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Challenges for Integrating Engineering into the K-12 Curriculum: Indicators of K-12 Teachers' Propensity to Adopt Innovation

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

June 29, 2016





Conference Session

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering Division: Fundamental & Research-to-Practice: K-12 Engineering Resources: Best Practices in Curriculum Design (Part 2)

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

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Paper Authors


Louis Nadelson Utah State University

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Louis S. Nadelson is an associate professor and director for the Center for the School of the Future in the Emma Eccles Jones College of Education at Utah State University. He has a BS from Colorado State University, a BA from the Evergreen State College, a MEd from Western Washington University, and a PhD in educational psychology from UNLV. His scholarly interests include all areas of STEM teaching and learning, inservice and preservice teacher professional development, program evaluation, multidisciplinary research, and conceptual change. Nadelson uses his over 20 years of high school and college math, science, computer science, and engineering teaching to frame his research on STEM teaching and learning. Nadelson brings a unique perspective of research, bridging experience with practice and theory to explore a range of interests in STEM teaching and learning.

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Christina Marie Sias Utah State University

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Christina Sias is a PhD. student at Utah State University

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Anne Seifert Idaho National Laboratory

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Anne Seifert EdS

INL K-12 STEM Coordinator
Idaho i-STEM Coordinator

Anne Seifert is the Idaho National Laboratory STEM Coordinator and founder and executive director of the i-STEM network. She holds a BS degree in elementary education, an MA in Education Administration and an EDS in Educational Leadership. As a 30 year veteran teacher and administrator she has been involved in school reform, assessment, literacy, student achievement, and school improvement. Her current work involves coordinating partnerships with educators, the Idaho Department of Education, business, and industry to raise STEM Education awareness. Anne’s research interests include STEM education, inquiry and project-based instruction with the incorporation of 21st Century learning, change practices, and cultural influences on school effectiveness.

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Challenges for Integrating Engineering into the K-12 Curriculum: Indicators of K-12 Teachers’ Propensity to Adopt Innovation

Abstract With recognition of the potential expansion of the engineering pipeline engineering was included in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The inclusion of engineering in the NGSS (and other state level STEM learning standards) comes with the expectation that K-12 teachers teach engineering as part of their curriculum. However, teacher adoption of innovations, such as teaching engineering, is a complex process that relies heavily on teacher propensity to adopt novel curricular choices and instructional approaches. Thus, prior to preparing teachers to teach engineering, there is a benefit to knowing something about how open teachers are to educational innovations and how likely they are to take the risks associated with adopting curriculum that effectively integrates unique and novel approaches to teaching and learning.

Using our experience with enhancing teacher capacity to teach integrated STEM through professional development (PD), we have recognized that the teachers who are early adopters of innovation tend to have openness to multiple ideas and engage in different STEM teaching and pedagogical practices than those who are more reluctant to consider innovations. Based on our observations, we set out to identify and empirically document the teacher perceptions for teaching engineering and indicators of a willingness to adopt innovation using teacher created lesson plans as a source of data.

In our prior work, we have empirically documented a number of potential indicators that are associated with teacher potential to adopt innovations. Our goal for this project was to gain some foundational understanding of how teacher plan to teach engineering and their attention to implementing other educational innovations. To achieve this goal we analyzed a sample of 42 teacher created lesson plans drawn from a larger sample of over 300 STEM related lesson plans. We found that the teachers communicated incomplete understanding of engineering practices and design, yet created plans that shared the responsibility for assignment decisions with the students. We also found that the teachers communicated limited implementation of educational innovations in their plans. In our discussion we propose explanation and implications for our results.

Nadelson, L., & Sias, C. M., & Seifert, A. (2016, June), Challenges for Integrating Engineering into the K-12 Curriculum: Indicators of K-12 Teachers' Propensity to Adopt Innovation Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.26471

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