Engineering in K–12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects

This book resource is a report written by the Committee on K–12 Engineering Education, chaired by Dr. Linda P. B. Katehi. The report will be useful to advocates for greater public understanding of engineering, as well as to those working to boost citizens’ technological and scientific literacy. Educational researchers and cognitive scientists will also find that the document exposes a rich set of questions related to how and under what conditions students come to understand engineering. The document was created in response to the need to develop the country’s technical workforce, and to understand the status of engineering education and its educational policies and programs, so as to set a new direction for the 21st century. It is a product of a collaboration between the National Research Council and the National Academy of Engineering. The committee process involved meetings, sponsored data-gathering workshops, and solicitation of online input from the public. The committee also commissioned an analysis of a number of existing K–12 engineering curricula, and conducted reviews of the literature on areas of conceptual learning related to engineering, the development of engineering skills, and the impacts of K–12 engineering education initiatives. The authors also collected preliminary information about a few pre-college engineering education programs in other countries. Beyond this data gathering, the report reflects the personal and professional experiences and judgments of committee members. The aim is to provide carefully reasoned guidance to key stakeholders regarding the creation and implementation of K–12 engineering curricula and instructional practices, focusing on the connections among science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education.

Content Comments 

This 211-page book unveils the need, the call to action, the process, and the goals for engineering education with clarity. Key concepts such as engineering design, technological literacy, and impacts of K–12 engineering education are well laid out, and general principles facilitate a conceptual framework to understand the purpose and rationale of the report and its recommendations. Organizational gray boxes offer succinct key organizing ideas, such as benchmarks, and conceptual frameworks. Specific professional development programs and models for K–12 teachers on engineering (i.e. Project Lead the Way and Engineering is Elementary) are identified, along with descriptions of effective partnership approaches with universities, toward successful pre-service certification programs that include engineering. This resource is timely and informative for educators, industry, policymakers, and the general public at large. It uses easy-to-read language, and signals the imperative for K–12 engineering education, with steps to accomplish it and needed supports.