Teaching and learning technology concepts in secondary schools: A study of psychological factors affecting pupil performance

Doherty, Martin (1999) Teaching and learning technology concepts in secondary schools: A study of psychological factors affecting pupil performance. MSc(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Printed Thesis Information: https://eleanor.lib.gla.ac.uk/record=b1810453


This thesis reports the findings of a study that attempted to apply an information processing model to assess and improve the teaching and learning in a secondary school technology course. Two cognitive factors believed to have an important influence on pupil performance were measured, namely: working memory capacity (X-space) and field-dependence/independence (F.IND/F.D). The research involved 71 pupils form St. Stephen's High School in Port Glasgow and a 105 pupils from St. Columba's High School in Clydebank whose ages ranged from 13 to 14 years. Initially, the working memory capacities and field-dependent/independent learning styles of the sample from St. Stephen's High School were ascertained using a new version of the digit span test and the hidden figure test (H.F.T) respectively. These tests had been developed at the Centre for Science Education in the University of Glasgow. The results of the digit span test divided the sample into groups of low, intermediate and high working memory capacity (X=5, X=6 and X=7). The pupil's learning style categories were established from the hidden figure test, i.e. field-dependent, field-intermediate and field-independent. A technology course that focussed on gear and belt driven mechanisms was then taught to the pupils over a period of about 4 weeks. On completion of the course a test was given with questions that had been assessed for the demand (Z) which they placed on the pupils X-capacity. The information processing model was applied to the mechanisms course so that problem areas might be identified and eradicated. It was discovered that a substantial number of changes were required to remove the material thought to have caused difficulties for the pupils (noise) and to improve the general quality (signal) of the course. After considering the amount of modifications necessary it was decided that a completely new course on mechanisms had to be written. This was presented to the pupils from St. Columba's High School after the two psychological factors had been measured. A comparison of the results from both schools was then made in an effort to assess the effectiveness of the new technology course and to test the hypotheses that working memory and field-dependence/independence were related to pupil performance. An analysis of the psychological factors and pupil performance in the mechanisms tests from both schools suggested that a relationship existed between X-capacity and the Z- demand of the technology questions. It appeared that pupils who were considered to be field-dependent had inefficient memory processes and performed less effectively in the mechanisms tests. The findings implied that field-independent, high X-capacity pupils were the most successful of all the candidates in answering questions of greater complexity. Furthermore, the application of the information processing model seemed to have helped in improving pupil attainment in technology concepts.

Item Type: Thesis (MSc(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Johnstone, Prof. Alex and Pollock, Dr. Maggie
Date of Award: 1999
Depositing User: Mrs Monika Milewska-Fiertek
Unique ID: glathesis:1999-39029
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 20 Dec 2018 11:54
Last Modified: 24 Oct 2022 13:39
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.39029
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/39029

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