An investigation into the knowledge and skill requirements for effective teaching of technology in english secondary schools
thesisposted on 29.04.2016, 11:00 by Lewis Jones
This thesis is concerned with the knowledge and skill requirements to teach technology education. Technology education has an important part to play in the UK economy. There is great demand to produce a technologically skilled workforce and secondary school technology education is a key element in the supply of skilled engineering technicians and graduates. Whilst there have been improvements in the number of pupils choosing to study mathematics and science there has been a decline in those studying technology. The work in this thesis has focused on the subject of Design and Technology as it provides pupils with the majority of their compulsory technology education in England. This thesis is comprised of four studies, adopting a mixed-methods approach. The first study characterised the background knowledge of Design and Technology teachers through a demographic analysis. In the second study observations were made on the adoption and teaching of a novel technology resource by trainee teachers. The third study analysed the opinions of teachers who attended a subject knowledge enhancement professional development course. In the fourth study the results of the previous studies were explored in further detail to triangulate findings and to test assumptions. In the first study the admissions data of 341 trainee Design and Technology teachers over the academic years 2000-2001 and 2013-2014 inclusive was analysed. The key finding of this analysis was that 81% of Design and Technology teachers have their entry qualification in creative arts and design and not in a technology subject. This misalignment of subject knowledge was discussed to be a result of the existing training standards and hypothesised to be contributory to the lack of technology teaching, and over emphasis of design in Design and Technology. The second study used observational methods to record how three trainee teachers adopted and taught lessons using a novel technology resource created for the study. The resource was designed to teach laser cutting and the design of mechanical systems. Subsequent analysis revealed the difficulties participants had in understanding and teaching the technology aspects of the projects. The existing practice, and collective knowledge of teachers within the schools used in the study were found to create obstacles for the trainees in trying to implement technological content. The third study developed a new professional development course for teachers to address the issues observed in the second study. The quantitative and qualitative data was obtained from 20 participant design and technology teachers before, during and after the course. Participants reported to be confidence in teaching technology, yet were unable to demonstrate a deep understanding of the subject content. Participants engaged with the procedural knowledge aspects of the course but not with the conceptual knowledge. They considered many aspects of technological and engineering content to be irrelevant to pupils. The fourth, and final, study developed questionnaires to assess teacher and pupil reactions to the provision of 57 different technology projects resources and training sessions to 82 schools across London. Useable data were generated from 33 teachers and 458 pupils. Measurements of teachers confidence in teaching the new Technology National Curriculum revealed that teachers strengths were the making of products. The weaknesses were teaching modern mechanical and electrical systems. Pupils motivation towards technology revealed positive attitudes, but they were unaffected by resources teachers considered to be novel. This study was used to triangulate the findings of the previous study and validate the claims made. The major contribution to knowledge of this thesis is the quantified description and analysis of teachers technology knowledge. The interrelationships of the distinct teacher knowledge domains were analysed to discover how they affect technology education. The main conclusion of this study is that teachers have difficulties in developing and teaching technology based schemes of work to meet the National Curriculum requirements. However, teachers appear unaware of this situation and consider themselves confident in teaching the technology curriculum topics. These difficulties have been caused by teachers lack of compatible background subject knowledge, and were evident in the teaching of projects without secure technology content. This thesis recommends that a significant intervention is required to provide support to Design and Technology teachers to develop their knowledge and skills in teaching technology.
- Mechanical, Electrical and Manufacturing Engineering