A new approach in the making: reinvigorating engineering education in UK schools

Trowsdale, Jo and Davies, Richard orcid iconORCID: 0000-0002-7910-8959 (2022) A new approach in the making: reinvigorating engineering education in UK schools. In: 8th International Symposium for Engineering Education, 1st-2nd September 2022, University of Strathclyde.

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.17868/strath.00082024


The value of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education, for STEM subjects and for developing the outcomes desired of a broader education, has seen significant interest in recent years. In the UK educational pathways into engineering are limited and engineering is rarely mentioned in the curriculum. Its closest partner, Design Technology, is typically under-resourced, especially in primary schools. However, the perceived value of STEAM in primary education has led to a range of different initiatives which have made this a fertile testbed for new approaches; approaches which will, over the coming decade, filter through all phases of education. Critically, STEAM has been identified, through its fusion with the arts, as fostering creative thinking in ways useful to STEM, particularly engineering. Additionally, it is argued that STEAM, if implemented early enough, can diversify the range of individuals considering careers in engineering.
We draw on a five-year, primary education arts-engineering project which showed the efficacy of this inquiry-based STEAM approach in developing confident, creative learners, who felt they had agency in their learning, and a further two-year project working with teachers to design innovative art-engineering schemes of work following this model. The research explores the views of the engineers/designers, teachers, artists and pupils.
The model developed from the research, the Trowsdale Art-Making Model for Education, has been tested by teachers as a practical approach to designing more embodied and inquiry-based curricula and pedagogies. The engineers identified this as critical in fostering children’s interest for and their ability in engineering.

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