Approaches to designing at key stage 4

2006-05-08T09:42:25Z (GMT) by E. Stephanie Atkinson
It is intended that this paper will report on the preliminary findings of an investigation concerned with the approaches to designing adopted by boys and girls in year 11 (age 16). The study involved fifty pupils and their teachers whilst they were engaged in major project work, undertaken as part of a GCSE Technology examination. The research is focused on eight case study schools and forms part of an on-going programme initially involving fifty schools selected from seven Local Education Authorities in the North East of England. (IDATER93 and IDATER94) The sample was chosen utilising two data-gathering instruments. Firstly, a questionnaire that asked pupils to give their perception of: their enjoyment of designing and making; their personal ability to design and make. Secondly, a computer-presented, self-administered Cognitive Styles Analysis (CSA) test designed to assess two fundamental cognitive style dimensions: verbal-imagery and wholist-analytic. A case study approach based on observation was then used to chart the sample's (n = 50; 36 boys and 14 girls) progress in designing and making during the course of their major projects. The paper will consider the similarities and differences between the genders in the initial sample (n=112) using the data collected from the questionnaire and the CSA test. Gender tolerance of the delivery programmes utilised by each school and the two main strategies that were adopted by teachers to enable pupils to meet deadlines and address the Examination Board's assessment criteria will be discussed. The different influences that these strategies may have had upon the boys and girls motivation, their approach to designing and the outcomes that were produced for assessment will also be examined.