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Conceptualising the knower for a new engineering technology curriculum

Wesley Doorsamy (Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technology, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa)
Kershree Padayachee (School of Education, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa)

Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology

ISSN: 1726-0531

Article publication date: 13 May 2019

Issue publication date: 5 August 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The most recent alteration in engineering technology education in South Africa is the establishment of a new degree qualification – Bachelor of Engineering Technology. The new qualification standards alone do not give a clear distinction between knowers in the engineering technician and engineering technologist categories. This lack of clarity about what knower the new programme is intended to produce is a stumbling block to educators who need to plan, develop and implement the new curriculum. The purpose of this paper is to conceptualise the intended knower dispositions for the new programme by carrying out a comparative analysis with the existing programme, thereby assisting curriculum designers particularly with development of effective scaffolding for engineering technology students.

Design/methodology/approach

In this paper, the authors conceptualise the intended knower dispositions for the new programme by carrying out a comparative analysis of the current and new exit-level outcomes. Each of the qualifications for the engineering technology programmes are comprehensively interpreted and analysed in this paper. This paper uses Bloom’s taxonomy and Luckett’s knowledge plane as lenses to perform the analysis and draw a distinction between knowers in the engineering technician and engineering technologist categories.

Findings

The analysis used in this paper suggests that the engineering technologist category exhibits a relative shift towards subjective and theoretical “ways of knowing”. It is found that the shift from practical ways of knowing to theoretical will evoke a shift from contextual to conceptual knowledge. The authors also flesh out how this shift could influence the new curriculum particularly with regard to developing effective scaffolding for engineering technology students. A useful tool for mapping these shifts in knowing is also established in this paper.

Originality/value

The most recent alteration in engineering technology education in South Africa is the establishment of the new Bachelor of Engineering Technology qualification. This qualification marks a paradigm shift in the nature of engineering technology education itself. In this paper, this paradigm shift is conceptualised. It is expected that the interpretation of the new qualification standards, and the influence of the shift in intended knower and exit-level outcomes on curriculum will be grappled with by engineering technology educators in South Africa in the coming years, as the new programmes are established around the country. This conceptual paper is significant because it marks the first work towards grappling these crucial and forthcoming issues in the country.

Keywords

Citation

Doorsamy, W. and Padayachee, K. (2019), "Conceptualising the knower for a new engineering technology curriculum", Journal of Engineering, Design and Technology, Vol. 17 No. 4, pp. 808-818. https://doi.org/10.1108/JEDT-10-2018-0180

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited