Differences in perceived technological problem-solving ability of university technology and humanities students

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Jadali, Farhad
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Larry L. Bradshaw
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Industrial Education and Technology

Technology is one of the most dominant factors impinging on our lives. Of critical importance is that some citizens have specific knowledge of how to solve selected problems and make intelligent and informed decisions about technology. The purpose of this study was to determine if university students' perspectives of their technological problem-solving skills improve as they progress through their degree programs. The study was designed to look at selected student criteria to determine the results;A Perceived Technological Problem Solving Ability Instrument (PTPSAI) was developed to address the following research questions: (1) Is there a significant difference in the perceptions of technological problem-solving ability between technologically-oriented and nontechnologically-oriented university students? (2) Is there a significant difference in technological problem-solving ability between freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors measured by mean scores on the PTPSAI? (3) Is there a significant difference in technological problem-solving ability between students with different work experiences measured by mean PTPSAI scores? (4) Is there a significant difference in mean PTPSAI scores for different amounts of prior work experience? (5) Is there a significant difference in mean PTPSAI scores for different levels of GPA?;The PTPSAI was constructed by initially developing 49 questions as face valid indicators extracted from a pool of questions posed to a panel of experts. The items were randomly arranged and given to a group of 23 students as a pilot study. Following a factor analysis on the responses, 36 items were retained. Ten demographic questions were added to address participants' individual characteristics. The survey was then distributed to humanities and technology students at three universities, with a total of 430 usable instruments collected. Statistical analyses performed include factor analysis, reliability, t-tests of means, and one-way analysis of variance;Results showed a moderately high reliability of 0.81 of the PTPSAI items. Findings revealed a significant difference in the PTPSAI scores of humanities and technology students. There was a significant difference in PTPSAI scores among students with different years of work experience and for different levels of GPA. Students with higher GPAs were better problem solvers;The applicability and implementation of technological problem solving in the university setting needs to be investigated further. Future studies were recommended to include other disciplines to see if students in those areas might require a different level of insight for technological problem solving. More detailed studies should be conducted to explore the differences in perceptions of students in various disciplines. Additional research is also needed to identify the most effective method of teaching the concept of technological problem solving for educational settings. Exploratory and qualitative research methods are recommended since technological problem solving is still new in education.

Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 1997