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Design and Technology in School Education

 

The Design and Technology (D&T) education research and development activities, most of which were carried out collaboratively by the team of two faculty Chitra Natarajan and Sugra Chunawala and research scholars Ritesh Khunyakari, Swati Mehrotra and Farhat Ara. Dr. Beena Choksi had contributed to the effort over three years as a Visiting Fellow.

 

The studies so far have involved three interlinked areas. Surveys of ideas about technology were carried out among (a) school students using the medium of Posters, and (b) Class 8 and Class 6 students through questionnaires.

 

The second area was the development of 3 D&T education units through a collaborative designing approach and their trials among students from 3 socio-cultural settings. The work led to proposing a framework for Design and Technology (D&T) in School Education, outlining its content and pedagogic aspects at different educational levels.

As part of the research project, a study of cognitive aspects in students’ design productions and the study of communication and collaboration among students during the trials of D&T units were conducted which led to two PhD theses from TIFR (Deemed University).

 

The third area involved studies of depictions based on textual descriptions and cues involved two aspects: (a) The depictions of objects and assemblies study began with an exploratory study among adults using a set of tasks developed for the purpose, followed by a study among 60 Class 8 students using a suitably modified set of tasks, which was in turn followed up with an intervention experiment; and (b) the depictions of route maps were studied using a set of three tasks among Class 8 students.

 

 

The three studies are detailed below. Surveys conducted to probe the ideas that students and teachers hold about technology formed a prelude to the study.

    1. Surveys of ideas about technology

a) Using posters to elicit students’ ideas about science and technology

Students from standards V to IX (ages 10 to 15 years), coming from 30 different schools from in and around Mumbai city participated in a poster making contest on of the themes, Images of Science and Images of Technology, during the National Science Day celebrations at the Centre. Different aspects of students’ drawings as well as their ideas of science and technology were analysed using a large variety of categories developed for the purpose and have been published as Technical Report No. I(02-03).

 

b) Students’ Ideas about Design and Technology

This survey investigated the ideas about technology among students of Class 8 (average age 13 years) coming from a variety of urban and rural settings. A questionnaire was developed for the purpose, administered in a pilot survey of 167 students, and refined before the final survey among 644 students from 11 English and Marathi medium schools in and around Mumbai. Designed in 4 parts, the questionnaire had over 200 items under 14 major question heads and a diversity of question formats. The sample included tribal and urban students, besides representation of gender, and students from English and Marathi medium schools.

 

The results indicate that a complex interplay of factors, like history, perceivable complexity, association with specific social groups (male and female) and accessibility, and locale (urban and rural) of the technology affect students’ perception of the level of technology involved in objects. Students, as in earlier surveys, had a very positive view of technology considering it beneficial for individuals and society, and essential for the progress of countries. They were proud of their country possessing nuclear technology, yet worried about its consequences for people and the environment. This was presented at the Multilingualism Symposium, and published in its Proceedings (Khunyakari, et al, 2003).

Discussion of issues at the interface of science, technology and society needs to be based on an education in the natural sciences, in the humanities as well as in technology as a discipline in its own right. Design and technology education bridges the gap between an education in the natural sciences, which seek the “truths” about the natural world, and an education in the humanities or liberal arts, which study the human experience with a concern for justice. Design is the conception (formation of idea) and realization (coming into being) of new things. Design, as architecture, industrial/ product design, engineering design, graphic or communication design, is about the human-made world. It involves the use of modelling, pattern formation and synthesis. The values of practicality, ingenuity and a concern for appropriateness characterise the discipline. An education in design and technology helps develop the learner’s abilities in solving real world, ill-defined problems, in the concrete/ iconic/ symbolic modes of cognition and in abilities of nonverbal thought and communication. Much of this cuts across disciplines and existing school subject categories.

 

    1. Development and trials of 3 D&T education units; development of a framework for D&T Education Curriculum

The national curricular frameworks largely restrict technology education to technology as applied science. However, philosophers of technology outline the nature of technology as much more than merely applied science. The research at HBCSE has been guided by an understanding that emerges from a study of philosophy of technology, from theoretical issues of collaborative learning, and cognition and action, and from a commitment to the development of language, quantitative reasoning and problem solving skills through design and technology education. The research also addresses the concerns of socio-cultural and gender appropriateness. We have developed a “communication and collaboration centred D&T education” model from pre-school to Class XII. Our approach, drawing from the UK curricular model, shifts the emphasis from the dominant global view of technology education as developing individual student’s capability to create using digital technologies to a collaborative engagement of student teams in design, making and evaluation of need-based artefacts and systems. A paper elaborating the facets of D&T education for India, from exploration of structure and function of objects in early schooling, through skill development for designing and making at the middle school, and critical thinking on science-technology-society linkages at secondary and higher levels, was presented at the International Conference on Technology Education in the Asia Pacific Region, at Hong Kong and published in its proceedings (Choksi et al, 2006).

 

Three classroom intervention units were developed under D&T education research programme referred to as D&T education units: bag-making, wind mill model making, and puppet making and putting up a puppet show. The development of each unit progressed iteratively through trials among students in Class 6 or 7 (age 11 to 13 years) from three different kinds of schools: English medium urban school, Marathi medium urban school and Marathi medium tribal school (Ashramshaala). The selected 20-25 students from each school had about equal number of boys and girls. The units, each conducted over 15 hours in each of the 3 settings, were contextualised as problems for the students and encouraged their use of diverse locally appropriate strategies to solve them. The units were designed to provide the students hands-on experience of measurement, planning, work distribution, design, allocation and manipulation of resources, making, communication and evaluation. Besides engaging teams of students in manual and procedural tasks, they also aimed to develop their skills of imaging, sketching, and drawing as well as aesthetic and social values. Data was collected during the trials in the form of students’ paper-pencil productions of drawings, structured and spontaneous writings, researchers’ notes and audio and video recordings. The development of the units and analysis of the data for aspects of cognition, communication modes and collaboration issues formed the Ph.D. work of two research scholars, some of which have been published in international journals (Khunyakari et al, 2007; Mehrotra et al 2007).

 

    1. Study of cognitive aspects in students’ design productions in D&T units and of collaborations and communications among students engaged in D&T activities

Designing and making an artefact, whether it is a simple bag, a puppet for a puppet show or a windmill model, requires students to visualize and depict the spatial relations between components and assemblies. Design involves mental transformations (translations and rotations), analogical and functional reasoning, and the use of conventions and notations (icons, symbols, referent labels) while depicting. In the course of designing students make judgements about material properties, and estimate material shapes, sizes and quantities. Making the artefact enhances manipulative and fine motor skills. Most importantly, in D&T tasks, the skills are practiced and knowledge applied in authentic problem solving settings.

Design productions of three D&T units were analysed using a framework that was developed for the purpose. The productions included pencil and paper work like the exploratory sketches made by students while designing an artefact, their technical drawings, material lists and procedural maps, as well as the final product. Some of the findings have been presented at Conference epiSTEME-2 (Khunyakari et al, 2007a) and some have been published in the International Journal of Technology and Design Education (Khunyakari et al, 2007).

The recordings of formal and informal communication within and across groups, which provided data in terms of students’ conversations and non-verbal interactions, were analysed for their content and evidences of collaboration using a framework developed for the purpose. Results of the preliminary analysis were presented at Conference epiSTEME-2 held in Mumbai in February, 2007 (In Proceedings, Mehrotra et al, 2007a). The methodological aspects of the analysis have been published in IJTDE (Mehrotra et al, 2007).

 

    1. Investigations of depictions based on textual descriptions and cues

Students visualised objects and depicted them in the design context. Analysis of their design productions gave evidences of their difficulties in depicting complex 3-dimensional shapes on 2-D paper. To study the nature of students’ difficulties in depictions, an exploration of depictions in two other contexts was carried out.


(a) Depictions of objects and assemblies:

In the first exploratory study of a series of studies of depictions of static and dynamic objects and assemblies based on verbal description or cues, a questionnaire was administered to 8 adults (age 25-27 years). Based on their drawings and feedback, a questionnaire of four tasks was developed and administered among 60 school students of Class 8. The analysis of the responses led to an intervention study with 12 students of Class 8, a session of about 2.5 hours conducted with each student involving a pre-test, a set of activities for students and a post-test followed by an interview.

 

Analysis of the pre-test and post-test productions, audio and video recordings of interventions and transcripts of interviews of the students reveal important ideas about students understanding of proportions and its contextual usage. The intervention experiment showed that estimation and measurement activities do not produce correct proportions in students’ depictions, but contextual clues, as in a bicycle chain assembly task do. The studies suggest that it is important in school education to engage students at least as much in making drawings as in reading them. The preliminary findings were presented as a poster in Conference epiSTEME-2 (Gandhimathy et al, 2007). An analysis of the cognitive activity seen through students’ depictions, integrating the findings from D&T unit trials and this study was presented at the PATT-18 Conference at Glasgow, (Khunyakari, et al, 2007). The explorations and experiments are discussed in a Technical Report (Gandhimathy, 2007).


(b) Depictions of route maps:

As part of a Field Work project of a research scholar (Farhat Ara), three tasks were administered to 96 middle school students (Grade 8, age 13-14 years). The students were given contextual descriptions in text of routes in Tasks I and II, which they had to depict as a route map. In Task III, students had to depict the route from their school to the nearby Bus Depot. Students used a variety of spatial thinking strategies in their maps: internal perspective to locate landmarks and turns, point of view, etc.; and graphical elements, like arrows and symbols for the landmarks and streets. Findings from the preliminary analysis were presented at the epiSTEME-2 conference as a poster (Ara et al, 2007), while the detailed analysis results are discussed in the Internal Report (Ara, 2007) on the field work.

 

   v. Designing with and without make

A debate in D&T education has revolved around the importance of freedom to design without the constraint of having to make versus the benefits of making. A study of Indian middle school students was undertaken to see the differences between the two situations. Two different sets of students from Class 7, about 14 to 25 in each set, were given the brief to solve the same real-world design problem. One set was told that they would have to make the artefact they has designed, while the other did not have to make their solutions work. Students' design solutions were compared in terms of elements of creativity and their design decision skills. Students unconstrained with making showed more evidences of creativity and risk taking. However, students in a design-with-make activity had and used the greater number of opportunities to make design decisions that were conceptual, technical, constructional, aesthetic or marketing. The making activity also allowed students to recreate the entire design process and develop skills in designing. It is proposed that both the activities need to be used in design education to foster students' creativity and design decision skills.

 

Images of Designers

 

Investigation into Indian elementary and middle school students’ images of designers using the ‘Draw a designer at work’ test was conducted with 511 students from Classes 5 to 9 from a school located in Mumbai. Findings indicate that Indian elementary and middle school students, with no experience in D&T, perceive designers mostly as fashion/dress designers or artists. Designing is associated more with arts and less with engineering and technology. These results are consistent with our earlier work on Indian middle school students’ ideas about design and designers using written responses, where students demonstrated an incomplete understanding of design and designing. In the present study students, mostly older ones depicted gender and professional stereotypes: design as engineering or building shown more often by boys was mostly associated with male designers. Insights from the study have implications for curriculum development at the school level in India. A paper based on the investigation has been submitted for publication.

 

 

In Design and Technology (D&T) in School Education, students' and teachers' ideas about design and designers were investigated. Workshops for school students were conducted on design and technological activities, focusing on evaluation strategies used by students. Project Based Learning, a method currently recommended for all schools by National and State agencies, was studied for its learning potential, through a series of workshops, a teachers' seminar and follow-up visits to schools. Systems thinking was studied in students.

Publications

Thesis Supervised

Investigating Students', Teachers' and Designers' Ideas about Design and Developing Design Activities for Indian Middle School Students.

Farhat Ara

Advisor: Prof. Sugra Chunawala

April, 2013, TIFR Deemed University

 

Introducing Indian Middle School Students to Collaboration and Communication Centred Design and Technology Education: A Focus on Socio –Cultural and Gender Aspects

Swati Mehrotra

Advisor: Prof. Sugra Chunawala

July 2008, TIFR Deemed University


Investigating Middle School Students’ Perceptions of Technology and Developing Design and Technology Education Units to Study Students’ Design Productions

Ritesh P. Khunyakari

Advisor: Prof. Chitra Natarajan

July 2008, TIFR Deemed University

 

Books, In Books, Book Reviews

 

  • Chunawala, S & Natarajan, C. (Sent for publication in 2012). An Inclusive Science and Technology Education Curriculum at School Level. G. Chadha & S.Krishna (Eds.) to be published Stree Publishers, Kolkotta.

  • Chunawala, S. & Kharatmal, M. (Eds.). (2011). International Conference to Review Research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education, epiSTEME 4 Conference Proceedings. India: Macmillan.

  • Chitra Natarajan and Sugra Chunawala (2009) Technology and Vocational Education in India, in Alister Jones and Marc de Vries (Eds.) International Handbook of Research and Development in Technology Education, Sense Pub.

  • Chitra Natarajan (2008), Marc J. de Vries and Ilja Mottier (eds), International Handbook of Technology Education: Reviewing the Past Twenty Years, Sense Pub., The Netherlands, 2006, 536 p, ISBN 90-77874-06-2, in Int. J. Technol. Des. Educ. 18, pp 307-312

  • Natarajan, C. and Choksi, B. (Eds.) The epiSTEME Reviews Vol. 2, Review of research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education, New Delhi: Macmillan India, 2008.

  • Chitra Natarajan, Culture and Technology Education, In Marc J de Vries, Rod Custer, John Dakers and Gene Martin (Eds.) Analyzing best practices in technology education. The Netherlands: Sense Publishers, 2007.

  • Natarajan, C. and Choksi, B. (Eds.) Proceedings of epiSTEME-2: International conference to review research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education, Mumbai, February 12-15, 2007. New Delhi: Macmillan India, 2007.

  • Chitra Natarajan, (2004) Designing and teaching appropriate technological productions to enhance their multi-expressive and multi-purpose possibilities. In Patrick Dias (ed.) Multiple Languages, Literacies and Technologies. Frankfurt: Multilingualism & New Delhi: Books for Change.

  • Chitra Natarajan, Science and Society: Sustaining the Connections. In Karuna Chanana (ed.) Transformative Links between Higher and Basic Education: Mapping the Field. Sage Publishers, New Delhi, 2004.

  • Chitra Natarajan, Designing and teaching appropriate technological productions to enhance their multi-expressive and multi-purpose possibilities. In Patrick Dias (ed.) Multiple Languages, Literacies and Technologies. Multilingualism, Frankfurt, and Books for Change, New Delhi, 2004.

  • Chunawala, S (2004). Education and technology education within the gender perspective. In P. V. Dias (Eds.), Multiple Languages, Literacies and Technologies; Mapping out concepts, analysing practices and defining positions. New Delhi: Books for Change, pp. 162-177.

  • Chitra Natarajan: Incineration for Waste Management, in Encyclopedia of Environmental Pollution and Control, Vol.2, ed. R.K.Trivedi, (Enviro Media, Karad, India), pp 1-28 (1995).

 

In Journal

 

 

In Proceedings

 

 

  • Date, G., & Chandrasekharan, S. (2014). Beyond interfaces: Understanding the process of designing grassroots technologies, to develop sustainability case studies for engineering education. In S. Murthy & Kinshuk (Eds.), Proceedings of IEEE Sixth International Conference on Technology for Education, December 18-21, 2014 (pp. 40-43). Amrita University, Kerala: IEEE Conference Publications/ Conference Publishing Services.
  • Date, G., & Chandrasekharan, S. (2015). Characterizing the grassroots innovation process, to develop value-driven case studies for engineering pedagogy. Conference Abstract Booklet of Third International Conference on Creativity and Innovations at Grassroots [ICCIG III], January 19-22, 2015 (pp. 130-131). Ahmadabad: Indian Institute of Management.
  • Birwatkar, P., & Natarajan, C. (2014). Using design and technology task to foster learning through the joy of making among students of class VII. In S. Nath (Ed.), Proceedings of the ICSSR Sponsored Two Day National Seminar on Innovations in 21st Century Education (pp. 121-133). Mumbai: K. J. Somaiya Comprehensive College of Education, Training and Research, Vidyavihar.
  • Shome, S. and Natarajan, C. (2013). Projects in school learning: Teacher experiences. In Nagarjuna G., Arvind Jamakhandi, and Ebie M. Sam (Eds.) Proceedings of epiSTEME - 5, pp. 321 - 327. Mumbai: HBCSE, TIFR.
  • Shome, S. (2013). Exploring students' understanding of species: a study with class VIII students. In Nagarjuna G., Arvind Jamakhandi, and Ebie M. Sam (Eds.) Proceedings of : International Conference to Review Research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education, Cinnamonteal: India, pp. 158 – 164.
  • Natarajan, C. (2012). Designing Technology Education beyond know-how or know-why. In "Towards Effective Teaching and Meaningful Learning in Mathematics, Science and Technology", Proceedings of ISTE International Conference on Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, South Africa, Oct 2011.
  • Shastri, V., Khunyakari, R., Chunwala, S. & Natarajan, C. (2011). Thinking Through Design: Teachers Explore a Design and Make Task. In S. Chunawala & M. Kharatmal (Eds.). Proceedings of epiSTEME 4 -- International Conference to Review Research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education. India: Macmillan.

  • Ara, F., Natarajan, C. and Chunawala S. (2010) Naïve Designers: A study describing Indian middle school students' creative design solutions to a real world problem. International Conference on ''Designing for children'- with focus on 'play' and 'learn'' at Industrial Design Centre, IIT, Mumbai, Feb 2-6, 2010. (Online) http://www.designingforchildren.net/papers/farhat-ara-designingforchildren.pdf

  • Ara, F., Chunawala, S. and Natarajan, C. (2009), Moving from an analysis of artefacts to designing artefacts: studying middle school students’ ideas about design and designers.In K. Subramaniam & A. Mazumdar (Eds.). Proceedings epiSTEME-3: An International Conference to Review Research in Science, Technology and Mathematics Education, HBCSE, India, January 5-9, 2009, pp 81-87.

  • Mehrotra, S., Khunyakari, R., Chunawala, S. and Natarajan, C. (2009) Evidences of learning through collaboration in design and technology tasks in Indian classrooms, In K. Subramaniam & A. Mazumdar (Eds.). Proceedings epiSTEME-3: An International Conference to Review Research in Science, Technology and Mathematics Education, HBCSE, India, January 5-9, 2009, pp 81-87. Macmillan Publishers India Ltd.

  • Gandhimathy, S., Khunyakari, R., and Natarajan, C. (2009) Middle school students’ knowledge about static and dynamic artefacts studied through their drawings and descriptions. In K. Subramaniam & A. Mazumdar (Eds.). Proceedings epiSTEME-3: An International Conference to Review Research in Science, Technology and Mathematics Education, HBCSE, India, January 5-9, 2009, pp 81-87. Macmillan Publishers India Ltd. pp 101-107.

  • Khunyakari, R., Mehrotra, S., Chunawala, S. and Natarajan, C. (2009) Studying Indian middle school students' attitudes towards technology. In K. Subramaniam & A. Mazumdar (Eds.). Proceedings epiSTEME-3: An International Conference to Review Research in Science, Technology and Mathematics Education, HBCSE, India, January 5-9, 2009, pp 81-87. Macmillan Publishers India Ltd.

  • Khunyakari, R., Chunawala, S. and Natarajan, C. (2007) Comparison of depictions by middle school students elicited in different contexts. In Dakers, J.R., Dow, W. and de Vries, M. (Eds.) PATT-18, International Conference on Design and Technology Education Research, Glasgow, July 2007, pp 392-399

  • Mehrotra, S., Khunyakari, R., Chunawala, S. and Natarajan, C. (2007) Using pictures and interviews to elicit Indian students' understanding of technology. In Dakers, J.R., Dow, W. and de Vries, M. (Eds.) PATT-18, International Conference on Design and Technology Education Research, Glasgow, July 2007, pp 152-161.

  • Gandhimathy, S., Khunyakari, R and Natarajan, C. (2007). Middle school students' depictions of static and dynamic objects and assemblies based on verbal descriptions and cues. In Chitra Natarajan & Beena Choksi (Eds.). Proceedings epiSTEME-2: International conference to review research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education, Mumbai, India, February 12-15, 2007, New Delhi: Macmillan India pp 146-151

  • Ara, F., Khunyakari, R and Natarajan, C. (2007). A study of middle school students' depictions of routes based on verbal descriptions and cues. In Chitra Natarajan & Beena Choksi (Eds.). Proceedings epiSTEME-2: International conference to review research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education, Mumbai, February 2007, New Delhi: Macmillan India New Delhi: Macmillan India pp 141-145

  • Khunyakari, R, Mehrotra, S., Chunawala, S. and Natarajan, C. (2007). Cognition in action in Design and Technology units among middle school students. In Chitra Natarajan & Beena Choksi (Eds.). Proceedings epiSTEME-2: International conference to review research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education, Mumbai, February 2007, New Delhi: Macmillan India pp 126-131

  • Mehrotra, S., Khunyakari, R., Natarajan, C. and Chunawala, S. (2007). Dialogues in formal communication: A study of students' talk in a D&T unit in India. In Chitra Natarajan & Beena Choksi (Eds.). Proceedings epiSTEME-2: International conference to review research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education, Mumbai, February, 2007, New Delhi: Macmillan India pp 73-78

  • Khunyakari, R, Mehrotra, S., Natarajan, C. and Chunawala, S. (2006). Designing design tasks for Indian classrooms. In Marc J de Vries and Ilja Mottier (Eds.). Research for standards-based technology education. Proceedings PATT-16, Baltimore, March 2006, pp20-34.

  • Choksi, B., Chunawala, S. and Natarajan, C. (2006) Technology as a School Subject in the Indian Context, In Volk, Kenneth (Ed.) Articulating Technology Education in a Global Community, Conference Proceedings of the International Conference on Technology Education in the Asia Pacific Region, January 05-07, 2006, Hong Kong, pp280-290.

  • Khunyakari, R. P., Mehrotra, S., Chunawala, S. and Natarajan, C. (2006) Design and Technology Productions Among Middle School Students: An Indian Experience In Volk, Kenneth (Ed.) Articulating Technology Education in a Global Community, Conference Proceedings of the International Conference on Technology Education in the Asia Pacific Region, January 05-07, 2006, Hong Kong, pp63-73.

  • Mehrotra, S., Khunyakari, R. P., Natarajan, C. and Chunawala, S. (2006) Learning Technology Through Collaboration: D&T unit for Boys and Girls in Different Indian Socio-cultural Contexts. In Volk, Kenneth (Ed.) Articulating Technology Education in a Global Community, Proceedings of the International Conference on Technology Education in the Asia Pacific Region, January 05-07, 2006, Hong Kong, pp280-290.

  • Chitra Natarajan, Ritesh Khunyakari and Sugra Chunawala, Vidnyan Ashram, its work and HBCSE: Comments, in Dr. Shrinath Kalbag Memorial Seminar Report, April, 2004

 


Technical Reports

  • Dutta, S., & Natarajan, C. (2014). Report on 'fun with boxes' workshop. Mumbai: HBCSE
  • Gandhimathy, S., A study of ideas about objects using depictions based on textual descriptions and cues. Technical Report No. I (07-08), Mumbai: HBCSE, December 2007

  • Ara, F., Khunyakari, R and Natarajan, C. (2007) A study of middle school students' depictions of routes based on verbal descriptions and cues. Field Work Report Mumbai: HBCSE, March 2007

 

Book Reviews

 

  • Chitra Natarajan (2011). David Guile, The Learning Challenge of the Knowledge Economy, Sense Pub., 2010, 212 pages, ISBN: 978-94-6091-257-3 (paperback), in Design and Technology Education: An International Journal, 16 (2), June 2011 pp 307-312
  • Natarajan, C. (2008). International Handbook of Technology Education: Reviewing the Past Twenty Years Marc J. de Vries and Ilja Mottier (eds), Sense Pub., The Netherlands, 2006, 536 p, ISBN 90-77874-06-2, in Int. J. Technol. Des. Educ. 18, pp 307-312.
 

 

 

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