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Delivering Core Engineering Concepts To Secondary Level Students

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2007 Annual Conference & Exposition


Honolulu, Hawaii

Publication Date

June 24, 2007

Start Date

June 24, 2007

End Date

June 27, 2007



Conference Session

Engineering in High Schools

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

12.443.1 - 12.443.15



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Paper Authors

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Chris Merrill Illinois State University

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Rodney Custer Illinois State University

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Jenny Daugherty University of Illinois,-Urbana-Champaign

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Martin Westrick University of Illinois,-Urbana-Champaign

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Yong Zeng University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

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

Delivering Core Engineering Concepts to Secondary Level Students Introduction Within primary and secondary school technology education, engineering has been proposed as an avenue to bring about technological literacy. 1,2 Different initiatives such as curriculum development projects (i.e., Project ProBase and Project Lead The Way) and National Science Foundation funded projects such as the National Center for Engineering and Technology Education (NCETE) have been developed to infuse engineering into primary and secondary education. For example, one key goal of the Technology Teacher Education component of NCETE is to impact the focus and content of the technology education field at the secondary level. 3 More specifically, the goal is to facilitate students’ learning relative to core engineering principles, concepts, and ideas. A number of activities have been developed by the center to facilitate these goals, including a series of teacher professional development experiences, research designed to identify core engineering concepts, development of engineering-related activities, engagement with faculty from the STEM disciplines, and interaction with technology education pre-service teachers.

Through the efforts of NCETE, three core engineering concepts within the realm of engineering design have emerged as crucial areas of need within secondary level technology education. These concepts are constraints, optimization, and predictive analysis (COPA). COPA appears to be at the core of the conceptual knowledge needed for students to understand and be able to do engineering design.

One of NCETE’s five technology teacher professional development institutions (Illinois State University) has focused exclusively on the delivery of these COPA concepts. These concepts have emerged as distinctly important. At Illinois State University, two cohorts of practicing and pre-service technology teachers have engaged in professional development workshops to become better prepared to deliver engineering concepts to their students. Through discussions about the nature of engineering and engineering design, how it differs from technology education processes, and the necessary conceptual and procedural knowledge, constraints, optimization, and predictive analysis were identified as necessary for the delivery of engineering design.

Empirical knowledge is needed to better understand how to increase student learning of COPA. This study sought to provide that knowledge using a NCETE cohort of practicing and pre-service technology teachers who designed and developed a unit of instruction to deliver these three core engineering concepts to secondary level technology education students. Using a mixed method quasi-experimental, pre-test post-test no control group design, this study explored the extent to which students understood and were able to demonstrate an understanding of constraints, optimization, and constraints. It is believed that through this strong conceptual base, a better understanding of engineering and engineering design can be achieved.

Review of the Literature

Predictive Analysis In a review of science, engineering and technology careers, Deal stated that engineers apply mathematical and scientific principles to solve problems. 4 The introduction of these tools into

Merrill, C., & Custer, R., & Daugherty, J., & Westrick, M., & Zeng, Y. (2007, June), Delivering Core Engineering Concepts To Secondary Level Students Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. 10.18260/1-2--2442

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