High School Science Teachers' Views of Nature of Engineering and Application of Engineering Design Practices

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

American Society for Engineering Education


Increasing the number of students in STEM disciplines is a priority area in U.S. education, as evidenced by government initiatives such as Educate to Innovate and STEM for All. With 17 states adopting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), many teachers now need to incorporate engineering design practices into their curriculum. Conventional teacher training includes science, technology and mathematics; however, only a small fraction of teachers have received pre- or in-service professional development for engineering design practices. Consequently, high school in-service teachers are facing obstacles to introduce engineering to their students effectively. There is an increasing need to develop teacher’s nature of engineering and train them in engineering design practices. Accordingly, the first author developed a graduate level, NGSS-aligned engineering education curricula for high school science teachers and offered the course in 2016 in a southwestern higher education institute as part of an NSF EPSCoR grant. The nature of engineering, specifically the engineering design process, was taught to teachers in the context of an engineering challenge. In-service teachers were exposed to all steps of the cyclical NGSS engineering design process. This work in progress study used a solar water heater design challenge to expose high school in-service science teachers from a public school district to the NGSS-aligned engineering design process. The goal of our research was to examine the perceptions of in-service high school science teachers nature of engineering views and to evaluate growth in their ability to apply NGSS engineering design practices. We provide here a single-case analysis for one teacher as a pilot study for future research. The paper provides a brief overview of our case study research in regards to curriculum design, data, methods, and preliminary results. Our data sources included pre/post Nature of Engineering (NOE) assessment, in-service teacher written reflections, and assignments. At the conclusion of the course, the teacher’s understanding of the engineering design process increased and there was a slight improvement in understanding NOE.