What is engineering? A comparative case study of elementary students' conceptions of engineering across stem and non-stem schools

Jeanna R. Wieselmann, Elizabeth A. Ring-Whalen, Gillian Roehrig

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


With the inclusion of engineering practices in A Framework for K-12 Science Education [1] and engineering standards in the Next Generation Science Standards [2], engineering instruction is growing increasingly common in elementary classrooms in the U.S. One approach to increasing engineering instruction is through schools with an explicit focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), and national policy documents in the U.S. have called for the development of such schools [3]. However, a clear vision for what K-12 engineering education should include and how it should be implemented is lacking [4]. The responsibility for implementing engineering education in elementary settings often rests on classroom teachers who are also responsible for teaching other subjects that have historically had a stronger focus in elementary education and teacher preparation programs (e.g., language arts and reading, mathematics, science). Because of this, elementary teachers often have no formal training in engineering and may be uncomfortable teaching engineering [4]. Research has shown that teachers have varied conceptions of engineering [5] - [7], yet little research has explored students' conceptions of engineering. This study fills a gap in the literature by addressing the following research questions: 1. How do elementary students conceptualize engineering? 2. How, if at all, do elementary students' conceptions of engineering vary based on whether they attend a STEM-focused school or a school without an explicit STEM focus?

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1545
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Jun 22 2020
Event2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference, ASEE 2020 - Virtual, Online
Duration: Jun 22 2020Jun 26 2020

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Publisher Copyright:
© American Society for Engineering Education 2020.


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