Factors Influencing Successful Achievement in Contrasting Design and Technology Activities in Higher Education

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The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between such factors as learning style, gender, prior experience, and successful achievement in contrasting modules taken by a cohort of thirty design and technology trainee teachers during their degree programme at a University in the North East of England. Achievement data were collected from three design and three electronic modules at levels 1, 2 and 3. Data concerning appropriate, previous experience before starting the course was obtained through a short questionnaire. The learning style of each member of the sample was ascertained using the Cognitive Style Analysis test. The findings from the study indicated that the learning style groupings were not as expected. A positive relationship between achievement and past experience in both electronics and design activity was found, although improvement for those with no prior experience in comparison to those with previous experience was only evident in electronics. A concern arising out of the data was the differences in terms of achievement between male and female students and also the difference in achievement when learning style and gender were scrutinised. The implications of the findings in relation to the success of the trainees as impending teachers of design and technology were discussed. The problems associated with the small cell size caused by splitting the sample by the three variables was acknowledged and a suggestion was made that further study would be required to ascertain whether the gender and learning style differences witnessed in this study would be replicated in a larger sample.

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