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
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.
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?
- How has the philosophy and development of Technology Education changed over time in Mauritius?
- What are the current international trends in Technology Education?
- How do students and teachers in Mauritius define Technology Education?
- How is Technology Education currently organised and delivered in Mauritius?
- What are the views of the main stakeholders with regard to the relevance of Technology Education in Mauritius?
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
History of subject area
Philosophy in Values of Mauritius Ideas
Education Societal situation
Principles for Technology Education
Figure 1: Conceptual model for the identification of
principles for Technology Education in Mauritius 
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
- Copies of Mauritian text books being used to teach Design and Technology and Design and Communication;
- Lists of technological books used by Design and Technology and Design and Communication teachers as support material;
- Lists and descriptions of teaching aids used;
- Lists and conditions of tools, materials, and equipment used;
- Relevant documents issued by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology;
- Books on the history of education in Mauritius;
- Photocopies from archived documents, books, dissertations and theses;
- Documents and other printed material (ex. school magazines or school policy statements) from secondary schools in Mauritius;
- Government documents concerning current economic, social, educational and industrial issues;
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 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
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
The principles derived from the analysis of the results will be
validated using a modified Delphi technique.
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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- 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
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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