How project-based learning manifests itself in technology education textbooks

23 Jul 2012

Project-based learning (PBL) is the recommended approach for teaching technology in South Africa. The implementation of this approach, however, is problematic since the vast majority of technology teachers are not formally trained in technology education. Consequently, many of these teachers rely on technology textbooks for guidance. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate how PBL is represented in technology textbooks. A set of criteria, identified by Thomas, capturing the uniqueness of PBL, formed the conceptual framework of this study and was used to conduct the content analysis of twelve of the most commonly used textbooks. The study engaged a combination of quantitative and qualitative research to provide insight into how project-based learning is presented, if at all, in these textbooks. It was found that PBL is poorly represented in the sampled textbooks; the criteria that require projects to be central to the curriculum and to involve learners in a constructive investigation seem to be most problematic. The study recommends that teachers involved in teaching technology deepen their understanding of PBL by studying the theory of this approach, since a proper understanding of PBL in schools is crucial to ensure that we do justice to technology education.