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A study examining participation and engagement levels in the industrial technology classroom

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Abstract

This research project is a study that examines the participation and engagement levels in the industrial technology classroom. Research has shown that not all industrial technology teachers are employing new and emerging technologies available to us, this study aims to see such equipment utilized in the classroom and student engagement and participation levels measured. This study proposes the use of multiple methods to measure and gather data relating to student engagement and participation in the classroom when new and emerging technologies are introduced.

Table of Contents

Abstract

Research Title

Chapter 1 – Statement of the problem

Introduction

Background

Rationale

Chapter 2 – Review of the relevant literature

Literature Review

Introduction.

The importance of teaching industrial technology

Classroom environment

Using technologies in the classroom

Teaching methods incorporating new technologies in the secondary industrial technology classroom

Conclusion

Chapter 3 – Methodology

Data collection & Analysis

Implementation

Research method

Site and respondents

Data collection

Data analysis

Time line

Ethics Statement

Chapter 4 – Findings

Analysis of Data and resultant findings

Engagement

Working in Fusion360

Theory lesson engagement

Chapter 5

Conclusions of the study

Current Educational Practice

The strengths and weaknesses of this study

Appendix

References:

Research Title

To what extent do new and emerging technologies in industrial technology impact student participation and engagement levels.

Chapter 1 – Statement of the problem

Introduction

While on Professional Experience Placement, it was noted that students were not equipped with the current ability to perform critical elements of the TAS curriculum, this being drawing in 2D + 3D in CAD. This issue was something  that needed attention in order to improve. In a traditional school, the old way of drawing using drafting tables and multiple mechanical objects has become outdated to an extent and new technology replaces this with ease. Teachers at St Johns College were aware that such software existed but untrained and unaware of its capabilities extending well beyond the classroom. Becoming the change would prove influential to this research project, staff cohort and beyond.

The issue being that both teachers and students were unequipped with the skills and capabilities to perform 2D + 3D drawings in CAD, a part of TAS/Technology Mandatory and Industrial Technology are pivotal towards the folio development.

Background

Literature tells us what we already know about how TAS is a practical subject, predominantly a hands-on subject which is beneficial in its area but what we also know is that student engagement levels begin to lower when it comes to theory aspects.

The results of this study show that with the correct implementation of the technology student participation and engagement levels are heightened when used effectively to create engaging lessons.

Rationale

This research project focuses on the introduction and implementation of new and emerging technologies into the industrial technology classroom. The study is critical to industrial technology by nature being an extremely practical subject in which students learn numerous practical skills. Some students struggle to find interest, are easily distracted and lack confidence in industrial technology, hence this study will aim to target why and how new and emerging technologies can combat such issues. This research project provides a deeper understanding of how new technologies, introduced into the classroom, have an effect on student engagement and participation. As a teacher, student engagement is critical and finding the optimum model is ideal. Whilst focusing on the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers standards “Establish and implement inclusive and positive interactions to engage and support all students in classroom activities” (under standard 4.1 Support student participation).

Literature reveals that new technologies in the classroom are engaging and student learning and participation levels are enhanced. While little research had been done in this field, I endeavoured to focus on this topic and discovered its effect on students learning, engagement and its implementation in the classroom.

Chapter 2 – Review of the relevant literature

Literature Review

Title of PBR: To what extent do new and emerging technologies in industrial technology impact student participation and engagement levels.

Introduction.

Students in today’s day and age know that for a class to be interesting it has to be engaging. In industrial technology, highly practical hands-on subject activities are extremely engaging and interactive, such promote a progressive and constructive classroom. The effect of new and emerging technologies being introduced into the classroom has been evident, seen and discussed in literature, the quality and technicality of students projects have seen heightened and new levels. In a subject that is encouraged in schools, students often lack/lose interest quickly due to the work or projects that need to be completed manually. With the introduction of new and emerging technologies, such students should found it a more engaging and interactive classroom to be a part of. The accuracy and precision of new CAD/CAM/3D printing machines have enabled students to create and do more of what they enjoy discovering. Creating projects typically thought impossible are now completed in class while on task and in line with the syllabus outcomes as per NESA. This paper showcases the impact new technology has on the engagement and participation levels in the classroom.

The importance of teaching industrial technology

Teaching is often about student learning and academic growth, research has shown that students who partake of practical subjects such as industrial technology individual learning patterns strengthen, their interest levels higher and their practical abilities growing. Industrial technology is a precursor to this, with numerous skills throughout the years to be learnt, taught and passed on through student groups and classes. A study done overseas found that this progression of skills was critical for students. Stating “success is based not on resources, but on skills; it is of the greatest interest to understand how the foundations for those skills are laid at school” (Bierhoff & Prais, 1993).  Industrial technology is one of the many foundational subjects taught at school, clear teaching methodology, relevant content and practical experience. The use of new and emerging technologies makes the subject even more engaging and a better learning environment to be included in.

Classroom environment

An active, constructive and engaging classroom is key to a productive lesson, the classroom environment is of utmost importance. Classroom environments can be defined in many ways, regardless, for it to function it needs to flow and student learning is paramount.

It is critical to establish a progressive classroom, students need an environment where they can develop, whilst obtaining a quality education, students need a classroom that ‘provides them with care and education of the highest quality’ (Crowther 2011, p. 26) with no compromise. Teachers need to set up a classroom that will render optimum student learning and development, managing classroom activities’ (AITSL, 2014) and implementing engaging interactive activities are key to a positive classroom environment’.

There are several benefits of the introduction of new technologies into the classroom in relation to student learning and development, these tie into the standards (AITSL 2014 standard 4.1) “Establish and implement inclusive and positive interactions to engage and support all students in classroom activities”, focusing your teaching and classroom around AITSL standards is proven to be highly beneficial for student learning.

In industrial technology the classroom environment is split between the practical workshop and the theory environment, it is important to keep student interest and structured learning. The environment sets the scene for the class, the NESA syllabus endorses the multiple learning environments, both types of learning – hands-on and on theory. The classroom environment is to be fit to “encourage and enable all students to enjoy learning, and to be self-motivated, reflective competent learners” NSW Board of Studies, 2003). Competency in an industrial technology classroom is taught and learnt, peer learning and skill development are all part of the process, hence the positive and supportive classroom environment required. Creating an environment where the teacher maintains active movement, providing advice to students amid completing tasks is crucial.

Using technologies in the classroom

Teachers can instil motivation, participation and engagement in their approach while introducing new technology such as; 3D printing and CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) into the student’s assessable work. Students develop a sense of personal ability, confidence and proficiencies through the subject whilst working with and around new machinery. Central to this, the NSW Board of Studies Year 7-10 syllabus (2003) states that industrial technology has a level of engagement that encourages practical experience that “should be used to develop knowledge and understanding of and skills in designing, producing and evaluating” (NSW Board of Studies, 2003).  Teachers need to try and introduce technology into the classroom, it has been noted that “for teachers to use technology effectively in their class- rooms, they may need to spend more time exploring, taking risks, and experimenting with this technology” (Bergen, 2012). “Technology has definitely become an integral part of our education system, be it secondary, VET or higher education.” (RTO, 2011). “Teachers are required to use up-to-date technology and are expected to get the training to become proficient in its use” Technology is rapidly growing and has numerous applications/uses in the classroom, educational systems need to take advantage of this and introduce new equipment into the classroom to further student’s education.

Teaching methods incorporating new technologies in the secondary industrial technology classroom

The secondary Industrial Technology classroom is a practical learning environment, creative, constructive and engaging. With the introduction of technologies such as 3D printing, CNC machines, CAD (Computer Aided Drafting) and laser cutting/engraving student’s engagement and interaction levels are significantly increased. “Industrial Technology has been developed to incorporate content related to current and developing technologies. It offers students the opportunity to study the interrelationships of technologies, equipment and materials used by industry and to develop skills through the processes of design, planning and production”. (NSW Board of Studies, 2008) The NSW Board of Studies encourages and supports this introduction and sets the syllabus framework for teachers to implement into the secondary classroom. Teaching new ICT and technology is both a learning and teaching process at the same time, as “Changes in digital technologies are happening much faster than we can monitor their impact” (Literacy learning and technology, 2010).

It is quintessential that teachers are able to monitor and use technology effectively in their classroom. This means “taking teachers who are skilled in the effective use of digital technologies for teaching and learning” (Literacy learning and technology, 2010) and using such skills in the industrial technology classroom to further student development. This runs alongside with AITSL standard 3.4 “Demonstrate knowledge of a range of resources, including ICT, that engage students in their learning” (Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, 2014). AITSL sets clear instruction on the use of ICT and new technologies in the secondary classroom, out of several standards three of the professional knowledge outcomes encourage and involve the effective use of ICT and technology.

Although little research has been conducted into the introduction of new technologies in the secondary industrial technology classroom. There is vivid evidence that such technologies are a highly effective and engaging tool, they are versatile and extremely resourceful in high schools. Students in the earlier years of high school will be introduced to this at a younger age/year meaning that by the time these students reach senior secondary years they are well equipped and ready to use in their assignments and requirements.

There is a significant difference between the teaching of industrial technology in junior secondary years compared to senior classes. In researching the impact on student learning, engagement and participation exhibited the differences and provides a way to better teach industrial technology whilst incorporating new technologies.

Conclusion

Student participation and engagement levels excel in a positive and constructive classroom environment, working together to create a clear learning environment. The introduction of new and emerging technologies into the industrial technology classroom is an effective way of creating an optimum learning environment, in industrial technology it has been proven but new and more technical equipment being introduced into class could only enhance the learning environment. Literature and studies are minimal in this field on the engagement and participation levels of students in the classroom. Hence research will aid in finding and enhancing the classroom environment and overall student learning, engagement and participation.

Chapter 3 – Methodology

Data collection & Analysis

Implementation

Due to this being the first time the school had used the program it took a short while to teach students the basics of the program so that they were able to use it to work on their projects. This was a setback in the implementation of the PBR but ensured that students had a good base of understanding. The school did have a 3D printer, CNC router and basic but none of these due to the cohorts current program were incorporated. So, implementing the program Fusion360 it was. Students were able to install this on their computers and I was able to teach not only students but the five staff members how to use this program which is highly beneficial to the subject. This meant that the program would be halted to begin teaching the program and then working through it with the students.

Research method

Mixed methodology was the primary research method to gather data, as well as using observations and visual assessments. These were beneficial in combining both quantitative and qualitative research methods to further my understanding of the problem.

Site and respondents

The research and start of the project begun on the Professional Experience Placement (PEP) at St Johns College Woodlawn, years 7 & 9 were assessed. The school that this research was conducted at were notified that surveys would be conducted to assessing student learning. Due to the size of the classes to have at least 20 students (both male & female) involved in the study was beneficial. This occurred over the course of junior/middle years (7/9) Technology Mandatory/Industrial technology students that were currently in the subject rotation due to St Johns Colleges program. Year 12 were also first-time users of this program, so they underwent the same process that years 7+9 did just faster tracked due to their drawings being included in their final major HSC work.

Data collection

Data was collected through surveys. Quantitative data was collected using individual surveys which were emailed to the students, the surveys included multiple questions about the interest, engagement and understanding along with a Likert scale to determine the results. The surveys were written to have answers that are direct with an open answer option, ensuring that results aren’t skewed and scrambled. These surveys were completed to analyze the progressive introduction of CAD programs in the classroom.

Data analysis

Using the obtained data, the findings will be put into tables to show the findings of the results. Graphs and data represent the student’s responses and show the results of the research project. Qualitative data from the observation and visual assessments will be analyzed for further findings and/or themes. All data gathered will be analyzed and graphed into tables for the discovery of these for simple quantification.

Time line

Ethics Statement

This research project has been approved by the Avondale College of Higher Education School of Education Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC). Avondale College requires that all participants are informed that if they have any complaint concerning the manner in which a research project is conducted it may be given to the researcher, or if an independent person is preferred, to the chairman of the HREC at the School of Education, Avondale College.

Chapter 4 – Findings

Analysis of Data and resultant findings

The data below shows the findings of the research project.

On initial discovery it was found that more than 75% of all students had never come across such technology Computer Aided Drafting programs before, some students had heard of but not used programs such as Google SketchUp. For the PBR this was beneficial, to see the implementation from start to finish and be able to measure the impact that it had on students.

../../../../../Desktop/Screen%20Shot%202018-10-04%20at%2010.12.40%20aFigure 1.

Due to students having little if any experience it opened up the opportunity to begin with a blank canvas to teach the ins and outs of the program.

The program was installed on all student’s computers and the learning process begun.

The program was initially started with implementing the basics and teaching students to work with what Is called ‘hot keys’. Simple keyboard controls that allow ease of use and better program control. Cognitive recaps at the beginning of class, week by week was proven to be beneficial. Students were able to recite, and recognize the commands and functions of keys and this became second nature. See figure 2.

Figure 2.

../../../../../Desktop/Screen%20Shot%202018-10-04%20at%2010.28.20%20a

90% of students were fluent with the controls and made using the program not only more engaging but easier to use at speed. Overall the results indicate that this was a highly effective way of teaching basic functions of the program.

There are implications of introducing a new program to students, this being that often students may find it hard to grasp the concept and operational methods. After 6 weeks of using the program the results showed that yes, the program was not easy but mostly understood. For junior TAS projects this was understandable, students in year 7 and 9 that had not used such programs before found it often challenging.

Figure 3.../../../../../Desktop/Screen%20Shot%202018-10-04%20at%2010.37.33%20a

As the above results show, a cumulative 60% of students found that it was easy to use, but 40% of the class found it either a struggle or difficult at least.

Often this was due to the students lack of understanding of the program, which come with time. It is impossible to introduce an unknown program to students and expect them to learn it completely in a few weeks at the age of 13-15.

Around 65% of students found that often when they found the program to not be working or similar that it was actually a simple overlooked error that they had done. Understandably as aforementioned earlier, again, this comes with experience.

Engagement

Regarding the title of the research project, surrounding the idea of engagement levels this was an area that was evident from the simplest of things such as their reaction to finding out that we would be using Fusion360 in our theory lessons.

Figure 4.

Students reaction on a scale of 1-10 when they discovered we would be using Fusion360 in class
8/10 or above Around 70% of students were excited and better engaged when using the program
7/10 or below The other 30% of the class that were not as excited found it to be around a 5/10 level.

Responses regarding the use of the program in the classroom.

Figure 5.

Collective responses from respondents in year 7+9 regarding the question “What did you enjoy about year 7/9 Timber theory using the program Fusion360?”.
t was fun. 

It was engaging

Having to learn how to use it

I enjoyed the fact that it engaged us and was interactive

it was better than hand drawing

making stuff

I learnt a lot from it and it was fun trying new things out.

when it object was done

The designs we made

it was extremely fun

Well we could listen to music also learning something new was fun. It was a tricky and easy task but the compilation and challenges of making the food box on fashion 360 was really enjoyable.

Not drawing it

I liked how we could learn how to do 3D drawing and add more stuff like holes and pipes.

a new way of using our computers

you could see how your object would look before you have actually finished

You could see how the project looked when it was finished and it would be 3D.

As shown above student responses towards using the program were positive, students enjoyed using new programs to engage in learning more. Figure 5 provides more evidence re the enjoyment of the program.

Working in Fusion360

The question was asked did they enjoy working in fusion and was it beneficial towards their learning in class as well as what they enjoyed.

Figure 6.

Was working in Fusion360 to draw your storage box beneficial and what did you enjoy? 

Showed me the end product

Designing

all of it and it was benficial

It was funner on fashion as it is easier and funner in so many ways.

It was beneficial, and I liked that you could create anything

Yes it was and I looked forward to come to theory lessons.

no because it would have been easier to be hand drawn

It was good to see the project and see it in 3d but it was a bit boring EVERY LESSON.

i didn’t enjoy it because it was really hard.

Yeah you can see what it is going to turn out like.

Yes and i enjoyed using all the different features

The above responses show that around 95% of students found it to be beneficial towards their learning and especially towards their current project, the storage box. This project was one that I had also introduced to St Johns College during placement, this project would tie in with the PBR as students would be drawing their box in Fusion360 before creating the physical object.

Theory lesson engagement

Figure 7.

../../../../../Desktop/Screen%20Shot%202018-10-04%20at%2012.26.56%20p

The overall responses to the enjoyment of using Fusion360 in class was a predominant yes, in my review of teaching the content it was beneficial to look at how the content was delivered to ensure that the statistic breakdown was not being hindered by the teaching of the content.  The question that followed the enjoyment was ‘Was the program taught well and understood” the results are below. On a scale of one to five it came in at 80% showing that 71.4% students enjoyed and understood the functions of the program as they had been taught. Figure 8 shows that on the teaching end, a resounding yes for the teaching of the program.

Figure 8.

../../../../../Desktop/Screen%20Shot%202018-10-04%20at%2012.30.49%20pDuring the delivery of the program to students, verbal checks and visual assessments were frequently completed, this feedback related to how they felt they were going with the program. Overall feeling towards the content and delivery, pace, style of teaching. These check-ins not only helped the students with their progress but the teacher delivering, proving helpful. At some stages, students would occasionally get ‘over’ working in fusion, this called for making the lesson more engaging. In doing so the introduction of using Kahoots, icebreakers, and simple activities helped student stimulation before beginning work. Results have shown that students tended to learn more when the content was delivered in a rope learning process, on repeat, students were able to better understand the process that goes on behind the function. The learning and engagement during this time was heightened due to their new found knowledge in learning.

Trends have been noticed that students rush in, begin to really enjoy the process and then make simple mistakes and easily give up. This is where the delivery of content combats this process, ensuring students have a solid learning base and understanding of the program so that they are able to see and pick up on their mistakes.

The reality of the program and its capabilities.

What some students enjoyed was the ability to see a 2D drawing come to life in a 3D shape, this was a massive spike in their engagement levels and participation. Students then realized that this function was just the scratching of the surface for their potential ability in TAS. The graph below shows the students responses to the capabilities of the program and its influence that it has on the folio aspects of TAS/Industrial technology subjects.

../../../../../Desktop/Screen%20Shot%202018-10-04%20at%201.19.05%20pFigure 9.

As seen in figure 9, the introduction of the program Fusion360 to St Johns College proved to be beneficial to student learning, engagement and participation levels. Moving away but not excluding the traditional methods of technical drawing and incorporating ICT in multifaceted learning in schools.

Chapter 5

Conclusions of the study

Conclusions can be drawn from this study in multiple aspects that indicate that engagement and participation levels were enhanced due to the implementation of new and emerging technologies. Trends have been found in the data that show that students engagement spiked when initially beginning to learn the program, a slight drop in engagement whilst encountering issues and then a resurgence when working out what went wrong and discovering the capabilities of the technology available in TAS (as seen in figures 4,7 & 9).

Current Educational Practice

In terms of current educational practice, it is imperative that school teachers are well trained in their fields in which they specialize in so that students are better able to understand the concepts, ideas and methodology behind what they are taught. What made this study problematic was that there was currently no CAD software being used at the school, and to bring a new program teach the students, as well as the teachers how to use this became beneficial both ways. Student feedback through responses indicated that they enjoyed the learning process, although it may have had its pros and cons it was all a part of the learning process. Focusing on student learning and managing the classroom setting to provide the best possible learning environment was necessary. Upon commencement of the introduction of the program to students it would be beneficial in hindsight, to teach this program in a flipped classroom setting, where students are assigned the learning content to do at home and then come to class and work on their projects. Although rope learning works well, there needs to be a variation in the teaching styles to ensure that students are not becoming bored and lacking interest in the subject, where traditional theory would.

The strengths and weaknesses of this study

This study has discovered that the introduction of new and emerging technologies into the TAS classroom have had a significant effect on student engagement and participation levels, however with this comes multiple variables. The school at which this study was completed at did have the current technology that was initially going to be used and implemented in this study, however it was not being used in the subject rotation or any of the projects that the students were working on. Scratching for ideas the use of CAD/CAM programs became the choice of implementation, although effective it only goes so far. Students in the classroom enjoyed working with the program as seen in the multiple figures in the results section of this paper, but the reality is this implementation is, it is one of many introductions in the TAS sector that help to increase engagement and academic success.

One of the strengths is that the current field of TAS is leading to the collaborative pathways within the sector, meaning that the program that has just been introduced to students will already be common knowledge in the future. The ability to use Fusion360 in more than one subject and be applicable to the content is advantageous.  However, it is difficult to draw conclusions from a short study that begun with students have zero prior knowledge of the program and then assessing them after 6 short weeks of implementation. Prolonged periods of time would bring out the reality of its effectiveness in relation to the subject itself and infield specific projects.

The future of this research project would best be tested over a longer period of time, involving multiple technologies and teaching strategies to incorporate such. Pre and post surveys regarding student’s initial knowledge of the current technology and how they learn best to cater for their learning.

General data trends showed that the best part of the class indicated that their engagement levels had increased in the theory environment significantly providing positive outcomes. It would be suggested that this area be further explored and more research conducted to better the effectiveness of engagement. It is evident as shown in the current data collected that this research project has been a success, but over a short period of time. In order to stipulate a more accurate and precise measure of success methodology of data collection additional surveys, analysis and changes would further its depth.

Appendix

Link to the survey: https://goo.gl/forms/yH4ITS49HU34Qvqr1

References:

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (2014). Australian professional standards for teachers. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from australian-professional-standards-for-teachers/standards/list?c=graduate">http://www.aitsl.edu.au/australian-professional-standards-for-teachers/standards/list?c=graduate

Bergen, D. (2012, August 30). Technology in the Classroom. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00094056.2000.10522091

Bierhoff, H., & Prais, S. (1993, May). Britain’s industrial skills and the school-teaching of practical subjects: comparisons with Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?sort=RELEVANCE&docType=Article&tabID=T002&prodId=AONE&searchId=R1&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchType=AdvancedSearchForm&contentSegment=¤tPosition=1&searchResultsType=SingleTab&inPS=true&userGroupName=avondalecoll&docId=GALE%7CA14535253&contentSet=GALE%7CA14535253#

Crowther, I. (2012). Creating effective learning environments (3rd ed.). Toronto, ON: Nelson Education.

NSW Board of Studies. (2003). Retrieved April 26, 2016, from http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_sc/pdf_doc/indust_tech_710_syllabus.pdf

NSW Board of Studies. (2008). Retrieved April 26, 2016, from https://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_hsc/pdf_doc/industrial-technology-st6-syl.pdf

Queensland Department of Education, Training and Employment. (2005-2014). The importance of a postitive classroom environment. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from http://education.qld.gov.au/actsmartbesafe/teachers/positive-classroom.html

Rubin, H. J., & Rubin, I. S. (Eds.). (2012). Qualitative interviewing. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.

TO, M. (2011). RTO Management – Technology in the classroom (Business Collection) – Informit. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from http://search.informit.com.au/fullText;dn=449571625941736;res=IELBUS

Zagarell, J., & Clarke, G. (2012). Technology in the Classroom: Teachers and Technology: A Technological Divide – Childhood Education – Volume 88, Issue 2. Retrieved April 26, 2016, from



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