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Best Practices in K-12 Engineering: Assessments of Participant Outcomes

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Best Practices in K-12 Engineering: Assessments of Participant Outcomes

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.284.1 - 22.284.2



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Paper Authors

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Susan E. Walden University of Oklahoma Orcid 16x16


Eugene F. Brown Virginia Tech

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Eugene Brown is Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Virginia Tech. He has worked with ONR and DoD since 2001 on STEM-outreach-related work-force development issues. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics and is the author of many papers and reports describing his research in the areas of computational fluid dynamics, fluid mechanics, and his work in STEM outreach.

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Malinda S. Zarske University of Colorado, Boulder

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Malinda Schaeffer Zarske is a doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado, Boulder in engineering education. Her research interests include engineering student learning, diversity, and recruitment. She is on the development team as well as a content editor for the digital library, and has co-created and co-taught engineering elective courses for both high school and undergraduate students through CU, Boulder’s Integrated Teaching and Learning Program. A former middle and high school math and science teacher, she received her MAT in secondary science from the Johns Hopkins University and her M.S. in civil engineering from CU, Boulder.

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In September 2009, the National Academy of Engineering released the report from thecommittee tasked with determining the state of engineering in K-12 education.1 A simplifiedsummary of that report is that many well-meaning people are active in a variety of wayspromoting and teaching engineering in K-12, but little is known about what programs oractivities are most successful or how or why they are successful. Formal and informal programs,programs that work with students, programs that work with teachers, programs meant to inform,inspire, and educate about engineering, programs that use engineering context or problem-solving to teach literacy, mathematics, and science content -- these are some of the varied threadsin the tapestry of K-12 engineering education. Some programs are evaluated on effectiveness bycounting how many students or teachers participate. Some programs measure changes instudent's or adult's awareness and knowledge of engineering as a discipline or potential career.Some, but few, programs assess changes in knowledge of the content, processes and skillsdeveloped through engineering, either in design, technology, or the "traditional" core contentareas. Few programs use a random-control methodology; some use a quasi-experimentalapproach with a matched comparison group; most use pre- and post-assessments.In 2008, the K-12 and Pre-College Engineering (K-12E) division of the American Society forEngineering Education (ASEE) began requiring paper authors submitting for the annualconference to include assessment or evaluation data for their programs. Since that time, theexecutive committee observed that many authors with outstanding programs seem to have an ill-conceived notion of what comprises quality assessment and evaluation.Given the growing national emphasis on K-12 engineering, the paucity of quality data to supportclaims, and the trend among authors submitting to the K-12E division, the K-12E division isplanning a Best Practices in K-12 Engineering -- Assessment of Participant Outcomessymposium within their program at the 2011 American Society for Engineering EducationAnnual Conference and Exposition in June 2011.The nomination/application/selection process consisted of solicited nominations and applicationsfrom individuals or groups with strong assessment practices in place. Nominations, includingself-nominations, were solicited from K-12E members and collected through searches of theextant literature. The programs nominated were asked to submit applications including: • assessment plans or design strategies and a discussion of the decisions informing them, • assessment instruments, tools, or protocols, and • sample or summary analyses of data. A review committee comprised of members of the K-12E executive committee selected exemplars in each of five areas: elementary, middle school, and high school classroom projects, informal education environments, and teacher professional development.A representative from each project selected was invited to be a panel member during this specialsession of the conference. During the 1.5 hour session, each representative will have ten minutesto describe their project's assessment plan. The remaining time will be for discussions with theaudience about their plans, assessment strategies, issues and obstacles overcome, or issues andobstacles remaining. The application packets from the selected programs will be combined intoa single paper appearing in the conference proceedings to be used as a resource for allstakeholders in K-12 engineering.

Walden, S. E., & Brown, E. F., & Zarske, M. S. (2011, June), Best Practices in K-12 Engineering: Assessments of Participant Outcomes Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17565

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