Techonology [sic] bricolage : exploring the tension between convention and innovation when problem-solving with technology
- Recently, the narrow focus on math, science, and English as the core K-16 curricular subjects has been called into question (International Society for Technology in Education, 2007). Proponents, such as the National Research Council (2000), the Association for Computing Machinery (Tucker et al., 2003), and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (Greenhill, 2009), have noted the strong influences that technology is having on people's abilities to participate in the government, to access information, and to acquire jobs. On account of technology's strong impact, these proponents and others are arguing for better integration of technology education into the school curricula. Their calls for inclusion have not been ignored. Schools, both private and public, are beginning to revise their curricular standards to support the inclusion of technology education. States such as Massachusetts (Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, 2008) and New York (New York Department of Education, 2011) are including technology education into their state's K-12 education standards. Although technology education is being incorporated into many schools across the country, there is a lack of empirical research about the pedagogy and the social and psychological processes that are influential in the development of technological expertise. Currently, much of the research on technology in schools is on how to use it effectively to deliver information, such as math facts or historical data. Though important, this research does not address questions about the competencies and dispositions necessary for individuals to flexibly adapt and use technology to problem solve, learn and express ideas. Moreover, it does not address the challenges of designing instructional materials to develop these competencies and dispositions in a way that is both applicable to different environments and enables the individual to act in empowered ways with technology. This dissertation addresses when, how, and under what conditions people use and manipulate technology in unconventional ways. To explore these conditions, I introduce a new term, technology bricolage, which is the act of exploiting the flexible nature of technology to problem-solve, learn and express ideas. I also provide an initial methodology to capture instances of bricolage. In Study 1, community-college students are presented with two bricolage tasks (imagined and physical) that are structurally equivalent. In the Imagined task, students are asked to figure out how to make several copies of a 2-page memo in a limited amount of time, using a set of mechanical and technical resources. The second task, the physical task, comes 35 minutes after the imagined task and asks students to solve a structurally equivalent, isomorphic version of the brainteaser. However, instead of presenting their solutions in a textual, abstract space, students are asked to implement their solution in the physical world. The nature of the brainteaser allows for two solution paths—a non-bricolage solution or a bricolage solution. A non-bricolage solution includes performing a repetitive task multiple times using non-technical devices. The bricolage solution requires students to use a technical device in an unconventional manner. Results indicated that students were more likely to implement the bricolage solution in the imagined task than in the physical task—79% in the imagined task and 59% in the physical task. Evidence from student interviews and videotaped experimental sessions suggest that students censored their actions based on beliefs around what was appropriate and/or fear of potential consequences. In Study 1, I also examined how students' social backgrounds (e.g. race, gender, socio-economic status), experience, knowledge, and tech attitudes relate to the expression of technology bricolage. Although I used measures traditionally predictive of technical behaviors, when it came to bricolage, the only variable that had any association with bricolage was depth experience. Students who had at least one technical activity in which they had prolonged experience (i.e. performed the activity more than six times) were more likely to express bricolage in the physical task than those who did not have depth experiences. The most significant factor in predicting who implemented the bricolage solution was exploration. In general, students who implemented the non-bricolage solution never explored, or even touched the technical resources, despite being given full permission to use all resources as they deemed fit. Students who explored the technology were more likely to implement the bricolage solution. This finding suggests that a means for encouraging technology bricolage among students is to motivate them to explore technology when in problem-solving situations. Study 2 was my initial attempt at creating such an intervention. In Study 2, two brief instructional activities were created—one activity focused on providing students with more technical knowledge (knowledge-control activity), and the other activity focused on providing both technical and dispositional content to the student (dispositional activity). The Designer condition received the dispositional activity, and the Knowledge-Control condition received the knowledge-control activity. Comparing the performance of the two treatment groups in the physical task revealed no difference in the rate in which students selected the bricolage solution, or the time it took students to implement the bricolage solution. However, students in the Designer condition showed more ease in escaping the non-bricolage method than the Knowledge-Control students. Study 2 also served as a replication of Study 1, and included improvements to the overall research design. Improvements include switching from a within-subject design to a between subject design, and removing a planned technical breakdown from the protocol. The results of Study 2 showed that once again, students did better in the imagined task compared to the physical task when it came to bricolage—85% of student implemented the bricolage solution in the imagined task, while only 57% implemented the solution in the physical task. Moreover, depth of experience was also an important factor for the expression of technology bricolage. Again, students who had depth experience were more likely to express bricolage in the physical task than students who did not have depth experience. The results of the two studies showed that technical knowledge (both general and specific to the task) and familiarity with technology is not sufficient for determining whether students will use technology in unconventional ways. Instead, the problem-solving situation and the way in which students engage with the environment and with the technical devices are key variables for predicting students' tendency to move beyond routine practices with technology. This implies that instruction that focuses on dispositional and behavioral factors, in addition to knowledge, may increase students' tendency to express technology bricolage.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Acholonu, Ugochi Cynthia
|Stanford University, School of Education.
|Goldman, Shelley V
|Goldman, Shelley V
|McDermott, Ray (Raymond Patrick), 1946-
|Schwartz, Daniel L
|McDermott, Ray (Raymond Patrick), 1946-
|Schwartz, Daniel L
|Statement of responsibility
|Ugochi Cynthia Acholonu.
|Submitted to the School of Education.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2012.
- © 2012 by Ugochi Cynthia Acholonu
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
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