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Research Of Project Lead The Way (Pltw) Curricula, Pedagogy, And Professional Development: Activities Regarding Increasing Engineering And Technological Literacy Of K 12 Students In The Pltw Network

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Promoting Scientific and Technological Literacy

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.1087.1 - 11.1087.17



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Paper Authors

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Pam Newberry Project Lead The Way


T. Richard Grimsley Project Lead The Way

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T. Richard Grimsley is the Associate Vice President for Project Lead The Way®. PLTW is a non-profit organization that provides pre-engineering curricula for schools in 45 states and the District of Columbia with approximately 1300 schools and 26 affiliated universities and colleges. Prior to joining PLTW in October 2001, he served as Director of Technology Education for the Texas Education Agency. He taught technology education for seven years and has worked in both manufacturing and construction. He has served on a multitude of committees and has been recognized for his service with such awards as the Association of Texas Technology Education Hall of Honor in 2001 and the International Technology Education Associatios 1999 Leader to Watch.
Address: 747 Pierce Road, Clifton Park, NY 12065
Telephone: (518) 877-6491
Fax: (518) 877-6260

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John Hansen The University of Texas-Tyler

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John Hansen is a Professor of Technology and Executive Director of the Ingenuity Center at The University of Texas at Tyler. He holds a BA and MA in Industrial Arts from California State University, Fresno, and a Ph.D. in Vocational and Technical Education from the University of Minnesota. His research interests include technology and pre-engineering education as they relate to the development of creativity and inventive capabilities of children.
Address: 3900 University Blvd., Tyler, TX 75799; Phone: (903)566-7379; Fax: (903)566-7369; E-mail:

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Anne Spence University of Maryland-Baltimore County

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Anne M. Spence is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at UMBC, the University of Maryland Baltimore County and holds a PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Maryland - College Park. During her twelve years as an engineering educator, she has developed curricula, directed programs to increase the recruitment and retention of women in engineering, and developed hands on engineering programs designed to foster an interest in engineering among elementary, middle and high school students. She manages a number of NSF grants related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and serves as the director of the Project Lead the Way training institute in Maryland.

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Research of Project Lead The Way® (PLTW) Curricula, Pedagogy, and Professional Development Abstract

Pre-college students must be educated to make informed decisions in our technology-based world. Project Lead The Way® (PLTW), a pre-engineering curriculum, focuses on producing secondary graduates with an enhanced level of technological literacy and competency. The research activities regarding increasing engineering and technological literacy of K-12 students in the PLTW network will provide a perspective of how well pre-college students are learning about technology and engineering, and becoming technologically literate. This paper will discuss the recent research gathered by three independent sources. First, a research brief1 by the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) High Schools That Work (HSTW) shows the achievement of PLTW students compared to the achievement of other students in the HSTW network. Second, TrueOutcomes2 research will provide data on the curricula integration and outreach for greater diversity and access of the PLTW program. Last, the ongoing research of John Hansen3 and colleagues from the University of Texas at Tyler will provide data on the PLTW Professional Development model.


Project Lead The Way® (PLTW) is a 501(c) (3) not-for-profit national organization, established in 1997 to help schools give students the knowledge they need to excel in high-tech fields, such as engineering and engineering technology. PLTW is committed to preparing an increasing and more diverse group of students to successfully pursue these fields at the post-secondary level. To accomplish this goal, PLTW has created two programs. The first is Gateway To Technology, a five-unit middle school program designed to help students explore mathematics, science, and technology. It is taught in conjunction with rigorous, academic, middle school courses and adheres to the national standards in mathematics, science, technology, and English. The second is Pathway To Engineering, an eight-course high school program that centers on developing better problem-solving skills by immersing students in real-world engineering problems. Each of the eight challenging courses taken in conjunction with college-preparatory level academics is designed to prepare students for postsecondary studies in engineering and engineering technology and other high tech, high wage careers. The courses are in alignment with the national standards for mathematics, science, technology and English and use activities, projects, and problem-based learning with hands-on experiences to teach students the key knowledge and skills of engineering and technology-based careers.

For the past eight years, the PLTW network has grown to encompass 1,300 schools in 45 states, including the District of Columbia. Over 175,000 students are currently enrolled in PLTW courses. Currently, 21 affiliate colleges and universities across the U.S. work with PLTW to train middle and high school teachers in the challenging curriculum. Several of these universities offer transcripted credit to PLTW students who maintain an 85% or better cumulative average and pass the end-of-course exam with a minimum 70% score. Teachers are offered continuous, just- in-time professional development through the PLTW Virtual Academy. The Virtual Academy is

Newberry, P., & Grimsley, T. R., & Hansen, J., & Spence, A. (2006, June), Research Of Project Lead The Way (Pltw) Curricula, Pedagogy, And Professional Development: Activities Regarding Increasing Engineering And Technological Literacy Of K 12 Students In The Pltw Network Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--648

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