An exploration into grade seven teacher assessment practices in technology education within the Pinetown district.
As the political milieu in South Africa changed in 1990, a new curriculum framework guided by the principles of Outcomes Based Education (OBE) emerged. The paradigm shift from a traditional to an OBE curriculum was difficult for many teachers, especially the shift away from the traditional paper and pencil methods of assessment to using formative assessments methods. The issues of assessment are further compounded in Technology Education because of its unique methodology. Within the South African context, Technology Education must include conceptual knowledge of technology products as well as procedural knowledge on the designing and manufacturing of such products. Technology Education is thus concerned with developing learners’ capability. As a result, assessment in Technology becomes complex because we are looking for more than just a display of knowledge, understanding and manual skills. It is against this backdrop that this study aims to explore Grade 7 teacher assessment practices in Technology Education within the Pinetown District and to gain a better understanding of what teachers assess in Technology Education. This was done by examining how they carried out their assessments and by exploring the reasons for such practices. The research questions addressed in this study were: What are Grade 7 teachers assessing in Technology Education? ; How do Grade 7 teachers carry out these assessments? ; Why are Grade 7 teachers employing particular assessment strategies? Middleton’s revised concept of problem space, as well as the influence of social constructive influence on learning and assessment that forms the theoretical framework of this study. Guided by the interpretive paradigm, this research was qualitative in nature and a case study approach was used to explore it aims. The case study approach allowed the researcher an opportunity to study the participants’ common and unique features in depth within a limited time scale. Participants for this study were selected by purposive sampling by virtue of their professional experience in teaching Grade 7 Technology Education within the senior phase. Data collection methods used to obtain data relevant to the research questions were observation of Technology lessons, document analysis of learners’ books and educators’ portfolios, as well as semi-structured interviews. It has emerged from the findings that although Technology Education has gained momentum over the years in South Africa. Greater attention needs to be paid towards assessment of the learning area because no proper guidelines regarding assessments have been provided for teachers. Teachers are assessing aspects of Technology Education that they feel are relevant and which they are comfortable with. Greater emphasis is placed on completed tangible products rather than the designing and the learning process that the learner engages in. Emphasis is placed on assessment for attainment of marks and not for life-long learning. Lack of pedagogical knowledge in the field of Technology Education and limited knowledge of appropriate assessment strategies in Technology Education have also emerged as major contributing factors for Grade 7 teachers for assessing Technology Education in the manner that they are. It is recommended that appropriate and adequate professional development workshops be held for teachers of Technology Education so that these short coming are addressed. Subject advisors need to play a more active role in the development of Technology Educations and meet on a regular basis with the teachers to keep abreast of new trends and to tackle challenges. This is necessary so that Technology Education in South Africa can reach its true potential in developing enterprising, creative problem solvers as envisaged in the constitution.