A qualitative assessment of preservice elementary teachers' formative perceptions regarding engineering and K-12 engineering education
Current teacher education programs provide limited instruction for preservice elementary teachers regarding the incorporation or teaching of engineering concepts and skills in their classrooms. Few studies have been conducted that focus specifically on preservice elementary teachers' formative perceptions and receptivity towards engineering
education. That is, not enough is known about what preservice teachers know and think about engineering.
The purpose of this qualitative research study was to investigate how forty-four preservice elementary teachers' from a large Midwestern university approached engineering design, the perceptions of engineering and K-12 engineering education that they possessed,
and their level of receptiveness with regards to K-12 engineering education. Data were collected using a demographic survey, journal entries, observations, and focus group discussions. The written, verbal, and visual data collected in this study were analyzed using conventional qualitative content analysis, which consisted of inductively developing
categories and codes after repeatedly examining the data.
The results of the study indicate that the preservice elementary teachers did not utilize any deliberate design process when engaged in a design task. Engineering was perceived as being synonymous with construction and that engineering design consists of trial and error.
Participants envisioned their students succeeding in engineering due to their students' prior knowledge, not necessarily the actions of themselves as the teacher. With regards to receptivity, participants expressed apprehension and optimism along with fear and pessimism. Tangential factors also impacted the receptivity of participants.