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Doctoral work

Thesis title

Investigating middle school students' perceptions of technology and developing design and technology education units to study students' design productions (December 2008)

Thesis advisor: Dr. Chitra Natarajan, Associate Professor, HBCSE, TIFR

Summary of thesis work

My research involved developing D&T education units for Indian middle school students, a context where D&T does not exist as a school subject. The study was conducted in two phases. In the first phase, a questionnaire was developed and administered to over 600 Class 8 students in and around Mumbai to probe students’ ideas about technology. Survey revealed that students had a positive perception of technology. They considered technology to be important for shaping their future and for a nation’s progress. Students considered power-driven (fuel-run or electric/electronic) devices, technical activities as involving high technology while manual and non-electric, household objects and activities were rated as low technology. Students were willing to embrace new technologies but were cautious about its effects. Students’ perceptions were greatly influenced by exposure to and experiences of technologies in the local context as revealed through greater differences among the rural and urban samples than for the other two variables of medium of learning and sex.


In the second phase, building on insights from survey and an understanding of issues in philosophy of technology and technology education, three D&T education units were developed. The development of units happened through trials, which engaged about 20-25 class 6 students in designing and making artefacts or systems. Student interactions in classroom trials and their design productions were studied for aspects of cognition. Students used a number of graphical strategies to ideate and visualise their designs. In the process of designing, students reasoned about structure and function relations of objects and their assemblies. Through the development-trial iteration emerged a pedagogical model which is proposed for teaching D&T education to middle school students in India. The study, to our knowledge, the first of its kind in India, was a baseline investigation that helped garner ideas and insights that will lead to developing D&T curricula suitable for urban and rural settings in India.

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