Emerging perspectives on the demonstration
as a signature pedagogy in design and technology
Accepted: 18 August 2017 / Published online: 1 September 2017
The Author(s) 2017. This article is an open access publication
Abstract This paper analyses the beliefs of teachers regarding the demonstration as a
signature pedagogy in design and technology, where there is a limited body of literature
outlining the theory and practice. The demonstration is multifaceted, and effective teachers
adopt and adapt a range of skills and values to scaffold learning, including teacher mod-
elling and explaining. The study explores the subjective beliefs of seven practicing
teachers through Q Methodology; comparing and analysing the responses of the partici-
pants’ subjective beliefs and values, using 62 statements relating to teacher modelling and
explaining, developed and reﬁned with teacher educators, and representing the concourse
of opinions and perspectives. The sample is purposive, comprised of practicing teachers
who are engaged with mentoring trainees in Initial Teacher Education. The ﬁndings will
represent a snapshot of subjective values of practicing teachers, as part of a discourse on
signature pedagogies in design and technology education.
Keywords Demonstration Teacher modelling Explaining Pedagogy Teaching
methods Q methodology Design and technology
The primary aim of this study is to analyse the subjective beliefs of teachers regarding the
demonstration as a signature pedagogy in design and technology. A secondary, long-term,
aim is to encourage dialogue in the design and technology community on effective ped-
agogies and contribute to the development of theoretical frameworks which inform
classroom practice. The research question is: What do teachers of design and technology
believe to be effective pedagogy when demonstrating skills and knowledge?
Liverpool John Moores University, IM Marsh Campus, Barkhill Road, Liverpool L17 6BD, UK
Int J Technol Des Educ (2018) 28:985–1000
Viewed from a pragmatic perspective, in formal learning ‘‘involving the use of the body
and the handling of material’’, the act of demonstration is an essential teaching method in
practical disciplines (Petrina 2007; Dewey 1916, p. 178). This paper explores teacher of
design and technology views about the demonstration. Despite the subject being formally
recognised in the National Curriculum for England in the late 1990s (DfE 1995,2013;
QCA 2004,2007; DfEE 1999; NCC 1990), almost three decades on, there is limited
research and pedagogical literature to underpin practice in this area (McLain et al. 2015).
Whilst this study focuses on the views of teachers in England, and the relative historical
and cultural context, the nature of the discussion in this paper is relevant to creative,
practical and technical subjects internationally; be they craft or technology based,
emerging into or embedded as a design and technology based curriculum.
The demonstration is an important pedagogical method in other practical subjects,
including science (Milne and Otieno 2007) and physical education (Mosston and Ashworth
2002). In design and technology, it builds on the traditions of apprenticeship and craft
education of ‘‘demonstration, observation and constant practice’’ (Mason and Houghton in
Sayers et al. 2002, p. 44). Petrina comments on the signiﬁcance of demonstrations as ‘‘the
single most effective method for technology teachers’’ (Petrina 2007, p. 1).
Central concepts and literature review
There is relatively limited range of literature on demonstration and teacher modelling in
design and technology (McLain et al. 2013). This section will draw on explicit references
both within and beyond the subject, and make links with wider learning theories.
By way of deﬁnition, this paper assumes that a demonstration is, primarily, a combi-
nation of teacher modelling (DfES 2004a) and explanation (DfES 2004b)—respectively,
largely visual and auditory approaches—supported other pedagogical skills such as
questioning (DfES 2004c); each of which do not deﬁne demonstration, in themselves, but
together are pedagogical techniques employed by the teacher of design and technology
when demonstrating. Demonstration focuses on knowledge transfer of technical processes
and the practical application of knowledge—demonstrated by the teacher and replicated by
the learner. The teacher, as an expert subject practitioner, or more knowledgeable other
(Vygotsky 1978), makes conceptual and procedural knowledge (McCormick 1997) explicit
in a meaningful context. Therefore, effective modelling and explanation facilitates the
development of understanding of a process, including sequence, related knowledge and
‘‘ Modelling is an active process, not merely the provision of an example. It involves
the teacher as the ‘expert’, demonstrating how to do something and making explicit
the thinking involved.’’ (DfES 2004a: 3; emphasis mine)
‘‘The purpose of explaining a process or procedure is to help pupils understand how
things happen or work. The emphasis is on sequence and connectives such as ﬁrst,
next, then and ﬁnally are important.’’ (DfES 2004b: 3; emphasis mine)
Vygotsky’s (1978) theory of social constructivism and the zone of proximal develop-
ment (ZPD) provide a useful lens for critiquing learning and pedagogy in the context of
this study. Tappan comments on the mediating role of tools (physical and linguistic) in
Vygotskian theory, and their ability to ‘‘shape human mental functioning’’ (1997: 78).
Daniels et al. (2007) further elaborate on the Vygotsky’s notion of mastery and
986 M. McLain
development of these mental functions involving the ‘‘creation of external technology’’ (p.
66). Vygotsky described the process of learning (internalisation) as internal reconstruction
of an external activity, ‘‘incorporated into [a] system of behaviour’’ (1978: 56–57). The
ZPD ‘‘is the distance between the actual developmental level…and the level of potential
development…under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers.’’ (p. 86).
This has implications for how and when the teacher should demonstrate, as he suggest
that the evaluation of mental development should be ‘‘the assistance of others, without
demonstrations, and without leading questions’’ (p. 88). The implication being that a
demonstration, whilst being a useful scaffold for learning, obfuscates the requirement to
recall and apply learning. In other words, a cautionary note should be attached to the use of
demonstration, considering appropriate timing and the need to consider the appropriateness
of frontloaded, just-in-time or after-failure approaches. Frontloaded instruction relies on
the learner’s ability to translate observations from working to long-term memory (Brown
et al. 2014: 46–66; Baddeley 2000), but provides a holistic demonstration of a process or
skill, in its wider context. Whereas the just-in-time approach mediates this process for the
learning by removing the necessity to encode complex information to long-term memory
and reduces cognitive load (Martin 2016), but removes some of the necessity for the
learner to think and make decision autonomously. An after-failure approach has a number
of potential applications, including with the use of a discovery learning approach (Brunner
1961), which allows for exploration and trial and error, although in some contexts may
have safety implications; and in a corrective context, where the teacher observes pupils’
engagement with a task or process, diagnoses misconceptions or errors and intervenes as a
‘more knowledgeable other’.
As noted by McLain et al. (2015), the demonstration encompasses teacher modelling
and explaining, and includes the manipulation of physical tools (materials and making), to
virtual tools (software, including computer-aided manufacture) and cognitive tools (design
thinking and problem solving); reﬂecting Wartofsky’s (1979) levels of artefact. In design
and technology learners explore, create and evaluate (DfE 2015). The teaching of the
physical, virtual and cognitive domains has similar features, as well as distinctive differ-
ences, concerning the learner, context, resources.
Petrina (2007) identiﬁes that the primary aim of a demonstration is to ‘‘communicate
and model’’ procedural knowledge of ‘how to do something’’ and conceptual knowledge of
‘‘how to talk about [a] task’’ (p. 14); and involves demystiﬁcation of equipment and
procedures, explanation of expected outcomes and the application of knowledge. It is
commonly accepted that much of human communication is non-verbal, mediated by
symbols, signs and actions (Engestro
¨m2009; Vygotsky 1978, cited in Tappan 1997;
Wertsch 1985,1991, cited in Tappan 1997). In neuroscience, the much debated notion of
mirror neurons (cf Thomas 2012) has sought to explain the ability of primates to mimic
through observation and perception. Petrina goes on to state that words in themselves are
inadequate to explain technological principles and processes. In fact, this is the de facto
rationale for the demonstration.
McLain et al. (2015) speculated that the fundamental and tacit nature of demonstration,
as a pedagogical method, is socially assimilated through the act of observing and intuition
within the community of practice (Wenger in Illieris 2009; Duguid 2008; McLain 2012;
Lave and Wenger 1991), and that this may go some way to account for the limited research
in the area. They go on to observe that the demonstration is a ‘‘multifaceted skill’’ (p. 269)
combining a range of pedagogical techniques. Implicit is the notion that much teacher
knowledge of demonstration, as a signature pedagogy, is engaged with at a subconscious
or automatic level. Kahneman (2011) describes this as System 1, the subconscious aspect of
Emerging perspectives on the demonstration as a signature…987
the mind, which responds effortlessly and draws on prior experience and encoded mem-
ories or patterns, without the need to draw on the slower, conscious, System 2. Whilst the
automatic nature of System 1 thinking is relatively quick and efﬁcient, without the
engagement of System 2, learning and the development of expertise is impaired and error
(or biases) can affect practice.
In order to overcome the inherent weakness of operating solely on automatic thought
and action, the practitioner adopts a reﬂexive interplay between the subconscious and
conscious knowledge, challenging misconceptions and strengthening practice. Much has
been written about the importance of reﬂective practice for professional development (cf
Wood et al. 2009; Race 2007; McCormack 1997; Scho
¨n1991; Luft 1982) and speciﬁcally
for teachers (cf Banks et al. 2004; Jay and Johnson 2002; Brookﬁeld 1995). Ericsson and
Pool (2016) write about naı
¨ve, purposeful and deliberate practice. Purposeful practice
differs from naı
¨ve practice in that it requires that the learner focus their full attention on the
skill, immediate feedback and moving beyond the bounds of current knowledge or skill.
¨ve practice, where the same set of skills is repeated over time with limited reﬂection
and development, can result in more recently trained professionals performing better than
seemingly more experience colleagues. Deliberate practice is described as taking pur-
poseful practice further, enhanced by proven techniques developed by experts, with a
mentor ﬁgure playing an important role, providing real-time feedback, alongside the self-
reﬂection (internal feedback) of the practitioner. Therefore, the lack of research and
documented proven techniques, in relation to teacher modelling, potentially inhibits the
professional development of teachers of design and technology, and thus learners in the
Visual processing, and interpretation, is sophisticated with the mind constructing and
reconstructing what we see into something that we can understand. Individuals perceive
and understand in different ways from differing perspectives (physical and cognitive), so
the effective demonstrator should consider the important aspects of the activity that the
observers need to see. Learning is a complex process, drawing on memory and sensual
experience. Whilst focusing on speciﬁc ‘learning styles’ can be counterproductive (Sharp
et al. 2008), lacking in research and mythologised (Kirschner 2017), the inclusion of
variety of approaches that take into consideration the wider intelligences of learners
(Brown et al. 2014; Sternberg 2011; Gardner 1983,1993,1995,1999). Barlex and Carre
add a situated and cultural dimension suggesting that learners ‘‘do not see things as they
are, we see them as we are’’ (1985, p. 4). In other words, the learning experiences, be they
assimilated or accommodated into memory, inﬂuence our perceptions.
When planning for learning, teachers make pedagogical choices which can be consid-
ered to be on an expansive-restrictive continuum (Fuller and Unwin 2003). In other words,
the teacher, as a more knowledgeable other adapts content knowledge to be demonstrated
to the learner, taking into consideration factors such as age, prior learning, expected
learning outcomes. For example, when teaching a new concept or skill to a group of
younger learners, the choice might be to adopt a more restrictive and teacher led approach,
with questions being used to gauge recall and understanding. This restrictive approach will
limit the range (and potentially the creativity) of outcomes, whereas a more expansive
approach (where learner potentially make more choices) can result in a broader range of
outcome, which might be less skilfully realised if the requisite skills have not already been
988 M. McLain
Theoretical framework and research design
This Q Methodology (Brown 1980) study adopted pragmatism as the philosophical and
conceptual framework, in the traditions of Dewey, Pierce and James (Watts and Stenner
2012, pp. 24–46). The research paradigm is ontologically relativist, recognising the sub-
jective nature of realities for individuals, which are multiple (Guba 1981, p. 77, 1990,
pp. 17–27). As a Q Methodology study, the focus is on the socially and culturally con-
structed, subjective beliefs and values of the participants in relation to the object of
teaching and learning practice (Watts and Stenner 2012, p. 29). In this aspect the intentions
of the Q Method are interpretive and qualitative, using Peirce’s ‘‘abduction’’, where
observation of facts are used ‘‘in pursuit of an explanation and new insight’’ (p. 39).
Q Methodology originates from psychology research and ‘‘focuses on subjective or ﬁrst
person viewpoints’’ (Watts and Stenner 2012, p. 4). As such it does not purport to generate
or conﬁrm generalizable concepts and principles. With its roots in pragmatism, it draws on
inductive and abductive reasoning with the support of mathematical modelling (factor
analysis) to explore qualitative data through quantitative methods. In Q Methodology the
comparison focuses on the similarities and differences between the participants, rather than
their responses as is common within tradition factor analysis. A series of statements, or Q
Set, that represents the broad range of opinion or belief (concourse) potentially held by the
population that the sample is being drawn from. The participants then undertake a Q Sort
activity. This is typically a two stage process involving a pre-sort into three categories
(essential, desirable and optional, in this study), followed by the main sort where the Q Set
statements are sorted into a forced-choice frequency distribution (Fig. 1) ranging from
most agree to most disagree (note: the statements in this study were not designed to
generate disagreement, so the ‘most disagree’ is relative).
The initial Q-Set was developed through a focus group of six teachers of design and
technology, working with initial teacher education trainees in the North West of England,
and reﬁned by McLain et al. (2015) within an online, predominantly UK-based, commu-
nity of practice for design and technology teacher educators. The list was divided into 10
categories to aid the presentation and interpretation of the 62 statements (see ‘‘Appendix’’).
An online Q-Sort was completed by a sample of seven teachers (Table 1) from a range
of backgrounds and design and technology specialist areas, with only Participant 1 having
been part of the initial focus group (above). Five of the participants are currently involved
with initial teacher training (ITT) with management responsibilities that involve working
both within and outside of their place of employment; Participant 4 and 7 being recently
The Q-Sort for this study was conducted using an online questionnaire tool, QSortWare
(Pruneddu 2014), to enable wider participation across institutions. The population for the
Fig. 1 Q Sort distribution
Emerging perspectives on the demonstration as a signature…989
study was experienced teachers of design and technology engaged with the mentoring of
ITE trainees and with links to members of the institutions that the research team represent;
with the sample being purposive (Guba 1981). The factor analysis for data analysis was
conducted using the PQMethod (Schmolck 2014) software.
Ethics, reliability and validity
This study was conducted with the informed consent of the participants and anonymity has
been maintained for the individuals and their institutions. Limited personal information
was gathered from participants. The problematic issues of researcher bias, validity and
reliability (Lincoln et al. 2011) are addressed by adopting Guba’s (1981) criteria for
assessing trustworthiness. Guba describes the problems with imposing a scientiﬁc approach
to testing the quality of naturalistic, or qualitative, research: proposing criteria of credi-
bility, transferability, dependability and conformability (pp. 79–88). Credibility has been
addressed through researcher-stakeholder engagement throughout the process of the
development of the Q-Set with teachers, teacher educators and educational researchers; and
presenting preliminary ﬁndings at conferences with peers in the ﬁeld (McLain 2016;
McLain et al. 2015). Transferability is sought by the researcher’s aim to understand
subjective views and avoid making generalised claims without reference to external and
corroborative evidence. Dependability and conﬁrmability of the ﬁndings will, ultimately,
be tested through future studies, with larger samples using a variety of overlapping
methods, and in this study are contextualised in the conceptual framework developed
through the literature review.
Findings and interpretation
As an exploratory study into subjective beliefs and values, a small sample size does not
pose a problem in Q Methodology, according to Watts and Stenner (2012). The ﬁndings
are not being used to infer generalizable theoretical principles, rather to explore existing
practice with the view to reﬁne the 62 statements (see ‘‘Appendix’’) relating to teacher
modelling and explaining within the subject. A future study with a larger sample would
then be appropriate and more valid as a means to establish a recognised orthodoxy, with
regard to demonstrations in design and technology. Further study is also required to
develop and reﬁne the Q-Set statements.
Table 1 Factor loadings, with X
indicating deﬁning sort (n =7) Q-Sorts Specialist area Gender Loadings
Participant 1 Electronic and control Male 0.65 X
Participant 2 Graphic design Female 0.58 X
Participant 3 Product design Male 0.40 X
Participant 4 Product design Male 0.38 X
Participant 5 Engineering Male 0.03
Participant 6 Fashion and textiles Female 0.16
Participant 7 Graphic design Mail 0.64 X
990 M. McLain
The initial comparison of participants’ responses to the Q-Sort (Fig. 2), from the
PQMethod Q methodology analysis software (Schmolck 2014), indicate the superﬁcial
correlations between the participants ranging from 44 (Participants 1 and 2) to -1 (Par-
ticipants 1 and 5), with Participant 5 showing the lowest correlation to the overall. This
reinforces the perception that the nature of teaching and learning is complex, with no ‘one
size ﬁts all’ approach. The responses of both Participant 5 and 6 demonstrated weaker
correlations with the other participants in the sample. Due to the sample size, inferences in
relation to the participants’ specialism or gender have not been drawn.
PQMethod was used to extract factors (Table 1) and reduce the data, with the Eigen-
values (EV), or Kaiser-Guttmann criterion, above 1.00 used to indicate the statistical
strength (Watts and Stenner 2012). Watts and Stenner advise that Q Methodology
researcher try to extract one factor for every 6–8 participants (p. 107). Initially, two factors
(groups of participants with similar responses) were extracted, but only the EV for Factor 1
(1.51) indicating potential explanatory power (i.e. [1.00) and the presence of a single
common factor in the study—i.e. Factor 2 was discounted as insigniﬁcant.
The factors are the rankings of items (Q Set statements) in comparison to the partici-
pants, with the items being treated as the sample rather than the participants. These factors
are the building blocks of the participants’ responses to the Q sort activity, when their
responses are compared. Whilst the EV for both factors indicate potential explanatory
power, the factor loadings above 0.33 for each participant (Table 1) indicate a signiﬁcant
loading in the responses for all except Participants 5 and 6 (Factor 2). A factor loading of
0.33 is considered to be a cut-off point in Q Methodology to indicate participant’s
inclusion in a factor (Watts and Stenner 2012). However the relatively low loading for
Participants 3 and 4 may indicate a degree of divergence between them and the other
‘members’ of the factor.
The factor array for the Factor 1 Q-Sort (see ‘‘Appendix’’) provide a useful ranking of
the statements, enabling common themes to be identiﬁed. They are presented with the 62
items (statements) in the Q Set ranked from ?6to-6, in a similar distribution to the
‘forced-choice frequency distribution’ described above (Fig. 1). However, it is important
to note that the items that are ranked at the minus end of the spectrum do not necessarily
represent disagreement, but rather that the participants arrange the items in a continuum
from most agree (?6) to most disagree (-6), indicating the degree to which each were
viewed as essential or desirable (respectively).
Discussion: competent management of the learning experience
As highlighted above, this is a single factor Q Methodology study due to the small sample
size. The factor as an eigenvalue of 1.51 and explains 21% of the study variance. Five of
the seven participants are signiﬁcantly associated with the factor. In the original sample,
there were ﬁve male participants, four of whom are associated with the factor, and two
1 100 44 25 20 -3 16 16
2 100 21 17 -1 11 42
3 100 17 0 12 24
4 100 6 8 28
5 100 -2 9
6 100 -3
Fig. 2 Correlation matrix
between Q Sorts (n =7)
Emerging perspectives on the demonstration as a signature…991
female participants, one of whom is associated with the factor. Two of the Factor 1
participants identify themselves as product design specialists, two as graphic design and
one as electronics and control. Of the participants in the discounted Factor 2, one identiﬁed
herself as textiles and fashion and the other as engineering.
Where a speciﬁc statement from the Q-Set is referred to, in the discussion below, the
bracket items indicate (a) the number of the statement and (b) the relative ranking of the
statement between the ﬁve teachers in ‘Factor 1’ (i.e. the degree to which the group agreed
or disagreed with the statement). For example, (37: ?6) indicated statement 37 ‘‘The
teacher is competent to use equipment safely’’, which the group ranked strongly as most
agree. The common features of the beliefs and values of the teachers in Factor 1 related,
primarily, to the competency and clarity of the demonstrator. The ﬁndings are discussed
Competence and clarity
The highest rated statements relate to competency (37: ?6) and clarity (1: ?6) in relation
to subject knowledge (see ‘‘Appendix’’). Similarly the next layer of statements relate to the
clarity of communication in relation to health and safety information (38: ?5), learning
outcomes (5: ?5), explanations of processes and procedures (11: ?5) and identiﬁcation of
the main teaching points or steps (17: ?5).
Other key messages emerging in the 9 highest ranked items (Table 2), relate to class-
room management and expectations of learning, and are somewhat teacher-centric as might
be expected when the participant were prompted to reﬂect on their practice. The classroom
management items are preparation for the demonstration area (32: ?4) and the teacher
monitoring or scanning the class to ensure that learners are safe (47: ?4). Ranked outside
the top ten (at 12) was scanning the class to monitor progress (53: ?3), although this
diagnostic approach would require some further exploration to deﬁne how the participants
measure progress during and following a demonstration. The participants’ expectations
related to high standards in designing and making (39: ?4) and explanation of how
learners will make progress (59: ?3).
Outside of the highest ranked items, two interesting features emerge, the ﬁrst relating to
the consolidation of learning, within the mid-range of statements (ranked between ?2 and
Table 2 Highest ranked items (ranked ?4, or above)
The teacher gives an overview of the content of the skills or knowledge being demonstrated (1: 16)
The teacher is competent to use equipment safely (37: 16)
The teacher presents the learning outcomes (i.e. what learners will do or be able to do as a result) (5: 15)
The teacher gives clear verbal explanations of processes and procedures (11: 15)
Appropriate information about risk is readily available to learners (38: 15)
The teacher identiﬁes the main points/steps for the learners (17: 14)
The teacher prepares the demonstration station/area in advance (e.g. before the lesson) (32: 14)
The teacher sets high standards and expectations for the learners in designing and making activities (39:
The teacher scans and monitors the group to ensure that learners are safe (47: 14)
Statement number and factor array ranking in bold
992 M. McLain
-2), and the second relating to learners’ choices and independent learning, in the lower-
Consolidation of learning
In the mid-range statements two themes emerge relating to the consolidation of learning
and to the teacher’s role in probing learners’ understanding concepts and processes (27: 1)
to recall (26: -2) and apply knowledge from both within (26: -2) and outside of the
immediate learning experience of the current unit being taught (23: ?2), other design and
technology units (24: -1) and from other subjects (25: -2). In addition, the teacher’s role
in using questioning to ascertain what learners understand (58: 0) and addressing their
misconceptions as they arise (21: 1); both of which require a secure level of subject
knowledge from the teacher in addition to pedagogical skills. The second theme relates to
learners’ emerging independence facilitated by the teacher allowing them to attempt a task,
following a demonstration, before intervening (54: 0) and the use of peer learning to
demonstrate skills/knowledge to each other (43: -1) and provide support before seeking
the teacher’s assistance (55: -1). This requires a degree of self-discipline from the teacher
to defer intervention and to invest time to develop a collaborative learning environment.
Learners’ choices and independent learning
Statements relating to the consolidation of learning continue to emerge in the lower-range
statements, with focus on: the teacher identifying (40: -6) or learners being enabled by the
teacher (41: -3) to make choices or take alternative actions; learners speculating with
prompts through teacher questioning (28: -3); or thinking-out-loud to consolidate learning
(50: -5). The ranking of these items in the lower-range does not necessarily indicate a lack
of importance or value placed on the independent learning, although this may be the case
and would suggest the need for further study; it could also be the result of the necessarily
restrictive nature of the demonstration of skills and knowledge requiring learners to follow
deﬁned and predetermined processes. An increasing focus on the learner’s independence is
reﬂected in the various psychomotor domains for taxonomies of learning objectives, such
as Simpson (1972) or Dave (1967), developed following the development of the cognitive
domain by Bloom et al. (1956) and the affective by Andersen and Krathwohl (2001). As
the principle investigator, Simpson drew from expertise in practical subjects (Industrial
Arts, Agriculture, Home Economics, Music, Physical Education and Art), identifying
adaption and origination as the highest levels (Table 3). It also reinforces the notion that
Table 3 Simpson’s psychomotor domain
Perception Observation and general perception
Set (or mindset) Cognitive readiness for action
Guided Response Imitation and mimicry when practicing actions
Mechanism Emerging competence/proﬁciency, leading to independence
Complex Overt Response Independence, automatic and accurate performance
Adaptation Mastery and the ability to transfer skill/knowledge to other settings
Origination The ability to create new approaches to activity
Emerging perspectives on the demonstration as a signature…993
the demonstration was viewed by the teachers as an essentially restrictive, as opposed to
expansive, teaching method (Fuller and Unwin 2003).
Traditionally these levels of competence have been considered to belong to the
craftsman through a lengthy apprenticeship (Sennett 2009,2008). So it is not surprising to
see the role of the demonstration as a signature pedagogy in design and technology, within
a subject-based national curriculum espousing a ‘‘balanced and broadly based’’ (DFE 2013,
p. 5) learning experience. The ranking of items relating to the role of the teacher to make
learners aware of choices, encourage them to speculate on the next steps or ‘think-out-
loud’ to consolidate knowledge, indicates that these pedagogical strategies may be less
commonly employed and/or desirable. The learning at the adaption and origination end of
the psychomotor domain is predominately expansive, as opposed to restrictive, suggesting
that demonstration through teacher modelling and explanation may be less appropriate; and
learner-led approaches such as microteaching, which is an effective learning method
(Hattie 2009), may be more appropriate.
Planning, preparation and resources
Three statements in the Q-Set related directly to planning (8-10) and six to the use of
resources (29–34). The participants in the factor group expressed a preference for staged
demonstrations (8: ?2), breaking down complex processes, over modelling the whole
process in one demonstration (9: -6). The low rating of the latter does not imply dis-
agreement, but hints at a bias towards the just-in-time over the frontloaded approach. It
also implies some form of rehearsal, whether cognitive for experiences teachers or real-
time for novices. Preparation of the demonstration are (32: ?4) featured in the highest
ranked statements (Table 2). Another trend identiﬁed in the lower-range statements, relates
to the use learning and human resources to support demonstrations. These include the use
of resources, such as instruction sheets, slideshows and videos (33: -3), images, pho-
tographs and diagrams (29: -4), ICT to simulate or model a process (20: -5), and the use
of support staff during or after the demonstration to support learners (34: -4). This was a
somewhat unexpected outcome, and would suggest the need for further research to
investigate this relatively low ranking of potentially useful approaches to support verbal
explanations with visual reinforcement, through dual coding (Clarke and Paivio 1991).
As previously stated, the act of demonstrating is complex and nuanced, drawing on both
generic and subject-speciﬁc pedagogical teaching methods (in particular teacher modelling
and explanation). Whilst this study does not seek to propose theoretical framework or
typology, it develops on the discussion begun by McLain et al. (2015). The responses in
this small-scale study support the belief that competence in relation to design and tech-
nology subject knowledge is fundamental to effective teacher modelling, supported by
skilful pedagogical knowledge to manage the classroom; with the sophisticated skills to
consolidate learning and facilitate independence being employed as appropriate to the age
and ability of the learners (Fig. 3). DfE (2013) presents the content of design and tech-
nology for 14 to 16 year olds in two categories: technical principles and designing and
making principles. Whether it be in relation to the properties of material or speciﬁc making
techniques, the designed artefact (be it referred to as product, system or prototype) is a
994 M. McLain
fundamental aspect of design and technology activity. Whilst there are basic concepts that
can be described, such as the fact that most materials can be shaped using ‘‘wastage,
addition, deforming and reforming’’ (p. 6), different materials have distinct means (e.g.
tools and techniques) for achieving these ends. Therefore, this paper argues that the
demonstration is a fundamental, or signature, pedagogy in design and technology education
to support knowledge transfer; albeit within a relatively restrictive pedagogical paradigm,
and other aspects of design and technology knowledge would beneﬁt from more expansive
approaches, embodied in discovery learning activities central to design and technology
such as designing and making.
As a Q Methodology study, the analysis of the ﬁndings indicates the common ground
between the participants in response to the 62 predeﬁned statements on teacher modelling and
explanation in design and technology. This paper explores, in more depth, the ﬁndings from
the initial and exploratory small-scale study by McLain et al. (2015), which present subject
knowledge and classroom management at the heart of teachers’ beliefs and values. Further
research is needed to explore the emerging patterns of beliefs about teacher modelling and
explaining in design and technology, and McLain (2016) reports on a subsequent study
involving teacher educators, using the same set of statements, which will be explored in depth
with a second paper. Initial ﬁnding from McLain (2016) suggest potential avenues to develop
and reﬁne of a more concise set of statements. This study nine of the highest ranked items
(Table 2), which could be used to inform discussion, debate and observation of learning in
initial teacher education and for training school-based mentors.
Acknowledgements The author acknowledges David Barlex (independent consultant, UK), Dawne Bell
(Edge Hill University, UK) and Alison Hardy (Nottingham Trent University, UK) as co-authors of the
original paper, which this paper develops upon, presented at the Pupils Attitudes Towards Technology
(PATT) conference in Marseille, in April 2015. The 62 statements used in this study were developed through
dialogue initial teacher education networks of school-based mentors linked to Liverpool John Moores
University and teacher educators in a UK-based design and technology Google Group.
Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Inter-
national License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution,
and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the
source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.
Fig. 3 Visual representation of
Emerging perspectives on the demonstration as a signature…995
Q-Set: 62 items (statements) relating to teacher modelling, explaining and questioning in
design and technology, with factor array (ranking):
No. Item Category Array
1 The teacher gives an overview of the content of the skills or knowledge being
2 The teacher uses technical language/terminology and key words Content 3
3 The teacher presents their expectations Content 3
4 The teacher presents the learning objectives (knowledge/skills) Content 3
5 The teacher presents the learning outcomes (i.e. what learners will do or be
able to do as a result)
6 The teacher refers to the application, of what is being demonstrated outside
the classroom context
7 The teacher demonstrates skills and knowledge that learners will apply within
8 The teacher uses staged demonstrations, breaking down more complex
process into separate (linked) demonstrations
9 The teacher models/explains the whole process in one demonstration Planning -6
10 The teacher adapts their approach and style of demonstration to the learners,
dependent on age, ability, prior experience, etc.
11 The teacher gives clear verbal explanations of processes and procedures Explanation 5
12 The teacher provides a running commentary through the demonstration Explanation 0
13 The teacher gives clear models/examples processes and procedures Explanation 2
14 The teacher makes reference to relationships with other related concepts (e.g.
mathematical, scientiﬁc, technological, etc.)
15 The teacher make reference to cause and effect of decisions and/or actions Explanation -2
16 The teacher uses examples, analogies and/or similes to explain processes and
17 The teacher identiﬁes the main points/steps for the learners Explanation 4
18 The teacher ‘signposts’ or indicates the next steps (i.e. ‘‘later in the lesson…’’
or ‘‘in next lesson…’’ )
19 The teacher models diagnostic processes, such as using testing equipment to
fault-ﬁnd or the application of scientiﬁc knowledge from an observation
20 The teacher uses ICT to simulate or model process or products Explanation -5
21 The teacher addresses learners misconceptions as they arise Explanation 0
22 As part of the planned demonstration, the teacher addresses common
misconceptions around technical terms, concepts, etc.
23 The teacher uses questioning to probe learners’ prior knowledge from within
24 The teacher questioning to probe learners’ prior knowledge from previous
25 The teacher questioning to probe learners’ prior knowledge from other
26 The teacher uses questioning to enable learners to recall aspects of the
27 The teacher uses questioning to probe understanding of concepts, process and
996 M. McLain
No. Item Category Array
28 The teacher uses questioning to encourage learners to speculate (e.g.
predicting the next step in a process)
29 The teacher uses visual resources, such as images, photographs and diagrams,
to enhance their demonstrations
30 The teacher prepares and uses examples of the products/outcomes being
31 The teacher prepares examples showing the steps/stages of the process being
32 The teacher prepares the demonstration station/area in advance (e.g. before
33 The teacher uses resources, such as instruction sheets, slideshows or videos,
after the demonstration to support learners
34 The teacher uses other support staff (i.e. technician or teaching assistant)
during, and after, the demonstration to support learners
35 The teacher identiﬁes hazards and risks for the learners Health and
36 The teacher prompts learners to identify hazards and risks for themselves Health and
37 The teacher is competent to use equipment safely Health and
38 Appropriate information about risk is readily available to learners Health and
39 The teacher sets high standards and expectations for the learners in designing
and making activities
40 The teacher identiﬁes alternative actions or choices learners can or need to do
(e.g. design, make, evaluate)
41 The teacher enables learners to identify alternative actions or choices that
they can make (e.g. design, make, evaluate, etc.)
42 The teacher plans and uses extension or enrichment activities for able learners Challenge -4
43 The teacher encourages/supports learners to demonstrate skills and
knowledge to their peers
44 The teacher encourages learners to participate in fault ﬁnding and quality
45 The teacher ensures that they make eye contact with members of the whole
46 The teacher scans and monitors the group, as they are teaching, to ensure that
the learners are engaged
47 The teacher scans and monitors the group to ensure that learners are safe Engagement 4
48 The teacher has ‘presence’ within the classroom Engagement -1
49 The teacher can modify their tone when talking to/with different sized groups
and in different situations
50 The teacher encourages learners to ‘think-out-loud’ to consolidate knowledge
51 The teacher explains the function and/or context of the matter (i.e. knowledge
and/or skill) being demonstrated
52 The teacher encourages learners to reﬂect on values (e.g. the impact of a
technology on society, the environment, etc.)
53 The teacher scans the room after the demonstration to monitor learners’
54 The teacher waits for learners to attempt a task before intervening Learning 0
Emerging perspectives on the demonstration as a signature…997
No. Item Category Array
55 The teacher encourages learners to support each other before seeking the
assistance of the teacher
56 After the demonstration, the teacher moves around the room to support
57 The teacher shows/explains the process/skill to individuals who have
misunderstood processes or concepts shortly after a demonstration
58 The teacher uses questioning to ascertain what a learner understands, when
they have not fully understood the demonstration
59 The teacher explains what learners are expected to do to make progress Assessment 3
60 The teacher makes his/her expectations of the learners’ outcomes clear Assessment 2
61 The teacher provides examples of outcomes of a process that exemplify the
skills being modelled
62 The teacher ensures that all learners know what they need to do to make
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