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Current Editor: Dr. Robert T. Howell  bhowell@fhsu.edu
Volume 43, Number 2
Summer 2006


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Critical Problems Facing Technology Education:
Perceptions of Indiana Teachers

Edward J. Lazaros
Ball State University
George E. Rogers
Purdue University

In 1993 Wicklein conducted a study to determine both the present and the future critical issues and problems facing the technology education (TE) profession. Wicklein (1993) stated, "If the classroom teachers, teacher educators and the supervisors/ administrators of technology education hope to direct the profession into a desirable future they must understand the issues and problems that will influence the success or failure of technology education" (pp. 55-56). At that time, following its name change from industrial arts in 1985, TE stood in its formative years. As with the implementation of any revised system, there were problems and concerns with the new TE discipline (Linnell, 1992).

The Wicklein study questioned 25 panelists from 15 states and the District of Columbia to ascertain the issues and problems facing TE. The panel consisted of seven secondary classroom teachers, nine teacher educators, and nine secondary and collegiate supervisors and administrators. Wicklein used a four-round Delphi process to determine and prioritize the critical issues and problems in TE.

The 15 future problems identified by Wicklein in the 1993 study are listed, in order of priority, in Table 1. In accordance with Wicklein's panelists' predictions, many of these problems are those that face TE educators today.


Table 1
Future problems in technology education in order of priority as identified by Wicklein
Rank
#
Problem
1 Insufficient quantities of TE teachers and the elimination of teacher education programs in TE
2 Loss of TE identity; TE absorbed within other disciplines
3 Poor and/or inadequate public relations for TE
4 Non-unified curriculum for TE
5 Ignorance among general populace regarding technology and discipline of TE
6 Inadequate involvement of TE personnel in education reform issues
7 Elimination of TE programs
8 Reduction of enrollment in TE courses due to high school graduation requirements
9 Insufficient funding of TE programs
10 Inadequate business and industry support for TE
11 Inadequate research base for TE
12 Inadequate knowledge base for TE
13 Inadequate leadership and leadership training for TE
14 Inferior in-service training for TE
15 Inappropriate certification procedures for TE

However, in the Wicklein study, only seven of the panelists were classroom teachers. The present study investigates the severity of these problems in schools today as perceived by current Indiana high school and middle school TE teachers.

Research Questions

This study sought to answer the following two research questions:

  1. What is the current level of severity of the 15 future problems identified by Wicklein (1993) as perceived by Indiana TE teachers?
  2. Do Indiana TE teachers' perceptions of the 15 future problems (Wicklein, 1993) differ based on the Indiana teachers' demographic characteristics?

Design of the Study

The current study used a blended research methodology that combined both quantitative and qualitative data analyses. Brewer and Hunter (1989) reported, "The multi-method approach is a strategy for overcoming each method's weaknesses and limitations by deliberately combining different types of methods within the same investigations" (p. 11). The quantitative and qualitative methodologies used in the current study enabled the researchers to investigate various dimensions of the study subjects' responses.

The quantitative data for this study were collected using a descriptive survey. According to McMillan and Schumacher (1997), "Surveys are used frequently in educational research to describe attitudes, beliefs, opinions, and other types of information" (p. 38). Since the current study sought to determine if the perceived severity of the future problems in TE cited in Wicklein's (1993) report is related to demographic variables, this methodology was deemed appropriate. The researchers obtained the qualitative data by allowing the respondents an opportunity to provide free-responses and to list current problems not specifically identified on the survey instrument.

Population and Sample

The researchers acquired a list of 1,043 TE teachers from the Indiana Department of Education. A simple random sample of 747 of these teachers served as the sample for this study. Each teacher in the sample was mailed a cover letter, the survey instrument, and a postage-paid return envelope. A total of 267 surveys were returned, which represented a return rate of 35.7%.

Instrument

According to Gall and Borg (1996), "The purpose of a survey is to use questionnaires or interviews to collect data from participants in a sample about their characteristics, experiences, and opinions in order to generalize the findings to a population that the sample is intended to represent" (p. 289). In the present study, the first section of the survey instrument collected each participant's demographic data, which included gender, highest degree earned, grade level taught, number of years of teaching experience, school community type, and his or her age.

In the second section of the survey, the TE teachers were provided a list of the 15 future problems identified by Wicklein (1993) and asked to rate each problem's severity using a four-point Likert-type scale. The Likert-type scale was based upon a similar instrument used by VanderJagt, Shen, and Hsieh (2001) in a study that examined elementary and secondary public school principals' perceptions of school problems. The four-point Likert-type scale values were 1 = not a problem, 2 = minor problem, 3 = moderate problem, and 4 = serious problem. To obtain qualitative data, the instrument provided an opportunity for the teachers to submit free-response comments concerning the TE field.

Data Analysis

Of the 267 survey respondents, 258 were male (96.6%) and nine were female (3.4%). The majority of the TE teachers who responded to the survey had earned a master's degree (76.8%), were over 40 years of age (77.9%), taught in a high school setting (55.4%), and taught in a rural or town environment (66.3%). Table 2 summarizes the respondents' demographic data.

Research question one sought to determine the TE teachers' overall perceptions of the level of severity of each of the 15 future problems identified by Wicklein (1993). To address this question, means and standard deviations of the teachers' ratings of the severity of each problem listed in the survey were computed. Since the Likert-type scale values ranged from 1 (not a problem) to 4 (a serious problem), problems perceived as most serious are those with mean scores closest to 4 (see Table 3).

Overall, of the 15 problems, the TE teachers rated the impact of high school graduation requirements on the enrollment in TE courses as the most serious problem (M= 3.12, SD = 0.98). The problem of the general public's lack of understanding of TE received the second highest mean score (M = 3.02, SD = 0.86). Although the problem of insufficient funding for TE programs received the third highest mean score (M = 3.00, SD = 1.00), its mean score value of 3.00 indicated that respondents saw it overall as a "moderate," rather a "serious," problem for the TE field.


Table 2
Demographic descriptions of respondents
  TE teachers
n = 267
Highest degree earned:    
Bachelor’s 57 (21.3%)
Master’s 205 (76.8%)
Years of age:    
Less than 30 23 (8.6%)
31-40 28 (10.5%)
41-50 77 (28.8%)
51-60 115 (43.1%)
Over 60 16 (6.0%)
Years teaching experience:    
0-4 21 (7.9%)
5-10 26 (9.7%)
11-15 26 (9.7%)
16-20 25 (9.4%)
21-25 32 (12.0%)
26-30 61 (22.9%)
31-35 75 (21.8%)
School type:    
High school 9-12 148 (55.4%)
Middle school 6-9 71 (26.6%)
Middle/high school 7-12 45 (16.9%)
Community type:    
Rural 113 (42.3%)
Town 63 (24.0%)
Suburban 50 (18.8%)
Urban 40 (15.0%)

* Some responses contained missing data.

Research question two focused on the differences among the TE teachers’ perceptions of the severity of Wicklein’s cited problems based on the teachers’ demographic characteristics. To answer this question, the data were analyzed using one-way analyses of variance (ANOVAs) to compare item response means among demographic groups. For each ANOVA, the categorical variable was the level of respondents’ demographic characteristic, and the dependent variable was the respondents’ mean score on each survey item. All significant ANOVAs were followed by a Tukey’s post-hoc test to determine which demographic group(s) differed significantly from the others. All ANOVAs and post-hoc tests used the .05 level of significance. For demographic items with only two categories, independent sample t-tests were used to


Table 3
Respondents’ ratings of severity of Wicklein’s future problems in technology education
Wicklein’s
Problem
#
M SD Not a
problem
Minor
problem
Moderate
problem
Serious
problem
8 3.12 .98 21
(8.0%)
48
(18.4%)
70
(26.8%)
122
(46.7%)
5 3.02 .86 15
(5.6%)
53
(19.9%)
111
(41.7%)
87
(32.7%)
9 3.00 1.00 26
(9.9%)
53
(20.2%)
78
(29.7%)
106
(40.3%)
7 2.93 .98 28
z(10.7%)
51
(19.5%)
92
(35.2%)
90
(34.5%)
2 2.86 1.01 35
(13.3%)
52
(19.8%)
91
(34.6%)
85
(32.3%)
3 2.78 1.00 36
(13.5%)
62
(23.3%)
92
(34.6%)
76
(28.6%)
1 2.71 1.05 46
(17.5%)
57
(21.7%)
86
(32.7%)
74
(28.1%)
6 2.70 .98 35
(13.6%)
71
(27.6%)
88
(34.2%)
63
(24.5%)
14 2.66 .97 38
(14.6%)
69
(26.5%)
96
(36.9%)
57
(21.9%)
10 2.52 1.01 49
(18.6%)
82
(31.1%)
80
(30.3%)
53
(20.1%)
13 2.47 .98 48
(18.8%)
82
(32.2%)
81
(31.8%)
44
(17.3%)
4 2.43 1.09 70
(26.3%)
68
(25.6%)
71
(26.7%)
57
(21.4%)
11 2.26 1.03 77
(28.9%)
82
(30.8%)
68
(25.6%)
39
(14.7%)
12 2.18 .94 67
(26.8%)
95
(38.0%)
63
(25.2%)
25
(10.0%)
15 2.08 1.01 92
(36.5%)
77
(30.6%)
55
(21.8%)
28
(11.1%)

assess whether the means of the two groups differed statistically from each other. All t-tests used the .05 level of significance. The separate variance t-test and the Welch test were used to control type-one error. When only two groups were being compared, the separate variance t-test was selected when the Levene’s test reported that unequal group variances were present. If more than two groups were being compared, the Welch test was selected as a substitute for the F-test when conditions of heterogeneous variance were detected by Levene’s test. The Welch test is considered robust with regard to violations of unequal variances (Welch, 1938). The type-one error rate was maintained at the .05 level for each statistical test.

Comparisons by Highest Degree Earned

Table 4 contrasts the mean ratings for the 15 cited problems calculated for the group of teachers whose highest degree was a bachelor’s degree compared to the mean ratings calculated for teachers with masters’ degrees. In comparing the two groups, the greatest difference in the means occurred for the survey item that concerned the problem of a non-unified TE curriculum. The independent samples i-test revealed that TE teachers with masters’ degrees perceived the problem of a non-unified TE curriculum as more severe (M = 2.56) than did the teachers with bachelors’ degrees (M = 2.04) (t = 3.45, df = 97, p = .001). Teachers with masters’ degrees also rated the elimination of TE programs as a more severe problem (M = 3.00) than did the teachers whose highest degree was a bachelor’s degree (M = 2.69) (t = 2.12, df = 254, p = .035). The impact on enrollment in TE courses due to new graduation requirements was also ranked as a more severe problem by teachers with masters’ degrees (M = 3.18) than by those with bachelors’ degrees (M = 2.88) (t = 2.07, df = 254, p = .040).

Comparisons by Grade Level Taught

The survey data were also analyzed to determine if the respondents’ perceptions of the severity of the 15 future problems identified by Wicklein (1993) differed depending on the grade levels that the teachers taught. Respondents were grouped into three categories: high school teachers (grades 9-12); middle school


Table 4
Comparisons of responses by highest degree earned
Wicklein’s
Problem
#
Bachelor’s Master’s
M SD n M SD n
1 2.72 1.05 57 2.72 1.06 201
2 2.69 0.98 55 2.91 1.02 203
3 2.63 1.00 56 2.82 1.01 205
4 2.04 0.97 56 2.56 1.10 205
5 2.91 0.85 57 3.05 0.86 204
6 2.66 0.96 53 2.72 1.00 199
7 2.69 0.96 55 3.00 0.98 201
8 2.88 0.97 56 3.18 0.98 200
9 3.00 0.98 55 3.01 1.02 203
10 2.52 0.91 56 2.54 1.04 203
11 2.18 0.95 57 2.31 1.05 204
12 2.00 0.87 54 2.24 0.96 191
13 2.33 0.84 55 2.50 1.03 195
14 2.64 0.96 56 2.66 0.99 199
15 2.21 1.08 53 2.03 0.99 194



Table 5
Highest degree earned independent samples test
  t-test for Equality of Means
Wicklein’s
Problem
#
Problem t df Sig.
2-tailed
MD SED
4 Non-unified curriculum for TE 3.45 97 0.001 0.52 0.16
7 Elimination of TE programs 2.12 254 0.035 0.31 0.15
8 Reduction of enrollment in TE
courses due to high school
graduation requirements
2.07 254 0.040 0.31 0.15

teachers (grades 6-9); and teachers who taught grades 7-12, spanning both high school and middle school. The results of the findings are tabulated in Table 6. Table 7 shows the significant findings of the one-way ANOVAs.


Table 6
Comparison of responses by grade level taught
Wicklein’s
Problem
#
High School
9-12
Middle School
6-9
Grades 7-12
n M SD n M SD n M SD
1 146 2.78 1.00 70 2.60 1.16 44 2.66 1.06
2 147 3.00 0.93 68 2.66 1.14 45 2.67 1.04
3 148 2.93 0.96 70 2.60 1.04 45 2.58 1.03
4 148 2.62 1.06 70 2.20 1.11 45 2.13 1.06
5 147 3.11 0.83 71 2.86 0.98 45 2.98 0.78
6 142 2.80 0.96 68 2.54 1.07 44 2.59 0.92
7 146 2.99 0.94 67 2.81 1.05 45 2.91 1.04
8 148 3.08 1.02 66 3.17 0.92 44 3.14 0.95
9 147 3.01 1.02 70 2.87 1.01 43 3.23 0.87
10 147 2.49 1.02 69 2.62 1.07 45 2.44 0.89
11 148 2.33 1.01 71 2.24 1.06 44 2.07 1.04
12 139 2.28 0.95 66 2.00 0.91 43 2.14 0.97
13 142 2.65 0.95 67 2.28 1.03 43 2.14 0.91
14 145 2.81 0.94 68 2.54 0.98 44 2.34 0.99
15 137 2.26 1.02 69 1.86 0.91 43 1.81 1.01

Teachers in all three types of schools rated the impact of new graduation requirements as first or second in terms of severity. However, the means for the problem pertaining to the lack of unity in the TE curriculum showed statistically significant differences among the three categories of teachers. (F(2,260) = 5.69, p = .004). Post hoc comparisons (see Table 8) revealed that TE teachers who taught in high schools perceived the non-unified curriculum as a more severe problem (M= 2.62) than did those who taught in middle schools (M= 2.20). The high school teachers also rated the problem of a lack of a unified curriculum as more severe than did the teachers who taught grades 7-12 (M= 2.13).

When grouped by grade level taught, differences also appeared in the teachers perceptions of the problem of inadequate leadership and leadership training for TE (F(2,249) = 6.15, p = .002). Post hoc comparisons found that TE teachers who taught in high schools perceived the problem of leadership and leadership


Table 7
Grade level taught ANOVA
Wicklein’s
Problem
#
  SS df  F Sig.
2 Between Groups 7.226 2 3.554 0.030
Within Groups 261.221 257    
Total 268.446 259    
3 Between Groups 7.544 2 3.815 0.023
Within Groups 257.102 260    
Total 264.646 262    
4 Between Groups 13.093 2 5.689 0.004
Within Groups 299.211 260    
Total 312.304 262    
13 Between Groups 11.509 2 6.145 0.002
Within Groups 233.169 249    
Total 244.679 251    
14 Between Groups 8.822 2 4.773 0.009
Within Groups 234.726 254    
Total 243.549 256    
15 Between Groups 10.719 2 5.468 0.005
Within Groups 241.121 246    
Total 251.839 248  

training as more severe (M = 2.65) than either middle school teachers (M = 2.28) or teachers who taught grades 7-12 (M = 2.14). Another area in which differences between the three groups arose was in their perceptions of the severity of the problem of inappropriate certification procedures for TE. (F(2,246) = 5.47,p = .005). Analyses by post hoc comparisons showed that high school TE teachers perceived inappropriate certification procedures as a more severe problem (M = 2.26) than did teachers who taught in middle school (M = 1.86) and also more severe than did those teachers who taught in grades 7-12 (M = 1.81).


Table 8
Grade level taught multiple comparisons Tukey HSD
Wicklein’s
Problem #
Dependent
Variable
(I)
Grade
Level
Taught
(J)
Grade
Level
Taught
MD
(I-J)
Std.
Error
Sig. 95% C.I.
Lower Upper
4 9-12 6-12 0.42 0.15 0.020 0.05 0.79
7-12 9-12 -0.49 0.18 0.022 -0.92 -0.06
13 9-12 6-12 0.36 0.14 0.031 0.03 0.70
  7-12 0.51 0.17 0.008 0.11 0.91
14 9-12 7-12 0.47 0.17 0.013 0.08 0.86
7-12 9-12 -0.47 0.17 0.013 -0.86 -0.08
15 9-12 6-12 0.40 0.15 0.018 0.06 0.75
  7-12 0.44 0.17 0.030 0.03 0.85

Comparisons by Years of Teaching Experience

A respondent’s number of years of teaching experience also appeared to affect his or her perceptions of the severity of several of the 15 cited problems. Table 9 shows the teachers’ ratings when grouped by the teachers’ years of teaching experience. The significant findings of the one-way ANOVAs are summarized in Table 10.

When grouped by number of years of teaching experience, the respondents showed differences in their perceptions of the severity of the problem concerning the lack of unity in the TE curriculum. (F(6,258) = 3.50,p = .002). Post hoc comparisons (see Table 11) verified that TE teachers who had taught in the range of 16-20 years perceived this problem as more severe (M = 2.88) than did those who had taught 0-4 years (M = 1.90). Those who had taught 31-35 years also rated the problem of a non-unified curriculum statistically significantly higher in terms of severity (M = 2.72), than teachers who had taught 0-4 years (M = 1.90).

The severity of the problem of an inadequate research base for TE also differed in the teachers’ perceptions when compared by years of teaching experience (F(6,258) = 2.63,p = .017). When grouped by number of years of teaching experience, post hoc comparisons found that TE teachers who had taught in the range of 31-35 years perceived the lack of an adequate research base as a more severe problem (M = 2.51) than did those who had taught 11- 15 years (M = 1.81).



Table 9
Comparison of responses by years of teaching experience
  0-4 Years 5-10 Years
Wicklein’s
Problem #
M  SD  n  M  SD  n
1 2.86 1.06 21 2.54 0.86 26
2 2.65 0.99 20 2.85 1.05 26
3 2.52 0.87 21 2.62 1.06 26
4 1.90 0.77 21 2.00 0.94 26
5 2.90 0.70 21 3.00 0.94 26
6 2.52 0.98 21 2.80 0.91 25
7 2.71 1.10 21 2.65 0.89 26
8 2.76 0.83 21 3.00 1.15 25
9 2.85 1.04 20 2.88 1.11 26
10 2.33 1.02 21 2.23 0.95 26
11 2.29 0.90 21 1.81 0.98 26
12 1.95 0.92 21 2.08 0.91 25
13 2.29 0.96 21 2.31 0.79 26
14 2.67 1.11 21 2.68 0.95 25
15 2.10 1.09 21 2.16 1.11 25
  11-15 Years 16-20 Years
1 2.85 1.22 26 3.04 1.02 25
2 2.71 1.08 24 2.46 1.02 24
3 2.68 0.99 25 2.64 0.99 25
4 2.20 1.15 25 2.88 1.05 25
5 2.92 0.93 26 2.96 0.89 25
6 2.87 0.87 23 2.64 1.08 25
7 2.91 0.95 23 2.68 1.03 25
8 2.96 1.06 25 3.20 1.00 25
9 3.16 1.03 25 2.71 0.86 24
10 2.20 1.00 25 2.36 1.11 25
11 1.81 0.85 26 2.44 1.00 25
12 1.86 0.85 21 2.29 0.95 24
13 2.52 0.95 23 2.54 1.06 24
14 2.71 0.91 24 2.60 1.19 25
15 2.05 0.94 20 2.08 0.97 24
  21-25 Years 26-30 Years 31-35 Years
Wicklein’s
Problem #
M SD n M SD n M SD n
1 2.86 1.03 29 2.65 1.01 60 2.57 1.13 75
2 2.97 0.86 32 3.00 0.95 61 2.92 1.10 75
3 2.88 0.94 32 2.84 0.97 61 2.91 1.10 75
4 2.28 1.17 32 2.43 1.12 61 2.72 1.07 75
5 3.09 0.78 32 2.92 0.79 60 3.13 0.96 75
6 2.60 1.00 30 2.61 0.98 59 2.77 1.03 73
7 2.93 0.94 30 3.17 0.94 60 2.99 1.01 75
8 3.09 0.96 32 3.19 0.91 58 3.24 0.99 74
9 3.10 0.91 31 3.20 0.96 61 2.92 1.05 75
10 2.59 0.91 32 2.73 1.06 60 2.62 0.99 74
11 2.19 1.06 32 2.30 0.94 60 2.51 1.14 75
12 2.17 0.97 29 2.19 0.84 59 2.36 1.05 70
13 2.17 1.07 29 2.46 0.95 57 2.69 1.03 74
14 2.52 1.03 31 2.66 0.88 59 2.73 0.98 74
15 1.86 0.99 29 2.02 0.98 58 2.16 1.05 74



Table 10
Years of teaching experience ANOVA
Wicklein’s
Problem #
  SS df F Sig.
4 Between Groups 24.00 6 3.50 0.002
Within Groups 294.96 258    
Total 318.96 264    
11 Between Groups 16.29 6 2.63 0.017
Within Groups 266.74 258    
Total 283.03 264    



Table 11
Years of teaching experience multiple comparisons Tukey HSD
(Wicklein’s
Problem #)
Dependent
Variable
(I) Number
of Years
Teaching
(J) Number
of Years
Teaching
MD
(I-J)
SE Sig. 95% Confidence
Interval
Lower Upper
4 0-4 31-35 -0.82 0.26 0.036 -1.60 -0.03
16-20 0-4 0.98 0.32 0.037 0.03 1.92
11   31-35 -0.70 0.23 0.044 -1.39 -0.01
11-15 31-35 -0.70 0.23 0.044 -1.39 -0.01

Comparisons by Instructor’s Age

Respondents were also grouped according to their ages to determine if the age of the instructor affected his or her perception of the severity of the 15 cited problems. Table 12 shows a summary of the respondents’ ratings when analyzed by the instructors’ age groups. The significant findings of the one-way ANOVAs are summarized in Table 13. The data showed that the instructor’s age had a bearing on his or her perception of the severity of the problem concerning the reduction of enrollment in TE courses due to high school graduation requirements (F(4,248) = 2.86,p = .024). No pair wise differences were found in the post hoc analysis.

However, post hoc comparisons, summarized in Table 14, confirmed that an instructor’s age had a bearing on his or her perception of the severity of the problem of a lack of an adequate research base for TE (F(4,253) = 3.78, p = .005). TE teachers who were 61 years old or older perceived the inadequate research base for TE as a more severe problem (M = 3.06) than did either the group of teachers aged 31-40 years (M = 1.93) or the group aged 41-50 years (M = 2.12).

The instructor’s age also related to his or her perception of the severity of the problem of inadequate leadership and leadership training for TE. (F(4,243) = 2.92,p = .022). Again, the older TE teachers (aged 61 or older) perceived the lack of leadership and leadership training as a more severe problem for TE (M = 3.00) than did TE teachers in the 41-50 year age bracket. (M = 2.22).


Table 12
Comparisons of responses by instructor’s age
  21-30 31-40 41-50
Wicklein’s
Problem #
M SD n M SD n M SD n
1 3.04 0.82 23 2.82 1.02 28 2.72 1.04 74
2 2.95 0.90 22 2.70 1.07 27 2.71 0.99 76
3 2.48 0.95 23 2.71 1.01 28 2.75 0.92 77
4 2.09 1.00 23 2.32 1.09 28 2.34 1.12 77
5 2.96 0.82 23 3.04 0.88 28 2.94 0.83 77
6 2.65 0.98 23 2.74 0.90 27 2.60 0.97 72
7 2.74 0.96 23 2.81 1.00 27 2.76 1.02 75
8 2.91 0.85 23 3.26 1.02 27 2.88 1.05 77
9 2.87 1.01 23 2.82 1.09 28 2.88 0.98 74
10 2.17 1.03 23 2.29 0.98 28 2.36 1.00 77
11 2.17 0.94 23 1.93 0.98 28 2.12 0.97 77
12 2.00 1.00 23 2.20 0.91 25 2.11 0.87 71
13 2.35 0.93 23 2.48 0.89 27 2.22 1.01 72
14 2.65 0.93 23 2.78 1.09 27 2.51 1.01 75
15 2.05 1.09 22 2.15 1.08 26 1.91 0.88 70

Comparisons by Community Type

The type of community—urban, suburban, town, or rural—in which a teacher taught was also examined to see if community setting related to a TE teacher’s perceptions of the severity of Wicklein’s future problems. Urban schools were defined as those located in a city or densely populated area. Suburban schools were considered as those located in residential districts on the outskirts of cities. A school located in an urban area with a fixed boundary smaller than a city was defined as a town school. A rural school was defined as a school located in a sparsely settled or agricultural area. The rankings for the severity of the problems as calculated when teachers were grouped by their school community types is noted in Table 15. The significant findings of the one-way ANOVAs are summarized in Table 16.


Table 12 continued
Comparisons of responses by instructor’s age
  51-60 60+
Wicklein’s
Problem #
M SD n M SD n
1 2.63 1.12 114 2.69 1.08 16
2 2.97 1.05 114 3.06 1.00 16
3 2.89 1.07 114 3.00 1.03 16
4 2.51 1.12 114 3.00 0.73 16
5 3.03 0.94 114 3.44 0.63 16
6 2.69 1.06 111 3.19 0.66 16
7 3.13 0.96 112 3.06 0.77 16
8 3.27 0.92 110 3.50 0.89 16
9 3.11 1.03 114 3.31 0.87 16
10 2.72 1.03 112 2.81 0.83 16
11 2.33 1.09 114 3.06 0.85 16
12 2.17 1.00 107 2.75 0.86 16
13 2.60 0.98 110 3.00 0.97 16
14 2.69 0.95 112 3.13 0.83 15
15 2.20 1.08 111 1.93 0.80 15



Table 13
Instructor’s Age ANOVA
Wicklein’s
Problem #
  SS df F Sig.
8 Between Groups 10.65 4.00 2.86 0.024
Within Groups 230.78 248.00    
Total 241.43 252.00    
11 Between Groups 15.74 4.00 3.78 0.005
Within Groups 263.38 253.00    
Total 279.12 257.00    
13 Between Groups 11.10 4.00 2.92 0.022
Within Groups 230.80 243.00    
Total 241.90 247.00    



Table 14
Instructor’s Age Multiple Comparisons Tukey HSD
(Wicklein’s
Problem #)
Dependent
Variable
(I)
Age
(J)
Age
MD
(I-J)
SE Sig. 95% C.I.
Lower Upper
11 31-40 61+ -1.13 0.32 0.004 -2.01 -0.26
41-50 61+ -0.95 0.28 0.008 -1.72 -0.18
13 41-50 61+ -0.78 0.27 0.034 -1.52 -0.04

The analysis of the data revealed differences occurred in the teachers’ perceptions of the severity of the problem of poor and/or inadequate public relations for TE depending on the type of community in which their school was located. (F(3,262) = 5.41,p = .001). TE teachers who taught in schools located in towns perceived poor and/or inadequate public relations for TE as a more severe problem (M = 3.13) than did those who taught in rural schools (M = 2.56). Post hoc comparisons summarized in Table 17 confirmed the statistical significance of these differences.

The teachers’ perception of the severity of the problem of a non-unified TE curriculum also differed depending on the type of school community in which the teacher taught. (F(3,262) = 3.05, p = .029). Post hoc comparisons revealed that TE teachers who taught in urban schools felt the lack of a unified curriculum was a more severe problem (M = 2.90) than did those who taught in rural schools (M = 2.32).

The problem of inappropriate certification procedures for TE also showed differences in rankings when respondents were grouped by community type. (F(3,248) = 2.80, p = .041). Post hoc comparisons showed that TE teachers who taught in urban schools perceived inappropriate certification procedures as a more severe problem (M = 2.33) than those who taught in suburban schools (M = 1.74).

While all four groups rated insufficient funding for TE programs as a minor to moderate problem, the severity ratings for this problem also showed differences related to community type (F(3,259) = 5.53, p = .001). Post hoc comparisons found that TE teachers who taught in rural schools ranked the problem of


Table 15
Comparison of responses by community type
  Rural Town
Wicklein’s
Problem
#
M SD n M SD n
1 2.58 1.05 112 2.94 1.01 63
2 2.79 0.96 112 2.84 1.05 63
3 2.56 0.97 113 3.13 0.88 64
4 2.32 1.05 113 2.42 1.18 64
5 2.95 0.83 112 3.09 0.79 64
6 2.69 0.88 109 2.68 0.98 60
7 2.95 0.93 111 2.98 1.00 64
8 3.15 0.96 111 3.09 1.05 64
9 3.18 1.00 112 2.73 0.94 63
10 2.54 0.89 112 2.38 1.15 64
11 2.18 0.98 112 2.42 1.14 64
12 2.07 0.86 106 2.28 1.06 60
13 2.37 0.95 107 2.65 0.97 60
14 2.60 0.99 112 2.75 0.93 63
15 2.07 1.03 106 2.18 0.98 60

insufficient funding as a more severe problem (M = 3.18), than either those who taught in town schools (M = 2.73) or those who taught in suburban schools (M = 2.71) At the same time, teachers who taught in schools located in urban areas perceived the problem of funding as more severe (M = 3.30) than those who taught in towns (M= 2.73) or those who taught in suburban areas (M = 2.71).


Table 15 continued
Comparison of responses by community type
  Suburban Urban
Wicklein’s
Problem #
M SD n M SD n
1 2.67 1.09 49 2.79 1.08 39
2 2.86 1.12 49 3.08 1.01 39
3 2.67 1.05 49 3.00 1.09 40
4 2.33 1.01 49 2.90 1.10 40
5 2.92 0.99 50 3.20 0.94 40
6 2.56 1.07 48 2.90 1.17 40
7 2.74 1.05 47 3.03 1.04 39
8 3.04 0.93 47 3.18 1.00 39
9 2.71 1.05 48 3.30 0.88 40
10 2.52 0.99 48 2.70 1.14 40
11 2.06 0.96 50 2.48 1.06 40
12 2.15 0.84 46 2.39 1.05 38
13 2.27 0.95 49 2.74 1.09 39
14 2.57 0.95 47 2.82 1.06 38
15 1.74 0.79 47 2.33 1.18 39

Qualitative Survey Responses

The survey respondents were also given the opportunity to provide free responses or to list current problems in the TE field that were not identified on the survey instrument. Many of the TE teachers’ qualitative responses were consistent with Wicklein’s (1993) list of future problem. Table 18 lists the topics that were identified by many respondents and that corresponded to Wicklein’s themes.

The TE teachers indicated through their qualitative responses that they feel the public does not understand the TE discipline. In the view of the teachers, the public still perceives TE as “shop” and technology as “computers.” The teachers also reported that they believe increased high school graduation requirements are affecting the TE field adversely. In addition, they feel that they, the TE teachers, do not have a voice in educational reform efforts.


Table 16
Instructor’s Age ANOVA
Wicklein’s
Problem #
  SS df F Sig.
3 Between Groups 15.70 3 5.41 0.001
Within Groups 253.65 262    
Total 269.35 265    
4 Between Groups 10.77 3 5.53 0.029
Within Groups 308.52 262    
Total 319.28 265    
9 Between Groups 15.84 3 5.53 0.001
Within Groups 247.16 259    
Total 263.00 262    
13 Between Groups 7.90 3 2.76 0.043
Within Groups 239.68 251    
Total 247.58 254    
15 Between Groups 8.44 3 2.80 0.041
Within Groups 249.12 248    
Total 257.57 251    



Table 17
Community Type Multiple Comparisons Tukey HSD
Wicklein’s
Problem #
Dependent
Variable
(I)
Com-
munity
Type
(J)
Com-
munity
Type
MD
(I-J)
SE Sig. 95% C.I.
Lower Upper
3 Rural Town -0.57 0.15 0.002 -0.97 -0.17
Town -0.57 0.15 0.002 -0.97 -0.17
4 Rural Urban -0.58 0.20 0.020 -1.10 -0.07
9 Rural Town 0.45 0.15 0.020 0.05 0.85
Suburban 0.47 0.17 0.029 0.03 0.91
Town Urban -0.57 0.20 0.022 -1.08 -0.06
15 Suburban Urban -0.59 0.21 0.026 -1.13 -0.05
Suburban Urban -0.59 0.22 0.036 -1.15 -0.03



Table 18
Qualitative survey responses grouped by Wicklein’s themes
Problem Fre-
quency
%
1 Quantity of TE teachers: (n = 87)    
  Programs closing due to lack of teachers 11 12.6
  Hard to find teachers 11 12.6
2 TE identity: (n = 71)    
  Technology implies computers 14 19.7
  Not recognized by students, parents, & administrators 11 15.5
  People do not understand TE 10 14.1
3 Public relations: (n = 67)    
  Name causes confusion 8 11.9
4 TE curriculum (n = 82)    
  TE Curriculum is good 20 24.4
  TE curriculum is weak 19 23.2
  Curriculum is not being implemented consistently 13 15.9
  Lack of hands-on skills 9 11.0
5 General populace understanding: (n = 63)    
  Believes TE is “shop” 26 41.3
  Does not understand TE 16 25.4
6 Involvement in educational reform: (n = 60)    
  TE teachers do not have a voice 13 21.7
  No involvement by TE personnel 9 15.0
7 Health of TE programs: (n = 74)    
  Health is good 15 20.3
  Funding is a problem 11 14.9
8 Graduation requirements: (n = 78)    
  No room in schedule for electives 23 29.5
  Graduation requirements hurting TE 11 14.1
  TE should be required fro graduation 11 14.1
9 Funding: (n = 72)    
  Funding is not good 32 44.4
  Funding is good 17 23.6
10 Business and industry support: (n = 68)    
  Support is good 26 38.2
  Limited support 22 32.4

In two areas the qualitative responses to the survey revealed disparities among the teachers’ views concerning current issues in the TE field. One of these areas regarded funding. While 44.4% of the respondents expressed the opinion that funding was “not good,” another 23.6% indicated funding was “good.” Business and industry support was another area in which respondents had differing views. Some 38.2% of the teachers stated their opinion that business and industry support was “good.” On the other hand, 32.4% of teachers categorized business and industry support as “limited.”

Discussion

Graduation Requirements

Overall, the TE teachers who responded to the current survey reported the problem of the impact of high school graduation requirements on TE courses as the most serious problem of the 15 future problems identified by Wicklein in his 1993 study. There were however, differences in the perceived severity of this problem when demographic groups were compared. Older teachers and/or those who had taught longer tended to view the impact of high school graduation requirements on TE as a more severe problem than did younger teachers and those who were new to the teaching field. Likewise, teachers who had earned a master’s degree felt it was of greater concern to the TE field than did teachers whose highest degree was a bachelor’s degree. However, it is interesting to note that middle school TE teachers rated the severity of this problem greater than did high school TE teachers.

Again when qualitative comments in the free-response section of the survey were tabulated, the most frequently cited problem was “graduation requirements harming TE” (11.9%). Some respondents stated that “students do not have room in their schedule for electives,” or “TE needs to be required for graduation.”

According to Stadt (1989), in many states English, mathematics, or science are allowed to gain control of the Carnegie units required for graduation, which reduces the opportunities for students to enroll in elective coursework. Although Wicklein’s (1993) study identified the impact of graduation requirements as a concern, nevertheless the problem at that time ranked eighth in order of priority. From both the qualitative and quantitative findings of the present study, it appears that graduation requirements and their effect upon TE enrollment are currently of primary concern to Indiana TE teachers.

Understanding of Technology

The Indiana teachers who participated in the current survey rated the problem of ignorance among the general populace regarding technology and the discipline of TE as the second most severe problem faced by the TE teachers. Qualitative feedback in the free-response section of the survey confirmed this concern. Free-responses included comments such as “technology implies computers” and the “name causes confusion.” A Gallup poll conducted for the International Technology Education Association (ITEA) also revealed that the American public lacks a clear understanding of TE and technological literacy (Dugger and Rose, 2002). These conclusions were reinforced by additional data obtained by a follow up study by Dugger, Gallup, Rose and Starkweather (2004).

In Wicklein’s (1993) study, the problem of the general public’s lack of understanding of TE ranked fifth in order of priority. The current findings indicate that Indiana TE teachers view this problem as more serious than did the panelists in Wicklein’s study. However, since the date of Wickleins’s study, the proliferation of technological tools and gadgets has increased dramatically. According to Petrina (2003), after the microcomputer innovations of the late 1970s and 1980s, a digital technology revolution occurred in the 1990s. It is likely that this digital revolution has created greater confusion about technology since the time of the Wicklein study, and the Indiana teachers’ who took part in the current study may have perceived this confusion among the general public and reflected it in their survey responses.

The mushrooming of technology in the last decade may also partly explain the frequency of qualitative response that the “focus of TE needs to change.” Another explanation for this response may be that some TE teachers see a need to incorporate more engineering into TE. The perception of a need for change in the discipline may also be linked to and partially based on the public’s misunderstanding of TE and what it incorporates.

The fact that the majority (62.9%) of the teachers who responded to the survey had over 20 years of teaching experience and many (43.1%) were between the ages of 51 to 60, may provide another explanation for the statement that the focus of TE needs to change. Older teachers and those who had been in the field for 20 years or more were most likely trained as industrial arts teachers. These teachers may dislike the way the field has evolved into TE. They may not associate the same type of value with TE as they did with industrial arts. Their desire may be to see TE return to its industrial arts format.

Funding

Survey respondents ranked lack of sufficient funding as the third most serious problem for TE. These findings are substantiated by the literature which suggests there are problems with funding. Oaks (1991) surveyed TE supervisors in the 50 states to determine what state resources are available to assist in the transition to TE. Lack of funding was reported to be the most significant barrier to having an excellent TE program. According to Bussey, Dormody, and VanLeeuwen (2000), increased funding, development of financial incentives, and increased state-level support were listed as three of the five most frequently cited suggestions for strengthening TE.

Based on the findings of this study and other studies, the TE profession must address several critical issues in order to sustain itself as a discipline and assist American youth in developing the knowledge and skills required in the twenty-first century. Technology education must establish among the general public an understanding of its content and its relevance to society. This may require a name change and a redirection to a curricular content that is more widely understood and valued by the general public. In addition, technology education must establish itself as an essential component for high school graduation. These actions will require both bold leadership by the discipline’s professional associations as well as flexibility and innovation by its teachers.

_______________
Lazaros is Assistant Professor in the Department of Technology at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Rogers is Associate Professor in the Department of Industrial Technology and Coordinator of Technology Teacher Education at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Lazaros can be reached at ejlazaros@bsu.edu.

References

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Bussey, J., Dormody, T., & VanLeeuwen, D. (2000). Some factors predicting the adoption of technology education in New Mexico public schools. Journal of Technology Education, 12(1), 1-14.

Dugger, W., Gallup, A., Rose, C., & Starkweather, K. (2004). The second installment of the ITEA/Gallup poll and what it reveals as to how Americans think about technology. Reston, Virginia: International Technology Education Association.

Dugger, W. & Rose, C. (2002). A report of the survey conducted by the Gallup organization for the International Technology Education Association. Reston, Virginia: International Technology Education Association.

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Petrina, S. (2003). The Educational Technology is Technology Education Manifesto. Journal of Technology Education, 15(1), 64-74.

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