Process Steps


The beginning point for any discussion concerning teaching facilities must be the school’s mission and academic plan. These are the guiding principles that dictate the appropriate curriculum and pedagogy, which in turn dictate the facilities that are and will be required.


Every school should develop a clear description of its mission. It is in the mission statement that the institutional goals and objectives are articulated.


In addition to clarifying the school’s mission, the vision of each department should also be expressed. When done in this sequence, the departmental goals and objectives will be consistent with the overall mission of the school.

The following quotation from the National Science Education Standards includes some of the types of issues that could be part of a science department’s vision for the future.

The goals for school science …that underlie the National Science Education Standards are to educate students who are able to

  • Experience the richness and excitement of knowing about and understanding the natural world;
  • Use appropriate scientific processes and principles in making personal decisions;
  • Engage intelligently in public discourse and debate about matters of scientific and technological concern; and
  • Increase their economic productivity through the use of the knowledge, understanding, and skills of the scientifically literate person in their careers.

Academic Plan

The academic plan forms a basis for implementing the mission of both school and department. The academic plan should identify new initiatives. It should specify which programs the school wishes to support and which programs it wishes to emphasize. Besides defining the subject matter to be taught, the academic plan can also prescribe enhancements such as interdisciplinary teaching, an emphasis on hands-on experiences and student projects, the use of computers, and the use of media.

Curriculum and Pedagogy

The academic plan outlines what students should know and what they should be able to do. The curriculum and pedagogy shows how to get there by prescribing the content of the courses and how they should be taught.

The types of spaces that a school needs are determined by the curriculum and pedagogy. For example, a science curriculum where laboratory and class formats are used concurrently requires a teaching lab large enough to include a classroom area. A math curriculum that relies on both lectures and small group work should be taught in a space that is furnished to allow this to occur. A technology education curriculum that requires students to work on large projects requires a high-bay lab space.

The relationship of one space to another is an important consideration as well. If interdisciplinary teaching is desired, for instance, close proximity of those related classes would be desirable. If students are encouraged to work independently, close proximity of a science or technology education teaching lab to a prep room or a production laboratory would be desirable to enable the teacher to have visual control of more than one space.


The use of technology in teaching has become an extremely important factor, and one that can enhance and supplement the curriculum. Computers and graphing calculators are used extensively in science, math, and technology education classes. Although many schools are limited in the number of these devices they can provide, availability will undoubtedly become more and more commonplace.

Demonstration computers and video projection give teachers opportunities to present course materials in a variety of ways. These types of media, along with Internet access, have become useful and essential tools that can broaden the scope of the curriculum in the lab or classroom.

The increasing use of technology has facility implications. Wireless technology is still in the early stages of development, but it has exciting possibilities. Some educational institutions are employing this technology now with great success. For the next decade or so, these two technologies will compete with each other and some schools will be wired, others wireless, while others will employ combinations of the two technologies. What is important is not the technology, which will continue to change and evolve, but the idea that all student should and will have access to a computer, laptop, or handheld device.

Teacher Mail Survey

Which courses are being taught in secondary schools today? What are high school laboratories and classrooms like in the U.S.? What should they be like? To answer these questions, a mail survey of high school science, math, and technology education teachers was conducted in March of 1999. See the Teacher Mail Survey


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