June 18, 2006
June 18, 2006
June 21, 2006
K-12 & Pre-College Engineering
11.1341.1 - 11.1341.7
Thriving or Surviving K-12 Engineering Outreach at a Research Extensive University
Successful K-12 engineering outreach at any university requires substantial support from the administration at the department, school/college and university levels. It also requires dedication of faculty, staff and university students to the outreach activities. Historically the traditional faculty performance metrics at research extensive universities have not included K-12 outreach initiatives. Therefore faculty members at these universities may not have the incentive to create and sustain K-12 outreach programs. Many engineering faculty and students at research extensive universities are beginning to play a critical role in the education of K-12 students. A national trend is occurring at such universities, where K-12 engineering outreach excellence is deemed consistent with the mission of the research university. This trend represents institutional change, a required program attribute by the National Science Foundation. This paper examines the institutional changes taking place at research extensive universities across the nation that support K-12 engineering outreach and compares them to those taking place in the Pratt School of Engineering at Duke University. We describe the critical events that have changed the Duke University institution and have led to faculty incentives for K-12 engineering outreach participation.
Flat or declining math and science competency in K-12 students in the U.S.1, flat or declining enrollments of U.S. citizens in undergraduate engineering programs2, and the rising dependence of society on technology have led to several initiatives in the last decade. These include the creation of the American Society for Engineering Education EngineeringK-12 Center3, the National Science Foundation’s GK-12 Teaching Fellows4 and Math Science Partnership5 programs, Project Lead the Way6, and a substantial list of institutions that have developed K-12 engineering outreach programs nationally7.
Doctoral/Research university engineering programs have a unique and essential role in K-12 engineering outreach. These programs have the resources to translate both the process and content from cutting edge research into lessons and activities that provide immediate relevance and add inspiration and excitement to the math and science concepts children learn in the K-12 classroom8. The primary commitment of a research university is the generation and transmission of new knowledge. The traditional metrics used in the appointment, promotion and tenure process for faculty at research universities include scholarly publication of cutting edge research results, successful graduation of Ph.D. students, funding of research activities leading to indirect cost recovery by the university, and to some extent effective teaching.
There are three necessary conditions for the development and sustainment of successful K-12 engineering outreach at a research university. First, the requirement of committed faculty members who are dedicated to the mission K-12 engineering outreach programs. Second, the faculty members’ careers must benefit from the outreach activities. Third, the institution must
Ybarra, G., & Klenk, P., & Kelly, G. (2006, June), Thriving Or Surviving K 12 Engineering Outreach At A Research Extensive University Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. https://peer.asee.org/685
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