• Engineering education professional development for teachers in the Delta Greely School District

      Dougherty, Jennifer; Kaden, Ute; Thorsen, Denise; Larson, Angela (2019-12)
      Over the last two decades engineering has become a new focus in many science curricula, in part due to the emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education. Most teachers lack training or education in engineering and are not adequately prepared to implement effective engineering education. This research identifies the needs and constraints of one district, the Delta Greely School District (DGSD), in Delta Junction, AK (approximately 750 students district-wide). Surveys were distributed to fifty teachers and five administrators to gather information on attitudes and beliefs surrounding engineering education. Focus groups were conducted with teachers and administrators to better understand the needs of the teachers and the district as well as the perceived obstacles that currently limit engineering education in the classroom. The results were used to create recommendations for professional development to improve and increase engineering education in the district's K-5 classrooms. The final recommendations focus on a professional development plan and professional development delivery modes. Results of the study support two levels of professional development: one introductory level for teachers unfamiliar or not comfortable with engineering education and one for teachers who are comfortable with the subject and would like to improve their teaching. It was also determined that specific teaching resources (i.e., lesson plans and curricular material) should be part of professional development, and that professional development solution should be designed to complement the specific district-provided resources and curricula.