Bridging the boundaries between D&T education and working life A study of views on knowledge and skills in product development
Sammanfattning: In Sweden upper secondary school education is organised in programmes. One of these programmes is the Technology programme that covers five orientations, one of which is Design and Product Development. This thesis is based on the idea that a clearer link between upper secondary school and the demands of professional life in the area of product development is beneficial to both students and industry.Product development is performed in cross-functional teams were understanding of others competences is important. It is therefore argued that, in order to enhance both teaching and learning, interdisciplinary considerations need to be explored. In this thesis, we turn to engineers and industrial designers. The aim of the present study is to get professional actors’ views on knowledge and skills needed within the field of design and product development and to examine whether there are key areas that facilitate an interdisciplinary approach suitable to focus on for educational purpose. As artefacts play a central role in product development the informants’ views on different products/artefacts are also examined. This reasoning results in an a two-part overall research question(a) What thoughts do professional engineers and industrial designers express regarding necessary knowledge and skills, and (b) what relevance does this have for upper secondary school teaching of product development? This overall research question is examined through two sub- studies, both performed at the same time, one conducted as a semi- structured interview and the other using the repertory grid technique. Twelve engineers and industrial designers are interviewed. The first study examines the informants’ thoughts on knowledge and skills required in their work. The same informants’ interpretations and valuations of artefacts are examined in the second sub-study.In sub-study 1 two topics of significance to the informants are identified. These topics are:  To act within the team (Figure 4). The ability to navigate and position oneself within a team is, according to the interviewees, a necessary skill in design and product development work. Its character can be described as including specific vocational knowledge and skills as well as issues of general and interdisciplinary nature as collaborating, compromising, communicating, and leadership. The second topic , to CAD (Figure 4) includes both skills with CAD software and the ability to understand relationships between a CAD model on screen and the final product.The third topic  - a valuation of artefacts - is the outcome of sub- study 2 (Figure 4). This topic was found interesting and further analysed, resulting in the development of a comparison procedure. The result demonstrates how the interviewees interpret and discuss artefacts’ functionality linked to cultural values.These three topics are found to be relevant for technology education at upper secondary school level geared towards design and product development to explore. To act within the team can inspire the development of activities in which project and teamwork are in focus. The purpose of the CAD model in product development is to visualise a product that does not yet exist. To CAD highlights the complexity of this visualisation ability. In the educational context the students can train this ability by developing digital models into physical models or prototypes. Valuations of artefacts, the interviewees associate artefacts’ functionality with certain characteristics. In education students should learn that we are not neutral in our relations to products and other artefacts. In conclusion, a need for teachers to discuss artefacts from different perspectives such as sustainability, usability, identity and so on is also pointed out.
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