Identification of some causes of demotivation amongst key stage 4 pupils studying design and technology
This research project set out to identify some of the causes of demotivation amongst Key Stage 4 pupils studying design and technology for their GCSE examinations and to propose strategies that teachers could adopt in order to overcome the situation. Design and technology in schools requires pupils to apply a complex integration of processes, concepts, knowledge and skills in order to develop solutions to practical problems. As the subject area has developed, so has the use of the design process as a method of delivering and examining subject content. Initial research indicated that the investigation of pupils engaged in long term pieces of project work could provide tangible indicators in the identification concerning the causes of pupil demotivation. The research project was divided into three sections: the Initial Survey; Phase One; and Phase Two. The purpose of the Initial Survey was to select a representative and yet manageable sample of schools from which the researcher could collect quantitative and qualitative data pertinent to the project. Eight schools were chosen from an original sample of one hundred and fifty schools located in seven Local Education Authorities in the North East of England. Questionnaires and interviews during Phase One enabled the researcher to develop an understanding of pupil (n = 179) and teacher (n = 8) perceptions regarding pupils' enjoyment and their ability to perform in design and technology project work. Analysis of the data collected identified several key internal and external factors that affected pupil motivation. It also indicated that there was a large proportion of demotivated pupils within the sample. Phase Two was conducted throughout the duration of the pupils engagement with design and technology examination project work. Observation of a new sample of pupils (n = 50) enabled the researcher to add to and clarify the list of selected factors. Educational issues that were seen to affect a teacher's level of motivation were also identified. An exploration of the relationship between all the targeted factors was carried out. This phase of the reasearch also supported the findings of Phase One, in that a large proportion of this new sample were found to be demotivated. The effect of performance upon motivation and motivation upon performance was shown to be an important relationship in the context of the study. Internal attributes such as creativity, goal orientation and cognitive style were each seen to have a marked effect upon a pupils' motivation. A pupil's knowledge, skills and understanding of concepts, particularly regarding the design process, were also found to affect their performance and hence their motivation. Significant gender differences were noted. However influential the internal factors on their own or in various combinations were seen to be, the influence of the identified external factors was found to be substantial. In particular, the analysis indicated the importance of those factors that affected the teachers' own levels of motivation. The relationship between motivated teachers and motivated pupils and demotivated teachers and demotivated pupils was seen to be particularly important. From the analysis of the evidence obtained throughout each stage of the project, three lists of advice for teachers of Key Stage 4 design and technology pupils were devised. The lists were written with the intention of providing teachers with suggestions that could help to improve pupil motivation. The lists were in three categories : general advice applicable to all pupils of design and technology; advice targeted at demotivated low achievers; advice principally for demotivated high achievers.