Motivation and methodology: perspectives from an ongoing research enquiry into students' conceptions of technology

Andrew Hine
1997, Vol. 2, No. 3,

Abstract


This paper outlines the circumstances which have encouraged me to develop my interest into 'what makes 'technology' technology', from a reflection on my own practice, to a formal investigation into students' conceptions of technology in my own and other schools. Although other studies have been undertaken, these have in the main been concerned with values and attitudes towards technology. The methodology reported in this paper enables conceptions of technology to be captured in a form such that a 'conception statement' can be constructed via a predetermined option matrix. This written 'conception statement' enables an individual to confirm that their conception is correctly recorded. In addition to the written form, conceptions held by a number of individuals can be compared both graphically and numerically. The range and frequency of identical conceptions can be determined for any sample of individuals.

The past decade has seen a rapid change in the teaching of technology in schools in England and Wales. This period of change has resulted in many teachers reflecting on their existing practice. The most fundamental question for this area of the curriculum is a deceptively problematic one - what is technology? This can be easily extended to include a consideration of a range of associated questions:

  • What do other teachers consider technology to be?
  • What do students consider technology to be?
  • What do parents consider technology to be?
  • What do SCAA and examination board officers consider technology to be?
  • and focusing on the s
  • i
  • tuatio
  • n i
  • n my ow
  • n
  • insti
  • t
  • ution
  • :
  • What do I condsider technology to be?
  • What do other members in my department team consider technology to be?
  • How do our conceptions match those held by the working party which formulated the National Curriculum Technology Order?
  • T
  • hese questions have significant
  • i
  • mp
  • li
  • ca
  • ti
  • ons for t
  • h
  • e developmen
  • t
  • of a school
  • '
  • s policy statement and curriculum model for the delivery of technology
  • ,
  • and the way in which the programmes of study are i
  • n
  • terpreted in the construct
  • i
  • on of schemes of work
  • .
  • My appointment to a
  • H
  • ead of Design and Technology post in 1990 caused me to reflect carefully on these questions
  • .
  • The developme
  • n
  • t of a departme
  • n
  • tal philosop
  • h
  • y
  • ,
  • pol
  • i
  • cies
  • ,
  • schemes of work and supporting INSET activities were key aspects of th
  • i
  • s new post as the Order for Technology in the National Curricu
  • l
  • um came into force
  • .
  • Init
  • i
  • ally my interest in students
  • '
  • conceptions of technology was supported by i
  • n
  • vestigat
  • i
  • ve ac
  • ti
  • v
  • i
  • ty
  • f
  • or a
  • n
  • Open Unive
  • r
  • si
  • t
  • y MA modu
  • l
  • e
  • '
  • E
  • ducational
  • E
  • valuation
  • '
  • .
  • This investigation has now developed
  • i
  • nto a research degree project being undertaken at
  • L
  • o
  • u
  • ghborough
  • U
  • niversi
  • t
  • y
  • .
  • T
  • his article charts the journey through the Open Un
  • i
  • versity evaluation project to the research methodology which has been developed to
  • '
  • capture
  • '
  • conceptio
  • n
  • s of tec
  • h
  • nology as part o
  • f
  • t
  • h
  • e research programme at Loughborough
  • U
  • niversity
  • .
  • This programme is now well underway and it is hoped that col
  • l
  • eag
  • u
  • es
  • m
  • ay find this account interesti
  • n
  • g and even perhaps be enco
  • u
  • raged to ref
  • l
  • ect formally on aspects of their own practice
  • .
  • I am sure that the Department of Design and
  • T
  • echnology at
  • L
  • oughborough University wou
  • l
  • d we
  • l
  • come the oppor
  • t
  • unity to support other teachers who wish to pursue such research interests.

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