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The importance of supporting technological knowledge in post-primary education: A cohort study
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM).ORCID iD: 0000-0002-8292-5642
KTH, School of Industrial Engineering and Management (ITM). Office of the President, Athlone Institute of Technology, Westmeath, Ireland.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4199-4753
Michigan Technological University.
University of Limerick.
2018 (English)In: Research in Science and Technological Education, ISSN 0263-5143Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Background: Substantial research highlights the differences between scientific and technological knowledge. Considering that learning is heavily focused on the acquisition of knowledge, it is important to examine the individual and systematic implications of these types of knowledge. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the impact on overall educational performance as a result of engaging with technology subjects at post-primary level. Sample: A five year cohort study was designed to gather longitudinal data from a total sample of 1761 pupils’ grades from the Irish Leaving Certificate examination. The sample was distributed across four schools. Design and methods: Grades from the Irish Leaving Certificate were selected because the examination is considered high stakes as it serves as the country’s primary mechanism for matriculation into third-level education. Individual examinations are designed externally to schools by a government body ensuring the validity of each examination in capturing the holistic interpretation subject syllabi. Finally, a points system is used to score each examination facilitating comparisons between subjects. Results: The results show that pupils who study the technology subjects are statistically significantly less likely to perform well overall in comparison to pupils who study science and mathematics subjects. They also show that for pupils who study the technology subjects, those subjects are statistically significantly likely to be their best performing subjects. Conclusions: Due to the array of variables impacting subject selection, a definitive causal explanation cannot be deduced from the data for these results. However, it is possible to infer that the variance in knowledge types between the science and technology subjects has an impact on the results. A case is made that a compulsory technological component should be incorporated into educational curricula to provide a comprehensive and general education and to facilitate the holistic development of pupils. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Taylor & Francis, 2018.
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-228858DOI: 10.1080/02635143.2018.1463981Scopus ID: 2-s2.0-85045756315OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kth-228858DiVA, id: diva2:1210928
Note

QC 20180604

Available from: 2018-05-30 Created: 2018-05-30 Last updated: 2018-06-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Investigating the role of spatial ability as a factor of human intelligence in technology education: Towards a causal theory of the relationship between spatial ability and STEM education
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Investigating the role of spatial ability as a factor of human intelligence in technology education: Towards a causal theory of the relationship between spatial ability and STEM education
2018 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Education is a particularly complex discipline due to the numerous variables which impact on teaching and learning. Due to the large effect of human intelligence on the variance in student educational achievement, there is a substantial need to further contemporary understandings of its role in education. Multiple paradigms exist regarding the study of human intelligence. One in particular, the psychometric tradition, has offered many critical findings which have had a substantial impact on STEM education. One of the most significant offerings of this approach is the wealth of empirical evidence which demonstrates the importance of spatial ability in STEM education. However, while categorically identified as important, a causal relationship between spatial ability and STEM is yet to be confirmed

As there is insufficient evidence to support a causal investigation, this thesis aims to develop an empirically based causal theory to make this possible. Five studies were conducted to achieve this aim and are described in the appended papers. As the research explores spatial ability in technology education, Paper I examines the epistemological position of technology education within STEM education. Based on the evidence showing spatial ability is important in Science, Engineering and Mathematics, Paper II explores its relevance to Technology. Paper III offers an empirically based definition for spatial ability through a synthesis of contemporary research and illustrates empirically where it has been observed as important to STEM learning. Paper IV examines the perceived importance of spatial ability relative to intelligence in STEM education from the perspective of technology education. Finally, Paper V examines the psychometric relationship between spatial ability and fluid intelligence (Gf) based on a hypothesis generated throughout the preceding papers.

The main results of this thesis illustrate the predictive capacity of visualization (Vz), memory span (MS), and inductive reasoning (I) on fluid intelligence (Gf) which is posited to offer a causal explanation based on the creative, innovative, and applied nature of STEM. Additional findings include the observation that learners use problem solving strategies which align with their cognitive strengths, that external representations of problems can scaffold the use of spatial ability or alleviate the need for it, that the variability of knowledge types across STEM sub-disciplines may affect the nature of reasoning within disciplines, and that for technology education specifically, acquiring an explicit knowledge base is not perceived to denote intelligence while the capacity to reason abstractly to solve novel problems is. This epistemological fluidity and focus on reasoning highlights the unique way in which technology education can provide insight into intelligence in STEM education. The implications of these results are discussed with specific focus on their theoretical validity and potential application in applied educational contexts.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
KTH Royal Institute of Technology, 2018
Series
TRITA-ITM-AVL ; 2018:9
National Category
Educational Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:kth:diva-228984 (URN)978-91-7729-744-4 (ISBN)
Public defence
2018-08-29, Salongen, KTHB, Osquars backe 31, Stockholm, Sweden., Stockholm, 14:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2018-05-31 Created: 2018-05-30 Last updated: 2018-05-31Bibliographically approved

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