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Engineering Concept Assessment: Design and Development

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Standards and K-12 Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.539.1 - 25.539.11



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Paper Authors


Jenny Daugherty Purdue University, West Lafayette

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Jenny Daugherty is an Assistant Professor in the Technology Leadership & Innovation Department at Purdue University.

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Rodney L. Custer Black Hills State University

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Debra Brockway Stevens Institute of Technology


Daniel A. Spake Purdue University

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Daniel A. Spake is a master's student in the Organizational, Leadership & Supervision Department in the College of Technology at Purdue University. He received his B.S. in technology education from North Carolina State University.

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Engineering Concept Assessment: Design & DevelopmentThis “work in progress” paper documents the design, development, and testing of an instrumentthat captures teacher’s understandings of engineering and science concepts. This work stemsfrom an NSF-funded project that is investigating the viability of a concept-driven approach toteacher professional development. Research is being conducted to understand how scienceteachers learn engineering concepts and the issues and problems encountered duringimplementation. The Engineering Concept Assessment (ECA) provides a mechanism forassessing the extent to which the professional development experiences impact teachers’understanding of engineering concepts.Several studies have indicated that both science and engineering have a conceptual basis that areimportant for student learning. This is especially noted in the 2011 National Research Council’sreport “A Framework for K-12 Science Education,” which identified several cross-cuttingscience and engineering concepts. In terms of assessment, while some K-12 engineering-orientedinstrumentation exists, most are targeted at the elementary level and focus on a generalawareness of what engineers do. The ECA can be used to measure the extent to which teachersand students understand core engineering knowledge appropriate for secondary level engineeringeducation and their relationship to science content.The ECA expands upon an instrument that was designed to document understandings of threecore engineering concepts (constraints, optimization, and predictive analysis), which was pilotedwith teachers and used in a study with students to document their learning gains before and aftera concept-driven lesson. A group of experts in pre-college engineering education, scienceeducation, cognitive science, and assessment, as well as science and technology teachers,collaborated on the design of the ECA instrument building from this smaller version. In additionto the multiple choice formatted items, the instrument contains engineering design scenario itemsdesigned to assess the complex relationships among individual concepts. This paper describesthe design of the ECA, the validation processes, and pilot test data from a group of science andtechnology teachers.

Daugherty, J., & Custer, R. L., & Brockway, D., & Spake, D. A. (2012, June), Engineering Concept Assessment: Design and Development Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--21297

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