The importance of supporting technological knowledge in post-primary education: a cohort study

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© 2018, © 2018 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Background: Substantial research highlights the differences between scientific and technological knowledge. Considering that learning is heavily focused on the acquisition of knowledge, it is important to examine the individual and systematic implications of these types of knowledge. Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the impact on overall educational performance as a result of engaging with technology subjects at post-primary level. Sample: A five year cohort study was designed to gather longitudinal data from a total sample of 1761 pupils’ grades from the Irish Leaving Certificate examination. The sample was distributed across four schools. Design and methods: Grades from the Irish Leaving Certificate were selected because the examination is considered high stakes as it serves as the country’s primary mechanism for matriculation into third-level education. Individual examinations are designed externally to schools by a government body ensuring the validity of each examination in capturing the holistic interpretation subject syllabi. Finally, a points system is used to score each examination facilitating comparisons between subjects. Results: The results show that pupils who study the technology subjects are statistically significantly less likely to perform well overall in comparison to pupils who study science and mathematics subjects. They also show that for pupils who study the technology subjects, those subjects are statistically significantly likely to be their best performing subjects. Conclusions: Due to the array of variables impacting subject selection, a definitive causal explanation cannot be deduced from the data for these results. However, it is possible to infer that the variance in knowledge types between the science and technology subjects has an impact on the results. A case is made that a compulsory technological component should be incorporated into educational curricula to provide a comprehensive and general education and to facilitate the holistic development of pupils.

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Research in Science and Technological Education