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Dr. John Karsnitz and Dr. Steve O’Brien, School of Engineering

The College of New Jersey

The importance of all citizens gaining technological literacy as part of their liberal studies has been recognized nationally and internationally[1]. Technological literacy is becoming a national imperative largely because technology is fundamental to all human activity. Clearly, technological products, systems, and environments are increasingly in everyday use, creating a need for individuals to gain capability to cope with human dilemmas and the related trade-offs and risks associated with contemporary society. Studying about technology/engineering intimately engages students in the design and problem solving process. In the worlds of business, public policy, law, communications, and other “non-technical” fields, technologically literate individuals have a competitive edge. As consumers, voters, and community members, sophisticated understandings of science and technology enhance our lives.

The Mathematics, Science, and Technology (M/S/T) academic major serves the early childhood education, elementary education, education of the deaf and hard of hearing, and special education populations. The program is administered by the Department of Technological Studies in the School of Engineering and is a collaborative effort between the Schools of Engineering, Education, and Science. The M/S/T program represents a model for teacher preparation where teacher candidates learn STEM principles and skills which are seriously underrepresented in all elementary schools. The program at TCNJ provides an important service to the citizens of the State by graduating highly qualified teachers, conducting research, and developing curricula in this newly recognized area[2]. The major has become one of the fastest growing at the College with over 150 graduates and current majors since its inception in 2000.


Through major NSF research grants, ties Magazine, commercial publications, and a strong vision for innovation, faculty members have demonstrated a commitment to excellence and are building an exemplary program worthy of national distinction and possible duplication at other institutions nationally with schools of engineering and education.


Building on the technological literacy movement of the late 1980’s, the Department of Technological Studies organized meetings with the departments of biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, elementary education and early childhood education, and TCNJ Statewide Systemic Initiative (an M/S/T funded effort) to discuss the design of an interdisciplinary academic major. As a result of that effort, the M/S/T major was proposed and approved by the TCNJ Board of Trustees on June 25, 1998 and by the NJ Department of Education on January 31, 2000. The academic major has been coordinated by Dr. John Karsnitz, Chair, Department of Technological Studies. As noted in the original proposal:

Given the national and international focus on the M/S/T paradigm, the citizens of New Jersey will be well served by this new major. (Education) graduates from the program will be prepared to take leadership in shaping curriculum around the critically needed M/S/T paradigm (p. 4).

M/S/T for Teacher Preparation

Interest in the M/S/T concept remains high and the College of New Jersey continues to provide leadership in M/S/T curriculum studies. Our national research agenda, externally funded at over six million dollars, reflects both a national record of success and an institutional commitment to finding answers to important technological literacy questions. The $1.2 million Children Designing and EngineeringTM Project, directed by Dr. Patricia Hutchinson and funded by the National Science Foundation, has produced twelve contextual learning units for Grades K-5. The units, developed at the College of New Jersey with assistance from the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, present science, technology and math content in real-world contexts inspired by New Jersey businesses. Children use what they’ve learned to design and make solutions to problems that are interesting, challenging – and fun! Rigorously field tested in New Jersey schools, the CD&E units are now in use in Hamilton Township (Mercer County) and Washington Township (Gloucester County) schools. Dr. Sharon Sherman, working with the Center for Design and Technology research team, received funding for an M/S/T demonstration classroom. With the recent passage of Bill A2169 establishing Technology Education as a core subject, CD&E provides excellent tools to help teachers to address new state standards.

M/S/T for All

In Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More about Technology (2002), the National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council make the case that American society and its various institutions must develop technological literacy in the populace. They note that the process must start in K-12 schools, proceed through undergraduate and graduate education, and continue in society at large. American educational institutions need to develop in our citizens an understanding of technology, “how it influences society, and how people can and do affect its development. Formal recognition of the study of technology began with the National Science Foundation. Characterized as the study of the designed world, NSF (1991) noted that “technology is not an instrument but a field of study [that] involves the application of learned principles to specific, tangible solutions … design under constraint”.

In 1993 the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), under the auspices of its funded “Project 2061”, published the “Benchmarks for Scientific Literacy”. Recognized as a watershed for school reform, Benchmarks sets standards for scientific literacy for all Americans. Most interesting is the fact that, in the view of AAAS, scientific literacy consists of integrating the study of mathematics, science, and technology. The Benchmark document was intended to influence state reform movements, and it has been used for that purpose. In 1996, the New Jersey Board of Education approved new “Standards” which drew heavily on the “Benchmark” document. While recent revisions to the core content remain grounded in the Benchmarks for Scientific Literacy, the Board has added new national standards such as the Standards for Technological Literacy (ITEA, 2000) for guidance. We continue to see the integration of mathematics, science, and technology as both process and content. As such, the transformative program must continue to develop high level thinking (literacy) and action (capability) skills through the integration of all knowledge within the context of solving real-world problems.

In the call for technological literacy, AAAS and others specifically noted that past approaches to teaching only mathematics and science fall short of the intellectual and social challenges of the 21st century. In a recent Australian conference paper titled “Engineering in the K-12 Curriculum”, Dr. Gerhard Salinger, NSF Program Officer, clarified the relationship between science and technology.

Mathematics is about relationships between abstract entities that may or may not connect to the natural world. Science is particular ways of connecting observations about the natural world – the use of evidence to verify hypotheses. Technology extends our ability to modify the natural world to meet human needs and wants. There is a continuum from abstract to concrete in going from mathematics to science to technology education. Whereas the center of any of these areas may be well defined, the boundaries are increasing blurred. As one goes along this continuum, there is logic, pure mathematics, applied mathematics, theoretical science, experimental science, engineering science, engineering, tinkering and crafts. …Engineering can be considered to be the application of knowledge to the design of practical solutions of perceived problems. First a general approach is worked out and then applied to solve the technical details of a particular problem. The processes of engineering are closely allied to scientific inquiry and mathematical modeling (AAAS, 1990).

Salinger continues his clarification drawing the conclusion that the study of technology is closely aligned with engineering education at the college level.

It is also interesting to follow the course of engineering in the US. Up until the 1950’s, engineering education was handbook engineering.  Engineers were taught to use handbooks of tables. However during World War II, most of the large engineering jobs went to physicists and chemists. The engineers then concentrated their education and research on engineering science – the science necessary to understand the application. In this period of time, colleges recruited students proficient in mathematics and science from high schools. In the last ten years, industry is pointing out that the newly minted engineers are of little use to them.  It takes too long to re-educate them. As a result, engineering education is emphasizing design and process control. In the K-12 system, this, if taught at all, is done by technology education. Thus engineering education in K-12 is technology education (Prados, 1995).

A key component of the exemplary TCNJ experience is the recognition of the design, engineering, and technology (DE&T) approach which draws upon the knowledge base of a continuum of professional technologists, from the more user-centered studies of industrial designers and architects to the scientifically and mathematically driven disciplines of engineering. Similarly, the roots of technology education range from industrial education, with its technical skills orientation, to the engineering applications of abstract knowledge. Through the manipulation of materials, energy, and information, DE&T integrates the content of science and math, their engineering applications, and the designer’s understanding of the end user. By adding the dimension of society’s values to the employment of technical and scientific skills and knowledge, DE&T presents decision-laden design activities. Because the practice of technology integrates such disparate abilities and perspectives, it offers the ideal opportunity to infuse science, engineering, and design into the consideration and resolution of diverse human problems.

State and national priorities are beginning to reflect a reality that technological literacy is an essential for all students and especially the segments of society that are traditionally underrepresented in the fields of science, math, and engineering. This expansion needs to draw more girls to the study of science, math, and technology in the schools and it must also improve the technological literacy of rural and inner-city youth and ethnic minorities. This integrated approach holds the promise not only of building pre-engineering into secondary curricula, but also of encouraging the interest of segments of society that have traditionally shied away from studying science, math, or engineering. In its incorporation of informal-education resources into school curricula, it addresses the gap between cultural institutions and attitudes that characterize the support structure for affluent students and the absence of such structures in the lives of underachieving children.

The ultimate goal of M/S/T, however, is not only the production of more professional scientists and engineers, but rather a technologically literate populace from whose ranks will come capable consumers and producers; innovators and artists; voters, political leaders and decisions-makers at all levels. With this outcome in mind, TCNJ’s M/S/T liberal arts degree is the culmination of a K-16 education for a high-tech society.

Program Goals and Outcomes

Program Goals and Outcomes were established in support of the Department and College Missions and are based on the Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, Project 2061) and national ITEA/CTTE/NCATE revised standards. As noted in the report, “The terms and circumstances of human existence can be expected to change radically during the next human life span. Science, mathematics, and technology will be at the center of that change — causing it, shaping it, responding to it. Therefore, they will be essential to the education of today’s children for tomorrow’s world (p. XI).”

Upon the completion of the M/S/T program, the candidate is expected to be able to function as a competent professional. This capability involves acquisition of essential intellectual skills, broad social, natural science, quantitative and technology/engineering (STEM) understanding, and an appreciation for the humanities as well as demonstrated knowledge of the discipline. For those linking the M/S/T major with one of the specified education programs, the candidate will also possess professional skills to imbue that content to students in K-8 programs. New graduates must demonstrate the ability to apply ethical principles as well as a commitment to continued personal and professional growth in the discipline and in the art and science of teaching.

Baccalaureate Degree (32 Units)

The program was restructured in 2003 as part of the College’s transformation to a unit course system. The program consists of 10 units of Liberal Learning that include a Creative Design course, Calculus A and a natural science. The 12 unit M/S/T academic major consists of a “Core” of 8 units including ETE 261/Multimedia Design, ETE 271/Structures and Mechanics, two (2) additional science options, one (1) additional math (either Calculus B or ETE 131 Engineering Math), two (2) M/S/T electives, and TED 460/Integrated M/S/T for Young Learners and an elected area of “Specialization” which consists of four (4) additional units in either Technology/Pre-Engineering, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, or Physics. The specialization is equal to a minor in one of the disciplines and may require that specific courses be taken as part of the core requirements (see the attached specialization sheet).

For students choosing an education major, 10 units of Professional Education will be required. All students electing one of the M/S/T & Education majors will meet NJ State Certification requirements for K-5 “highly qualified teacher.” In addition to their primary k-5 certification, M/S/T majors can apply for an endorsement for middle school mathematics or science by possessing 15 credits of course work in the discipline and passing the appropriate PRAXIS test or a technology education certification by possessing at least 30 specified credits and passing the PRAXIS technology education test.


Specializations for M/S/T majors in Elementary Education (ELST),
Early Childhood Education (ECST), Special Education (SEST), and
Deaf & Hard of Hearing (DHST)

The M/S/T interdisciplinary major integrates formal study in mathematics, science, and technology to gain a better understanding of the human designed world in which we all live. The major consists of nine (9) units of courses drawn from a common “core”, one (1) approved M/S/T elective, and a four (4) unit “specialization” in one of the M/S/T disciplines. Students in the major receive careful course selection advisement so that they qualify for a middle school endorsement in one of the M/S/T disciplines. All majors must see the M/S/T academic program coordinator for general advisement.

Technology Specialization*

Students electing a technology specialization will complete MAT 127/Calculus A, ETE 131/Engineering Math**, PHY 201/General Physics I or SCI 103/Physical, Earth, and Space Sciences, two approved science courses, ETE 261/Multimedia Design, ETE 271/Structures and Mechanics, MAT 105/Mathematical Structures and Algorithms for Educators I, TED 460/Integrated M/S/T for the Child/Adolescent Learner, and one M/S/T approved electives. The technology specialization consists of three additional units (with one at the 300 level or higher) selected from the following courses: ETE 111/Engineering Design, ETE 281/Analog Circuits and Devices, ETE 361/Architectural and Civil Engineering Design, ETE 461 Manufacturing Systems, or two laboratory courses (ETE 275, ETE 365) and one approved elective supporting middle school endorsement.

Mathematics Specialization*

Students electing a Mathematics Specialization will complete MAT 127/128 Calculus A/B, three approved science course, ETE 261/Multimedia Design, ETE 271/Structures and Mechanics, TED 460/Integrated M/S/T for the Child/Adolescent Learner, and two M/S/T approved electives. The Mathematics Specialization consists of completing any four MAT courses numbered above the required courses of MAT127-128 (MAT 200 is a specialization requirement and should be taken before MTT 202).

Biology Specialization*

Students electing a Biology Specialization will complete MAT 127 Calculus A and an approved second math course, BIO 185/Themes, CHE 201/202 General Chemistry I/II, ETE 261/Multimedia Design, ETE 271/Structures and Mechanics, MAT 105/Mathematical Structures and Algorithms for Educators I, TED 460/Integrated M/S/T for the Child/Adolescent Learner, and one M/S/T approved electives. The Biology Specialization consists of two of the following three courses; BIO 211/Biology of the Eukaryotic, BIO 221/Ecology and Field Biology, or BIO 231 Genetics and two electives at the 200 level or above (BIO211/221 or 231 may be used as one upper level elective).

Chemistry Specialization*

Students electing a Chemistry Specialization will complete MAT 127/128 Calculus A/B, CHE 201/202 General Chemistry I/II, one approved non-chemistry science course, ETE 261/Multimedia Design, ETE 271/Structures and Mechanics, MAT 105/Mathematical Structures and Algorithms for Educators I, TED 460/Integrated M/S/T for the Child/Adolescent Learner, and one M/S/T approved electives. The Chemistry Specialization consists of CHE 321/322 Organic Chemistry I/II, a chemistry elective at the 300 level or above, and an approved elective supporting middle school endorsement.

Physics Specialization*

Students electing a Physics Specialization will complete MAT 127/128 Calculus A/B, PHY 201/202 General Physics I/II, one approved non-physics science course, ETE 261/Multimedia Design, ETE 271/Structures and Mechanics, MAT 105/Mathematical Structures and Algorithms for Educators I, TED 460/Integrated M/S/T for the Child/Adolescent Learner, and one M/S/T approved electives. The Physics Specialization consists of three courses taken from: PHY 120/Geology, PHY 161/Astronomy, PHY 171/Meteorology, PHY 311/Electrical Circuits and Electronics, PHY 321/Modern Physics, PHY 306/Math Physics or an elective at the 300 level or above, and an approved elective supporting middle school endorsement.

*All M/S/T electives must be approved by the M/S/T academic program coordinator
**ETE 131/Engineering Math counts toward the middle school math endorsement

Department of Technological Studies Audit Sheet



[1] A National Imperative: All national reports since 1992 have identified the need for students to study Technology (The Designed World). See National Science Foundation (1992), Benchmarks for Science Literacy, Project 2061 (AAAS, 1993), Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (ITEA, 2000), Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology (National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council, National Academy Press, 2002), New Jersey, Governor McGreevey signs Bill A2169 on May 5, 2003 “Establishing New Jersey as a Leader in Technology Education, New Jersey Department of Education Proposes a new “Core Content Standard #8 Technological Literacy”.

[2] At The College of New Jersey, we have conducted over $5,000,000 of funded grant activities focused on developing age appropriate technology curriculum and research on design-based learning.

Children Designing & Engineering has developed and field tested curricula for children K-8 in conjunction with New Jersey business and industry representing pharmaceuticals, communications/I.T., food/agro business, entertainment, utilities, and manufacturing learning.

Exploring Design & Engineering middle school curricula and Design & Engineering high school curricula are being developed through a project funded by the New Jersey Commission on Higher Education. ED&E units in Packaging Engineering, Community Engineering (Bridge Design, Traffic Control, and Sound Barriers), and Theme Park Engineering are currently under development and field testing. D&E units in Digital DJ, Yacht Design, Automata (computer controlled mechanical toys), and Engineering Materials are also under development and field testing. Extensive state-wide teacher in-service training is part of the project.