ACE technology lecturers' and in-service teachers' understanding of the design process and its enactment in their pedagogical practice.
This thesis is an exploration of Advanced Certificate in Education (ACE) Technology lecturers’ and in-service teachers’ understanding of the design process and how it influences their pedagogical practice. Creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving capabilities and other related skills are key aspects of Technology Education. In order for Technology learners to develop these capabilities and skills they need to engage with the design process. It is in this regard that the design process is argued to be the core of technology education. Hence, it is argued that it ought to be used to structure and drive the delivery of all learning aims of the Technology subject in South African schools. Research shows that the context based and complex nature of the design process presents a huge challenge for teachers. As a result, teachers present it as a linear process, rather than an iterative process as suggested in the South African Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement for Grades 7-9 Technology. The two research questions explored were: “What are ACE Technology lecturers’ and in-service teachers’ understanding of the design process?” and “What informs and influences Technology Education lecturers’ and in-service teachers’ understanding of the design process?” These questions were addressed through the use of a questionnaire and two focus group interviews with the ACE Technology lecturers’ and teachers’. Schön’s notions of reflection-in-action and reflection-on-action were used to trace how these ACE Technology lecturers’ and teachers’ developed their understanding of the design process. The results indicate that through the use of reflection in and on action, ACE Technology lecturers’ and teachers’ understanding of the design process broadens and changes. Reflection occurred by means of narrative, graphic presentations and participative engagement methods. W.r.t. to Research Question 1, four conceptions of the relationship between the design process and problem solving emerged which then led to the emergence of the seven ways in which the design process is understood: Conception 1: Design process is action orientated. Conception 2: Design process is not linear, but iterative. Conception 3: Design process is solution based. Conception 4: Design process is appraisal and evaluation. Conception 5: Design process is systematic. Conception 6: Design process is complex. Conception 7: Design process is context based. With regard to Research Question 2, the findings revealed two factors that influence and inform ACE lecturers’ and teachers’ understanding: a) reflection and interacting in a community of practice and b) the interface between understanding and practice. This interface is premised upon two factors which cause understanding to be transformed and confirmed during practice: (i) contextual issues and (ii) identity. In this regard, the analysis of data from this study shows that ACE technology lecturers’ and in-service teachers’ understanding of the design process not only directs their pedagogical practice but impacts on learning of Technology with respect to critical thinking, innovation and creativity.