Exploring Content Standards for K-12 Engineering Education

Project Status
Completed
June 14, 2017
September
20
2010
Sponsor
National Science Foundation, S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, and PTC, Inc.
Final Report
Standards for K-12 Engineering Education?
Authoring InstitutionNational Academy of Engineering
Publication DateJanuary 01, 2010
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Related News
  • New Report on K-12 Engineering Standards Released
    Fri, October 01, 2010
    A new report from the NAE looks at the value and feasibility of creating standards for engineering education at the K-12 level. Content standards exist for three disciplines in STEM education—science, technology, and mathematics—but not for engineering.  Some evidence suggests ...
K-12 Education
At-a-Glance
Assesses the potential value and feasibility of developing and implementing content standards for engineering education at the K-12 level.
Objectives
  • Standards for K-12 Engineering Education? asserts there is considerable potential value—to the nation and to individual students—in providing engineering education at the K-12 level. And while it is possible to develop K-12 engineering education standards, the study's authoring committee concluded that implementation would be problematic. Instead of developing new, standalone standards for engineering, the report suggests two approaches for leveraging current standards to improve the quality of K-12 engineering education in the United States.
Key Contacts
  • Greg Pearson
    Scholar, K-12 Engineering Education and Public Understanding of Engineering
    National Academy of Engineering
    E-mail
    Office
    202-334-2282

Content standards have been developed for three disciplines in STEM education—science, technology, and mathematics—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.

Standards for K-12 Engineering Education? asserts there is considerable potential value—to the nation and to individual students—in providing engineering education at the K-12 level. And while it is possible to develop K-12 engineering education standards, the study’s authoring committee concluded that implementation of such standards would be problematic. Instead of developing new, standalone standards for engineering, the report suggests two approaches for leveraging current standards to improve the quality of K-12 engineering education in the United States.

The first approach, infusion, would embed relevant learning goals from engineering into existing standards for other subjects (e.g., mathematics). This could be done most easily when state or national standards are revised. The second approach, mapping, would suggest connections between the “big ideas” in engineering and important concepts in standards for in other disciplines, such as science. 

Both infusion and mapping will require consensus on the most important concepts, skills, and habits of mind in engineering. Agreement on these core ideas may be thought of as a first step in the development of standards, but it does not necessarily lead to the development of full-fledged standards. In addition to reaching agreement on these core ideas, the study committee recommended the creation of guidelines for the development of K-12 instructional materials, more research on how children learn engineering concepts and skills, and ongoing evaluation studies to track the impacts of improvements in K-12 engineering education.