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Engineering Undergraduates Concurrently Seeking K-12 STEM Teacher Licensure: Fuels the Soul or Too Many Barriers?

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Conference

2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Pre-College: Engineering Undergraduates as Teachers

Tagged Division

Pre-College Engineering Education Division

Page Count

24

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/28265

Download Count

99

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Paper Authors

biography

Malinda S. Zarske University of Colorado, Boulder

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Malinda Zarske is a faculty member with the Engineering Plus program at the University of Colorado Boulder. A former high school and middle school science and math teacher, she has advanced degrees in teaching secondary science from the Johns Hopkins University and in civil engineering from CU-Boulder. Dr. Zarske teaches undergraduate product design courses through Engineering Plus as well as STEM education courses for pre-service teachers through the CU Teach Engineering program. Additionally, she mentors graduate and undergraduate engineering Fellows who teach in local K-12 classrooms through the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program’s TEAMS initiative, is on the development team for the TeachEngineering digital library, and is faculty advisor for CU-Boulder's Society of Women Engineers (SWE). Her primary research interests include the impacts of project-based service-learning on student identity, pathways and retention to and through K-12 and undergraduate engineering, teacher education and curriculum development.

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Janet Y. Tsai University of Colorado, Boulder Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/https://0000-0002-2917-0367

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Janet Y. Tsai is a researcher and instructor in the Engineering Plus program at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her research focuses on ways to encourage more students, especially women and those from nontraditional demographic groups, to pursue interests in the field of engineering. Janet assists in recruitment and retention efforts locally, nationally, and internationally, hoping to broaden the image of engineering, science, and technology to include new forms of communication and problem solving for emerging grand challenges. A second vein of Janet's research seeks to identify the social and cultural impacts of technological choices made by engineers in the process of designing and creating new devices and systems. Her work considers the intentional and unintentional consequences of durable structures, products, architectures, and standards in engineering education, to pinpoint areas for transformative change.

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Jacquelyn F. Sullivan University of Colorado, Boulder

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Jacquelyn Sullivan is founding co-director of the Engineering Plus degree program in the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. She spearheaded design and launch of the CU Teach Engineering Program to provide a pathway through a design-based engineering degree for engineering students to simultaneously seek math or science secondary teacher licensure. Sullivan led the founding of the Precollege division of ASEE in 2004; was awarded NAE’s 2008 Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education, and was conferred as an ASEE Fellow in 2011. She has served on multiple NAE committees, and on the NSF ENG division's Advisory Committee.

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Marissa H. Forbes University of Colorado, Boulder

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Marissa H. Forbes is a research associate in the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Colorado Boulder and lead editor of the TeachEngineering digital library. She previously taught middle school science and engineering and wrote K-12 STEM curricula while an NSF GK-12 graduate engineering fellow at CU. With a master’s degree in civil engineering she went on to teach advanced placement and algebra-based physics for the Denver School of Science and Technology, where she also created and taught a year-long, design-based engineering course for seniors. Forbes earned her PhD in civil engineering, with an engineering education research focus.

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Denise W. Carlson University of Colorado, Boulder

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Carlson is involved with a broad range of program implementation initiatives through the Integrated Teaching and Learning Program at the University of Colorado Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science, including the TeachEngineering Digital Library. She holds a BA in economics from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor. She serves as a contributing author and editor of many publications, proposals, presentations and curricula.

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Abstract

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. https://peer.asee.org/28265

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