Factors influencing the uptake of a mechatronics curriculum initiative in five Australian secondary schools

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Journal Article
International Journal of Technology and Design Education, 2012, 22 (1), pp. 65 - 90
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While the ready-made Lego™ Robotics kits are popular in schools and are used by students at both primary and secondary year levels, using the Picaxe microcontroller (chip) to create simple electronic devices, including robotic devices is less popular. The latter imposes an additional challenge as a result of the need to construct the universal board with the chip in it-a challenge embraced in the cross-disciplinary mechatronics program in this study. This paper reports on how teachers from five Australian secondary schools put into practice technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPCK) developed from expert-led workshops and explores factors (intrinsic and extrinsic) that influenced the implementation. The results show that different strategies were adopted by the schools in implementing the programs. While teacher attitude played an important role in influencing the program's success, being able to identify where the program sits within the curriculum and planning around timetable and facility constraints were also important factors to consider. The research indicated that teachers' TPCK was most challenged in non-obvious areas such as diagnosing where faulty soldering joints were. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.
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