Teachers' perceptions of technology and technology education, years 7 to 10
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Technology has become an essential learning area in the New Zealand Curriculum. The concept of technology has undergone a change during three eras prior to the present. These eras are: (1) pre-1975 (Technical Education), (2) 1975 to 1995 (Technical/Technology Education), (3) 1995 until the present day (Technology Education) (Harwood, 2002). A key development in the concept of Technology accrued between 1995 and 2006 when the three strands of technology in New Zealand Curriculum 1995 (Technological Knowledge and Understanding, Technological Capability, and Technology and Society) were changed into the current three strands of Technological Practice, Technological Knowledge, and Nature of Technology. These shape the new concept of technology that exists today. The aim of this study was to explore technology teachers’ perceptions of technology and technology education. The study was undertaken in the period between 12 July 2008 and 24 December 2008, during the time that the new concept of technology in the New Zealand Draft Curriculum 2007 (Ministry of Education, 2007) was being introduced. While it was not compulsory for teachers to implement this new concept of technology, it was encouraged. I was interested to find out how teachers perceived this new concept. The research initially addressed the questions: 1-What are the teachers’ perceptions of technology education and the subject of technology that has recently been included in New Zealand Curriculum? This led to four further questions: 2-How do teachers address the aims of technology in the New Zealand Curriculum in practice? 3-What are the influences of teaching technology on students’ technological literacy? 4-What are the difficulties that teachers might face implementing technology in classrooms? 5-What would teachers suggest for improving teaching technology in schools? The study involved a review of the literature and qualitative research in 3 schools (Year 7-10) in Auckland with four technology teachers. The data collection was from interviews with the four technology teachers. Semi-structured questions were used to obtain findings that helped me to understand the situation with technology in schools and provide decision-makers with ways to improve the teaching of technology in New Zealand. The findings of this study showed that technology was seen by technology teachers as a very important subject that improved their students' technological literacy, particularly if it was taught as a separate learning area. This study also explored teachers’ perceptions of the concepts of technology and of technology education according to New Zealand Curriculum (Ministry of Education, 2007a). Interviewed teachers had different perceptions of these concepts, variously shaped by their level of academic experience and professional development. Considering these differences led to an identification of some obstacles that face technology teachers today, namely: (1) insufficient funds; (2) a lack of mentoring for new teachers by senior teachers; (3) a lack of regular meetings for technology teachers; (4) a lack of professional development; (5) a lack of understanding of the nature of the new concept of technology; and (6) timetable issues. I believe that this study will also help me to advise the Saudi Ministry of Education relative to integrating the concept of technology into its Curriculum (the Saudi Ministry invited me to help develop its curriculum, which was why I undertook this dissertation).