Technology Education Teachers' Professional Development Review Through Community Engagement: An Action Research Inquest

Technology Education Teachers' Professional Development Review Through Community Engagement: An Action Research Inquest

Tome' Awshar Mapotse (University of South Africa, South Africa)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2642-1.ch001


It is the supreme art of an action research practitioner to awaken the joy of tapping into professional development review of Technology Education (TE) knowledge with the teachers as co-researchers. TE has been introduced as a new subject nationally and globally just few decades ago. Teachers and learners are still experiencing hurdles in implementing TE. Most teachers are poorly grounded in pedagogy and content knowledge of Technology Education. This AR study does not blame the limited teacher training in TE, as its intention was to empower such. The study was underpinned by critical theory and following the AR strategies and Technology Education Cascading Theory was envisaged to be incorporated. Focus group (interviews) was used as the method to engage these TE teachers. From the findings of the study, it has been proven that the AR approach study can be used in didactic and pedagogic situation to emancipate unqualified and under qualified Technology teachers.
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Development in Technology Education and the acquisition of new knowledge stimulate questions about the nature of human condition, the nature of a good life and how humans ought to live (Stevens, 2017). In the same breath, Hannaway (2016:122) stressed that, “Technology in this age is ubiquitous and is changing the way that individuals live, work and play”. The conundrum within Technology Education (TE) is caused by the fact that it was introduced just two decades ago in school curriculum both nationally and internationally. TE is one of the subject where teachers have to be grounded with both content and theory because of its hands-on and mind-on nature of the subject. As teaching cannot be done in a vacuum, some content and theory are thus necessary to act as a medium through which the teaching of TE can be practiced (Pudi, 2007). Most of the TE teachers are unqualified or under qualified and they have been compelled by their seniors to accept the responsibility of teaching this Technology subject (Mapotse, 2015a). In this case, it is incumbent of TE teachers to be developed professionally and that has to be continually and continuously. As an action research (AR) practitioner one has embarked on a community engagement (CE) project as a way to intervene with teachers development at Bathabile Secondary School first (school pseudonym was used to conceal its true identity) so as to bring the change within learners’ learning and teachers’ teaching of Technology subject. Learners therefore need the 21st Century skills from a competent teacher to be able to comprehend development and rapid changes in this technological era.

In the Integrated Strategic Planning Framework for Teacher Education and Development (referred to as Action Plan 2014 from henceforth) in South Africa – 2011 to 2025, the stakeholders (2011: 1) report that:

The challenges facing Teacher Education and Development (TED) in South Africa are considerable. They include a lack of access to quality TED opportunities for prospective and practicing teachers; mismatch between the provision of and demand for teachers of particular types; the failure of the system to achieve dramatic improvement in the quality of teaching and learning in schools; a fragmented and uncoordinated approach to TED; etc.

The primary outcome of Action Plan 2014 is to improve the quality of teacher education and development in order to improve the quality of teachers and teaching. The plan places teachers firmly at the centre of all efforts to improve teachers’ development, and enables teachers to take substantial responsibility for their own development, hence when the TE teachers from the three schools were invite to be co-researchers in action research they accept the opportunity with open arms. The invite was for emancipation purposes and to let their TE teaching light shine so as to fulfil the Plan outcome. One of the great African Head of State, Dr Nelson Mandela, once said, ‘and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same’, (Mapotse, 2017b). In undertaking and exposing TE teachers to CE project, one was trying to let their own light shine so that the Plan can have smooth and successful implementation. So many researches were undertaken and few focuses on action research within community engagement.

Technology Education scholars have for some years disseminated their research findings around TE teachers’ professional development. These scholars in the Technology field did target diversity of features of TE, for example Gunther and Chatoney (2016), Hallström, Hultén and Lövheim (2014), Love (2015), Potgieter (2004), Pudi (2005), Pule (2017), Stevens (2006), Williams and Gumbo (2011), Yager (2013). These TE scholars mentioned above hail from both African community of scholars and TE researchers from the world over. The above listed scholars have used similar instruments and/or common methods in their data collection and so far little has been done in undertaking action research (AR) approach within CE stages to empower TE teachers. With this study, as an AR practitioner attempt to fill that gap by sharing on how action research can contribute to rapid changes of Technology Education landscape in South Africa through involving teachers in a CE project. The AR practitioner will be using a newly developed TE cascading theory to guide the study and also underpinning this study through critical theory as well.

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