THE NATURE AND ASPECTS UNDERGIRDING TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION

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CHAPTER TWO CONFIRMATION OF RESEARCH PROBLEM THROUGH RECONNAISANCE STUDY

To look is one thing. To see what you look at is another. To understand what you see is a third. To learn from what you understand is still something else. But to act on what you learn is all that really matters, Wilkinson (1988:9).

INTRODUCTION

This chapter presents the findings from the reconnaissance study for purposes of confirming the problem statement. According to Elliot (1991:73) and Ndlovu (2004: 65), reconnaissance is about describing and explaining viewpoints of the situation being investigated, and gives a clear setting or milieu in which the study will be conducted. The preliminary fact-finding investigation shaped the main study, confirming whether the research question was feasible and laying a foundation for further inquiry. According to Dick (2001:9) it is during the reconnaissance study that a researcher can adopt action research as a meta-methodology, i.e., a methodology one can use until one knows enough about the situation to choose the most appropriate one.

THE PRELIMINARY STUDY

On the day of my school visits I completed an observation grid during the Technology teaching, to be followed up by interviews of the teachers and the teachers filling in the interview questionnaire. This preliminary study was undertaken to identify the actual problem(s) that the senior phase TLA teachers experienced in their teaching. Preliminary research ensures that one does not find waste effort on a study that turns out to be unjustified (Hofstee, 2006:52). The Centre for Technology Education – Action Research (2010:02) asserts that before one begins with intervention one needs to gather baseline data and that knowing how participants perform before the study gives a starting point for comparing the results. The comparison of the preliminary and main findings will be reported in Chapter Five.
The cycle began with a series of planning actions initiated by myself as a researcher, during which I worked with TLA teachers as AR co-researchers. The benefit of this exercise was to establish a relationship and to have common ground about working together with the participants. Based on Figure 2.1 (below), one of the reasons for a preliminary study was to ‘unfreeze’ the participants from their challenges about teaching Technology and becomes aware of a need to change. After unfreezing process, the participants were led to the changing stage, that is, the situation was diagnosed and new models of emancipation explored and tested. The last stage of this process culminated in a ‘refreezing stage’, in which the application of new behaviour is evaluated, and if reinforced then adopted. AR is depicted as a cyclical process of changes, as illustrated in Figure 2.1, which summarizes the steps and processes that were planned and implemented during the preliminary study.
In accordance with Figure 2.1, the reconnaissance study was conducted between the input and transformation of the results, which informed planning for action. Thus, feedback Loop A was completed during the preliminary study for action planning purposes after data gathering. This unfreezing, which is an input on planning, would lead to the transformation of action.
A variety of data gathering techniques were used. Eighteen participants were observed, interviewed and responded to the questionnaires. Schools’ names were given pseudonyms for ethical reasons. My aim was to build a relationship of mutual trust with the participants during my first AR cycle. I explained the main aim of my study and informed the participants as to how we could benefit from the AR and its possibility of enhancing the teaching of Technology. Consensus and consent with the participants at each school was reached and forms signed to permit me to collect data using the three identified instruments. Collaboration on both action planning and action steps was sought jointly with the teachers, thus creating a desire within TLA teachers to do things differently with their learners. These were confirmed as teachers willingly signed the consent forms. I gave learners theirs to let their parents or guardian sign.
The sections that follow present the findings of the reconnaissance study. Data was collected in the natural settings of the participants by observing periods as they were set in their timetable. Interviews were conducted during their free time, and questionnaires filled in out of official school hours in order not to interfere with the normal running of the school activities. The findings are presented collectively from observations, interviews and questionnaires. These findings of the preliminary study have been divided into themes and are presented as such.

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DATA PRESENTATION OF THE PRELIMINARY STUDY

Data from the preliminary study is broken down into a number of themes. The indentified themes are teachers’ Technology teaching experience; Technology planning for teaching; assessment in Technology; support in Technology; resources in Technology; curriculum policy interpretation, implementation and learning outcomes; teacher-learner ratio. The themes are outlined as follows.

Participants’ biographical information and teaching experience

Triangulation was used after data collection that is to strengthen the study by combining various methods (Patton, 2002). As Mokhele (2011:99) writes, it entails using multiple methods, in this phase observation, interviews and recordings, to find a valid, reliable and diverse construction of reality. Data analysis of the preliminary study, which is Phase 1, for each technique, is presented in a narrative form. Tables, Figures and pictures are used to supplement the analysis. This process of data analysis focuses on understanding the teaching and learning actions and events within the participants’ settings and contexts.
It should be noted that triangulation is a contested idea as opposed to crystallisation (Richardson, 2000:934), the former enabling one to shift from seeing something as a fixed, rigid, limited dimensional object (that is triangulation) than seeing a crystal, which allows for an infinite variety of shapes, substances, transmutations, dimensions and angles of approach. This phenomenon will be used in Phase 2, particularly in Chapter Five under thefindings. At this stage, only data will be presented based on the activities from the instruments used in Phase 1, as displayed in the Vignette of Cycle 1 activities.

Vignette of Cycle 1 activities:

This was a proposed schedule of the activities that took place each day in a selected secondary school during Cycle 1:

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Textbox 2.1: Cycle 1, the 08th to 12th March 2010, activities

  1. Once-off meeting with the Mankweng Circuit Manager (a follow-up) to collect the permission letter for schools visit in his area
  2. Visit to school sequentially: VMV; BMB; RMR; KMK; WHW
  3. Meet school’s SMT and provide purpose of the visit
  4. Signing of a consent form for the research by each participant
  5. Class observations during Technology lessons
  6. Interviews with Technology teachers
  7. Collection of data from Technology teachers’ files
  8. Picture taking session (of classrooms and/or Technology laboratories)

Data was collected each day of the visit at each school from the participants, using only the three instruments during Cycle 1 contact session. Data from both interviews and observations was reviewed holistically and important themes noted. The questionnaires had preconceived themes which gave a direction to the analysis, which the themes in the questionnaire were used to guide, although additional ones emerged from the interviews. Pictures of what I observed within the Technology classrooms are displayed below and the interpretations of them highlighted. Consent forms were signed by both teachers and learners’ parents and guardians. This will serve as observation findings in Cycle 1 during Phase 1.

CHAPTER ONE ORIENTATION INTO THE STUDY
1.1 INTRODUCTION AND MOTIVATION OF THE STUDY
1.2 BECOMING AWARE OF THE PROBLEM
1.3 AIM AND PURPOSE OF THE STUDY
1.4 ASSUMPTIONS AND CLAIMS ABOUT THE PROBLEM
1.5 RESEARCH DESIGN FOR THE RECONNAISSANCE STUDY
1.6 CONCEPTUALIZATION
1.7 PROGRAMME OF THE STUDY
CHAPTER TWO CONFIRMATION OF RESEARCH PROBLEM THROUGH RECONNAISANCE STUDY
2.1 INTRODUCTION
2.2 THE PRELIMINARY STUDY
2.3 DATA PRESENTATION OF THE PRELIMINARY STUDY
2.4 DECISION ON THE MAIN RESEARCH PROBLEM CONSIDERING FINDINGS OF THE RECONNAISANCE STUDY
2.5 DEVELOPMENT OF THE MAIN ACTION RESEARCH STUDY
2.6 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER THREE THE NATURE AND ASPECTS UNDERGIRDING TECHNOLOGY EDUCATION
3.1 INTRODUCTION
3.2 THE THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK GUIDING THE STUDY
3.3 INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS OFTECHNOLOGY EDUCATION
3.4 TEACHING APPROACHES BASED ON TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENTS
3.6 TECHNOLOGY TEACHERS’ CHALLENGES
3.7 CONCLUSION
CHAPTER FOUR THE MAIN ACTION RESEARCH METHODOLOGY FOR THE STUDY
4.1 INTRODUCTION
4.2 AN INTUITION OF CONDUCTING MAIN ACTION RESEARCH IN LIMPOPO PROVINCE
4.3 METHODS IN ACTION RESEARCH MAIN STUDY
4.4 ACTION RESEARCHPARADIGMS
4.5 EMANCIPATION OF TECHNOLOGY TEACHERS THROUGH ACTION RESEARCH
4.6 ACTION RESEARCH ACTIVITIES PER CYCLE
4.7 DATA ANALYSIS METHOD
4.8 TRUSTWORTHINESS
4.9 CONCLUDING REMARKS
CHAPTER FIVE FINDINGS OF THE MAIN ACTION RESEARCH STUDY
5.1 INTRODUCTION
5.2 PROCESS OF REPORTING ACTION RESEARCH FINDINGS
5.3 REPORTING FINDINGS FROM ACTION RESEARCH CYCLES
5.4 CONCLUDING REMARKS
CHAPTER SIX CONCLSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS FROM THE STUDY
6.1 INTRODUCTION
6.2 DRAWING CONCLUSIONS FROM THE STUDY CHAPTERS
6.3 INDICATING THE GAPS, SHORTCOMINGS, FLAWS AND LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY
6.4 SUMMARY OF THE MAIN FINDINGS
6.5 RECOMMENDATIONS
6.6 TEACHERS’ EMANCIPATION GUIDELINES, MODEL AND PROGRAMME TO IMPLEMENT ACTION RESEARCH
6.7 REFLECTING THE SUCCESS OF THE STUDY
6.8 FINAL REFLECTION
6.9 FINAL CONCLUSION OF THE STUDY
BIBLIOGRAPHY
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