Introduction to engineering : a case study of an interdisciplinary course in Mathematics, Science and Technology
White, Paul L.
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This thesis research was a qualitative case study of a single class of Interdisciplinary Studies: Introduction to Engineering taught in a secondary school. The study endeavoured to explore students' experiences in and perceptions of the course, and to investigate the viability of engineering as an interdisciplinary theme at the secondary school level. Data were collected in the form of student questionnaires, the researcher's observations and reflections, and artefacts representative of students' work. Data analysis was performed by coding textual data and classifying text segments into common themes. The themes that emerged from the data were aligned with facets of interdisciplinary study, including making connections, project-based learning, and student engagement and affective outcomes. The findings of the study showed that students were positive about their experiences in the course, and enjoyed its project-driven nature. Content from mathematics, physics, and technological design was easily integrated under the umbrella of engineering. Students felt that the opportunity to develop problem solving and teamwork skills were two of the most important aspects of the course and could be relevant not only for engineering, but for other disciplines or their day-to-day lives after secondary school. The study concluded that engineering education in secondary school can be a worthwhile experience for a variety of students and not just those intending postsecondary study in engineering. This has implications for the inclusion of engineering in the secondary school curriculum and can inform the practice of curriculum planners at the school, school board, and provincial levels. Suggested directions for further research include classroom-based action research in the areas of technological education, engineering education in secondary school, and interdisciplinary education.