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Utah State University

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Much of the national attention on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education tends to concentrate on science and mathematics, with its emphasis on standardized test scores. However as the National Academy of Engineering Committee on K-12 Engineering Education stressed, engineering can contribute to the development of an effective and interconnected STEM education system (Katehi, Pearson, & Feder, 2009). In addition, engineering can provide authentic learning contexts for science, technology, and mathematics. Numerous K-12 engineering initiatives have emerged across the U.S. developing curriculum and conducting teacher professional development (Brophy, Klein, Portsmore, & Rogers, 2008). The focus of pre-college engineering education has largely been on process, with engineering content or concepts playing at best a secondary role. The Standards for Technological Literacy (STL) (2000), for example, has been cited by many as providing direction for pre-college engineering, with its design-oriented standards. However, the STL do not specify engineering content and focuses only on the design process. In addition, numerous studies have been conducted to identify engineering-oriented outcomes and competencies (Childress & Rhodes, 2008; Dearing & Daugherty, 2004; Harris & Rogers, 2008). However, these studies have resulted in lists that focus heavily on process and the interpersonal skills associated with engineering (communication, teamwork, etc.). For example, Childress and Sanders (2007) examined the related literature and engineering curricular materials, concluding that it is “challenging to create a framework that might be helpful in developing „engineering‟ instructional materials for secondary schools.”