Learning to be an engineer: report

This report, commissioned by the Royal Academy of Engineering (the Academy), explores the ways schools can create better and more engaging learning opportunities for would-be engineers.

This report identifies four principles that underpin the kinds of teaching that are most likely to encourage young people to develop a passion for engineering in today’s busy schools and colleges:

1. Clear understanding of engineering habits of mind by teachers and learners.

2. The creation of a culture in which these habits flourish.

3. Selection of the best teaching and learning methods; the ‘signature pedagogy’ of engineering.

4. An active engagement with learners as young engineers.

The research demonstrates that teachers:

1. Find the reframing of engineering as a set of habits of mind to be a helpful and practical way of moving beyond the often contested space of individual subject disciplines.

2. Can apply the concept of signature pedagogy in practice, teaching in ways that develop these engineering habits of mind appropriate to their own educational contexts.

3. With targeted professional learning support, can implement and evaluate ways of designing new curricula using these different pedagogies, so beginning a process of improving their own teaching practices.

Based on the findings of the report, the Royal Academy of Engineering makes six broad recommendations:

  • The need for more extensive promotion of EHoM as a mechanism for improving science capital1 in young people, and the provision of more resources for teachers who wish to adopt the pedagogic approaches identified in the report.
  • The enhancement of existing professional learning networks for teachers to encourage collaborative professional learning and ensure the more rapid spread of effective pedagogies and curriculum design for engineering education2 in schools.
  • The potential synergies between engineering, design and technology (D&T), computing and science, including the use of thematic curricula with real-world contexts, should be actively explored in all stages of the school curriculum.
  • A more strategic focus on school leadership in driving change in support of engineering education should be developed.
  • More research to understand how progression in EHoM can be measured.
  • More research on how more engineers can best be engaged in schools in the ways described in the report.

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