Elementary Teachers’ Perceptions of Engineering and Engineering Design
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) call for the infusion of engineering practices beginning in Kindergarten, yet little is known about how prepared elementary teachers are to incorporate these standards. The purpose of this study was to identify (a) the perceptions that in-service teachers hold about the nature of engineering and engineering design and (b) how these perceptions compare with the engineering practices put forth in NGSS. This study is part of a larger explanatory sequential mixed methods design. Study participants included 542 K-5 public school teachers who were responsible for the science instruction of their students. During the first phase of the study, participants completed an online questionnaire consisting of Likert, selected response, and openended items. The results of the survey were used to finalize interview protocols for the second phase, which consisted of follow-up focus group and interview sessions with a subset of the survey participants. Findings indicated that participants were unfamiliar with engineering or engineering design and held stereotypical misconceptions about the work of engineers. Many participants reported having little experience teaching engineering and were not able to distinguish between examples of science and engineering activities. In short, findings indicated that teachers’ perceptions of engineering and engineering design do not align with the engineering practices and disciplinary core ideas found in NGSS.