What is technology? Development and evaluation of a simple instrument for measuring children's conceptions of technology

Cathy P. Lachapelle, Christine M. Cunningham, Yoonkyung Oh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Technology is important to all aspects of our lives, so helping students develop an accurate understanding of technology should be an educational goal at the K-12 level. Assessments are important tools in reaching this goal. We developed an instrument to measure the technology conceptions of children ages 8–11, the ‘What is Technology’ (WT) instrument. We gathered evidence for the validity of using the WT instrument to measure children's conceptions of technology, including changes due to an intervention, and we describe those changes. We used exploratory factor analysis (EFA) to establish scales, and confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) with new samples of subjects to confirm our hypothesised model of children's conceptions. For further evidence, we analyzed and coded the written responses children gave to open-ended questions asking them to explain their understanding of technology, then calculated correlations between these codes and the CFA-confirmed scale measures. We found that children tend to think of technology as artifacts that are powered by electrical energy; however, after instruction most children's conceptions become more consistent with definitions given in educational standards. The instrument is shown to be valid and reliable for its intended use, to assess preadolescent children's conceptions of technology, and evaluate the impact of an intervention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)188-209
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Science Education
Volume41
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 22 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education

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