15 February 2001
Reference: Practice Meets Theory in Technology Education: A Case of Authentic Learning in the High School Setting. (1998). Journal of Technology Education, V9, #2.
Principle: The case study summarizes the major results of a larger case study that examined the attributes of a secondary school program in technology education. The two-pronged goal of this qualitative study was to, first, identify key attributes of a successful classroom where technology education is taught as a partnership between the school and business. Secondly, identify the theories of learning, motivation, and education that are supported by the program's attributes.
Design: One grade 10 and one grade 11 classes of a nationally recognized teacher's classroom were studied for five months in September 1995. Groups were not assigned randomly. Thirty-three students were observed, 26 male and 9 female. Ages ranged from 16 to 19 years. The students in the classes had not been grouped according to ability as an Ontario government policy. Students were to work on assignments, many with members of the local community, in project teams of two to four students.
Independent Variables: A successful technology program that featured student projects and involvement with the local community.
Dependent Variable: Technology education is taught in secondary schools in Ontario.
Procedure: Data were obtained from interviews with selected students (male and female, more and less successful in the courses), the teacher, school and local officials; in-class observations supported by researcher notes, photographs, and videotapes; student reports; details of curriculum; student achievement measurers; the teacher's reflective journal; and evidence of participation in activities such as science and technology fairs.
Results: Six links of the program's characteristics to current research were identified. They were: the development of many human capacities; learning as social and distributed; learning as constructed knowledge; learning in context; student motivation to learn; and technology education as a project-based enterprise. Further research is needed examine other successful programs to document additional evidence and confirm the findings of the study.
Comments: Outstanding teachers are willing to go the extra mile to make sure the students are involved in the learning process not "just sitting in class at a desk and doing assignment work." The study made me examine how I currently teach Computer Science and Webmastering to see how I can involve the local community in my classroom.