Framlingham College is extremely delighted to announce that Head of Design and Technology, James Buxton, has been awarded a Distinction from Cambridge University for his Masters of Education.

The one year part-time course was based on “Researching Practice.” Mr Buxton had to attend five Saturday conferences in the year and had weekly online ‘interactive tutorials’ for the first two terms, after which he was left free to focus on writing his thesis. He collected the data during term time and spent the majority of the Easter and Summer holidays writing it all up.

Mr Buxton’s thesis, “DT is a Workshop Full of Boys,” explored Year 9 girls’ perspectives and motivation in Design and Technology. He used interviews and surveys to generate qualitative data to gain insight into girls’ opinions on not only the subject in general but also on their experience of DT at Framlingham College. He found out that although much secondary research suggests socially & culturally constructed gender stereotypes affect girls motivation in the subject, particularly in regard to subject and career choices, the girls here at this school speak very positively about DT and are most motivated and enthused by the prospect of making desirable artefacts for themselves.

In retrospect the Masters was an extremely worthwhile endeavour and has undoubtedly improved Mr Buxton’s teaching and furthered his understanding of student motivations in DT, and education more generally.

Mr Buxton said: “All at Framlingham College were so very supportive and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity. Although it was incredibly difficult to manage my studies alongside my teaching commitments in term time (and it completely ruined my summer holidays!), I did actually enjoy returning to Academia and would recommend it to anyone. The course was a vital reminder that teaching should be an evidence based profession, in which practice should be driven and informed by not only published work, but also our own endeavours- exploring our students perspectives and reflecting on our own practice.”

Below is an Abstract from the thesis:

This thesis aimed to explore female perspectives and motivation in Design & Technology (DT) education in response to the apparent underrepresentation of girls in the subject. Despite equal access and opportunity, the majority of girls opt out of the subject when deciding their futures, both at my school and nationally. This issue is reflected in industry where domains like engineering acknowledge a ‘gender gap’. Literature points toward culturally-grounded gender stereotypes and a gendered history of DT as probable causes of the disparity.
A small-scale cycle of Action Research with year 9 girls explored the problem through a preintervention survey, which estimated girls’ perspectives on aspects of DT, followed by an intervention sequence of lessons. Informed by survey data and literature, a three-lesson scheme of work introduced students to social context in DT through inclusive design practices, as an alternative pedagogical approach aimed to better suit girls’ perspectives. A post-intervention focus group then explored girls’ views on DT in more depth, specifically in relation to the intervention.
Student response in both phases of data collection indicated contentment with existing DT provision. Primary empirical findings of this work corroborated themes from literature which claim girls are motivated by the desirability of the artefact they are producing, and therefore extrinsically motivated by utility value. The introduction of social context in intervention lessons did seem to increase motivation for some students, which prompted consideration of a possible altruistic dimension to extrinsic motivation. This posed the question of how future projects might balance commitment to desirable artefacts and social context, and whether the two components are compatible. This thesis concluded that further research and experimentation would be required to adjust existing schemes of work to suit these findings, and this could potentially increase motivation for girls in DT.



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