Teaching and learning in technology has been paid scarce attention in both research and in professional teaching communities. This contrasts to large interests from influential stakeholders, including governmental and engineering organisations, but these have mainly focused on policy aspects. There is thus a large need of developing teaching and learning in the classroom within this area, grounded both in research and professional experience. This presentation report on a lesson study based project targeting the specifically important knowledge theme of technological systems, which are complex systems of technical and human components that facilitate much of the experienced needs of modern society. Technological systems are constituted of transformation and transport, acting on matter, energy and information. This focus entails certain challenges in relation to the previous body of work of lesson studies, as the subject technology has not previously been attended to within this tradition. These challenges include the practical tradition and character of the subject and knowledge domain, the lack of consensus concerning appropriate concepts in the theme of technological systems, a low degree of teaching in the theme due to being difficult and poorly established as a core part of the subject (in Sweden and across the world, while at the same time being emphasized as important), and, consequently, the non-existence of a clear assessment standard within the theme. The problem addressed in the project concerns how powerful teaching and learning may be developed, when the foundations for a knowledge area of technological systems at the level of citizenship to a large degree is absent. A team of six teachers in the subject technology in Swedish compulsory schools and five researchers have collaboratively developed a common ground in the knowledge area and basic ideas for fruitful pedagogical approaches. A shared plan for teaching a series of four lesson including assessment has also been developed and realised in two cycles with two classrooms in each (student ages 13-15), interspersed with evaluation and development of the plan. The basis for the developed plan includes the teachers’ experiences of teaching technology generally, theoretical grounding in research perspectives on complex systems, and technological systems specifically, originating from several different disciplines as well as in the pedagogical perspectives of phenomenography and variation theory. Existing relevant empirical studies of students’ understanding have also been taken into account. We present preliminary conclusions on how technological systems may be constituted in terms of critical aspects, as well as empirical perspectives on how these critical aspects form more or less powerful patterns of variation, and what may be taken as crucial assessment standards. In particular, we also pay specific attention to the relationship between critical aspects and the pedagogical contexts (such as practical activities, group discussions, individual projects, and whole class teaching) in which they are given meaning and form patterns of variation.
2013. 94-94 p.