Exploring low ability and disaffected pupils’ perceptions of the relevance of design and technology : a case study with a group of pupils aged between 14 and 16, Key Stage 4

Mike Thomas, Howard Denton
2006, Vol. 11, No. 1,


This paper describes a case study carried out to
establish a group of low ability and disaffected
pupils’ perception of the term ‘relevance’ with
particular reference to design and technology.
Discussion of the relationship between pupils’
perceived relevance of an activity and their
levels of engagement has appeared on the UK
educational agenda, (Ofsted 2005, 51-52, Davies
et al, 2004, 147, Daniels et al 1998, 5.5, Denton,
1992), but not with the frequency which might
be expected. Initial research suggested that
pupils at this school had a very positive
perception of the ‘relevance’ of design and
technology. In contrast the literature reviewed
suggested that pupils in their samples had a low
perception of the ‘relevance’ of design and
technology. The findings suggest a dual
understanding of ‘relevance’: in terms of
present/situational and in terms of preparation
for a particular purpose. The group of pupils in
this research perceived ‘relevance’ more in
terms of present/situational, and the implications
of this finding for educational practitioners and
other stakeholders is discussed.


Design & technology ; Relevance ; Low ability ; Disaffected ; Special Educational Needs ; Engagement in learning

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