Journal of Technology Education

Journal of Technology Education

Current Editor: Chris Merrill,
Previous Editors: Mark Sanders 1989-1997; James LaPorte: 1997-2010

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Volume 2, Number 2
Spring 1991

                         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).
                        TABLE 1
                        RANKING OF U.S. STUDENTS IN SCIENCE
                                                            Number of
                        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-
                        TABLE 2
                                          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-
                        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
                        of 1,000.
                             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,
                        ICS INTO TECHNOLOGY ACTIVITIES.
                                VOCATIONAL EDUCATION RESPONDS
                             National vocational consortium projects
                        such as PRINCIPLES OF TECHNOLOGY, APPLIED
                        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
                             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
                        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.
                             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
                            to change
                        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-
                        nology relationship:
                           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
                        scientific knowledge.
                                      FINANCIAL SUPPORT
                             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.
                        American Association for Advancement of Sci-
                           ence.  (1989).  PROJECT 2061: SCIENCE FOR
                           ALL AMERICANS.  Washington, DC.
                        American Educational Research Association.
                           (1990).  Education R&D's lament (and what
                           to do about it).  EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHER,
                           Research News and Comment.  Washington,
                        Barlow, M. L.  (1967).  HISTORY OF INDUSTRIAL
                           EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES.    Peoria,
                           IL:  Chas. A. Bennett Co.
                        Gollnick, D., & Kunkel, R.  (1990, winter).
                           The Holmes agenda and national accredi-
                           tation.  THEORY AND PRACTICE - REFORMING
                           EDUCATION: THE HOLMES AGENDA.  The Ohio
                           State University, Columbus, OH.
                        National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.
                           (1989).  CURRICULUM AND EVALUATION STAND-
                           ARDS FOR SCHOOL MATHEMATICS  Reston, VA.
                        National Research Council.  (1989).  EVERY-
                           BODY COUNTS: A REPORT TO THE NATION ON THE
                           FUTURE OF MATHEMATICS EDUCATION.  National
                           Academy Press, Washington, DC.
                        National Science Teachers Association.
                           (March/April, 1989).  NSTA REPORT.
                           Washington, DC.
                        National Science Board.  (1987).  SCIENCE AND
                           ENGINEERING INDICATORS.  Government Print-
                           ing Office, Washington, DC.
                        Roy, R.  (1990).  The relationship of tech-
                           nology to science and the teaching of
                           technology.  JOURNAL OF TECHNOLOGY EDUCA-
                           TION, 1(2), 5-18.

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              Journal of Technology Education   Volume 2, Number 2       Spring 1991