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Pre-College Engineering Education
K-12 Engineering and the Next Generation Science Standards: a Network Visualization and Analysis (Resource Exchange)
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) comprises a set of K-12 science and engineering learning outcomes, developed in 2010 by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the National Research Council (NRC), and Achieve with the assistance from 26 US states. Released in 2013, the standards have since been adopted by 20 US states as their official K-12 science and engineering learning outcome standard set. Another 24 states have standards based on the NGSS framework. The NGSS are based on three-dimensional learning: students learn by mastering and integrating Science and Engineering Practices (dimension 1), Crosscutting Concepts (dimension 2) as well as Disciplinary Core Ideas (dimension 3). The integration of these three dimensions illustrates the importance —and interdependence— of content knowledge and practices that engage students both in scientific inquiry and engineering design. The NGSS explicitly incorporate K-12 engineering learning in that of its 208 learning outcomes or Performance Expectations, 14 (6.7%) reside under the topic Engineering Design.
Although NGSS-aligned curriculum, engineering and otherwise, has been under development for some time now, it can be difficult to find; and it is even more difficult to gain an overview of NGSS ‘coverage’ by the various collections of such curriculum. Moreover, the NGSS itself is a complex network of 845 grade-band specific topics, performance expectations and 3D learning aspects with more than 1,086 relationships between them.
To provide easy-to-use, quick access to both the entire NGSS and its coverage by a variety of on-line collections of aligned curriculum, we developed a network model and web-based, force-directed (Kamada-Kawai) visualization of the NGSS and associated curriculum. Users can view entire grade bands and/or drill down to the level of individual NGSS standards and curricular items. They can also clearly see the three dimensions color-coded in the network. Similarly, aligned curriculum collections can be switched on and off in order to visually explore their NGSS coverage as well as summaries of their content.
Viewing the NGSS and associated curriculum this way has other advantages too. It helps with assessment of alignments as lacking or unexpected alignments may serve as visual queues that something may be awry or in need of additional inspection. Similarly, although gap analysis; i.e., an analysis of where a curriculum collection is weakly represented in standard coverage, is perfectly doable through standard database queries or table lookups, the visual rendering of curriculum as part of the standard network makes such an analysis very easy to conduct. Finally, modeling the NGSS as a network allows us to compute some of the standard network metrics on it, thereby revealing some characteristics which may or may not have been on the minds of NGSS’s developers.
Reitsma, R. F., & Hoglund, B. G., & Chaker, D., & Marks, A., & Soltys, M. (2020, June), K-12 Engineering and the Next Generation Science Standards: A Network Visualization and Analysis (Resource Exchange) Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34890
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