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Consolidating concepts of technology education

From rhetoric towards a potential reality

Time: Tue 2020-06-09 14.00

Location: zoom link for online defense (English)

Subject area: Education and Communication in the Technological Sciences

Doctoral student: Andrew Doyle , Lärande

Opponent: Emeritus Professor Kay Stables, Goldsmiths University of London

Supervisor: Docent Lena Gumaelius, Lärande; Niall Seery, Lärande, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Ireland.; Donal Canty, University of Limerick, Limerick, Ireland.; Eva Hartell, Skolan för industriell teknik och management (ITM)

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The thesis focuses on the relationship between international rhetoric and classroom realities in technology education. For some time there has been widespread recognition that the intended goals for learning in the subject area have failed to manifest in enacted practices as envisioned. As the intermediary between rhetoric and reality, the technology teachers and ways of understanding their enacted practices are the focus of this work.

The thesis is based on four research articles which adopt theoretical and empirical approaches to investigating the technology teacher as mediator of enacted practice. In Article I, technology education in the Irish national context is investigated through technology teachers’ reflections on enacted practice. In response to a variety of situational- and systemic- factors which impede classroom practice being identified, Article II and III theorise approaches to investigating enacted practice in technology. In acknowledging the epistemological basis of technology as depicted in the extant literature, a reconceptualisation of how to utilise pedagogical content knowledge research in explaining enacted practice is put forward. Article IV returns to the technology teacher in a transnational context, whereby teachers from the Republic of Ireland, Sweden and New Zealand are interviewed in constructing a grounded theory of teachers’ purposes for teaching technology.

The contributions of the research are twofold. Firstly, following the identification of evidence to support the existence of rhetoric-reality tensions in technology education, an ecologically situated framework of enacted practice is put forward. The framework acknowledges how subject matter is treated in technology education in striving for more comprehensive ways of investigating enacted practice. Secondly, in taking a preliminary step toward understanding enacted practices, a grounded theory of teachers’ purposes for teaching technology is put forward. This grounded theory offers a unified model for articulating the purposes of teaching technology that prevail in classroom realities today.