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ACTION RESEARCH
TECHNOLOGY HARD MATERIALS

AREA OF FOCUS
Introduction: The question was raised; what makes a ‘good’ project in
Technology Hard Materials.
I decided to find out from the students’ perspective, the answers to this question.

RATIONALE
The survey was conducted with Year Eight students; the rationale being they have
already completed enough Hard Materials Projects to have a fair overview of
what we do.

COLLECTION OF DATA

First step: The first step was to do some brainstorming with the children in each
syndicate. We listed on the board the ideas of what they suggested would
contribute toward making a ‘good’ Hard Materials Project.

Examples of responses:
Making things
Using the hot poker
Learning about different materials
Cutting things
Colours
Doing lots of hands on work
Using different materials
Learning how to use tools

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COLLECTION OF DATA

Second Step: I then wrote up on the board four projects they have already done in Hard
Materials, and asked them to review these projects by describing in their own words
what parts contributed to making it a good project.

List of responses

Choosing your own design
Learning new skills
As much practical work as possible
Learning how to use the tools
Using different materials
Making things
‘Take home’ value
Using the hot poker
Learning about different materials
Cutting things
Project brief giving guidelines
Colours
Doing lots of hands on work
Doing processes e.g. laminating
A ‘cool’ product
Enjoyment

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COLLECTION OF DATA

Third Step: I recompiled their comments into a more manageable format to help
analyse the results in a more robust statistical form.

Refer to the example:
“Survey Of What Makes A Good Project In Hard Materials’

COLLECTION OF DATA

Fourth Step: Students were asked to draw in their books two graphic
representations of what makes a good, and also what makes a bad project.

They drew a ‘Happy Creature’ which included the 3 most import good things.
They drew a ‘Sad Creature’ which included the 3 worst things things.

PRESENTATION OF DATA

Fifth Step: Results from the main survey were recorded on ‘Excel’ and then
presented in Bar Graph Format.

Refer to Bar Graphs

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SURVEY OF WHAT MAKES A GOOD PROJECT IN
HARD MATERIALS

Please complete this questionnaire to show what you think helps to make a really good project in Hard
Materials.
Rate each question by circling one answer: 1 not very important
2 important
3 very important

1 Doing your own Design Work so you can make your own shape.
shape 1 2 3

2 Finding out about the properties of the materials used in the project. 1 2 3

3 Being given a Project Brief to tell you about the project and given guide-
lines. 1 2 3

4 Over your 2 years at Tahuna, getting to use a good range of materials 1 2 3

5 Being taught how to use the tools correctly. 1 2 3

6 Learning to put tools away and look after them. 1 2 3

7 Doing as much practical ‘hands – on’ work as possible. 1 2 3

8 Creating a ‘take-home-product’ that you are proud of. 1 2 3

9 Learning new skills. 1 2 3

10 Enjoying making the project. 1 2 3

Write down the number of the question that you think is most important to
help make a good project in hard materials.

Thank you ☺
5
1 Not very important

2 Important

3 Very important

Total

Percentage
Most important consideration
Survey on What Makes A good
Hard Materials Project 2009
Doing your own design work so
1 you can make your own shape 2 63 66 131 8 6%
0
Finding out about the properties of
2 the materials used in the project 39 73 19 131 2 2%
0
3 A prject brief giving guidelines 14 67 50 131 2 2%
0
Using a good range of materials
4 over the 2 years 3 40 88 131 5 4%
0
Being taught how to use the tools
5 correctly 4 38 89 131 18 14%
0
Learning to put tools away and
6 look after them 12 69 50 131 3 2%
0
Doing as much practical 'hands on'
7 work as possible 6 19 106 131 34 26%
0
Creating a 'take - home - product'
8 that you are proud of 3 36 92 131 25 19%
0
9 Learning new skills 4 36 91 131 1 1%
0
10 Enjoying the project 3 23 105 131 33 25%
131

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7
8
9
10
Happy
Creature Sad Creature

using own
design 50 47% 1 no design work 1 1%
Doing
hands-on-
work 57 53% 2 book work 28 26%

easy home
work 4 4% 3 teacher talk 23 21%
4 measuring 2 2%
Good
finished
take home
product 28 26% 5 not finishing 31 29%
getting it
done 12 11% 6 too hard 14 13%
skills / tool
use 5 5% 7 can't take home 5 5%
not choosing own
8 project 4 4%
painting 2 2% 9 too many demos 5 5%
making a
unique going up to the
product 2 2% 10 front 8 7%
learn about
materials 1 1%
11 little time 8 7%
getting a bad
cutting 1 1% 12 mark 8 7%
too many
hot poker 2 2% 13 instructions 7 7%
step by
step
instructions 1 1% 14 being rushed 4 4%

no home
work 1 1% 15 home work 3 3%
filing / sanding
16 sawing 3 3%
17 all the same 1 1%
getting
good
marks 2 2% 18 boring facts 1 1%
using
different
tools and
materials 10 9% 19 having to stop 2 2%
not too
hard 5 5% 20 cutting wood 2 2%
not too
many doing something
instructions 1 1% 21 wrong 5 5%

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making
what you
want to 4 4% 22 too easy 1 1%
making it
correctly 1 1% 23 standing around 2 2%
listening 1 1% 24 academia 1 1%
lots of time
to finish 1 1%
a being taught step
challenge 1 1% 25 by step 1 1%
being told what to
fun 8 7% 26 do 1 1%

not having
some thing workshop every
useful 1 1% 27 week 1 1%
more time 5 5% 28 boring task 4 4%
not being
rushed 4 4% 29 design 1 1%
not too
much book
work 4 4% 30 not learning 1 1%
new skills 3 3%
learning 5 5%
0%
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sample no 107

Take home
project
Learning
new skills

Lots of hands
On work

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HAPPY CREATURE

Sad Creature

1 no design work 1 1%
2 book work 28 26%

3 teacher talk 23 21%
4 measuring 2 2%
5 not finishing 31 29%
6 too hard 14 13%
7 can't take home 5 5%
not choosing own
8 project 4 4%

SAD CREATURE

Making a
mistake

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Being in a
hurry

Not getting a project
finished

INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS
From the survey of 131 Year Eight Students the following points were evident:

As was expected; the most important thing for students is:
• Doing as much’ hands on work’ as possible. - 34 students out of 131
• This is closely followed by ‘enjoyment of the project’. 33/131
• Creating a ‘take-home-product they can be proud of’ is also high on the priority
list. 25/131

Perhaps not surprisingly; on the ‘not very important’ rating. featuring highest was

• ‘Finding out about the properties of materials’ 38 students / out of 131
• Being provided with a ‘Project Brief’ was rated by 14 students out of the 131 as
being ‘not very important’.
• ‘Learning to put tools away and how to look after them’ was the only other
significant rating @ 12/ 131. as not very important.

All other criteria was rated as either: Import or Very Important.

INTERPRETATION OF RESULTS
From the sample of 107 Year Eight Students who did a graphic of what makes a ‘Sad
Creature’, the following points were evident:

Not finishing the project gained the highest disapproval @ 29% of students.

Doing book work gained the second highest disapproval @ 26% of students.

Too much ‘Teacher Talk’ was noted as being disliked by students with a disapproval
rating @ 21%

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RECOMMENDATIONS DRAWN FROM RESULTS AND ACTION TO BE TAKEN:

It is reassuring that many of the aspects favoured by students are already inherent in the
workshop programmes being provided.

Changes can be made by either reducing the amount of time dedicated to some areas of the
projects, and or, by modifying the school time table to allow more time overall for the
projects to be completed to the best standard possible.

• Not getting the project completed was the main gripe of students. @ 29% of students.

Programmes are designed so that all pupils who attend all 4 classes will get their project
finished and they can take them home.
Unfinished projects are a result of conflicting commitments.
This cannot be altered unless a more flexible timetable for Technology Classes is provided,
or, not timetabling other activities at the same time as Technology.

• Doing book work gained the second highest disapproval rating @ 26% of students.

Research, investigation and design are a requirement of the curriculum. These topics are
covered well by the Design Technology Programme. However it is evident that many
students do wish to design their own creations.
Some design is integral with making a project.

Recommendation: The implication is try too keep bookwork to a minimum
without actually stopping it completely.
Action: Keep the Design Process being done in their books, but endeavour to
have all the book work completed in the first 30 to 40 minutes.
Keep homework to a minimum to save the time in the workshop that is required to
introduce the homework.

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RECOMMENDATIONS DRAWN FROM RESULTS AND ACTION TO BE
TAKEN cont.

Too much ‘Teacher Talk’ was noted as being disliked by students with a disapproval
rating @ 21%
This is a concern for a number of reasons.
The workshop is a unique environment. Tools must be used safely, and treated
correctly.
This does not happen successfully through ‘experimentation’ or ‘inquiry learning’. It
is achieved through instruction by someone who knows what they are talking about.
If this is not done the result will be seen in injury and damage to expensive
equipment.

Materials tend to be expensive. A satisfying project that fits within a budget is
unlikely to be made through ‘experimentation’ or ‘inquiry learning’ alone. It is much
more likely with guidance from teachers with expertise in this area.

Recommendation: The implication is try too keep ‘Teacher Talk’ to
a minimum without actually ending up with a series of catastrophes!

Action: Keep the length of any talk a short as possible.
This can only be achieved by providing less information and, or, simplifying the
projects.

Results: It will be interesting to see the effects of the action I
plan to take from the survey results.

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