboratory with NSF support, and used it to instruct new engineering students, collaborate with other departments in design, technology education, and foreign language instruction, and develop a course in technological literacy.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Assessing Technological Literacy in the United States


The challenges to developing tools and techniques for assessment of technological literacy are presented in a panel format, with each panelist above providing a 4 minute summary of his written contribution shown below, followed by an audience questions and discussion. Three distinct sections of this overview provide: a summary of a recently issued NAE report on assessing the technological literacy of K-12 students, K-12 teachers, and the general US population, a case study of assessment of a well established technological literacy course at Hope College, and summary of 12 technological literacy course formats, student learning styles, and assessment and evaluation tools, taken from a 2005 NSF-sponsored faculty workshop on teaching technological literacy. Taken collectively, these pieces identify the current situation for, and future challenges to, achievement of widespread assessment for technological literacy undergraduate instruction.

I. Assessment of Technological Literacy: A National Academies Perspective. (Greg Pearson National Academy of Engineering)

The idea that all Americans, and U.S. school children in particular, should know something about the nature, history, and role of technology1 is not new. Over the last several decades, curriculum developers, university scholars, engineering and scientific professional associations, museums, government agencies, foundations, industry groups, and others have invested considerable time and money in a range of efforts intended to encourage greater “technological literacy.” The majority of these initiatives have taken place within an educational system that for the most part does not recognize technology as an area of academic content in its own right.

In the last five years, several separate but related initiatives have seemed to elevate the prospects that both the policy-making and education communities in the United States will begin to view the study of technology as an important issue. The National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, for example, funded the development of a set of content standards for the study of technology (ITEA, 2000). During this same period, one of the largest professional engineering societies in the world, IEEE, convened engineering and education school deans with the goal of beginning a dialogue between the two camps about technological literacy and its implications for how teachers are educated. In 2002, the National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council published Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology,2 a report that argues for greater technological literacy for all citizens1. The report proposed a model of technological literacy that has three dimensions: knowledge, capability, and ways of thinking and acting.

Unfortunately, as Technically Speaking points out, none of these efforts—past or present—has been informed in any meaningful way by knowledge of what Americans actually know about technology. Although the best guess of experts with an interest in the issue is that the level is lower than we would wish, the truth is that no one knows.

Krupczak, J., & Pearson, G., & Ollis, D. (2006, June), Assessing Technological Literacy In The United States Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--396

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2006 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015