Experimental and Experiential Teaching Techniques key to Teaching & learning of Mechanical Technology & Wood Technology – A Technical Education Classroom Interface.
- Haruna Galadima (FNATE), & YUSUF YAHAYA OYIGEBE (MNATE, MNIMechE, MCIDS)
A Paper presented at the 5th National Conference of the School of Science Education – Federal College of Education, Bichi-Kano. September 2015.
This paper sets out to explain the pattern of interface between mechanical technology and wood technology in the experimental teaching of technical education within the four walls of the classroom. The practical implication of this bi-technology bridge is by and large to address the needs of the industry through innovation in teaching, practical creativity in productivity and by narrowing the challenges in order to yield high earnings differentials in the quality of teacher teaching and students performance output. Technical education is the crying need of sub-Saharan Africa. Sub-Saharan African countries including Nigeria have had an over-dose of liberal education. Our education is incomplete and without any purpose if we do not receive some sort of technical education besides our liberal education. A just balance between liberal and technical education needs to be maintained especially as this paper looks at the innovations, successes and challenges in the teaching of mechanical technology and wood technology as means of making our youths creative, employable, and productive. This paper also looked at the role of experimental and experiential teaching techniques in making students and teachers alike to easily interface while learning and putting to practice. The authors espouse experiential teaching as being completely shrouded in involvement in something over time, an active involvement in an activity or exposure to trade or technical skill over a period of time that leads to an increase in knowledge or skill (Experience is the best teacher), while rendering experimental teaching in entirety as being related to something new and untried, an act of teaching while employing ideas, methods, or materials that have not been tried before. Experimental teaching is based on experience and practical evidence and not just on ideas. The paper concluded by agreeing that Mechanical technologies as well as Wood technology are experimental in approach and experiential in learning and practice.
Keywords: experimental, experiential, mechanical, wood, technology
The technical advances of the 19th century greatly broadened the field of engineering and introduced a large number of engineering specialties, and the rapidly changing demands of the socioeconomic environment in the 20th century have widened the scope even further. Mechanical engineering technology and wood technology defined the technical advances of the 19th century, and have continued to shape technological advancement in the new millennium.
According to Subhasish (2012), “a mere knowledge of Shakepeare, literature or Queen’s grammar or philosophy or mathematics may adorn a young man’s mind but how on earth will it enable him or her to keep the wolf from the door. Scholars and men of liberal education may starve but a technically skilled labourer never does”. Gone is the time when manual labour was looked down upon. A technically skilled labourer is now as respectable a member of society as an intellectual luminary. Manual work is as important as any other type of work and technical education is as dignified as liberal education. Technical education makes a man self-reliant and plucky. He begins taking initiatives, he becomes more practical.
There is a maxim that says “engineering technology is completely technical education, but technical education is not completely engineering technology”. For the scope of this paper Mechanical Technology is here referred to as Mechanical engineering technology. Central to the teaching and learning of these two technological field (mechanical and wood0, the workshop is fundamental in the interface of teaching and learning of mechanical technology and wood technology in technical-based institutions which needs to be well planned.
According to Ezeji (2004), a workshop is a unique learning situation in which learners may experiment, test, construct, assemble, disassemble, repair, service, design, create, imagine and study. He opined further that the workshop is generally a place where practical activities involving measurement, cutting, sizing, smoothing, assembly, repairs, finishing among other activities, are carried out. The teaching and learning of mechanical technology, wood technology, and other forms of technologies makes workshops, laboratories, and experimental learning, and field experience a basic requirement.
The aim of a classroom interface in the teaching of Mechanical technology and Wood technology are:
- An ability to teach and simplify mechanical technology subjects like automobile, welding and fabrication, machine tools, woodwork, wood-scaffolding, furniture/upholstery, lorry-cabin construction (wood), office interior accessories, etc
- An acceptable level of confidence and competence in Teaching Methodology in Mechanical Technology and Wood Technology subjects with modern technology related to the teaching in class and practice in work stations.
- An understanding of materials, tools, processes, maintenance and servicing used in automobile technology and woodwork skills creating interface for students to learn by doing, while teachers teach by showing.
- Laboratory skills, workshop practice, and safety working habits exemplified in the operational dealings of instructors.
- An ability to work with machine and woodwork shop equipment in the workshops with ease by teachers introducing students to the underlying workings of the easiness.
- An acceptable understanding of the theory and practice of mechanical technology and wood technology by teachers teaching those fields in relation to students’ assimilation, understanding and practice.
To win the future, Nigeria needs a well-educated workforce that will drive tomorrow’s innovation. We need students who graduate ready to take skilled positions in high-growth sectors of the economy. At all levels, businesses need employees that are more creative, more technical, and more connected than ever. This means that technical literacy is no longer “nice to have,” but a requirement for success. For our students’ success and for the future of the Nigerian economy, we need to retire outdated notions of technical and vocational education including automobile and wood technology programs.
In understanding these two distinct fields –mechanical technology and wood technology, a micro-expository would suffice…
It is tempting to think of the automobile car, an auto-locomotive engine, a rail-train, or the airplane as among the most important inventions of the millennium. But these were merely evolutionary refinements of the mechanical engine—the steam engine is credited to have been the first machine to convert burning fuel into mechanical energy on a large scale. The first steam engines were powered by wood and later ones by coal. Mechanical engines transformed the industrial world as few other technologies have. This invention liberated people from the limitations of their own muscles and those of beasts of burden. It made possible the factories that drove the Industrial Revolution. And it was at the heart of the first form of high-speed mechanized transportation: the locomotive. The steam engine is a classic example of an invention that came about in stages.
Mechanical engineering is the discipline that applies the principles of engineering, physics, and materials science for the design, analysis, manufacturing, and maintenance of mechanical systems. It is that branch of engineering that involves the design, production, and operation of machinery. It is unarguably one of the oldest and broadest of the engineering disciplines.
In the teaching of mechanical technology, the teacher education and innovational techniques in teaching students requires an understanding of core concepts including mechanics, kinematics, thermodynamics, materials science, structural analysis and electricity. With the advent of ICT, other core areas like computer-aided designs and product life-cycle management, including heating and cooling systems, transport systems, aircraft, and watercraft are beginning to be giving prominence in the teaching of technical education. Mechanical Technology particularly Automobile Technology, production and fabrication, mechanics of materials etc, premium is always placed on technical and instructional learning process in the teaching of technical education is designed to prepare competent professional teachers/trainers of technical subjects for the education system, and also for industry. Therefore, the use of experimental teaching in understanding mechanical technology to both teachers and students will:
- Facilitate the student teacher’s acquisition of basic qualification for all teachers at the requisite knowledge, skills, and attitudes for the effective teaching of technical subjects like mechanical technology (automobile), wood technology (woodwork), machine tool technology etc
- Assist students and teachers in developing awareness and understanding of the importance of technical education in national development.
- Help students and teachers conduct research, apply technical knowledge and skills of mechanical technology as well as wood technology to the solution of production and service in the area of specialization.
- Train students and teachers to appreciate and use technology that will enhance the learning process.
- Prepare teachers of technical subjects like automobile technology and wood technology who will provide quality leadership, administration and supervision of technical programmes in the TVET system.
- Provide prospective teachers with skills in the curriculum planning, development, implementation, and evaluation of technical education in mechanical technology and wood technology.
- Provide opportunities for students and teachers to grow in the confidence as independent learners and develop attitudes and behavioral standards essential for good teaching and understanding of technology education.
A look at shopping centers, houses, apartments, office buildings, highways, bridges, automobiles, aircrafts, watercrafts, robotics, furniture, cabinet/cabins, construction scaffolds. Have you ever stopped to think about what we use to make the things around us? In bringing to the fore the application of wood and wood technology in our daily life Adams and Tisdale (20090 outlined that ‘plywood is used to underlay floors, roofs, and walls in homes and buildings. It is used for making boats, truck campers, trailers, highway signs, pallets, bins, and other crating. Plywood is used to make concrete forms for basements, bridges, and other foundations. Plywood is also used for decorative applications inside the home, including furniture, cabinets, and interior wall panels. Woods in form of plywood was being used to make paneled doors, desktops, and many other furniture items. Carpenters build the wooden frame for a suburban home near Houston, Texas. Houses and buildings are constructed from wood known as structural lumber’.
Imagine a world without books, magazines, or newspapers – all derived from wood. Until the 15th century, little imagination was required—few people knew how to read or write, and those that did had precious little to choose from in the way of reading material. For thousands of years the dissemination of knowledge was limited to word of mouth and laboriously hand-printed, extremely costly manuscripts. The printing press provided a practical and inexpensive way to widely distribute information on a vast range of human activities, from literature to science to politics to religion. If any single invention can be said to have shaped the past millennium, it is the printing press of which wood and wood technology is at the center that single invention. This machine ignited an era of artistic expression and scientific progress that continues today.
Teaching the Structure of Wood: The teaching of wood technology based on classroom interface basically will incorporate introducing forest products and wood science, the material (mechanical) science of the forest products industry.
Techniques in the teaching of wood identification: Equipment and techniques used to identify wood species, introducing the properties of wood (which includes moisture relations, density, mechanical properties, thermal properties, electrical properties, and acoustical properties),
Chemical extractives, cell anatomy, hygroscopicity, anisotrophy, specific gravity, and engineering with wood.
Teaching Wood Technology
Teaching wood technology using experimental and experiential techniques in making technical education easy to assimilate by students and fashionable is desirable and principally getting down to understanding the mechanical properties of wood is a necessity. The principal mechanical properties of wood are strength, hardness, stiffness, and density. Today there are many teaching aids that simplifies the teacher-student understanding of wood density which is generally an indication of the mechanical properties, in as much as dense woods are usually hard and strong. As regards wood strength, laboratory testing as an innovation in teaching wood strength has unraveled a number of essentially different properties; a wood that is high in one kind of strength is not necessarily high in others. Other mechanical Properties of wood materials are h bending strength is essential for most structural wooden members, including joists, studding, and beams of all sorts. Toughness, elasticity, resonance etc are now being taught with ease and practical workshop/laboratory experiments for students to see, feel, learn, practice, and be effective.
Challenges and Deficits of Man-power (Mechanical/Wood Technologies)
The quality and quantity of practical experience gained in the teaching and learning of mechanical technology and wood technology is predicated on the availability of technical facilities and the management of such facilities. Okoro (2006) pointed out that a good quality programme of teaching and training is ‘housed physical facilities which are technically adequate, well-planned, and properly directed to provide realistic technical education’.
The British masters did not encourage technical education in our country. The result was terrible unemployment. We depended upon the industrial goods of other countries.
- Technical education in Mechanical technology and wood technology enables students to pick up skills with which he/she may make his/her living, even if he/she remains unemployed after taking up his/her graduation.
- In the Mechanical and Wood technology industries, we need an army of highly technical hands for our multi-purpose river-projects, steel, factories, fertilizer industry, locomotive, aircraft, watercraft, and manufacturing for which wood and wood technology features prominently in the 21st Even agriculture is being rapidly mechanized by means of tractors, bulldozers, techo-planters/harvesters etc.
- We need more and more technicians, technologists, engineers to manufacture/produce simple machineries and tools to make productivity easier, make self-reliance a core empowerment approach, and SMEs progressive. Automobile and wood technology professionals with practical knowledge of draftsmanship, craftsmanship, repairs/maintenance/servicing personnel.
According to Onele (2009), the following findings emerged from regarding what is needed to improve the teaching and learning of mechanical technology as well as wood technology in a classroom interface:
- Ensuring the availability of workshops, laboratories, and equipment to be used for instructions
- Ensuring the availability of machine and repair tools for mechanical instructions
- Outlining and identifying of practical lesson objectives
- Proper consideration of duration for the workshop lessons/practical
- Systematic grouping of lessons based on available work stations
- Clearly stating the role to be performed by the teacher
- Deliberate actions should be taken on the suitable time for workshop lessons
- Listing in order the, the learning activities to be done
- Examining the tools and materials necessary for the experimental and experiential learning
- Arrangement workshop facilities based on projected students enrolment per class/department
- Arrange to set up workshop layout with adequate gangways and work areas
- Provision of adequate ventilation and illumination in the workshop
- Provision of adequate demonstration area for workshop lesson in the shop
- Arrange to locate machines and equipment appropriately on the workshop floor
- Provision of students to have easy access to materials, tools, and equipment.
Innovations and Prospects
- Modern trends in mechanical technology
- Creativity in woodwork technology and productivity
- Engineering drawing using modern PDMS
- Automobile systems management
- Industrial functions and organization in wood and automobile technology
- Mechanical properties and materials sciences in automobile and wood technology
- Technological drafting and design
- Special methods of teaching mechanical technology and wood technology
- Innovations in modern teaching practice in automobile technology and wood technology
- Creativity in integrative study of bi-technology
- Teaching qualitative and quantitative contents of mechanical technology and wood technology in public and private institutions
- Workshop demonstrators as technologists in institutions
- Master craftsmen in mechanical engineering industry
- Master craftsmen in wood technology
- Self-employment for small and medium-scale enterprises
In the teaching and learning of technology-based courses with innovations helps in overcoming challenges associated with teaching technical education, according to Onele (2009), 24 workshop planning techniques are needed to improve the teaching and learning. These workshop techniques include ensuring the availability of materials to be used for instruction, identification of practical lesson objectives, consideration of duration for the workshop lesson, and grouping of the lessons based on available work stations. These findings were in agreement with Olaitan, et al (1999); Okoro (2006) and Nwachukwu (2006) that workshop planning skills were required by teachers of technology-based technical education in Nigeria for effectiveness in their workshop practices.
Based on the challenges in the teaching of mechanical technology as well as wood technology as interdependent fields, the following recommendations were made:
- Emphasis should be only on qualified teachers. Only qualified teachers and other basic technology staff who have skills in mechanical technology and wood technology with proper workshop techniques should be recruited to teach these courses
- Institutions of higher learning which run technology and technology related programmes should include workshop planning techniques as a core course of study to be passed for any of their students to graduate.
- Relevant technology bodies or employers of the product of technology should be encouraged by government to also organize and or sponsor seminars for technical education teachers and other line-staff on best ways in order to achieve objectives of teaching and learning of technology-based fields.
Presented by: HARUNA GGALADIMA, (FNATE), DEPARTMENT OF WOODWORK TECHNOLOGY, FEDERAL COLLEGE OF EDUCATION (TECHNICAL), GUSAU-NIGERIA. & YUSUF YAHAYA OYIGEBE, (MNATE, MNIMechE, MCIDS), SENIOR TECHNICAL OFFICER (ENGINEERING), NIGERIAN TELEVISION AUTHORITY (NTA), GUSAU-NIGERIA.
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