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Teaching Engineering To Elementary Education Majors

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Teacher and Counselor Professional Development

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1174.1 - 15.1174.8



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Paper Authors

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Laura Bottomley North Carolina State University

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Justin Osterstrom Combs Elementary Scho

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Teaching Engineering to Elementary Education Majors The elementary education teacher preparation program at North Carolina State University is a STEM-focused program that requires a course in engineering and technology called Children Design, Invent, Create. For the fall 2009 semester, the course was taught by a faculty member of the College of Engineering from an engineering perspective. Although only one set of assessment data is available, presentation of this data is quite timely, because this course is unique among offerings across the country. The pre-service teachers in the class represented a variety of backgrounds, but generally displayed lower self-efficacy than engineering students of their age. The general lack of understanding of such students with regards to engineering, including the differences and similarities among the various STEM disciplines as well as their own feelings of fear and/or inadequacy when faced with problem solving tasks may represent a significant barrier to the potential recruiting success of future engineering students. This paper will describe the results of self-efficacy assessments, the methods used in presentation of the course material and the ways in which the students were challenged and motivated throughout the course. In addition a partnership with a local elementary school class that illustrated actually classroom learning as a means of modeling lessons will be described.


Recent work at the National Academy of Engineering1 has brought enhanced attention to the status and possibilities of engineering in K-12 formal education. Although many Colleges of Engineering (and other groups) have been involved in outreach to K-12 for years, the inculcation of engineering into K-12 formal education is a more recent development. As discussion evolves about the role engineering may play in the K-12 arena, Colleges of Education continue to prepare teachers for the classroom. Particularly acute is the role of the elementary teacher, who is a generalist with preparation in a broad array of subjects. Some Colleges of Education are beginning to evolve their elementary preparation programs into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs to address the growing demand for more STEM orientation in the K-12 educational space. As these programs are created and implemented, the outstanding question will be how does engineering, which many view as career-oriented as opposed to curriculum oriented, play a role? The tendency is for either a College of Education OR a College of Engineering to address engineering education in their degree offerings. The College of Education at North Carolina State University is among the first to develop and engineering-related element to their elementary education program which was developed and implemented in partnership with the College of Engineering.

The mission of the Department of Elementary Education at North Carolina State University is to develop teacher leaders who have a deep, general content knowledge with a focus in science and mathematics, expert pedagogy, and a commitment to equity and social justice. Students take required courses in calculus, physics, and biology. They take an additional 9-12 hours of sciences or mathematics and statistics (taught in the respective departments) for a specialization in math or science. During the junior year, when courses are primarily in teaching methods (for example, ELM 310 Children’s Thinking and Additive Reasoning and ELM 320 Teaching Science in the Primary Grades), all students take a required course called ELM 340 Children

Bottomley, L., & Osterstrom, J. (2010, June), Teaching Engineering To Elementary Education Majors Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16555

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015