The place of the process skill making in design and technology
conference contributionposted on 08.05.2006, 10:23 by Rob Johnsey
Making is a fundamental skill in design and technology. There seem to be few problems with identifying when it occurs and in teaching the sub-skills involved. Less is known, however, about the frequency of its occurrence in a design and make task and about its relationship to the other process skill such as modelling, researching and evaluating. By studying primary school pupils closely as they design and make it has been possible to make some observations about the place of making in the whole process of design. The findings are based on a research project which used video recordings of primary pupils to observe their procedures. A graphic method for gaining a new perspective on the process of design is described in order to support the conclusions drawn. Design and technology capability requires pupils to master a knowledge and understanding of key concepts and combine these with an ability to proceed with a design task by employing a range of process skills. Knowledge and understanding will not only include such conceptual areas as mechanisms and product quality from the design and technology curriculum, but also some of the 'big' ideas from other curriculum areas such as electricity (science) or use of 'visual elements' (art). Procedural ability will include an understanding of how to go about designing and making and will include process skills such as specifying outcomes, modelling ideas and evaluating products. A summary of these design process skills which are drawn from a wide range of publications can be found in Johnsey. A modified version of these is listed later in this paper. One of the apparently simplest process skills to identify is that of making. In contrast to some of the other process skills, we know with some certainty that this consists of easily observable events such as cutting, joining, shaping and marking. The National Curriculum for Design and Technology 2 uses the term Making Skills to describe a broad area of activity in contrast to Designing Skills. For the purposes of this paper, however, making will be taken to mean the construction of a product in which pupils might 'measure, mark out, cut and shape, join and combine materials and apply additional finishing techniques ...' This paper will consider the place of making in the whole process of design and go on to examine the relationship it has with the other process skills. The ideas discussed are based on recent research in which the way primary school pupils carry out design and make tasks in the classroom situation was examined.
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