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An investigation of the development of students’ and teachers’ perceptions towards technology: A framework for reconstructing technology education in Malawi

The study investigated students’ and teachers’ perceptions towards technology and technology education with the ultimate aim of developing their beliefs and practices suitable for teaching and learning broad-based technology education and to inform future policy framework for restructuring the curriculum. Research leading to the development of technology as a school curriculum shows emphasis on the importance of students developing technological literacy essential for living in a technologically mediated society but little is known about developments related to teaching and learning technology in Malawi schools. Malawi’s Vision 2020, the Science and Technology Policy for Malawi and the Malawi Growth and Development Strategy 2006 – 2011 stipulated the need for schooling in Malawi to help students attain technological literacy as it was seen as instrumental for economic growth and development. Attempts were undertaken to include science and technology and also craft, design and technology as learning areas, but among a myriad of factors, teachers lacked theoretical, philosophical and pedagogical underpinnings of the subjects. The existing curriculum also has little scope for developing student technological knowledge and capabilities which would enable them to understand, create, control and manipulate technology. The need now is to establish technology education as a more comprehensive curriculum area than that promulgated in the technical curriculum. This study therefore provided teachers with an opportunity to broaden their understanding of the nature of technology and technology education critical for their meaningful conceptualisation of teaching and learning technology. The focus of the study was to explore influences of, expand the teachers’ and students’ ideas about technology and technology education and also to enhance teaching practices. In order to capture a more holistic understanding of such influences, an interpretive research methodology was adopted and the teachers were involved in in-depth, one-on-one and semi-structured interviews, group discussions and classroom observations before and after professional development workshops. This helped to collectively construct the social reality surrounding the teachers’ existing beliefs and teaching practices and how to change those practices and beliefs. The study was situated in a socio-cultural theoretical framework by encouraging collaborative interactions among teachers in their school groups. The study began by examining students’ and teachers’ existing beliefs and practices and these were seen as impacting on how and what teachers learn. A teacher professional development programme incorporating those beliefs and practices and also focusing on social-cultural frameworks of learning was organised to help teachers reconceptualise their understanding about the nature of technology and technology education. The professional development programme also incorporated a discussion of PATT modelling as a tool for teacher learning of students’ conceptualisation of technology and reflections of their own learning in the workshops. Key characteristics of the professional development model, therefore, included: ∙ An understanding and incorporating the teachers’ beliefs and practices into the professional development programme for teachers to change such beliefs and adopt broader views of technology. ∙ Encouraging collaborative learning in their schools for teachers to share knowledge, their own experiences and that of others, and planning presentations of their interpretations of selected scholarly readings. ∙ Teachers learning about technology from the perspectives of students using PATT data that was seen as an effective professional development tool. ∙ On-going reflections and support to enhance teachers’ capacities to reflect on their own experiences for purposeful change. The professional development helped teachers develop a broader understanding of the nature of technology and technology education using a model that focussed on teachers developing their own concepts through readings of scholarly papers, learning from other teachers’ experiences and through discussion of student concepts and attitudes to technology. Findings of the research revealed an effective professional development model focussed on social cultural frameworks of learning that resulted in teachers’ positive perceptions of technology and technology education. They had also shown innovations to implement technology as a consequence of their enhanced technological pedagogical knowledge. Three key findings arose from the study, and these are: ∙ The teachers’ contexts and the stance on the goals of the technical education curriculum influence understanding of the nature of technology and technology education. ∙ Enhanced technological pedagogical knowledge promotes teachers’ innovations to develop and implement technological activities. ∙ A professional development underpinned by social cultural frameworks of learning is an effective model when it incorporates teachers’ beliefs and experiences. The findings of the study have implications for pre-service and in-service teacher education and development, policy change in relation to curriculum reviews and reforms in Malawi and other developing countries. There are also implications for further research that focus on developing knowledge and understanding among teachers on how to improve teaching and learning that enhances student technological literacy but which considers the context being targeted by the curriculum. Enabling policy for implementing technology education in Malawi exists but a successful realisation of the policy goals is entirely dependent on teachers’ shared understanding about the nature of technology and technology education. This study provided teachers with a rare opportunity for further professional growth and development leading to improved teaching practices and knowledge about technology and technology education. Therefore, more research of this nature would be required to help develop capacity for reconstructing technology education in Malawi and other developing nations which may also plan to shift from colonial industrial arts-based curriculum to a broad-based technology education.
Type of thesis
Chikasanda, V. K. M. (2011). An investigation of the development of students’ and teachers’ perceptions towards technology: A framework for reconstructing technology education in Malawi (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5809
University of Waikato
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