December/January 2005 - International Technology and ...

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December/January 2005 - International Technology and ...

ASSESSING FOR TECHNOLOGICAL LITERACYFEATURE ARTICLEDaniel E. EngstromImagine yourself on trial for notproperly validating that your studentshave attained the standards set forthby the curriculum. You have beencalled as the key witness to try togive a plausible defense. Thequestions begin to fly from theprosecution, and it seems that you donot even have time to think. “Whatevidence can you provide that willshow that your students have indeedmet the standards that are required?”Your mind races, and you reply: “Igave a 15-question, multiple-choicetest.” “Not enough!” shouts theprosecutor. The questioning continues,now quicker than ever, “It seems thatall the students made the sameproject, how was this assessed?What criteria did you use? How didyou use the results? How do youknow for sure that their groupcooperation was plausible? Are thestudents satisfied with their work?”You begin to slump in the witnessbox, hoping all of this is a bad dream.For some technology educationteachers, the scenario above mayseem far fetched and unreasonable,but for others it is exactly what theythink through when designingassessment for standards-basedinstructional units. Designingstandards-based assessment is a keycomponent of a quality technologyeducation program. For students tobecome technologically literate, it isimportant that the teacher understandshow to measure studentunderstandings and abilities in thestudy of technology. This article iswritten to help the teacher andteacher educator recognize theinherent value of designing qualityassessments to measure technologicalliteracy in students. This article isA five-step approach to defining assessmentindicators is described in Measuring Progress.based on the publication, MeasuringProgress: A Guide to AssessingStudents for Technological Literacy(ITEA, 2004).Technological Literacy andAssessmentFor the past few years technologyeducators across the United Statesand in many other countries haveheard the call to design curriculumthat will promote technologicalliteracy for all children. In some partsof the country, a vast majority of theschools have grasped this vision andmade remarkable changes to theirtechnology education curriculum,while others continue to pressforward. From my experience as ajunior high technology teacher anduniversity faculty member, developingappropriate curriculum and instructionthat aligns with both state andnational standards is not nearly asdifficult as measuring studentachievement of the standards and,ultimately, progress towardtechnological literacy.Technological literacy has beendefined in various ways. In 2000, theInternational Technology EducationAssociation (ITEA) stated thattechnological literacy is “the ability touse, manage, assess, and understandtechnology” (p. 9). This definitionwas put forth in Standards forTechnological Literacy to challengeeducators, specifically those in thefield of technology education, toredirect their curriculum to focus onstudents becoming technologicallyliterate. More recently, the bookTechnically Speaking: Why AllAmericans Need to Know More AboutTechnology, described technologicalliteracy in terms of three dimensionsthat include “knowledge, capabilities,and ways of thinking and acting”(Pearson & Young, 2002, p. 15). Thesethree dimensions of technologicalliteracy are shown in Figure 1.Pearson and Young (2002, p. 17)describe each of the three dimensionswith recognizable explanations. Tosummarize, they indicate that withinthe study of technology, knowledgerefers to the “content” that studentsare expected to learn, the impacts andpervasiveness of technology onsociety, how to use an engineeringdesign process to solve problems, andthat all technology entails risk andhas benefits and consequences. Itis important to recognize thatknowledge, as it is referred to inFigure 1, does not simply refer to therecall of facts and data but goesbeyond that to an understanding oftechnology. Ways of thinking andacting enables students to askpertinent questions about technology,learn about new technologies, andbecome active participants, as muchas possible, in decisions abouttechnology. Finally, the termcapabilities references hands-on skilldevelopment and utilizes technology,math, science, and other concepts tosolve technological problems.For many teachers, assessment tendsto be an afterthought. Students finish30 December/January 2005 • THE TECHNOLOGY TEACHER

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