UNESCO-NIE Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)

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Name of Author: 
Wong, Yi Lin
Institute: 
Thesis (M.A.) National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University
Supervisor: 
Yau, Che Ming
Year of completion: 
2008
Country: 
Singapore
Country of Research Data: 
Singapore
Language: 
English
Abstract: 

In Singapore, Design and Technology (D&T) is a school subject which evolved from woodwork, metalwork, and technical drawing about 17 years ago. Initially, it was a subject mainly targeted at boys. However, it is currently compulsory for both boys and girls. In general, it appears that boys have advantages over girls in learning D&T. Girls have relatively lower participation rates than boys for D&T in secondary schools. This implies that motivational levels for students taking D&T might be related to existing gender issues in D&T. This research study focuses on students’ motivational levels and students’ perceptions on gender issues in D&T in Singapore schools. Hypothetical relationships between motivation levels and students’ perceptions are suggested and some were verified in the study. Suggestions to improve the current situation in Singapore D&T classes are recommended at the end of the thesis as well. For the research study, two large-scale surveys, three medium-scale interviews and one small-scale survey were conducted. The purpose of the first large-scale survey, the Background Survey, for which 69 schools responded, was to obtain data from schools about the number of students studying D&T, the number of D&T teachers and the number of workshop instructors in schools. This was followed by the second large-scale survey, the Main Survey, which had 2294 valid questionnaires returned and the purpose of which was to obtain students’ motivational levels and attitudes towards gender issues in D&T. The three medium-scaled interviews, conducted with 13 D&T students, four non-D&T (upper secondary) students and two D&T teachers, together with the final small-scale survey, conducted with 365 non-D&T students, were to serve as verification and backup for the interpretation of the findings in the Main Survey. From the survey results, it was found that both boys and girls are motivated in D&T, and boys have a boy-favoured opinion while girls have a more gender-neutral opinion. Students are aware of the stereotypes or the gender differences in D&T, but the situation is not biased toward either boys or girls. Also, D&T students are more motivated than non-D&T students, and D&T girls have a more girl-favoured opinion than non-D&T girls. The Motivation Index and the Gender-related Index are related but the correlation is not high. We can see that there might be other factors relating to the low participation rate of girls. Towards the end of the thesis, a recommendation to implement co-teaching with both male and female D&T teachers in a D&T classroom is suggested to promote a non gender-biased environment for learning. There are also three other recommendations, which focus on balancing males and females in D&T and raising students’ motivational levels. These have been suggested to encourage more students to study D&T. Some limitations of the study are also discussed in this thesis.

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