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Engineering in Technology Education: A Longitudinal View, 1966 - 2011

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Core Concepts, Standards, and Policy in K-12 Engineering Education

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.595.1 - 22.595.18



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Paper Authors


Mark Sanders Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Mark Sanders is Professor of
Technology Education/Integrative STEM Education at Virginia Tech. His teaching, research, scholarship, and outreach efforts have focused on teaching and learning in Technology Education and STEM Education contexts.

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Thomas M. Sherman Virginia Tech

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Tom Sherman has investigated issues such as academic learning, study skills, and learning assessment while serving on the faculty of the School of Education at Virginia Tech. He is the author of over 100 professional papers, manuscripts, books, and instructional programs.

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Hyuksoo Kwon Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Dr. Hyuksoo Kwon has completed his Ph.D. in the Technology Education/STEM Education program at Virginia Tech. His research interests are curriculum development, integrative approach among STEM subjects, and biotechnology education.

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Patricia Watson Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

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Patricia Watson is a Ph.D. student in the Integrative STEM education program at Virginia Tech. She received her bachelor’s degree in technology education, also from Virginia Tech. After graduation, Patty spent eight years working for the Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Japan and Germany teaching technology education and instructional technology. During that time, she earned a master’s degree in educational technology from Michigan State University. For her last two years in Germany, Patricia worked as a district coordinator for educational technology. As a Ph.D. student, her research interests include integrating grade level appropriate science and math into technology education, elementary level technology education, and teacher professional development. Patricia also works as a graduate research assistant for the Technology Education Teaching & Learning Project. She is a member of the ITEEA Class of 2011 21st Century Leadership Academy.

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Engineering in Technology Education: A Longitudinal Study of the Gorilla in the RoomThe NAE’s first “recommendation” in Technically Speaking1 called for “the integration oftechnology content into K-12 standards, curricula, instructional materials, and studentassessments in nontechnology subject areas.” This may have been a reflection of the authors’observation of an insufficient number of Technology Education teachers to provide“technological literacy for all,” a goal projected by both Technically Speaking and the ITEA’sStandards for Technological Literacy.”Similarly, the NAE’s Engineering in K-12 Education advocates for the inclusion of engineeringin K-12 education. But here the authors inconclusive regarding the three differentimplementation scenarios presented, giving the impression that none were very “do-able.”This past July, the NRC released its first draft of “A Framework for Science Education2” whicheffectively proposes “engineering” as a new “science subject” alongside biology, chemistry,earth science, and physics.Paradoxically, though Technology Education seems somewhat (or perhaps altogether)marginalized in the narratives cited above, NAE President William Wulf wrote, in his Forewordto Standards for Technological Literacy (STL, national standards published a decade ago by, andprimarily for, the Technology Education community): “Thankfully, in STL… the ITEA hasdistilled an essential core of technological knowledge and skills we might wish all K-12 studentsto acquire.”3These circumstances beg a number of questions, including—What, if anything, do an estimated30,000 Technology educators across the U.S. bring to the table as America moves forward withthe “engineering in K-12 education agenda? For example, will secondary engineering educationemploy labs to facilitate design-based engineering activity? If so, will those activities make useof an estimated 25,000 Technology Education Labs that currently exist? Or will (for example)science education reconstruct very similar facilities at an estimated cost $16 billion4 for thephysical space, plus an additional $2.5 billion5 to equip those duplicate labs? Do the Technologyteachers working in those labs bring any grade-appropriate engineering expertise to the table(their salaries represent an additional $1.5 billion/year investment)? Or, will science education1 Pearson, G. & Young, A. T. (2002). Technically speaking. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.2 National Research Council. (2010, July). A framework for science education.” Washington, DC: Author.3 Wulf, W. E. (2000). In Standards for technological literacy—Content for the study of technology. Reston, Virginia: ITEA. pp. v.4 The 34th Annual official education construction report estimated $211/square foot for themedian cost of building middle school facilities in the 2007 and the ITEA recommends aminimum of 3,000 square feet for a middle school lab in their 2010 Facilities planning guide.5 Project Lead the Way estimates almost $100,000 to equip their middle school “Gateway to Technology” lab.invest (enormously) in developing/recruiting similar expertise and experience? Or, willengineering be taught without lab-based engineering design-activities altogether? Will schoolsadd substantial time to the science curriculum for new engineering courses? Or, will they forfeitan equal amount of time from their existing science curriculum to make room for engineering?In light of these circumstances and related questions, this paper reports and discusses findingsfrom four “repeated measures,” conducted nationally over the past half-century of TechnologyEducation teachers’ engineering-related beliefs and practices.6 In addition, this paper will reportthe findings of a national survey of “Engineering Practices in Technology Education” conductedthis fall. The population for the study included consisted of all U.S. middle/high schoolTechnology teacher members of the ITEEA. The instrument used was derived from the findingsof research on engineering concepts appropriate for K-12 Education7. The validity and reliabilityof the instrument are reported along with the findings of this study.Collectively, these data describe Technology Education’s “turn toward engineering” over thepast two decades that would seem highly relevant to the “engineering in secondary education”initiative. Yes, there are 1950s style “wood shops” in the Technology Education landscape, justas there are science and mathematics educators teaching science and mathematics as they weretaught in the 1950s. But, the data reported in this paper provide evidence that contradicts the“wood shop as Technology Education” myth, revealing beliefs and practices that are largelysupportive/simpatico with the movement to integrate engineering into K-12 education.The Discussion section of this paper draws from these and related research findings to discusswhat Technology Education does (and does not) bring to the table as America moves forward tointegrate engineering into secondary education. Given what the data have to say about thetrajectory of Technology Education over the past two decades, it would seem inappropriate andundoubtedly very costly, to omit findings and discussions of this sort from the K-12 engineeringeducation “conversation.”6 Schmitt, M. L. & Pelley, A. L. (1966). Industrial arts education: A survey of programs, teachers, students, and curriculum. U. S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, OE 33038, Circular No. 791. Washington, DC: Office of U.S. Government Printing Office.Dugger, W.E., Miller, C.D., Bame, E.A., Pinder, C.A., Giles, M.B., Young, L.H., & Dixon, J.D. (1980). Report of the survey data. Blacksburg, VA: Standards for Industrial Arts Programs Project, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.Sanders, M. E. (2001). New paradigm or old wine: The status of technology education practice in the US. Journal of Technology Education, 12(2), 35-55.Sanders, M., Sherman, T., Kwon, H. & Pembridge, J. (2009). Technology education in the U.S.: Teachers’ beliefs and practices. Proceedings of the American Society for Engineering Education. Austin, TX.7 Custer, R. Daugherty, J. = & Meyer, J. (2009). Formulating a concept base for secondary level engineering. Logan, Utah: NCETE.Hacker, M., de Vries, M., & Ammeret R. (2009). Concepts and contexts in engineering & technology education. Netherlands: Delft University.

Sanders, M., & Sherman, T. M., & Kwon, H., & Watson, P. (2011, June), Engineering in Technology Education: A Longitudinal View, 1966 - 2011 Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC. 10.18260/1-2--17876

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