Secondary school technological problem solving: an investigation of factors associated with levels of success

Morrison-Love, David (2013) Secondary school technological problem solving: an investigation of factors associated with levels of success. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.
Printed Thesis Information:


Research into school-based and real-life technological problem solving has shown it to exist in a range of forms and draw upon a number of constituent processes and knowledge types. While this has given much needed insight into what happens when pupils undertake such problem solving in classrooms, there is little understanding about the relationship between these constituent elements and pupil performance on problem solving tasks. Moreover, such tasks are often still undertaken individually within schools. This thesis builds directly on this by offering a definition for classroom-based technological problem prior to developing a mixed-method approach that allowed the problem solving activity of four high performing groups to be compared with that of four low performing groups. Single gender groups of approximately four pupils worked through a well-defined cantilever problem task in three Scottish technology education classrooms. The group performance was determined by outcome.

Findings from the comparative analysis revealed differences in three key areas. Firstly, higher-performing groups naturally employed better process-management strategies including use of planning, role and task allocation with lower levels of tension between group members. Secondly, higher-performing groups made more use of reflection in which reasoning was verbalised, with the potential to promote better shared understanding between group members during the solving process. Thirdly, higher-performing groups exhibited a greater level of tacit-procedural knowledge within their final solutions. Additionally, there was evidence that lower-performing groups were less affected by the competitive task dynamic, and were not always as comprehensive in transferring prior understanding to the problem solving context.

These findings were largely consistent between groups and form a basis upon which approaches to pedagogy and assessment can be considered and developed to raise the capability and performance of those pupils who find such problem solving more challenging. Moreover, the findings pertaining to process management and the nature of reflection have wider implications for learning and teaching in related areas of STEM Education.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Technology education, problem solving, intellectual processes, epistemology, knowledge, cognition, mixed-Method
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1603 Secondary Education. High schools
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Magill, Dr. Jane and McPhee, Dr. Alastair
Date of Award: 2013
Embargo Date: 31 December 2021
Depositing User: Mr David Morrison-Love
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4349
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 06 Jun 2013 12:03
Last Modified: 27 Nov 2019 15:57

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item