June 24, 2017
June 24, 2017
June 28, 2017
Pre-College Engineering Education Division
The need for engineering to meaningfully engage and integrate with K-12 education has become increasingly apparent over the last decade. Research on K-12 engineering suggests that students who are exposed to engineering topics during their elementary and secondary years have increased motivation to enroll and succeed in advanced STEM courses in middle and high school, as well as eventually pursue engineering and other STEM careers. Subsequently, students who enter undergraduate engineering programs with prior teaching and mentoring experience often search for avenues to continue such engagement, including paid and volunteer positions in formal and informal teaching settings. Many K-12 engineering programs at postsecondary institutions have developed from the collective desire of industry partners, individual practicing engineers, local engineering colleges, as well as engineering undergraduate students to stay connected to a K-12 community. For the university students this lasting inclination does not end at graduation; engineering college majors are likely to find jobs after college that are outside of STEM fields, including jobs in healthcare, management and social services.
A large public university in 2012 surveyed degree and career choice within its engineering undergraduate students with a surprising result: a strong desire by 25% of students to simultaneously pursue secondary teacher licensure alongside their engineering bachelor’s degrees. The following year, the college created an avenue for students to pursue both their engineering and K-12 teaching passions — educating and preparing a workforce of secondary teachers capable of high-level teaching in multiple STEM subjects. Within this novel program, students graduate with either engineering coupled with science teaching (biology, chemistry and physics), or engineering coupled with mathematics teaching. In both cases, they are prepared to teach mainstream secondary math or science and courses in engineering design.
Three years into the program, the purported interest of engineering students does not match the numbers actually enrolling in the dual engineering/teaching program. This paper seeks to analyze this teaching interest discrepancy. If students intentionally look for K-12 teaching and mentoring programs to supplement their major courses (in formal and informal settings) and indicate on career surveys that they “would be interested in earning grades 7-12 science or math teaching licenses while earning [their] engineering degrees,” then what is keeping them from actually earning their dual K-12 STEM teaching license?
Student interviews of current engineering teaching students indicate that this pathway is effective for some. A newcomer survey of incoming engineering students into the interdisciplinary major that houses the teaching licensure program offers additional perspectives on who wants to teach and who does not. Using mixed-methods analysis informed by current education research — including quantitative and qualitative survey questions and formal interviews with current students — this research-to-practice paper will examine the students’ attitudes towards earning a combined engineering undergraduate major with K-12 STEM teacher licensure and what attracts some students while not others. We will address the questions, “What attracted (or did not) you to a teaching licensure program?” and “How can we support engineering students who wish to work in K-12 STEM communities achieve K-12 teacher licensure?”
Zarske, M. S., & Tsai, J. Y., & Sullivan, J. F., & Forbes, M. H., & Carlson, D. W. (2017, June), Engineering Undergraduates Concurrently Seeking K-12 STEM Teacher Licensure: Fuels the Soul or Too Many Barriers? Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28265
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