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Building Educator Capacity in K-12 Engineering Education

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

NSF Grantees: K-12 Session 1

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NSF Grantees Poster Session

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Paper Authors


Elizabeth Cady National Academy of Engineering

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Dr. Elizabeth T. Cady is a Senior Program Officer at the National Academy of Engineering (NAE). She has worked on a variety of projects that examine and enhance systems for the formal, informal, and lifelong education of engineers and improving diversity and inclusion in engineering. She is leading a project that will recognize and share innovative practices that improve diversity in undergraduate engineering education and also staffs a consensus study examining the capacity of K-12 teachers to teach engineering. She is also staffing the Roundtable on Linking Academic Engineering Research and Defense Basic Science. She also co-edited a resource collection translating research on women in science and engineering into practical tips for faculty members and worked on LinkEngineering, an online toolkit to support PreK-12 engineering education, and the Online Ethics Center, a website that supports ethics education and science and engineering. She earned M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Cognitive and Human Factors Psychology from Kansas State University and a B.A. in psychobiology and political science from Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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Greg Pearson National Academy of Engineering

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Greg Pearson is a Scholar (ret.) with the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) in Washington, D.C. Greg served as the responsible staff officer for the NSF-funded project “Educator Capacity Building in K-12 Engineering Education," published in 2019. Status, Role, and Needs of Engineering Technology Education
in the United States.” He previously was the study director for the NSF-funded project that resulted in the 2014 report, STEM Integration in K-12 Education: Status, Prospects, and an Agenda for Research. He was the study director for the project that resulted in publication of Standards for K-12 Engineering Education? (2010) and Engineering in K-12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects (2009), an analysis of efforts to teach engineering to U.S. school children. He oversaw the NSF-funded project that resulted in the 2013 publication of Messaging for Engineering: From Research to Action and the 2008 publication of Changing the Conversation: Messages for Improving Public Understanding of Engineering and was co-editor of the reports Tech Tally: Approaches to Assessing Technological Literacy (2006) and Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology (2002). In the late 1990s, Greg oversaw NAE and National Research Council reviews of technology education content standards developed by the International Technology Education Association.

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Engineering is emerging as an important topic in US K–12 education and is finding its way into standards, instructional materials, and assessments. As the landscape continues to grow and evolve, educators, administrators, and policymakers must consider the capacity of the education system to meet current and anticipated needs for K–12 teachers of engineering. What do they need to know and be able to do in order to be effective, and where and how might they develop such expertise? To help answer these and related questions, INSTITUTION convened an expert committee to conduct extensive data gathering and analysis. The goal of the project was to understand current and anticipated future needs for engineering-literate K–12 educators and suggest how to meet these needs. The committee charge included eight questions in three areas:

The Preparation of K–12 Engineering Educators 1. What is known from education and learning sciences research about effective preparation of K–12 educators to teach about engineering? 2. What appear to be the most promising educator-preparation practices currently in use? 3. What additional research is needed to improve and expand effective approaches for preparing K–12 engineering educators?

Professional Pathways for K–12 Engineering Educators 4. What formal (e.g., state certification) and informal (e.g., “badging”) mechanisms are being used to recognize expertise and support career pathway options for K–12 teachers of engineering? 5. What formal and informal credentialing mechanisms from domains other than education might be adapted or adopted to recognize expertise and support career pathway options for K–12 teachers of engineering? 6. What are the practical and policy impediments to instituting effective credentialing for K–12 engineering educators, and how they might be addressed?

The Role of Higher Education 7. What roles do or might postsecondary institutions, including but not limited to four-year engineering and engineering technology programs, play in the preparation of K–12 engineering educators? 8. What are the practical and policy impediments to involving higher education in the preparation of K–12 engineering educators, and how might they be addressed?

The report will be released in early 2020. The full paper and poster will provide the conclusions and recommendations from the committee’s work. This work is supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Division of Engineering Education & Centers (ENG/EEC).

Cady, E., & Pearson, G. (2020, June), Building Educator Capacity in K-12 Engineering Education Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34239

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