Developing Literate Practices in Design and Technology Education

Developing Literate Practices in Design and Technology Education

Mike Brown (University of Ballarat, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-842-0.ch010
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This chapter reports on research that details the emerging literacy demands faced by both the teachers, and the students who are participating in Design and Technology education within secondary schools across Victoria, Australia. The processes of design are at the centre of the curriculum for Design and Technology education and they are the main content focus of both the teacher’s work of developing curriculum and teaching, and for the learner’s engagement. In this chapter the field of Design and Technology education is presented and discussed as a site where communication, interpretation and articulation of learning and understanding are inexplicably bound up with texts and literacies. In order to ground the discussion in the specifics of an authentic program, the curriculum and pedagogical practices associated with the current Year 12 Design and Technology program are analysed to illustrate the development and use, (production and consumption) of texts, particularly multimodal texts, within new, emerging and multi-literacies. In this way the chapter acknowledges the significance of literacy development across the school curriculum. This chapter also takes up a point made by Unsworth (2001) that literacy as a social practice takes up numerous and different forms in the various fields across the curriculum, therefore this research analyses explicitly what the development of literate practices specifically look like in the field of Design and Technology education.
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Background To The Study

In recent times there has been recognition that literacy and numeracy are not restricted to English and Maths classes but rather are embedded in all subject areas across the curriculum. In Victoria the authority responsible for Teacher Registration (Victorian Institute of Teaching – VIT) require all teachers to undertake courses in the teaching of literacy and numeracy within their pre-service teacher education programs. In this way literacy has become every teacher’s business. However as Unsworth (2001) notes literacy practices do not appear in the same guise in each and ever subject area but instead are subject to variation within each different field of educational study. Hence, there has been the emergence of the notion of subject specific literacies. This research analyses how literacies are involved in the teaching and learning of one specific area across the curriculum – that of Design and Technology education. With a few notable exceptions such as Williams (2009) there is a dearth of research literature on the use of literacies within Australian secondary Design and Technology education programs. Yet, as this study shows, this subject area is a site where literate practices are developed and where further research is required. A complication to further research is that the language and terminology of literacies and multiliteracies are not generally familiar to or well understood by many Design and Technology teachers.

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