The Integration of Science, Technology, and
Myth or Dream?
Gene W. Gloeckner
The achievement level of U.S. science
students does not compare favorably with
other countries. According to the National
Science Foundation (NSF), the United States
ranked 8th out of 15 countries on a 5th grade
science achievement test. However, by the
9th grade, students in the United States
ranked 15th out of 16 countries rated.
As students enter high school, achieve-
ment continues to be low in all areas of sci-
ence. Physics students ranked tenth among 14
countries rated. In biology, the U.S. ranked
14th out of 14 countries (NSB, 1987).
RANKING OF U.S. STUDENTS IN SCIENCE
Grade Subject Rank Countries
5th Science 8th 15
9th Science 15th 16
High School Physics 10th 14
High School Chemistry 12th 14
High School Biology 14th 14
The low U.S. student performance may be
related to the time spent on task. According
to the National Science Teachers Association
(NSTA Report, April 1989), high school stu-
dents spend far less time in science courses
than their counterparts in the Soviet Union
and the People's Republic of China. Technol-
ogy education can provide an integrated meth-
odology for science and increase the time on
task of our students in science and technol-
TIME SPENT ON BIOLOGY, CHEMISTRY, AND PHYSICS
U.S. USSR PR China
Biology 180 hrs. 321 hrs. 256 hrs.
1 year 6 years 4 years
Chemistry 180 hrs. 323 hrs. 372 hrs.
1 year 4 years 4 years
Physics 180 hrs. 492 hrs. 500 hrs.
1 year 5 years 5 years
EVERYBODY COUNTS: A REPORT TO THE NA-
TION ON THE FUTURE OF MATHEMATICS EDUCATION
and PROJECT 2061: SCIENCE FOR ALL AMERICANS,
clearly details the value of the integration
of science, technology, and mathematics:
There are certain thinking skills asso-
ciated with science, mathematics, and
technology that young people need to
develop during the school years. These
are mostly, but not exclusively, math-
ematics and logical skills that are es-
sential tools for both formal and
informal learning and for a lifetime of
participation in society as a whole.
(AAAS, 1989, p. 133)
From middle school to the university
level, the data indicate a loss of interest
in science and mathematics. According to the
National Research Council (NRC), approxi-
mately one-half of the students leave the
mathematics pipeline each year. The National
Science Foundation indicates that out of the
4 million high school sophomores in 1977 only
750,000 indicated an interest in natural sci-
ences or engineering. That same pipeline
will lead to less than 10,000 Ph.D.s in 1992.
NSF predicts a shortage of over 450,000 B.S.
degrees in natural sciences and engineering
in the year 2,000 (NSB, 1987). About 7 out
of 1,000 U.S. students receive an engineering
degree, while in Japan, the figure is 40 out
Technology education can help students
learn the "doing part" of engineering and na-
tural sciences. It is necessary for instruc-
tion to include relevant "real world"
problems that cause students to practice and
extend their mathematics and science skills.
This approach will address the assertion by
the National Council of Teachers of Mathemat-
ics (NCTM) that knowledge should emerge from
experience with real life problems (NCTM,
1989). To help accomplish these objectives,
TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION HAS THE OPPORTUNITY AND
OBLIGATION TO INTEGRATE SCIENCE AND MATHEMAT-
ICS INTO TECHNOLOGY ACTIVITIES.
VOCATIONAL EDUCATION RESPONDS
National vocational consortium projects
such as PRINCIPLES OF TECHNOLOGY, APPLIED
MATHEMATICS, and APPLIED BIOLOGY/CHEMISTRY
not only discuss the need for such inte-
gration but demonstrate ways in which the in-
tegration can take place. Similarly, the
Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied Tech-
nology Education Act of 1990 requires that
such academics be integrated into vocational
Technology education programs such as
the ones in Pittsburg, Kansas and Eagle Crest
and Delta, Colorado have effectively demon-
strated the value of integrating technology
with science and mathematics. Technology ed-
ucation programs have shown that such inte-
gration is successful. Yet our profession is
slow to change.
The many national and state reports have
documented the need to integrate science,
technology, and mathematics. There are model
programs and complete curriculum packages
available to provide such integration. THEN
WHY DOESN'T MORE INTEGRATION TAKE PLACE? I
believe that several roadblocks occur due to
the inability of universities and state de-
partments to support and model such inte-
As an example, most people who have re-
viewed the Principles of Technology curric-
ulum realize the value that Principles of
Technology brings to the student. The stu-
dent uses mathematics, physics, and technol-
ogy to better understand society in much the
same way that an engineer would use that
knowledge. Yet, very few universities will
accept Principles of Technology as a science
credit toward entrance into the university.
This roadblock is communicated to counselors
and administrators. Many students fear that
the university of their choice might frown
upon such "integrated knowledge" and not ad-
mit them. Similarly, universities have to
deal with a transcript that lists "technology
education." In most cases technology educa-
tion credit does little to excite university
admission officers. We, the technology
teacher educators, must educate the admission
offices on our campuses.
LEADING BY EXAMPLE
Universities provide few examples of the
integration of science, technology, and math-
ematics. Most frequently, engineering, sci-
ence, and mathematics departments are run as
theoretical units with little knowledge of
"doing." Similarly, many practical arts
fields such as industrial technology, tech-
nology education, occupational therapy, and
vocational education promote the doing with
little emphasis on the scientific and math-
ematical base behind the doing.
COLLEGE ENTRANCE EXAMS
College entrance exams also work as
roadblocks toward the integration of math,
science, and technology. ACT and SAT exams
are departmentalized and focus on theoretical
knowledge with very little, if any, real
world application. Many universities across
the country are clamoring for the integration
of science, technology, and mathematics, but
at the same time there is a reluctance to ap-
preciate the value of high school programs
that are already accomplishing such inte-
gration through technology education, Princi-
ples of Technology, Applied Mathematics, and
other integrated programs.
ROADBLOCKS TO TECHNOLOGY TEACHER EDUCATION
As university technology education pro-
grams try to keep up with the times, they of-
ten face the following realities:
o a decreasing undergraduate student popu-
o decreasing university budgets
o an older tenured staff that is reluctant
o old, large, and outdated equipment that
is bolted to the floor with emotional
o a federal budget of $62 billion of which
two-tenths of one percent support educa-
tional research (AERA, 1990, p. 5).
Compounding the above problem is the
fact that technology education has not found
its home in the K-12 system. As Rustum Roy
pointed out in a recent article in this jour-
nal, (Roy, 1990):
In the American public's belief system
'Science' is a uniform good. The Amer-
ican credo affirms 'more scientific re-
search' is certain to be good for the
nation. In economic terms, it fails to
distinguish between a 'consumption' and
an 'investment good.' Without any
thought or reflection, the U.S. public
and its leaders base action on the pro-
position that the supply of 'basic sci-
ence' is infinite, that science leads
to applied science which in turn leads
to technology and jobs.
Yet, Roy gives the following as a more
accurate description of the science and tech-
1. Technology leads to science more
often than science leads to tech-
2. Technology and science are not in
the same hierarchical plane in hu-
man learning. Technology inte-
grates science's results with half
a dozen other inputs to reach a
3. Teaching technology and about tech-
nology is important for all citi-
zens, while science is an equally
important addition for a small
(10-15%) subset. (Roy, 1990, p.
SOLUTIONS FOR OUR PROFESSION
Professors in the field of technology
education must stand up for the value of the
content. The integration of science, tech-
nology, and mathematics will require that
technology teacher educators work hand-in-
hand with the other academic areas. In fact,
many times the technology teacher will need
to lead the other academic areas to rational
For example, at Colorado State Univer-
sity we are fortunate that our Admissions Of-
fice recognizes the value of Principles of
Technology and accepts Principles of Technol-
ogy as a science course for entrance into the
University. Colorado State accomplished this
by assembling the faculty from the College of
Engineering and the Department of Physics and
demonstrating to the faculty the value of the
Principles of Technology curriculum. The de-
partment chair for Physics and the associate
dean for the College of Engineering then
wrote a letter to Admissions supporting Prin-
ciples of Technology as one way of obtaining
Over the past year, the National Science
Foundation and the U.S. Department of Educa-
tion have supported a wide variety of initi-
atives that encourage and require the
integration of science, technology, and math-
ematics. Leadership from our national organ-
ization has helped establish the Technology
Education Demonstration Program. Even with
the political pressure to balance the budget,
there will be increased support for innova-
tive programs that demonstrate to the country
how to produce a person who can understand
and use the technological tools of our time.
Teacher education institutions that are suc-
cessful at acquiring federal and state funds
will find it easier to overcome the road-
blocks that face technology education.
CARL D. PERKINS VOCATIONAL AND
APPLIED TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION ACT OF 1990
For most states it is clear that the
single largest impact on technology education
will come in the form of the authorization of
the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Applied
Technology Education Act of 1990. The new
act emphasizes the importance of technology
education and the integration of academics
into occupational education. We must work
together to meet the needs of all youth and
give them the education they deserve.
THE ACCREDITATION OPPORTUNITY
Recently, our national organization
(ITEA), through the Council for Technology
Teacher Education (CTTE), established spe-
cific criteria which are used when the Na-
tional Council for Accreditation of Teacher
Education (NCATE) evaluates teacher education
programs. The new NCATE guidelines clearly
emphasize the importance of the integration
of science, technology, and mathematics.
This peer pressure forces technology teacher
education institutions to evaluate how they
can better integrate science and mathematics
into their technology programs. In addition,
the NCATE review causes universities to as-
semble documentation that may be used to as-
sist in acquiring additional funds and
provide support for change.
Although there are many obstacles to the
integration of science, technology, and math-
ematics, there has never been a more exciting
time for our profession to embrace such inte-
gration. Nearly every national and state re-
port on education highlights the importance
of that integration. This emphasis on educa-
tion is causing an increase in federal and
state funds for technology education and its
academic counterparts. We have the challenge
to follow the CTTE's NCATE guidelines and em-
brace change and, most importantly, to pro-
vide the leadership for the integration of
science, technology, and mathematics.
Myth or dream? The integration of sci-
ence, technology, and mathematics will become
reality if we, the technology teacher educa-
tors, respond to federal and state requests
for proposals, seek the support of science
and mathematics educators on our campuses,
and focus on the needs of the middle school,
high school, and university students. We
must be leaders in ensuring that students of
all ages, gender, and ethnic backgrounds can
participate in society as "doers and think-
ers." Technology education provides a
hands-on, minds-on approach to science and
mathematics. The words of Calvin Woodward,
from more than a century ago, are relevant
Hail to the skillful cunning hand!
Hail to the cultured mind!
Contending for the world's command,
Here let them be combined.
(Barlow, 1967, p. 36)
Gene Gloeckner is Associate Professor, De-
partment of Industrial Sciences, Colorado
State University, Fort Collins, Colorado.
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Permission is given to copy any
article or graphic provided credit is given and
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Journal of Technology Education Volume 2, Number 2 Spring 1991