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The identification of principles for the development and implementation of technology education: A case study of Mauritius

Désiré Mallet
Edith Cowan University


The word 'technology' has been associated throughout the history of humankind with different fields. It has often been linked with inventions and machines, or viewed as a subset of science when it is reduced to an applied science. And, more recently, it seems that the word is being associated with computers when it is equated with information technology. In fact, no single definition would fully explain the concept of technology. Still, without limiting its characteristics, and for the purpose of this study, it will be assumed that technology is a creative process to solve problems, that it enables people to exert control over the natural world, and that it is observable in all cultures.

The background to the study

Technology is a new way of thinking which is bringing with it an evolving type of education often referred to as Technology Education. Basically, the rationale for teaching a form of technology has been associated with the perceived need that, in this modern technological society-in which the rate of technological change is increasing exponentially, a major priority is to educate people to become technologically literate (De Vore, 1988). Technological Education has the potential to contribute not only to the psychomotor development of the individuals, but also to their cognitive and affective development through a number of mechanisms. First, Technology Education puts emphasis on the process (learning how to learn) rather than on the end-product. Second, in Technology Education there is the possibility to link affective, cognitive and psychomotor skills in a harmonious way through technological activities which enhance problem solving skills. Finally, Technology Education offers an appropriate forum for informed discussions on issues such as ecology and sustainability, the appropriateness of technology, or knowledge dissemination in countries with limited resources.

Some form of Technology Education is being implemented in many countries of the world (Booth, 1989; Kim & Land, 1994; King, 1994; Okuya, Miyakawa, Hatano, & Kadowaki, 1993, Williams, 1996); and, this implementation is being done through different approaches depending on the context or the perceived societal or individual needs (Hobman, 1996; Todd, 1985; Williams, 1996). However, as Technology Education is relatively new in the school curriculum, there are many unanswered questions about its implementation.

The development and implementation of Technology Education is a concern in countries which have limited resources, namely in the so-called developing countries or in Newly Industrialised Countries (NICs). In Mauritius (one of the NICs) a major education document entitled Education Master Plan for the Year 2000 was produced which highlights the importance of some form of technical education (Ministry of Education Arts & Culture, 1991). In the Master Plan, it is noted that if Mauritius is to move successfully to the next stage of industrialisation, it will require more young people with a grounding in scientific and technical subjects (p. 33). But the Master Plan also pinpointed to the fact that the number of students taking technical subjects is very small, that in most schools there is insufficient emphasis on practical work, and that many schools lack the necessary laboratory facilities and equipment for teaching technical subjects.

Still, it was recognised that there were advantages in including practical subjects in the school curriculum - not in order to enable students to acquire specific skills, but to give them a positive attitude to practical work (Parsuramen, 1993, p. 78). The author acknowledged that education should not only be concerned with skills needed for specific jobs, but also to provide a basis of more transferable skills, and he also recognised that specific techniques and technologies become obsolete in a very short time. These political statements tend to indicate that there exist, in Mauritius, a concern for some form of appropriate technical or technological education.

The purpose of the study

This study will investigate how Technology Education is being implemented in Mauritius, and it will identify a set of valid principles which may be used as a philosophical basis for the development and implementation of the subject in Mauritius.

The significance of the study

This study is significant for a number of reasons. First, through the identification of relevant principles for Technology Education, this study will suggest technological content and methodologies which may be suitable to the school curriculum in Mauritius. Second, by focusing on the guiding principles in the development of Technology Education, this study will be relevant not only to students and teachers who are coming to term with the introduction of a new curriculum but also to curriculum planners in Mauritius and in countries with common economic situation, cultural or linguistic heritage, and similar levels of educational and technological development. Third, this study will provide empirical data about the implementation of the subject area to the students, teachers, lecturers, and researchers who are studying in this area in Mauritius.

Research questions


The research question for this study will be reliant on the answers obtained to five specific questions.
General research question:

What basic principles should underpin the development of Technology Education in Mauritius?

Specific questions:

  1. How has the philosophy and development of Technology Education changed over time in Mauritius?

  2. What are the current international trends in Technology Education?

  3. How do students and teachers in Mauritius define Technology Education?

  4. How is Technology Education currently organised and delivered in Mauritius?

  5. What are the views of the main stakeholders with regard to the relevance of Technology Education in Mauritius?

Conceptual model

Figure 1 shows the conceptual model which will be used for this study. This conceptual model centres on Technology Education in secondary schools in Mauritius linked externally to philosophies and worldwide trends in Technology Education. In this context, the conceptual model takes into account both a review of the development of Technology Education internationally (including other NICs), and a study of the implementation of Technology Education in Mauritius.

The conceptual model reflects a dynamic constructivist model in which definitions, beliefs, conceptions, points of views, ideas and so forth, are considered. These statements would form a platform or basis upon which decisions may be made. According to Walker (cited in Print, 1993), the platfor m includes an idea of what is, and a vision of what ought to be, and these would guide curriculum developers in determining what they should do to realise their vision.

Finally, from the field work and the literature review, an appropriate set of principles will be derived for Mauritius. This set of principles will be validated using a relevant methodology.

International Technology Education

Teacher's background

Syllabus requirements

History of subject area

Technology Curriculum

Education Resources

Philosophy in Values of Mauritius Ideas

Technology Expectations

Education Societal situation

Principles for Technology Education

Figure 1: Conceptual model for the identification of
principles for Technology Education in Mauritius [1]


The methodology which will be used for this research will contain three main components: data collection, data analysis, and principle validation. The data collection will be basically qualitative in nature. The need for qualitative research in Technology Education is recommended by Williams (1994) and Gloeckner & Gerst (1994), and is appropriate for this study as it stresses both the validity of multiple meaning structures and holistic analysis (Burns, 1994, p. 11). This proposed qualitative study will include a literature review, semi-structured individual and group interviews, and visual recordings. Based on the data collected, the data analysis will culminate in the derivation of a set of principles for the implementation and development of Technology Education in Mauritius which will be validated by way of a modified version of a Delphi technique.

The table below shows how each research question (mentioned previously) relates to the methods used to collect the data for this research.

Table1: Methods to be used for each research question

Research questions to be addressed
Methods to be used No.1No.2No.3No.4 No.5

Literature YesYesYesYes
Interviews YesYesYesYesYes
Visual recordings YesYes
Supplementary records YesYesYesYes

Data collection


The review of literature on Technology Education for data collection purposes will be limited to issues pertaining to (a) the philosophy of Technology Education, (b) the rationales which explain worldwide trend in Technology Education, and (c) the current implementation of Technology Education in Mauritius.


There will be semi-structured individual and group interviews (an interview schedule will be pilot-tested in Mauritius). The interviews will focus on the teaching and learning of Design and Technology, or more precisely on the content and methodology used, and on the views of the main stakeholders with regard to Technology Education. The language to be used for each interview will be either Kreol, French or English as decided by the interviewees themselves.

Individual interviews

There will be twenty individual interviews. These will include lecturers in Design and Technology at the Mauritius Institute of Education, Design and Technology teachers, and people representing selected Mauritian bodies.

Group interviews

There will be four group interviews consisting each of eight participants. The first group (Group A) will consist of Design and Technology teachers who are following a degree course while the three other groups B, C, and D will be constituted of secondary school students.

Selection of teachers

A purposive selection will be done to choose the teachers for both the individual and the group interviews. The composition of both the individual interviews as well as the group interviews will include representation from private and government schools.

Selection of students

Three schools will be identified from which students will be selected for the interviews. The criteria for identification will be based on the top three in the list of schools offering students for School Certificate and Higher School Certificate examinations. Students themselves will be randomly selected from the official school lists of students.

Selection of participants for the individual interviews

The different identified private, governmental, and para-statal bodies will be contacted through letters, electronic mails and telephonewhichever is the most appropriate channel for each specific body. They will be informed about the study and asked to invite any relevant person to participate in the study. In the case of the Mauritius Institute of Education, all the members of the teaching staff will be invited.

Visual recordings


All the schools offering Design and Technology and Design and Communication at a School Certificate level will be invited to participate in the video recording. The video will be used to record (i) technological school activities, (ii) students' designed artefacts, and (iii) school laboratories. Video is most suitable because it will provide the researcher with a large amount of useful and reliable data in a graphic form. This will be appropriate for the interpretation and analysis of the data. For example, a one-minute recording of an artefact will contain valuable information about the materials and processes used, or about any functional or aesthetic aspect included in the design. Similarly, a short video record of activities in the laboratory will contain much information about the space, equipment and machines available. Evidence of appropriate laboratory workplace design or health and safety awareness is also easily and accurately recorded in this way.

Supplementary records

Researcher's field notes

The observations concerning the socio-economic, educational and political situation will be noted in a field work diary. These notes will be used in the analysis of the data collected on site.

Documents and books

Documents from various sources will be gathered during the field trip. These will include the following:
  1. Copies of Mauritian text books being used to teach Design and Technology and Design and Communication;
  2. Lists of technological books used by Design and Technology and Design and Communication teachers as support material;
  3. Lists and descriptions of teaching aids used;
  4. Lists and conditions of tools, materials, and equipment used;
  5. Relevant documents issued by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology;
  6. Books on the history of education in Mauritius;
  7. Photocopies from archived documents, books, dissertations and theses;
  8. Documents and other printed material (ex. school magazines or school policy statements) from secondary schools in Mauritius;
  9. Government documents concerning current economic, social, educational and industrial issues;

Newspaper Articles

Relevant articles published in the Mauritian press (on-line) concerning current economic, social, educational and industrial issues will also be collected to supplement the analysis of the data.

Data analysis

Data analysis will be facilitated by the use of two different software packages. The first one is the NUD*IST (Non-numerical Unstructured Data Indexing, Searching and Theorising) software system (Qualitative Solutions Research, 1994), and the second is the VideoCode (Knibb, 1997). NUD*IST will be used for managing and organising the research data which will be classified and categorised. The transcripts of the interviews and information from the researcher's field notes will be stored as on-line documents. The information from the literature review and the newspapers will be stored as off-line documents. NUD*IST will also allow for progressive reconceptualisation of the data with regards to the philosophy and participants' views on Technology Education. The software VideoCode will be used to capture, code and analyse digital video from the video tapes. It will be possible to find and code instances in the movies. For example, the researcher may create and play a movie of all coded unsafe laboratory practices. Moreover, the codes from different categories can be combinedfor analysis purposesto produce new movies. For example, a movie could be created which would show simultaneously the methodology used in the laboratory and the processes selected by the students to design an artefact. Relevant information thus obtained will also be fed back to NUD*IST for further analysis.

Data synthesis

With NUD*IST it will be possible to study the documents in different ways. For example, it will be possible to index (code) segments of the texts using various indexing categories. Examples of themes to be used for the organisation and extension of the indexing will include philosophy of Technology Education, teaching strategies and content, relevance of technological school activities, health and safety issues, assessment, resources, and teacher's training. An index system originating from the relevant themes will be created. It will then be possible to build new indexing nodes out of the original nodes. The node building and retrieval operations offered by NUD*IST provide essential reliability. Based on this element of reliability, it will be possible to derive the set of principles for Technology Education.

Principle validation

The principles derived from the analysis of the results will be validated using a modified Delphi technique.

Delphi study

The Delphi technique involves the systematic questioning of a group of panellists who are knowledgeable about a particular subject (Butcher, 1990). It is mainly used where exact knowledge is not available and it relies on the informed intuitive opinions of specialists in the area of inquiry - however remote they may be geographically (Volk, 1990).

The Delphi technique is generally modified to suit specific research. The selected persons are asked to rank a set of items pertaining to the research questions of the study. This questioning is done over a series of rounds through which the panellists receive feedback from the group and are thus given the opportunity to refine their opinions. The responses of one round produce the substance of the subsequent round (Dajani, Sincoff & Talley cited in Butcher, 1990, p. 78).

The Delphi technique has several specific advantages and limitations. The advantages include cost effectiveness (Reiger in Volk, 1990) and the building of consensus (Borg & Gall in Volk, 1990; Rieger in Butcher, 1990). The Delphi method makes use of anonymity - thus reducing the effect of dominant views (Butcher, 1990). The limitations of this methodology include the difficulty to recruit panellists (Morgensten, Knorr & Heiss in Volk, 1990), the so-called 'expertness' of expert opinion (Sackman in Butcher, 1990) and the long amount of time needed to carry out the study (Borg & Gall in Volk, 1990).

Selection of participants for Delphi panel

The potential participants will be selected according to one or more of the following: (a) publishing record on issues linked with Technology Education, (b) professional involvement in Technology Education, © experience with Mauritius or similar countries, and (d) access to electronic mail or fax facilities.

Fifty potential participants will be contacted through faxes, e-mails and letters, and briefed about the research and the methodology to be used. A panel of fifteen to thirty will be finally selected based on their willingness to participate fully in the study.

Modified Delphi technique

A structured questionnaire relating to the principles generated from the analysis of the data collection in Mauritius and from the literature review will be administered to the selected panellists. Three to four rounds will follow to determine the degree of expert consensus on each item. Opportunities will be given for comments and suggestions from participants. Consensus will be obtained by a predetermined measure of stability established by the researcher. The methodology for measuring stability will be critical as stability (a) will act as a precursor to any further analysis of data regarding levels of agreement and acceptance of the items, and (b) will be used as a stopping criterion for the successive rounds of Delphi study (Butcher, 1990, p. 77). The procedure for establishing limits on stability will be drawn from the weighted average used by Williams (1984) and a six point Likert scale favoured by Butcher (1990).


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Burns, R. B. (1994). Introduction to research methods (2nd ed.). Melbourne: Longman Cheshire.

Butcher, L. M. (1990). The formulation and rating of standards for Australian technology teacher education programs. Unpublished masters dissertation, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales.

De Vore, P. W. (1988). Technology - An examen. Journal of Industrial Teacher Education, 25(3), 7-18.

Gloeckner, G. W., & Gerst, J. (1994). Qualitative research - Tales of the technology teacher. The Technology Teacher, 45(4), 7-13.

Hobman, D. (1996, January). Design technology in the international context. The 1996 ACET National Conference - Technology Education into the classroom . Perth, Western Australia.

Kim, C.-S., & Land, M. H. (1994). Recent development of technology education in Korea. The Technology Teacher, 53(4), 30-33.

King, C. (1994). Providing advice and support for the technology curriculum - A Northern Ireland perspective. The Technology Teacher, 53(5), 23-26.

Knibb, K. (1997). VideoCode - Software for the coding and analysis of digital video. http://cowan.edu.au/education/VideoCode/index.html [1997, April 1].

Ministry of Education Arts & Culture (1991). Education Master Plan for the year 2000. Mauritius: Author.

Okuya, T., Miyakawa, H., Hatano, Y., & Kadowaki, T. (1993). The new national curriculum of technology education in Japan. The Technology Teacher, 53(2), 24-27.

Parsuramen, A. (1993). Our children, our future, our hope - Education in Mauritius 1983 to 1993 (A decade of progress). Mauritius: Ministry of Education & Science.

Print, M. (1993). Curriculum development and design (2nd ed.). NSW, Australia: Allen & Unwin.

Qualitative Solutions Research (1994). NUD*IST Qualitative data analysis solutions for research professionals (Version NUD*IST 3.0 for IBM). Melbourne: Author.

Todd, R. (1985). Technology education: An international perspective. In Technology education: A perspective on implementation. (pp. 19-24). Reston, USA: International Technology Education Association.

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  1. Figure 1 original was not available to the HTML editors at the time this file was prepared.

Author: Désiré Mallet, Edith Cowan University, 2 Bradford Street, Mount Lawley WA 6050. Tel: (08) 9370 6490 Fax: (08) 9370 6032 dmallet@scorpion.cowan.edu.au

Please cite as: Mallet, D. (1997). The identification of principles for the development and implementation of technology education: A case study of Mauritius. Proceedings Western Australian Institute for Educational Research Forum 1997. http://www.waier.org.au/forums/1997/mallet.html

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