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Core Concepts For Engineering Literacy: The Interrelationships Among Stem Disciplines

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Technological Literacy - Courses, Educational and Accreditation Standards

Tagged Division

Technological Literacy Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.324.1 - 15.324.12



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Paper Authors


Yoojung Chae Purdue University

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Yoojung Chae is a postdoctoral research assistant in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She received her M.S. in Educational Psychology (specialization in Gifted and Talented education) from University of Connecticut, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology (specialization in Gifted and Talented education) from Purdue University. She has served as the coordinator of GERI Saturday and summer enrichment programs, where she coordinated student courses as well as parent information sessions. Her research interests include students' perceptions of their learning experienceas and how to promote students' learning who show giftedness in the Engineering and Technology areas.

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Senay Purzer Purdue University

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Senay Purzer is an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering Education at Purdue University. She is also the Co-Director of Assessment Research for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE). She received a Ph.D. and a M.A in Science Education, Department of Curriculum and Instruction from Arizona State University. Her creative research focuses on collaborative learning, design & decision-making, and the role of engineering self-efficacy on student achievement.

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Monica Cardella Purdue University

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Monica Cardella is an Assistant Professor of Engineering Education and the Co-Director of Assessment Research for the Institute for P-12 Engineering Research and Learning (INSPIRE) at Purdue University. Prof. Cardella earned a BSc in mathematics from the University of Puget Sound and a MS and PhD in Industrial Engineering from the University of Washington. Her research interests include: K-12 engineering education, engineering design, the role of parents in engineering education, assessment, learning in informal environments, and mathematical thinking.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Core Concepts for Engineering Literacy: The Interrelationships among STEM Disciplines


The purpose of this paper is to define STEM literacy by examining the commonalities and differences between engineering, technology, science, and mathematics. We analyzed three major organizations’ publications on literacy and K-12 education standards. These publications are: 1) Standards for Technological Literacy, 2) National Science Education Standards, and 3) Principles and Standards for School Mathematics. These standards and literacy documents are compared and synthesized by examining their differences and commonalities. We also compared the definition of engineering literacy emerged from this analysis with other definitions published by AAAS, NRC, and NAE. By comparing the different literacy documents and standards, we provide a holistic view of the relationships among the four fields and suggest core concepts to be included in engineering literacy.

Introduction and Literature Review

“In contrast to science, mathematics, and even technology education, all of which have established learning standards and a long history in the K-12 curriculum, the teaching of engineering in elementary and secondary schools is still very much a work in progress. Not only have no learning standards been developed, little is available in the way of guidance for teacher professional development, and no national or state-level assessments of student accomplishment have been developed.”1

Teaching and researching engineering education in K-12 educational settings is important for two reasons. First, engineering education encourages people to understand engineering in daily life so they can get benefits at work and home, choosing the best products, operating systems correctly, and troubleshooting technical problems when they need. Second, the knowledge of engineering and engineering thinking can increase people’s ability to judge and make decisions about national issues related to technology use and development.2 Hence, teaching engineering concepts in K-12 schools would benefit both individuals in their everyday decisions and the society at large. Despite the benefits of including engineering curriculum in K- 12 classrooms, defining and developing engineering literacy and standards are still in progress.1 As we build an argument for engineering literacy and K-12 standards in engineering, a close look into other STEM subjects (such as science, mathematics, and technology) where standards already exists, is needed. Although science, technology, and mathematics are three independent areas, they have been influencing and being influenced by each other as they developed and evolved. According to the ITEA standards2,

Science provides the knowledge about the natural world that underlies most technological products today. In return, technology provides science with the tools needed to explore the world.... The fundamental difference between

Chae, Y., & Purzer, S., & Cardella, M. (2010, June), Core Concepts For Engineering Literacy: The Interrelationships Among Stem Disciplines Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16440

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015