University of Cape Town (SOUTH AFRICA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN12 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 635-642
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Technology education was introduced for the first time after the abolition of Apartheid in South Africa in 1994. The technology curriculum required that students become technologically literate. However, in order for students to become technologically literate, teachers need to be technologically literate. In this study we describe pre-service teachers’ and secondary school students' levels of technological literacy. The study will draw on an instrument, the Technological Profile Inventory (TPI) to determine both the pre-service teachers’ (n = 40) and secondary school students’ (n = 179) levels of technological literacy.

The TPI was developed and found to be reliable and valid in three previous pilot studies. The instrument was based on a rigorous qualitative analysis of interview data which was in turn informed by categories that emerged from a phenomenographic analysis. Data were collected from the university graduated pre-service teachers, and academically strong secondary school students entering the Exposition for Science. Profiles of teachers’ and students’ scores were generated in two categories, namely, how they conceive technology (Conception of Technology) and how they interact with technology (Interaction with Technology). The category Conception of Technology, are described by two dimensions, namely Artefact and Process. The category Interaction with Technology, are described by three dimensions, namely, Direction/Instruction, Engaging and Tinkering.

The results suggest that pre-service teachers typically have a reasonable level of technological literacy – which suggests that they would be able to fulfil the requirements in the South African school technology curriculum in addressing technology education. For the category Conceptions of Technology, though the pre-service teachers had a significantly more advanced level of technological literacy for the dimension Artefact, which implies that they understand technology to be more than just an artefact, the students had similar levels of technological literacy on the dimensions Process – a more advanced level of technological literacy. For the category Interaction with Technological Artefacts, both the teachers and students had similar levels of technological literacy for the dimension Direction/Instruction, which implies that they interact with technology by being told what to do. However, for the dimensions Tinkering and Engaging – considered advanced levels of technological literacy - the students were more likely to interact with technological artefacts through tinkering and engagement in more advanced ways.

Though one might argue that the pre-service teachers’ reasonable level of technological literacy could fulfil the requirements of the curriculum for most students, it could be that pre-service teachers’ levels of technological literacy are incongruent with more academically advanced students’ levels of technological literacy. Thus, these have implications for pre-service teacher training programmes. Indeed, pre-service teachers require structured training programmes, that strengthen their conception of technology and their interaction with technology, to improve their technological literacy, especially for more academically advanced students in secondary schools in South Africa.
Technology education, technological literacy, pre-service teachers, secondary school students.