June 15, 2019
June 15, 2019
June 19, 2019
Pre-College Engineering Education
A project-based, differentiated engineering curriculum (DEC) has been developed for high school students and implemented by a STEM high school teacher and an engineering Ph.D. student team. In this paper, we will be documenting the development of DEC and our ongoing work to assess its impact on students. We will be sharing our current survey implementation to understand the ability of DEC to increase students’ general interest and confidence in engineering, understanding of engineering, and impact on their career pursuit through a pre- and post-program survey.
The three-course elective sequence is open to all honors level students in grades 9 through 12. The only requirement is that students are enrolled in, or have taken, any honors level mathematics course. However, DEC has no specific science or mathematics content requirement. This allows students to begin the engineering curriculum with different levels of experience and expertise, driven by their curiosity and interest in the engineering field. Project expectations and outcomes are based upon the content and skill sets students bring to the program. DEC is thus a more flexible curriculum than vendor prescribed curricula, such as Project Lead the Way and Innovative Curriculum for Engineering, since DEC will not require multiple sequential years, allowing students to also explore other interests.
DEC curriculum focuses on five core engineering themes: the engineering design process, engineering analysis, technical communications, prototyping and fabrication, and project management. DEC applies an integrated approach by embedding these core engineering themes within design challenges while at the same time exposing students to related technical fields and engineering disciplines. Differentiation is achieved by giving tech savvy students, experienced math and science students or novice students different tasks in their projects.
Through the DEC, students have an opportunity to practice the engineering design process many times. Projects vary in length – quick design challenges last one period while longer projects may be up to 8 weeks in length. DEC aligns with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for high school engineering. In addition, students are exposed to and develop engineering habits of the mind such as creativity, persistence, optimism, conscientiousness, collaboration and systems thinking. The project-based approach also exposes the students to the academic expectations of a university level freshman engineering programs and will allow them to transition easier into engineering college programs.
Muscarella, J. M., & Soe, M. T. M., & Ward, J. S. (2019, June), Board 125: Work in Progress: Development of a Project-based, Differentiated Engineering Curriculum (DEC) for High School Students Paper presented at 2019 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Tampa, Florida. 10.18260/1-2--32221
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