Reflective and literate boys: can design and technology make a difference?

2006-05-03T16:12:26Z (GMT) by Kay Stables Maggie Rogers
During 1999-2000 a small scale research project was undertaken to evaluate the impact of a curriculum initiative aimed at increasing literacy skills through linking their development to design and technology (d&t). The initiative, the Enriching Literacy through Design and Technology Project, was conducted in Year 2 and Year 6 classrooms in six primary schools in an Education Action Zone (EAZ) in the North East of England. The research compared the impact of the project on these schools with a further group of five schools in a broadly similar locality. The approach taken in the project involved integrating literacy and d&t within activities, each of which was supported by resources that included some form of 'handling collection'. The involvement of the handling collections promoted an emphasis on hands-on exploration and on product analysis. A number of ways were used to explore the impact of the initiative. Teachers in both schools completed questionnaires; teachers in the intervention schools were interviewed; the children in both schools took combined literacy and d&t assessment activities and the children completed an activity evaluation questionnaire. The data provided demonstrated the positive effect on the intervention group in overall terms, and indicated contributions to the development of certain literacy and d&t skills. One aspect that emerged was the notable positive impact on boys of certain aspects of literacy skills and, where d&t was concerned, on the development of reflective skills. This paper will discuss certain concerns that emerge from literature on the underachievement of boys, consider these in the light of this new data and explore how this approach may have contributed to the enhancement of boys' skills.