Inside the classroom: Challenges to teaching engineering design in high school

Sibel Uysal, Senay Yasar, Dale Baker, Sharon Kurpius, Stephen Krause, Chell Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The advances in engineering, particularly over the past few decades, have transformed the daily lives of people. This, in turn, has captured the attention of students at all grade levels. The fascination with technology has generated increased interest among students at an early age, and motivated some to study the field of engineering. It is not too early to start building the foundation for engineering education at the high school level where curricula are being modified to increase students' familiarity with engineering. The objectives of this research were to evaluate the experiences of a high school teacher who developed an innovative engineering program and also to prepare a rubric to guide future teachers who want to teach engineering in their classrooms. An introductory engineering course was offered as an elective and taught by a mathematics teacher who was also an engineer with prior industry experience. It was composed of two one-semester components with hands-on design activities. Eighty-six male and four female students in grades 9, 10, 11, and 12 participated. The data was collected through observations and videotapes of the classes. NVivo qualitative research analysis software was used to code the observation notes and to reveal patterns in the data. At the end of this research project, even though the instructor had limited resources, he was able to meet many of the challenges that he faced in creating and implementing the new engineering program. However he did not sustain the students' interest with several hands-on design activities, such as building an airplane, a tower, a bridge, guest speakers, field trips, readings about the design process, and team presentations, Mr. Q. was not able to pay enough attention to some aspects of the class which inhibited the success of the program. For example, the video presentations or activities were selected to reflect the interests of the students, as indicated by student questions or discussions. Gender and minority interests were not explicitly taken into consideration. For example, most videos focused on disasters resulting from engineering mishaps videos that might show the relevance of engineering to society. Furthermore, difficulties were encountered because of grade level differences in maturity, or mathematics and science backgrounds. This was because criteria and pre-requisites were not established for activities, and did not provide enough explanation about the roles of group members.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - 2007
Event114th Annual ASEE Conference and Exposition, 2007 - Honolulu, HI, United States
Duration: Jun 24 2007Jun 27 2007

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering


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