In this study, the technological literacy of students in their first year of an engineering programme within two higher education institution (HEI’s) is described, analysed and compared. Furthermore, the study explores the possible influences of socio-economic status (SES) on the technological literacy of engineering students. Drawing on Mitcham’s (1994) framework, he describes technological literacy by two interacting components, namely, how one ‘thinks’ about technology (nature of technology) and how one interacts with technology (interaction with technology), acknowledging the socio-cultural context of an individual, where social, cultural, educational and work backgrounds influence one’s understanding of technological literacy. The study used a mixed-method approach applying the sequential use of both quantitative and qualitative data collection. During the quantitative data collection phase, the Technological Inventory Profile (TIP) was used to determine the students’ levels of technological literacy. During the qualitative data collection phase (n=2), the profiles of one female student from a high SES and one male student from a low SES background who entered Engineering programmes, were probed. A case study approach was used to determine patterns and trends in their background that shaped their levels of technological literacy. Preliminary findings of the quantitative data using descriptive statistics suggests that students, in general, have a basic level of technological literacy based on the dimensions Artefact, Process, Direction/Instruction, Tinkering and Engagement. However, preliminary results of the qualitative part of the study using interviews with the two Engineering students shows that there is a tentative influence of SES on the participants’ technological literacy.
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