The Type of Design in Design and Technology Education for the Development of Critical Thinking Skills: A Perspective Based on the Asian and Oceania D&T and TE Education

    Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


    The iterative cycles between the identification of design problems and the manufacturing of the proposed prototype during the process of designing is crucial to the development of critical thinking skills. During the process of designing, skills such as interpretation, analysis, evaluation, inference, ability to clarify, decision-making and problem solving are deeply involved. Such skills are key to the development of a critical thinker. The current study aimed to clarify the types of design activities within the Design and Technology (D&T) subject at secondary level (or junior high as it may be referred in some countries) in Asia; while including the D&T in Oceania as a comparative example to provide a broad understanding on the characteristics of Asian D&T education as compared to similar subject outside Asia. A qualitative approach is adopted in this study where field visits to secondary/junior high schools and hearing surveys with principals and teachers are conducted. Field visits are further complimented by the literature reviews of documents related to national curricula, school programmes and student journals. This study identified representative schools in Singapore (1 school), Taiwan (3 schools) and Australia (1 school) as D&T or Technology Education (TE) has been firmly established within the national curriculum. From the findings, the following observations may be presented. In Australia, the current Australian curriculum was implemented in 2014. Since the implementation, is was understood that until just recent years, teachers, in junior high school at large, were still focusing on making and skills development rather than incorporating design to provide a structure for creative problem solving. But, a trend could be seen where more design emphasized projects have been developed and implemented into the school curriculum. In Taiwan, TE, also known as Living Technology, has undergone a transition from Industrial Arts, to Technology focus and in the last one year, moving into a more design-based curriculum in anticipation for the new TE curriculum implementation in 2019. Though learning through design has been incorporated, the Taiwanese TE can be characterized by a more engineering-based creative problem solving approach. While in D&T in Australia can be characterized by a product design approach towards creative problem solving. A common trend can also be observed where the Makers’ approach towards the design and rapid prototyping through using more advance manufacturing systems like 3D printers, laser cutters and CAD are gaining more traction in students project and learning experience. In Singapore, D&T was first implemented in 1986, has all along been envisioned to be a subject that engages students through product designing and prototyping of ideas with the mind and hands. Though technology knowledge such as mechanism, structures and electronics had been taught as part of the curriculum, these knowledge play a more supportive role in the realization of the working prototype. Unlike, Taiwan and Australia, the manufacturing of prototypes are mostly based on manual manufacturing.From the study, the following points may be concluded: 1) While design has been a major focus in D&T learning in Singapore, a trend can be observed in Australia and Taiwan where the shift from the emphasis on making and concepts of technology, to a more design-based learning in recent years. 2) The type of design activities can be distinctively different where TE in Taiwan has a slant towards engineering design; whereas D&T in Singapore and Australia has a slant towards product design. 3) Despite the different focus on design activities in the three countries, it is evident that students are heavily involved in designing activities where critical thinking skills can be heavily involved. 4) D&T and TE are in prime position to systematically develop students with important 21st CC skills such as creativity, innovative and communication skills, that are considered necessary for students to navigate the uncertain future.At the moment, the common issue for all three countries include that inconsistent quality of D&T and TE across secondary/ junior high schools at national level. The speculated current challenge for all three countries will be to strengthen research and development for the subject, creating a local and international network for research and development of common educational contents and Teaching and Learning tools and strengthening teachers’ in-service development to achieve a common high standard in delivering D&T and TE nationwide.Acknowledgement: This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP18K13168.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages2
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 16 2019
    Event13th International Conference on Technology Education in the Asia Pacific Region - Korea National University of Education, Cheongju, Korea, Republic of
    Duration: Jan 16 2019Jan 18 2019


    Conference13th International Conference on Technology Education in the Asia Pacific Region
    Abbreviated titleICTE
    Country/TerritoryKorea, Republic of


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