Beliefs and Expectations about Engineering Preparation Exhibited by High School STEM Teachers
BACKGROUND If we are to effect change in teacher practices and decision making regarding instruction, college preparation, and career success in engineering, then knowledge of teachers’ beliefs and expectations about engineering needs to be understood.
PURPOSE(HYPOTHESIS) The primary purpose was to develop a statistically reliable survey instrument to document teachers’ beliefs and expectations about pre-college engineering instruction, college preparation, and career success in engineering, called the Engineering Education Beliefs and Expectations Instrument (EEBEI), and to compare teachers’ views.
DESIGN/METHOD Using two samples of teachers, EEBEI was established as a statistically reliable survey and was used to examine the beliefs and expectations of Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and non-PLTW teachers. The results were used to further examine teachers’ decisions in advising fictional students (described in vignettes) with varying academic and socioeconomic profiles.
RESULTS High school STEM teachers report their instruction was influenced by students’ interests, family background, and prior academic achievement. Comparisons between PLTW and non-PLTW teachers revealed that non-PLTW teachers agreed more strongly that an engineer must demonstrate high scholastic achievement in math and science whereas PLTW teachers were more likely to report that science and math content was integrated into engineering activities. Although teachers report that students’ socioeconomic status was not influential when asked explicitly, it did influence situated decision-making tasks using fictional student vignettes.
CONCLUSIONS Findings address challenges of STEM integration and reveal conflicting purposes of K–12 engineering education as being for a select few or to promote technological literacy for all students, which affects recruitment, instruction, and assessment practices.