Exposing the gender effects of design and technology project work by comparing strategies for presenting and managing pupils' work

2006-05-04T16:22:44Z (GMT) by Tony Lawler
Managing project work within design and technology is one of the skills that the teacher brings to the activity. The way that practical project work is presented and managed, so that control is maintained and pupil achievement is enhanced is something each teacher develops. The process adopted may have been devised by the teacher in response to a combination of the twin pressures of covering programmes of study and personal survival but rarely in response to a difference in designing style between boys and girls. This paper has evolved from research into ways of describing the process of designing.Two possible descriptors are what have been called 'Big pictures and Small steps'. Big pictures designing is future focussed, inspirational, and results in statements of complete ideas. Small steps designing is reflective, sequential, analytical, and descriptive. 'Good' designing is evidenced as a combination of these two styles. Some pupils may have a preference for one approach which, if it conflicts with the way their teacher manages the project work, may restrict their progress. Raising the awareness of the teacher to the effects that the strategy that they impose on the project work has on the pupils, could be an important factor in increased student success.The study compared two different approaches to the presentation and management of project work. It shows the effects that each approach had on the performance of a group of seventy five 11 year olds, and highlights the different responses of boys and girls to the same design situations. The results indicate that the strategy adopted by the teacher for the sequencing of practical project work had a greater effect on 'good designer' boys, than it did on 'good designer' girls and had a greater negative effect on less able girls than it did on less able boys.