Reading Technological Artifacts: Does technology education help?

Vicki Compton
The University of Auckland, New Zealand

Ange Compton
The University of Auckland, New Zealand

Moira Patterson
The University of Auckland, New Zealand

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Ingår i: PATT 26 Conference; Technology Education in the 21st Century; Stockholm; Sweden; 26-30 June; 2012

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 73:15, s. 126-134

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Publicerad: 2012-06-18

ISBN: 978-91-7519-849-1

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


Reading technological artifacts is recognised internationally as an important aspect in developing technological literacy. To be read – or critically interpreted; these artifacts are required to be understood as much more than an ’entity as such’. Instead; they must be seen as the embodiment of design and purpose and located in the complex socio-cultural milieu of their inception; development and use.

Philosophical attempts to guide critical interpretations have been supported by focusing on the interrelated dual (physical and functional) nature of technological artifacts (Kroes & Meijers; 2000; de Vries; 2005; Vaesen; 2008). This aspect of the philosophy of technology is the basis of the New Zealand curriculum achievement objectives related to the Nature of Technology strand component known as ’Characteristics of Technological Outcomes’ (Ministry of Education; 2007). In this component significant emphasis is placed on students developing understanding of the interrelated physical and functional nature of technological outcomes (or artifacts) and how these outcomes are understood as embedded in their social and historical context.

Exploration into students’ ability to read technological artifacts has been a part of a number of research projects undertaken in New Zealand over the last eight years. This focus has been continued in our latest research– the Technological Literacy: Implications for teaching and learning (TL: Imps) project. In this paper; we share our early findings related to reading technological artifacts and discuss these in terms of previous national and international research findings.


Technological Artifacts; Technological Literacy; Physical and Functional Nature; Critical Interpretation


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