Journal of Technology Education

Journal of Technology Education

Current Editor: Chris Merrill,
Previous Editors: Mark Sanders 1989-1997; James LaPorte: 1997-2010

As an open access journal, the JTE does not charge fees for authors to publish or readers to access.

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Volume 3, Number 2
Spring 1992

               Introduction to Special Theme Issue

                         Curriculum Change in Technology Education
                         Differing Theoretical Perspectives

                         Dennis R. Herschbach

                             Professions periodically undergo name changes. The name
                         "technology education" is rapidly replacing "industrial
                         arts," and there seems to be little doubt that by the end of
                         the decade the transformation will be complete. There is
                         less certainty, however, concerning what is technology
                         education. Is it industrial arts renamed? Does it reflect
                         new instructional content or methods? Will a new student
                         population be served? Most proponents of technology
                         education argue for a significant restructuring of the
                         former industrial arts. However, except for the wide use of
                         general industrial categories for curriculum organizers,
                         such as transportation, manufacturing, construction, and
                         communication, there is little professional agreement on
                         specific curriculum components. This is partly due to the
                         complexity of technology. It defies easy definition. This is
                         also partly due to reform itself. The intellectual disarray
                         which often accompanies reform movements characterizes
                         technology education.
                             Curriculum theory provides one way to guide educational
                         change. Although curriculum development is an inexact
                         process because many of the decisions are largely value
                         judgments, there are, nevertheless, ways to go about it
                         which produce consistent results. Among curriculum theorists
                         there is general agreement that there are five basic
                         curriculum design patterns. Each is supported by an
                         underlying rationale, and each produces a curriculum design
                         with distinct characteristics. A curriculum design pattern
                         provides a logically coherent way to organize instruction.
                             While different theorists may use different
                         terminology, the five basic curriculum design patterns are
                         a) academic rationalist (separate subjects); b)
                         technical/utilitarian (competencies); c) intellectual
                         processes; d) personal relevance; and e) social
                         reconstruction. Each design pattern is supported by a
                         rational which guides the selection and ordering of content.
                             The five articles in this special issue examine
                         curriculum change in technology education through one of the
                         different theoretical perspectives. In the first article,
                         Erekson outlines the characteristics of the academic
                         rationalist design pattern, and argues that technology
                         education can clearly fit within this perspective. While
                         acknowledging the lack of a clearly defined "discipline" of
                         technology, the author suggests that a new discipline is
                         emerging, and that the method through which technological
                         problems are solved may be one source of curriculum content.
                         The second article discusses from a historical perspective
                         the competencies, or what is more recently termed the
                         technical/utilitarian design pattern. This pattern has been
                         applied widely to industrial arts. It is suggested that
                         before a similar application can be made to technology
                         education there are key issues that must be addressed.
                             In the third article, Johnson outlines the
                         characteristics of the intellectual processes design
                         pattern, a newly emerged perspective. The author presents a
                         rationale for this design pattern and identifies the sources
                         of content and organizing concepts. In the fourth article,
                         Petrina observes that while the personal relevance design
                         pattern is compatible with most statements about the purpose
                         of technology education, curriculum plans generally do not
                         emphasize this perspective. After examining the development
                         and characteristics of the personal relevance pattern, the
                         author identifies some of the issues that must be resolved
                         before wider application can be achieved. In the final
                         article, Zuga explores the social reconstruction
                         perspective. What is meant by social reconstruction is
                         examined, and ideas are presented for organizing a social
                         reconstruction curriculum. The author observes that this
                         perspective will challenge technology educators to take a
                         stand on many of the social issues that surround the
                         creation and use of technology.
                             Each of these design patterns has been applied to
                         industrial arts education in varying degree. The extent to
                         which they influence the development of technology education
                         remains to be seen. Nevertheless, as the reconceptualization
                         of industrial arts continues, technology education will have
                         to draw from one or more of these design patterns if it is
                         going to develop a coherent rationale for the selection of
                         instructional content. The profession must continue to
                         engage in a dialogue which explores the full curricular
                         implications of the different theoretical perspectives. The
                         articles in this issue are presented as a contribution to
                         this dialogue.

                         Dennis Herschbach is Associate Professor in the Department
                         of Industrial, Technological and Occupational Education,
                         University of Maryland, College Park, MD.

               Journal of Technology Education   Volume 3, Number 2       Spring 1992