Post-16 design and technology project work: what are students learning and what is being assessed?

2007-06-07T09:00:56Z (GMT) by Tim Lewis
Several sources, such as the Office for Standards in Education (OfSTED) reports and Data News, record the continuing success of post-16 design and technology (D&T). However, there has been a recent debate within the profession about creativity within D&T and how it can be assessed. This apparent success and its links to the creativity debate prompted this research. Analysis of an AS/A2 specification using Gagne's categories of capability indicates a comprehensive learning experience for students. Gagne (1985) defines five categories for capability, he refers to these collectively as Varieties of capability. Initially this paper explores how these can be applied to the post-16 D&T learning experience. To gain further insight into post-16 D&T three survey research methods outlined by Wiersma (2000), were used. The first concerned collecting data from teachers by a rapid response questionnaire titled 'Less than a minute of your time'. The second was through semistructured interviews of students who had recently completed their D&T A' level course. Thirdly triangulation was introduced by the researcher working with a group of AS level students engaged in project work. The findings indicate that assessment criteria in examination specifications could be limiting learning opportunities particularly where subject knowledge is applied within project work. There is variation in teachers' views of present assessment criteria, many indicating that they would like to apply assessment criteria which reflect the more creative aspects of D&T.