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Barriers and Opportunities to the Acquisition of Systems Thinking Skills for K-12 Teachers

[+] Author Affiliations
Greg A. Bartus, Frank T. Fisher

Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, NJ

Paper No. IMECE2016-67146, pp. V005T06A045; 7 pages
  • ASME 2016 International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition
  • Volume 5: Education and Globalization
  • Phoenix, Arizona, USA, November 11–17, 2016
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-5057-2
  • Copyright © 2016 by ASME


Conceptual and pedagogical barriers in post-secondary education inhibit student preparedness in system thinking skills (STS) critical for success in the workplace. To improve instruction in systems and sustainable engineering skills at the undergraduate level it is instructive to look at STS barriers and opportunities K-12 teacher’s face when they take part in a systems engineering (SE) project. This case study presents our approach to instructing K-12 educators about systems engineering through the design of a wind farm. Demographics of the 35 participants in this NSF-sponsored program who are all grades 3–8 classroom teachers include that they are 66% elementary level teachers, mostly female (80%), with an average of 10 years’ experience. Assessment of the project included a pre- and post-assessment of engineering and SE concepts, student reflections, customer feedback and an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET) driven rubric. Results include that K-12 teachers exhibit strong interpersonal skills but were challenged by technical skills more common to the university level. Vertical collaborations between K-12 and post-secondary is a suggested approach to address barriers at both levels.

Copyright © 2016 by ASME



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