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The technological knowledge used by technology education students in capability tasks

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Abstract

Since technology education is, compared to subjects such as mathematics and science, still a fairly new subject both nationally and internationally, it does not have an established subject philosophy. In the absence of an established subject philosophy for technology education, one can draw on other disciplines in the field, such as engineering and design practice, for insights into technological knowledge. The purpose of this study is to investigate the usefulness of an epistemological conceptual framework chiefly derived from engineering, to be able to describe the nature of technological knowledge, in an attempt to contribute towards the understanding of this relatively new learning area. The conceptual framework was derived mainly from Vincenti’s (What engineers know and how they know it. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, 1990) categories of knowledge based on his research into historical aeronautic engineering cases. Quantitative research was used to provide insight into the categories of knowledge used by students at the University of Pretoria during capability tasks and included an analysis of a questionnaire administered to these students. Findings suggest that the conceptual framework used here is useful in technology education and that the categories of technological knowledge apply to all the content areas, i.e. structures, systems and control, and processing, in technology education. The study recommends that researchers and educators deepen their understanding of the nature of technological knowledge by considering the categories of technological knowledge presented in the conceptual framework.

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Notes

  1. For the purpose of this study the term technology will be used in the broader sense where the term technology includes everything the engineer calls technology, along with engineering itself (Mitcham (1994:143–144). In line with De Vries’s (2005:11–12) approach, the term (technology or engineering) used in this paper will be led by the literature referred to in that particular case. Also, the terms technology education and technology are used interchangeably.

  2. df = N − 1.

  3. Significant means “less likely to be a function of chance than some predetermined probability” (Ary et al. 2002:179).

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Correspondence to Willem Rauscher.

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Rauscher, W. The technological knowledge used by technology education students in capability tasks. Int J Technol Des Educ 21, 291–305 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10798-010-9120-x

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