The growing necessity for graphical competency

Thomas Delahunty
University of Limerick, Ireland

Niall Seery
University of Limerick, Ireland

Raymond Lynch
University of Limerick, Ireland

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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 73:17, s. 144-152

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Publicerad: 2012-06-18

ISBN: 978-91-7519-849-1

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


This paper aims to explore the value of graphical competency within contemporary technology education and society. In an attempt to establish the key perspectives on the contemporary merit of achieving competencies associated with graphical education; a review of the literature from both national and international sources was undertaken.

Graphical education in Ireland; in the context of technology education; has its roots in vocational education. The traditional subject focused on developing knowledge and competencies primarily associated with craft based outcomes (Seery; Lynch; & Dunbar; 2010). This philosophy has shifted focus in recent times in reaction to the ever-changing needs of our global society. However; as McLaren (2008) discusses the recent changes in curriculum across many countries; as having left many educators questioning the role of communication graphics in today’s educational milieu. With the availability of resources such as digital media and CAD systems in industry; many have questioned whether graphical education is a redundant subject area (McLaren; 2008).

Therefore; an analysis of the role of graphical competency in a broader technological context is required. Plane geometry; knowledge of projection systems; standards and conventions are core skills that were associated with an early conception of graphical education. Today however; a broader skills set is envisaged to comprise contemporary graphical capability within technological education. Elements of graphical education; such as spatial ability; are core cognitive aptitudes that have been identified as vital to many vocational fields (Steinhauer; 2011) most notably; but not exclusively; the technology and engineering subjects. However; they are also vital in everyday tasks such as communicating ideas and finding one’s way in an environment (Hegarty; Richardson; Montello; Lovelace; & Subbiah; 2002). Graphical education also lends itself to the development of further cognitive complexities such as modelling and ideation. As Baynes (2010) discusses; graphical competencies are directly related to practice and understanding in design.

Considering the visual nature of society; the requirement for graphical competencies becomes more urgent. Technology education offers a suitable arena for the development of these competencies and more specifically graphical education where the associated skills are taught explicitly.


Technology Education; Graphical Capability; Visual Culture


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