Knowledge-generating activities on which technology education students draw when they design and make artefacts

08 Mar 2011

Technology is often perceived simplistically as applied science, and therefore regarded as inferior to science. Scholars of technology, however, reject the view that technology is applied science and insist that technology is a cognitive system consisting of a separate body of technological knowledge. Although science is acknowledged as an important source of knowledge for technology, Vincenti (1990) identified six other knowledge-generating activities that contribute to the knowledge base in technology. These seven knowledge-generating activities were derived from an analysis of aeronautical history cases and give some insight into how engineers know what they know. However, before one can draw on Vincenti's framework of knowledge-generating activities to provide insight into how technology education students know what they know, one needs to engage with such a framework to determine its usefulness in an educational context. The purpose of this study is therefore to investigate the usefulness of Vincenti's framework, which was derived chiefly from engineering, to be able to describe how technology education students know what they know. Quantitative research was used to provide insight into the knowledge-generating activities drawn upon by education students when they design and make artefacts at the University of Pretoria. The research employed an analysis of a questionnaire administered to the students after they had finalised two different capability tasks. Findings suggest that Vincenti's framework of knowledge-generating activities is useful in technology education. The study recommends that researchers and educators deepen their understanding of how technology education students come to their technological knowledge by considering the knowledge-generating activities presented in the conceptual framework.