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The Relevance of K-12 Engineering Curricula to NGSS: An Analysis of TeachEngineering-NGSS Alignments (RTP Strand 1)

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Research to Practice: STRAND 1 – Addressing the NGSS: Supporting K-12 Teachers in Engineering Pedagogy and Engineering Science Connections (Part 2)

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Tagged Topic


Page Count


Page Numbers

26.1568.1 - 26.1568.12



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Paper Authors


Carleigh Samson University of Colorado Boulder and TeachEngineering

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Carleigh Samson is a research associate and Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado Boulder. As a former secondary mathematics teacher and three-year K-12 engineering teaching fellow holding graduate degrees in both Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado Boulder and Secondary Education from The Johns Hopkins University, Carleigh has broad K-12 classroom teaching experience as well as deep conceptual and pedagogical knowledge in engineering and education. Carleigh works extensively on K-12 engineering curriculum development with the TeachEngineering digital library and has led the initiative to align the collection’s 1325+ lessons and hands-on activities with the Next Generation Science Standards.

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Jacquelyn Sullivan Ph.D. TeachEngineering Project Leader, University of Colorado Boulder

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Sullivan is project leader for the multi-institution TeachEngineering digital library, comprised of over 1325 classroom-tested engineering lessons and hands-on activities for use in K-12 classrooms. She is also founding Co-director of the CU Teach Engineering program, a unique pathway to secondary science and math teacher licensure through a design-focused General Engineering degree. The CU Teach Engineering program relies heavily on the TeachEngineering digital library to provide K-12 engineering curricular content.

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René F. Reitsma , PhD Oregon State University, College of Business

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René F. Reitsma studied Human Geography and Policy Sciences at the University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands. He is a Professor of Business Information Systems at Oregon State University.
While at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Reitsma worked on the development and research of information systems for reservoir and river management in various river basins in the western US. More recent work concentrates on the development and research of real-time engineering information systems and digital libraries for undergraduate and K-12 learning.
Reitsma’s research concentrates on how people apply information systems to solve problems with emphasis digital library navigation.

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Michael Soltys Ph.D. University of Colorado, Boulder Orcid 16x16

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General Engineering Plus Program, University of Colorado Boulder

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Can NGSS Drive K-12 Engineering Curriculum Development? An Analysis of NGSS Alignments to Hundreds of Curricular Documents (RTP Strand 1)The ABC digital library represents a long-term curriculum dissemination project engagingfaculty, students and teachers from dozens of NSF-funded GK-12 and RET engineeringeducation projects, each associated in practice with local school district partners. Nearly 2Munique users have accessed the ABC collection in the past year. With the curricula newly alignedto the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core Math Standards (CCMS),ABC is a resource for K-12 educators challenged to demonstrate student learning in relation tothe new standards.The 2013 publication of the NGSS—rich in engineering design throughout all K-12 grades—motivated the ABC team to manually align the collection’s 1,300+ engineering lessons andhands-on activities to both the NGSS and CCMS. In addition, ABC submission guidelines nowstrongly recommend that authors align their curriculum to NGSS and CCMS prior tosubmission—alignments that are verified and amended as part of the review and editing process.In this paper, we analyze the coverage of 1,563 NGSS alignments by the ABC collection. Whilethe alignments are distributed over 1,026 curricular documents (for an average of 1.5 standardsper aligned document), 23% of the collection lacks NGSS alignment because of either topicaland/or grade band mismatches.Coverage of NGSS standards by ABC curricula furthermore exhibits an exponential distribution.Five or fewer curricular items align to each of 85 NGSS standards, whereas more than 100lessons or hands-on engineering activities align to each of two engineering design standards.Additionally, of the 208 NGSS performance expectations, ABC curricula align to only 134(64%). In the paper we explore the reasons and causes of these gaps in coverage and offer ourthoughts on their implications for NGSS as a driver of K-12 engineering education.We also compare NGSS curricular coverage by ABC’s community-generated curriculum withtwo other standards bodies recently aligned within ABC: the CCMS and InternationalTechnology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA). Whereas every item in thecollection aligns with at least one ITEEA standard, only 50% of the collection aligns to the newCommon Core Math Standards.Given the breadth of the ABC collection—in terms of content, developer source (curriculumcreated by dozens of engineering colleges), and the relative NGSS alignment coverage—weestimate NGSS’s potential to impact the K-12 engineering education movement and futurecurriculum development initiatives.Finally, the paper addresses the question, “Do the NGSS make a difference in usage patterns ofcurricular users?” To address this, we analyze ABC’s Google Analytics statistics, comparingvisits and navigation behaviors of users from states that have adopted NGSS to those that havenot. We further explore whether users preferentially access curricular documents that haveNGSS alignments, if they use the NGSS to initially find curriculum, and if any other behaviorchanges have emerged since the recent alignment of ABC’s lessons and activities to the NGSS.

Samson, C., & Sullivan, J., & Reitsma, R. F., & Soltys, M. (2015, June), The Relevance of K-12 Engineering Curricula to NGSS: An Analysis of TeachEngineering-NGSS Alignments (RTP Strand 1) Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.24905

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