Thumbnail Image

The potential for a future-focused curriculum in New Zealand: The perceptions and practice of six secondary school technology teachers

Technology education is a subject that has seen significant conceptual change within its curriculum since its inception. In New Zealand, the national curriculum positions technology education as a means to expose students to learning, which can be future-focused in nature. The subject affords opportunities for pedagogical practice to be responsive to student interests and focused on technology-related issues and societal need. Students’ learning has the capacity for creative and critical thinking in a variety of learning contexts and technological areas. This qualitative research uncovers new knowledge about the nature and enactment of technology education in New Zealand, using a combination of interpretive, sociocultural, and case study methods. It explores how six teachers’ perceptions affected their interpretation and enactment of the technology curriculum in two secondary schools. One school was well established, and the other was a newly built Innovative Learning Environment (Ministry of Education (MoE), 2017a; Osborne, 2016). Data relied on several primary sources, namely the New Zealand curriculum document (MoE, 2007) and its supporting materials (MoE, 2010), two or three semi-structured interviews per participant, lesson observations, department meetings, teacher reflections, and teacher-generated resources. Activity theory was the interpretive framework used to establish each teacher’s circumstances and experiences. The findings confirmed that teachers’ perceptions directly influenced their interpretation and commitment to the curriculum’s enactment. There was disparity between some teachers’ espoused perceptions and manifesting practice, as determined by their cultural context. The most limiting perceptions were that students should first be taught teacher-designated skills and knowledge, and that it was satisfactory for technological outcomes to be replications or adaptations of existing products rather than to be innovative or future-focused in nature. When interpreting the curriculum, all teacher participants in the study defaulted to the Technological Practice strand because of its association with practical outcomes. There was some hesitance to engage with the Nature of Technology strand, which was perceived by the teachers to be more conceptually challenging and less valued by students. Whilst some teachers aspired to foster a learner-centred classroom, there was acknowledgement that to do so, students were required to be self-regulating and actively engaged in their work. It is concluded that technology teachers’ perceptions and practice do not necessarily explicitly align with the concepts outlined in the New Zealand curriculum (MoE, 2007). This research challenges the notion that if a teacher is knowledgeable about their specialist area of technology, they can effectively interpret and make meaning of the generic curriculum concepts for their own teaching practice. This is significant because in a context where teachers are encouraged to be curriculum decision makers, such a gap in professional knowledge signals a barrier to its enactment. It is suggested that to address this barrier, teachers need to adopt a form of “technological thinking” in support of their existing “technical thinking” (Reinsfield & Williams, 2017). This research illustrates how technology teachers’ perceptions can enable, moderate, or limit, their capacity to make the connection between curriculum and practice. How teachers make meaning of the curriculum to develop their knowledge for practice is presented as a threshold concept (Meyer & Land, 2003, 2006; Peter et al., 2014). Some enablers to practice are proposed. To enable change there needs to be a sustained and collaborative approach to support technology teachers’ evolving pedagogical practice, which centres on learner- centred pedagogies and demonstrates a commitment to the enactment of the curriculum (MoE, 2007). I conclude by proposing a professional learning model, intended to support teachers who are motivated to reflect upon and transform their perceptions and practice, and to align their teaching with current policy and practice in New Zealand.
Type of thesis
Reinsfield, E. (2018). The potential for a future-focused curriculum in New Zealand: The perceptions and practice of six secondary school technology teachers (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11939
The University of Waikato
All items in Research Commons are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.