Young children's problem-solving in design and technology: towards a taxonomy of strategies

Cy Roden
1997, Vol. 2, No. 1,


Design and technology tasks make great demands on young children's conceptual and procedural knowledge, yet little is known about the problem-solving strategies young children bring to these activities and how these strategies might be expected to develop in the early years classroom. The present research aims to identify and classify children's emergent, developing and changing problem-solving strategies in a longitudinal study and to trace these throughout Key Stage 1. The phase of this work described in this article looks closely at children engaged in design and technology tasks in two schools and describes the strategies they use. The children were observed through reception, Year 1 and Year 2 engaged in six different design and technology tasks. An attempt has been made from this data to generate units of analysis towards creating a taxonomy of young children's problem-solving strategies. These strategies appear to be inter-related developing from and building upon one another to form strategic patterns or styles. Questions emerge concerning young children's personal strategic style and the most effective strategies children use for solving problems in design and technology at this stage. It is suggested that an awareness of a taxonomy may help primary teachers to understand children's 'intuitive' ways of working and to offer the most useful support at the most appropriate time when guiding children through design and technology tasks in the classroom.

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