Examining the Extent to Which Select Teacher Preparation Experiences Inform Technology and Engineering Educators’ Teaching of Science Content and Practices

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Virginia Tech

With the recent release of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (NGSS Lead States, 2014b) science educators were expected to teach engineering content and practices within their curricula. However, technology and engineering (T&E) educators have been expected to teach content and practices from engineering and other disciplines since the release of the Standards for Technological Literacy (ITEA/ITEEA, 2000/2002/2007). Requisite to the preparation of globally competitive STEM literate individuals is the intentional, concurrent teaching of science, technology, and engineering concepts. Many studies have examined the pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) (Shulman, 1987) of science and T&E educators, but none have examined the science PCK of T&E educators.

The purpose of this study was to examine the extent of the relationship between T&E educator’s science and T&E preparation experiences, and their teaching of science content and practices. This study, which employed a fully integrated mixed methods design (Teddlie & Tashakkori, 2006), was conducted to inform the pre- and in-service preparation needs for T&E educators. A random sample of 55 Foundations of Technology (FoT) teachers across 12 school systems within one state participated in an online survey, leading to eight teachers being purposefully selected for classroom observations. Data collected from the surveys and classroom observations were analyzed through Spearman’s rho tests to examine relationships between preparation factors and teaching of science content and practices.

These data were corroborated with curriculum content analyses, classroom observations, and interview responses to validate the results. Analyses of the data across all three methods revealed significant correlations between many preparation factors and the teaching of science content and practices. Specifically the amount of high school and undergraduate physics courses, and T&E and science in-service delivered were found to have statistically significant, strong positive correlations. These findings suggest T&E educators with increased amounts of these preparation experiences can be expected to teach science content and practices more proficiently. The findings and conclusions drawn from the data analyses provide implications for science and T&E educators, researchers, preservice programs, and in-service professional development efforts. The discussion and implications suggest the need to conduct replication studies in different contexts.

Pedagogical Content Knowledge, Technology and Engineering education, Integrative STEM Education, Mixed methods