UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)

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Name of Author: 
Tan, Jason Seng Chong
Thesis (M.Ed.) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Chen, Ai Yen ; Chan, Weng Cheong
Year of completion: 
Country of Research Data: 

Design and Technology is a relatively new subject in the Singapore's secondary school curriculum. This subject calls for a very different approach to teaching and learning by both the teacher and the pupils, as compared with the conventional classroom approach, so as to realise Design and Technology's fullest potential. The need to have a greater in-depth understanding of this state-of-the-art subject and the problems faced in teaching this subject have driven the researcher to carry out a disciplined inquiry into it. This inquiry makes use of the naturalistic methodology to capture the multi-faceted nature of design and technology teaching in a Singapore secondary school. A pilot study was carried out to test and discover some of the concerns of teachers and pupils. Many probing questions were raised pertaining to teachers' knowledge in design, teachers' depth of understanding of the process of designing, the way Design and Technology is taught and pupils' reaction towards this subject. The main study centers around the learning process of the researcher as participant-observer in learning designing himself and the transfer of knowledge to pupils through his own insights and understanding of the whole process of designing. Donald A. Schnook (1990)'s theory of "The Design Process" and Howard Gardner (1983)'s "FRAMES OF MIND: The theory of Multiple Intelligences" were used to frame the emerging conceptual framework for the main study. The main study revealed a very interesting `double learning loop process' emerging between both teacher and pupil in an intense learning relationship. Factors like the teacher's design background, teacher's design knowledge base, teacher's expertise in designing and pupil's attitude in designing played important roles in the successful implementation of the design and technology programme. The findings of this research study, based on the detailed analysis of two pupils' work out of a sample of 33 pupils, identified five areas of interest for further research: i) that the understanding of the concept of `design process-in-action' by both teachers and pupils is vital to the successful teaching of design and technology in school; ii) that pupil's performance and success in design and technology is closely interwoven with the teacher's background in design; iii) that the fundamental role of drawing/sketching in pupil's design abilities cannot be overstated; iv) that spatial intelligence (defined in terms of the ability to visualise and doodle) relates strongly to both the teacher's and pupil's design cognition; and v) that the marking system for design and technology affects both the teaching methodology and pupil's performance. This research study, as the first of its kind in Singapore, should provide an impetus to further inquiry into the nature and pedagogy of Design and Technology education and research.

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