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A pilot study of children's problem-solving processes

© Loughborough University
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  • Communication
  • Design
  • Education


This paper reports the preliminary results of an investigation into the nature of 'problem-solving' activity in technology education. The research focuses on the relationship and potential mismatch between teachers' and children's agendas, aims, and perceptions concerning design and technology activities in the context of the National Curriculum. A case study approach involving in-depth classroom observation is used to chart pupils' and teachers' interactions during design and technology activities at Key Stage 3. Our analysis focused on the influence of teachers' task structuring and interventions on children's problem-solving behaviour. The results so far show that the design process underlying the curriculum is highly complex and not easily communicated. Children encounter different problems, requiring different approaches, according to the kind of task and the stage reached in its solution. The results indicate that 'problem solving' in technology may proceed in a very different way to that characterised by a holistic 'design-and-make' process.

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