The thesis presents research regarding decision-making by children aged 12-15 within design and technology education. An in depth discussion of the factors that are affecting children‘s decision-making capabilities in design decision-making as found in the previous literature is presented. The literature provides information on children‘s and adults‘ decision-making processes, research from the area of cognitive development, the implementation of decision-making in educational contexts, the role of teachers and curriculum materials, and the role of knowledge, skills and values within design decision-making. These were reviewed as part of the theoretical background of the study.
An action research methodology was designed in order to gather data relevant to children‘s decision-making behaviour. A pilot study was conducted to explore the spontaneous strategies that children follow in order to take their design decisions. Based on the results of the pilot study, the research methodology was redesigned and a main study was conducted. Three age groups from 12 to 15 were included in the sample of the study and 15 children were interviewed before and after a design task was given to them. Additionally 110 children were observed while designing, their log-books were analysed and they completed pre-tests and post-tests with activities relevant to decision-making.
The results of the study were analysed using grounded theory guidelines and the key findings are discussed. Based on the findings of the research study a model was designed that describes the factors that are involved in children‘s decision-making in design and technology education. From the results of the study children‘s strategies, difficulties they faced, their age, the requirements of curriculum materials and teachers‘ pedagogical activities seemed to affect children‘s decision-making behaviour. Finally the thesis discusses these results in relation to the original research questions and also presents some suggestions for further work.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.