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Assessing the Need for Professional Development in Engineering Among Rural High School Science Teachers (Fundamental)

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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: Working with Teachers to Improve K-12 Engineering Education

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Sarah E. Lopez Utah State University

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Sarah Lopez is a graduate student at Utah State University, pursuing a PhD in Engineering Education and a Masters in Electrical Engineering. She graduated from Oklahoma Christian University in 2016 with degrees in Computer Engineering and Math Education. Her research interests include spatial ability, robotics education, and biometric methodologies, such as EEG, in engineering education research.

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Wade H. Goodridge Utah State University

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Wade Goodridge, Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering and Technology Education at Utah State University, has taught Solid Modeling, CAD, Introductory Electronics, Surveying, Statics, Assessment and Evaluation, and Introductory Engineering courses at Utah State University. Goodridge has been teaching for the Utah State College of Engineering for more than 15 years. He holds dual B.S degrees in industrial technology education and civil engineering from Utah State University, as well as an M.S. and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Utah State University. His research interests include entrepreneurship in engineering, spatial thinking and spatial cognition, and professional development for those teaching engineering.

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Moe Tajvidi P.E. Utah State University

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Moe Tajvidi is a PhD candidate in engineering education at Utah State University. His BS and MS degrees are in structural engineering and he has a sixteen year long career experience in structural engineering along with four years of instruction of civil engineering courses. In his teaching experience he has been committed to introducing real life engineering problems to the learning environment. The subjects he has taught include engineering mechanics (statics, dynamics, and mechanics of material), structural analysis and design, soil mechanics and foundation engineering. His research areas of interest include: use of computer simulation in engineering education, project-based learning and innovative teaching techniques in interdisciplinary topics. He is a licensed P.E. in the state of California and a member of ASCE. He is also an adjunct lecturer in University of Wisconsin, Platteville.

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Kurt Henry Becker Utah State University, Center for Engineering Education Research

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Kurt Becker is the current director for the Center for Engineering Education Research (CEER) which examines innovative and effective engineering education practices as well as classroom technologies that advance learning and teaching in engineering. He is also working on National Science Foundation (NSF) funded projects exploring engineering design thinking. His areas of research include engineering design thinking, adult learning cognition, engineering education professional development and technical training. He has extensive international experience working on technical training and engineering educaton projects funded by the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and U.S. Department of Labor, USAID. Countries where he has worked include Armenia, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, China, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, and Thailand. In addition, he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses for the Department of Engineering Education at Utah State University.

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The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for K-12 science instruction, released in 2013, were developed to address lagging student achievement and to improve scientific and technological literacy in the United States educational system. To accomplish this goal, the NGSS integrate standards on engineering design and application at an equal level with standards on scientific literacy.

So far, 18 states have formally adopted these standards, and others have begun to reevaluate existing standards in this light. The widespread adoption of the NGSS means that many science departments and teachers are now expected to develop and present instruction aligned to standards on engineering, a field in which most science teachers have minimal training.

To assess the possible need for engineering training in response to the NGSS, a survey was created and distributed to high school science teachers around the country. The first component of the survey asked about teachers’ confidence in delivering engineering content, incorporating engineering applications, and answering students’ engineering related questions in their classrooms. The second part asked how much teachers felt they would benefit from different aspects of professional development related to engineering.

Responses from 338 teachers indicated a general need and desire for engineering professional development, but this need was greater among teachers working in rural areas. Rural teachers expressed significantly less confidence in teaching engineering concepts and may perceive a greater benefit from professional development on engineering in the classroom. In addition, rural teachers indicated different priorities for professional development. Though teachers overall saw the greatest benefit from professional development on lesson plans that incorporate engineering, rural teachers indicated an even higher benefit just from having access to an expert teacher in engineering.

The lower confidence that we see may be indicative of the limited support, community, and resources available to teachers in rural areas who often have a more limited budget and fewer colleagues to collaborate with. These results make a strong case for the creation of a professional development program that targets science teachers in rural areas, helping them incorporate engineering into their classrooms and providing networking opportunities with trained engineering teachers.

Lopez, S. E., & Goodridge, W. H., & Tajvidi, M., & Becker, K. H. (2017, June), Assessing the Need for Professional Development in Engineering Among Rural High School Science Teachers (Fundamental) Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27627

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