The place of authentic technological practice and assessment in technology education.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Teaching and Learning
Technology Education was first introduced to the New Zealand curriculum in 1999. Its introduction has provided challenges for teacher professional development providers and teachers. Many teachers have had either little or no professional development and therefore struggle to plan and implement programmes that reflect authentic technological practice. Assessment of technology has been of particular concern given the intense climate of accountability in schools. Because of its holistic nature assessment practices must be an integrated part of students' technological practice. My study addresses these problems by identifying authentic student technological practice and discussing the teachers' role in teaching and assessing their students. Teachers require quality professional development and an accurate understanding of technological practice if they are to work effectively with students in technology education. The focus for this research is on one technology assessment task administered to Year 4 children in the National Education Monitoring Project (NEMP) 'Aspects of Technology, 2000'. This is used as a framework to explore the challenges of making assessment authentic in technology education. It is argued that the achievement levels of the children can be improved if the task is a part of the technological practice related to the field of study apparent in the task rather than a previously unsighted 'out-of-context' task. It is also debated that for teachers to be able to plan and implement a unit of work that is based on authentic technological practice they must have a good understanding of the conceptual, procedural, technical and societal knowledge relevant to the practice. A three staged approach is used in this research. The first stage involved the selected teachers in professional development exploring Learning in Technology Education (LITE) research and unit planning strategies. For this purpose one NEMP task was incorporated into a cooperatively planned unit of work. In Stage Two an 'out-of-context' NEMP task was presented to six children from each of three of the six schools, one in each decile band. In Stage Three the teachers were interviewed about their intended practices. The unit of work was then taught in each of the six classes. During the unit the task was again administered to six children in each class as an integrated part of the unit. Both tasks were administered and analysed according to the 'Aspects of Technology NEMP 2000' guidelines and criteria. This made it possible to compare the 'out-of-context' task with the 'in-context' task. After the unit was taught the teachers were interviewed again to discuss their actual practice. Analysis of both sets of data allowed the comparison of achievement levels of children participating in an isolated 'out-of-context' task to that, which was embedded in authentic technological practice ('in-context'). The results showed that the children who attempted the task as an 'in-context' task achieved at a higher level than those who completed the task as a previously unsighted 'out-of-context' . task did My findings demonstrate that in order to gain a realistic understanding of the levels of achievement in technology education through assessment of technological outcomes, these outcomes should be an integral part of authentic technological practice. While the results indicate that assessment tasks need to be an integral part of authentic technological practice this study acknowledges that students' technological practice differs from that of real technologists. There are a number of reasons cited for this to do with the age of the students, school politics and facilities, external assessment requirements and the presence of the teacher in the role as mentor. The study theorises that the quality of teacher knowledge impacts on the quality of intervention given, altering students' technological practice. These ideas are presented in a Model of Student Technological Practice. The study concludes with recommendations for improving the pre-service training of teachers and the up-skilling of existing teachers in technology education, and on the organisation and development of national assessment tasks in technology education for NEMP.