Enhancing Engagement for All Pupils in Design & Technology Education: Structured Autonomy Activates Creativity

Research output: ThesisDissertation (TU Delft)

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This thesis is searching for ways to engage all pupils in class in an ongoing way during primary Design & Technology lessons, so that all pupils are able to profit from the lessons. The aim of Design & Technology education is that pupils acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes related to technology as they encounter it in daily life and later in professions. Some of those skills can be instructed, but others need to be taught until understanding emerges, for instance designing. Designing is a way of thinking with many aspects. Creativity is one of them. Design can be seen as the imagination of ideas in reality. Thinking happens in one's mind and is invisible. That is why designing requires making decisions, so that the design can be expressed. Not only design requires making decisions, but also other Design & Technology activities do so. Deciding is an important subtask of designing, solving and making, which requires a lot of practice before it can be done in an informed way. Therefore, Design & Technology education must provide pupils with opportunities to practise decision making broadly. When pupils have learned how to make their own decisions, and they have the freedom to do so, every pupil can make their own decisions, anytime, anywhere. Design can have many functions. Design can be used to do research and construct knowledge, to think out solutions and make them, or to re-create reality to someone’s personal taste. In turn technology is an important means to experiment with the design in reality to fine-tune the knowledge or idea. Children go to school to prepare for their future lives. So personal development should be an important goal of learning. Then tasks are needed that focus on this. The exercise of deciding for themselves how to approach design and technology is useful for personal development. Design & Technology education can offer such exercises. In this way, children can discover that it is enjoyable to be able to decide for themselves. By being allowed to decide for themselves how they learn, pupils can make use of their strengths and work on their weaknesses. They can also discover that it is useful to be able to decide for themselves. Through the discoveries made during exercises in deciding for themselves, their personal development grows. The result, a well-matured personal development, will manifest itself in social behaviour, flexibility and creativity. Although Design & Technology activities have a huge potential, many teachers experience that children are not always engaged in these activities. That is a problem because without engagement, learning is impeded.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Delft University of Technology
  • de Vries, M.J., Supervisor
  • Klapwijk, R.M., Advisor
Award date3 May 2021
Print ISBNs978-94-6419-202-5
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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