Proceedings of the First AAAS Technology Education Research Conference

Abstracts of Papers

Towards a Research Agenda
Andrew Ahlgren
Project 2061/AAAS

There is too much to study and too few people to do it. Research in science education, in spite of building an extensive research culture of journals, meetings, and training, did not accomplish much until attention turned away from attitudes and favorite instructional methods to how students learn specific concepts or skills. Conferences on research agendas usually end up endorsing all the kinds of research that is already being done. But meaningful progress in technology education, especially considering how few hands there are to do it, will require fairly tight and systematic focus on a few high-priority questions. The questions should begin with what we want students to learn not from what activities we like.
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Reflections on the AAAS Technology Education Research Conference
Gary Benenson
City College of New York, NY

Several general issues discussed in the conference would form a foundation for a research agenda. These issues include the relationship between scientific knowledge and technological knowledge, the roles of procedural knowledge and conceptual knowledge in technology education, and the different forms of assessment that are appropriate to technology education. We have little information about how children learn technology ideas and we need more good research focused on that question. Teachers should be included in research discussions, research questions should be extended to how teachers come to understand technology themselves, and research in technology education should inform and be pursued in parallel with professional development.
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Themes in Technology Education Research
Dorothy T. Bennett
Education Development Center, Inc./Center for Children and Technology
New York, NY

Research themes that were mentioned at the conference included the need for exploring the "big ideas" of technology (content and processes), particularly how to integrate these technological ideas into existing curricula. During the conference there was a sense of agreement on several issues, particularly on the need for more qualitative research to explore how diverse students understand technology. Three core areas of technology education are worthy of further investigation: technology teaching pedagogy, student learning, and teacher development. Among the specific research problems that should be investigated are the study of what sequences of topics seem to work best for students learning key concepts; the skills and knowledge that are transferred from one project to the next; and the ways in which teachers can be supported to introduce technology education.
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Cognitive Science: Implications for Technology Education
David Crismond
Georgia Institute of Technology

A 1981 paper by Don Norman suggesting a research agenda for the field of cognitive science presents 12 research topics, some of which may have relevance for building a strong research foundation from which the field of technology education can grow. These topics include learning, development, skill, performance, and emotion. Technology education can also benefit from endorsing, as Kolodner does, Ann Brown's model of "design experiments" for much of the field's educational research. This research model combines addressing powerful research questions with engineering innovative learning environments.
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Developing a Research Agenda for Technology Education
W. Tad Foster
Indiana State University

After providing an insider’s perspective on the presentations made at the 1999 Technology Education Research Conference, this paper summarizes two recent surveys of technology education experts and leaders. The surveys demonstrated a significant degree of consensus for a strong research agenda that would address critical issues of theory and practice. The findings also point to the need to increase the number of researchers in the field, to improve the status of educational research in general, and to increase the use of research to guide practice.
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What Changes of Direction Are Necessary in Technology Education Research?
Pat Hutchinson
The College of New Jersey

There is a need to clarify the areas of research for technology education in order to focus the process of designing the field of technology education. Just as James Rutherford’s mission for science education is to "engage students in the scientific enterprise" by allowing them to assume the role of scientist, instead of memorizing scientific facts and formulas, technology education’s role should be to engage students in the "technological enterprise" of identifying opportunities for innovation and solving the problems those opportunities pose. In working toward this goal, there are at least three excellent sources of research problems: the standards effort, funded projects and local efforts of technology education, and the experiences of other countries that have implemented technology education.
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The Design Experiment as a Research Methodology for Technology Education
Janet Kolodner
Georgia Institute of Technology

A list of seven questions about student learning and development of technology education suggest a research agenda for technology education. The methods used to research these questions must vary according to the different questions. We should place emphasis on the research method of design experiments where research is based on work in classrooms instead of in the lab. By engineering the classroom environment and studying its effects, then iteratively refining and further analyzing it, one can learn means of promoting learning. Various challenges also occur with design experiments, such as the need for comparisons across classes and the collection of corroborating evidence from interviews with students and teachers.
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Some Thoughts on Research Methodology in Technology Education
James E. LaPorte
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Without a standardized achievement test in technology education there is no way to conduct studies about the effects of technology education or to make comparisons between students locally and worldwide. An advantage, however, is that we have avoided the trappings and pitfalls of measuring achievement solely based upon written tests. Since technology education is based on doing, the instruments necessary to measure achievement must place doing in a position of importance.
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Research Topics in Technology Education
Franzie L. Loepp
Illinois State University

Nine topics are suggested as areas for research in technology education based on themes such as professional development, curriculum development and implementation, and evaluation in technology education. Research capacity in technology education can be increased by having researchers improve their grant writing skills and by having technology education research critiqued by a disinterested party. In order to promote a higher level of shared research activity, a worldwide repository for research should be established along with an international community of researchers.
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Theoretical and Empirical Issues of Technology Education Research
Robert McCormick
The Open University, U.K.

The way knowledge is defined and what is known about it from research is discussed. Qualitative knowledge is considered as a particular approach to knowledge. This approach responds both to the needs of the technological situation and to what is known about the connection between learning and knowledge in particular contexts. Also discussed is the issue of how research relates to change in classrooms. Finally, a brief list of questions forming an agenda for research is given.
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Technology Education Research Conference: Reflections
Pam B. Newberry
International Technology Education Association

One of the conference goals was to discuss how children learn technological ideas, and this goal was achieved. The presentations and the discussions that followed helped the participants to frame new questions to consider for the future of research in technology education. An example of these questions is: How can the standards guide research agendas in technology education? The idea of creating a "research culture" that is taking a "journey" in the study of technology is one of the most important aspects that evolved out of the conference. In addition, addressing the many questions related to research agendas that were posed during the conference—such as "Where do students have difficulty in learning technology and why?"—is crucial. Lastly, time is an issue not just for the school curriculum, but also for the planning and developing of a research agenda; therefore, priorities need to be set.
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Priority Research Needs in Technology Education: Thoughts on the AAAS Conference
Senta A. Raizen
The National Center for Improving Science Education

The research needs in technology education can be grouped into three areas. The first area is the need to track over time, using many different research methods, how students develop the concepts, general skills, procedural skills, and belief systems integral to technological literacy. For the second area, there is the need to investigate the connections between technology and the various disciplines related to it, the connections between concept formation and the various skills that pertain to technological literacy, and the connections between concept and skill formation and individual background and talents. The third research area concerns the development of assessments of student learning and competence that will probe all the important goals of technology education.
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Looking Back, Looking Forward: Reflections on the Technology Education Research Conference
Patricia M. Rowell
University of Alberta

The conference served as a forum in which the status of research in technology education was interrogated from diverse viewpoints. Future directions for research should build on critical scrutiny of the assumptions underlying technology education and on cognitive and manipulative demands of technological problem solving. A research agenda might be structured along three key strands directed by the following guiding questions: What is the nature of technological problem solving? How do children/adults learn to solve technological problems? What pedagogical practices support technological problem solving?
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Cultivating Research in Technology Education
Mark Sanders
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

There is a critical shortage of professionals in technology education for whom the conduct of research is a primary focus. The problem stems from the culture of the profession. Historically, all but a relative few technology education faculty in higher education have focused their work on teaching and service, in order to fulfill what most considered their primary responsibility-the preparation of technology teachers. The major research projects have been either service-related or developmental in nature. The problem is exacerbated by a dire shortage of new scholars entering the field. Last year's crop of doctoral graduates was but a small fraction of the number who graduated two decades ago. In order to generate the magnitude of research being called for by those within and beyond our profession, we need to (a) "grow" the research culture of technology education and (b) recruit far greater numbers of personnel to the task. This paper suggests a number of ways we might enhance the research culture within the profession, and concludes by describing a means of using the Internet to mobilize a cadre of new graduate students/scholars to begin to address the important research agenda that lies ahead.
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Technology Education Research: Focusing on the Learner
Brigitte G. Valesey
International Technology Education Association

This conference highlighted the need to focus on the learner. Research has yet to reveal the complexities of how students learn about technology. Studies should explore learning, effective delivery strategies, the value of technological studies to individuals and society, and how technological literacy develops over time. Methodologies such as classroom observations, naturalistic studies, and action research will help to provide a more holistic view of learning than positivistic research alone. A culture that embraces broader research communities with a common interest in technology and how students learn it will provide major impetus for relevant research.
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Journeys and Destinations in Technology Education: Implications for Research
Kenneth Welty
University of Wisconsin-Stout

A common practice in technology education is to engage students in rich activities that are grounded in time-honored practices. One new focus for a research agenda would be studies of what students are learning from these activities. Instead of studying current teaching practices in hopes of uncovering content worth learning, our research agenda should focus on how students learn the deep understandings and essential skills for technological literacy.
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Thoughts on Technology Education Research
Karen F. Zuga
The Ohio State University

There are five areas of study that technology education research should focus on. The research base and methods must be limited to research of technological education while U.S. researchers should look towards Europe to expand the research database and find alternative research methods. Knowledge of the inherent value of technology education and support from the community must increase in order to increase opportunities for technology education research. Researchers are only beginning to understand cognitive and conceptual attainment in technology education and studies must continue this research. Research must also study what children are learning as a result of curriculum and instructional materials. Finally, professional development is needed to begin to plan and implement a technology education curriculum.
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