Evaluating an Intervention to Improve Secondary Pre-Service Teachers’ Conceptions of Feedback in Technological Systems
Feedback mechanisms make control of systems automatic and are thus inherent features of many technologies that surround us in our daily lives. Feedback is thus considered important to learn in technology education, although it is regarded as difficult and often not introduced to students until upper secondary level. Given the central role of feedback in technology and engineering it is surprising that there is virtually no research on how students of any age conceive of and/or learn about feedback in the technology and engineering education literature. The aim of this paper is to report on and evaluate an intervention to improve Swedish secondary pre-service technology student teachers’ conceptions of feedback in technological systems. Five student teachers took part in the intervention, taking a pre-test prior to, and a post-test after, this intervention. Although this is a small sample, the findings indicate that the student group as a whole performed better in the post-test than in the pre-test. The findings also suggest that some teachers understood the systemic, macro aspects of feedback mechanisms better after the intervention. On the other hand, no student reached an expanded understanding, and most conceptions were rather vague. Furthermore, there was a general lack of atomistic conceptions, relating to a micro understanding, for example, sensors and how they work in a control system. This study thus confirms previous research about the lack of essential device knowledge among student teachers. Some implications for the continuation of the study are suggested based on these findings.
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