June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Pre-College Engineering Education Division
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.
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