A scoping literature review of learning progressions of engineering education at primary and secondary school level

Amy Bonsall, Lynne Bianchi, Janet Hanson

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ABSTRACTIntroductionEngineering education within the education pipeline Learning progression (LP)Methods Limitations Results High-alignment ranked data papers in alphabetical order Definitions of LP from existing literature cited in the data paper discussion.
Background: This scoping literature review was undertaken by the Science and Engineering Education Research and Innovation Hub at The University of Manchester to enhance the understanding of how teachers can be supported to plan for progression in engineering education in primary and secondary schools in England.
Purpose & Method: The aim of this literature review is to provide insight into Learning Progressions (LPs) published globally for primary and secondary school level. In setting out the context and parameters for the study the paper identifies and compares definitions for LPs. It synthesises emergent themes from 25 academic papers. Findings: Four main findings were deducted from the data papers. Firstly, UK curricular were not discussed. Secondly, within the dataset near parity between science and engineering-focused papers was revealed. Thirdly, of the data papers reviewed nearly the same number used pre-existing definitions of LPs to those that did not offer any definition or description of LP. Furthermore, around half this number created their own, or used a generalised description of LPs. Finally, the data papers highlighted a lack of common definition for engineering education LPs, unlike science LPs. None of the data papers provided an LP specific to engineering education aligned to the National Curriculum (NC) in England. 
Conclusions: Four recommendations emerge: i) engineering education should be recognised as a distinct subject within the NC for England; ii) more academic research and curriculum development is required within the field of engineering education LP specifically aligned with the NC in England; iii) industry and education would benefit from further collaboration to ensure that their respective needs and positions are adequately met through schools; iv) teacher professional development and resources need focused auditing and investment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
Number of pages24
JournalResearch in Science and Technological Education
Early online date5 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Oct 2020


  • Engineering learning progression, primary school, secondary school, engineering curriculum


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