Standards for K-12 Engineering Education?

  • AuthorNational Academy of Engineering
  • TitleStandards for K-12 Engineering Education?
  • PublisherNational Academies Press
  • Release DateJanuary 1, 2010
  • Copyright2010
  • ISBN978-0-309-16015-5

The goal of this study was to assess the value and feasibility of developing and implementing content standards for engineering education at the K-12 level. Content standards have been developed for three disciplines in STEM education--science, technology, and mathematic--but not for engineering. To date, a small but growing number of K-12 students are being exposed to engineering-related materials, and limited but intriguing evidence suggests that engineering education can stimulate interest and improve learning in mathematics and science as well as improve understanding of engineering and technology. Given this background, a reasonable question is whether standards would improve the quality and increase the amount of teaching and learning of engineering in K-12 education.

The book concludes that, although it is theoretically possible to develop standards for K-12 engineering education, it would be extremely difficult to ensure their usefulness and effective implementation. This conclusion is supported by the following findings: (1) there is relatively limited experience with K-12 engineering education in U.S. elementary and secondary schools, (2) there is not at present a critical mass of teachers qualified to deliver engineering instruction, (3) evidence regarding the impact of standards-based educational reforms on student learning in other subjects, such as mathematics and science, is inconclusive, and (4) there are significant barriers to introducing stand-alone standards for an entirely new content area in a curriculum already burdened with learning goals in more established domains of study.