Technology Education

Teknikens didaktik

The research conducted at TESER is organized under the following four common themes that guide the whole research unit:

  • Historical, philosophical and cultural perspectives on science and technology
  • Language, tools and representations in science and technology
  • Digital tools and the effects of digitalisation in science and technology
  • Assessment and school governance

In addition, technology education research is divided into several smaller projects, of which the majority are presented below:

  • Technological systems in technology instruction
  • Literary fiction in technology instruction
  • Programming and digital tools in technology
  • Assessment of technological knowledge
  • History of technology education
  • Teachers’ and pupils perceptions of technology and technology as a subject
  • Technology and gender
  • Technology in preschool, early years and after-school centres

Technological systems in technology instruction

Technological systems consist of components that interact, creating a whole that cannot be simply reduced to the individual parts within it. Contemporary society consists increasingly of such technological systems – which are, moreover, also becoming increasingly complex. Technology education therefore includes having knowledge of how to act as a user in relation to these technological systems, something also stipulated in technology curricula in Sweden and many other countries. Very little has been done, however, in researching what knowledge pupils and teachers have about technology systems and how this knowledge could be developed. In this research area we examine how schools manage the educational field of technological systems in terms of syllabus content, how teaching materials treat systems and how pupils, teachers and trainee teachers understand technological systems.

Literary fiction in technology instruction

Most subjects in the Swedish compulsory school curriculum contain some literary elements – but not the subject of technology, which means that research about this is virtually non-existent in Sweden (though this area is under-researched internationally, as well). There is, however, major learning potential in using literary fiction in technology education, since literature tends to problematize rather than simplify; this can be advantageous when the students are learning about complex knowledge areas such as technology, ethics, sustainable development, and so on. In this particular research area, we examine both which ideas about technology, people, society and nature appeared in works of literature for children during the twentieth century; and how works of literature are currently used and can/should be used in the natural sciences and technology.

Programming and digital tools in technology

The digitalisation of society is one of the great changes of our time, and e.g. the compulsory school curriculum contains from 2018 a clearer focus on digital solutions. Mathematics and technology now also include programming as a content for students to learn. At TekNaD, several research projects are conducted on the digitalisation of compulsory school and upper secondary school, for example, research on how programming is carried out in technology in primary school and the relationship between metaphor and gestures in programming teaching in upper secondary school.

Assessment of technological knowledge

Research into assessment within technology is in its infancy, just as for many other school subjects. This research area studies teachers’ perceptions of how different content in technology is to be assessed. Furthermore, assessment is also studied more generally, for example as regards supervision and examination of graduation projects in different teacher training courses and how the borderline for a passing grade was managed in schools during the 1990s and the early 2000s.

History of technology education

Technology education has existed in Swedish schools for a long time, in fact since before a specific subject called “Technology” was introduced in the 1960s. Technology as a field of knowledge has existed, and still exists, as more-or-less explicit content in subjects such as handicrafts, science studies, home economics and social studies. In this research field we study “technology in school” from the nineteenth century up through the present. We are interested in how the field of knowledge that is technology and the subject “Technology” developed in schools, and what entities and factors have been significant in this development. In this respect, it touches upon social and cultural conceptions of technology and technology education that prevailed at different periods; theoretical curriculum issues concerning which areas of knowledge were selected, by whom and why; as well as what significance the chequered history of technology and its relation to other subjects – primarily the natural sciences – has for the appearance of the subject in today’s schools.

Teachers' and pupils perceptions of technology and technology as a subject

In order for teachers to be able to instruct students in technology, and in order for those students to be able to learn something about technology, there needs to be an understanding – based in research – of teachers’ and students’ attitudes towards and interest in technology as a phenomenon and as a school subject, and also of how they understand and perceive different types of knowledge content within the subject of technology. These factors are therefore studied in different ways within this area of research: partly how people generally understand technology and the subject of technology, and partly how different knowledge content is perceived and understood.

Technology and gender

For a very long time, technology has both influenced and been influenced by society’s view of gender – what is seen as masculine and feminine, respectively. This division is not set in stone but does change from era to era, from culture to culture and so on. The prevailing division limits the opportunity for individuals from an education perspective, and also their options for education. This has consequences for gender equality in both private working life. One important task for Swedish schools and preschools is to actively combat traditional gender roles and gender patterns. Research into how gender-aware education/activities could be pursued in technology as a subject has only been conducted to a greatly limited extent, both nationally and internationally.

Technology in preschool, early years and after-school centres

When technology was introduced as a mandatory subject in Swedish primary and lower secondary schools in the 1980s, it was as a higher-level subject. Since that time technology as knowledge content has been introduced to younger and younger age groups in school, gradually entering both preschool and after-school centres. Research into what happens inside and outside the technology classroom in the early years is very rare, however, which is why TESER is putting extra effort into research on this question.