Exploring other dimensions of design and technology education

Biomimetics, a blend of biology and design education

Introducing students to the field of biomimetics, also called biomimicry, has potential to add new, stimulating and creative dimensions in the study of biology. This exploratory study looks at the intersection of biology and design education. It calls for an inclusion of biomimicry aspects in biology education as it has potential to address challenges like fostering cross – disciplinarity, relevancy, biology related social, ethical and environmental aspects in biology education.


Bhide, S., & Chunawala, S. (2016). Biomimetics: Inspiring biology students beyond the obvious. Proceedings of 26th Biennial International Conference of the Asian Association for Biology Education: Trends in biology education and research: practices and challenges, September 2016 (pp. 58-59). Goa: AABE.

D&T education as an inclusive approach to teaching learning situations

In multi-cultural India, design and technology tasks that evolve within the classrooms, negotiated by students and guided by sensitive teachers, can help connect with the immediate social context, and make use of multiple expressions and appropriate technical tools. The introduction in the classroom of the repertoire of expressions within design and technology (D&T) has the potential to legitimise multiple expressions. D&T curriculum can be inclusive rather than an exclusive endeavour for mixed ability students in different cultural settings, and in diverse multicultural classrooms across the country.


Muralidhar, A., Kapil, R., & Chunawala, S. (2016). Design and technology education as an inclusive approach to teaching-learning. In N. Tiwari et al., (Eds.), Abstract booklet of the “National Seminar on Education of Socially Disadvantaged Groups”, Regional Institute of Education, Bhopal, March 4-6, 2016 (p. 7). Bhopal: RIE.

Natarajan, C., & Chunawala, S. (2004). Introducing design and technology in school education: Legitimizing multiple expressions in classrooms. In Proceedings of epiSTEME1, an international conference to review research on science education, Abstracts of Presentations (pp. 68-69). Mumbai: HBCSE.

Development of a framework for D&T Education Curriculum

The national curricular frameworks largely restrict technology education to technology as applied science. However, philosophers of technology outline the nature of technology as much more than merely applied science. The research at HBCSE has been guided by an understanding that emerges from a study of philosophy of technology, from theoretical issues of collaborative learning, and cognition and action, and from a commitment to the development of language, quantitative reasoning and problem solving skills through design and technology education. The research also addresses the concerns of socio-cultural and gender appropriateness. We have developed a “communication and collaboration centred D&T education” model from pre-school to Class XII. Our approach, drawing from the UK curricular model, shifts the emphasis from the dominant global view of technology education as developing individual student’s capability to create using digital technologies to a collaborative engagement of student teams in design, making and evaluation of need-based artefacts and systems. A paper which envisioned technology as a school subject in the Indian context, elaborated the facets of D&T education for India, from exploration of structure and function of objects in early schooling, through skill development for designing and making at the middle school, and critical thinking on science-technology-society linkages at secondary and higher levels.


Choksi, B., Chunawala, S., & Natarajan, C., (2006). Technology as a school subject in the Indian context. In Volk, Kenneth (Ed.) Articulating Technology Education in a Global Community. Proceedings of the International Conference on Technology Education in the Asia Pacific Region, January 05-07, 2006, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Investigations of depictions based on textual descriptions and cues

Students visualised objects and depicted them in the design context. Analysis of their design productions gave evidences of their difficulties in depicting complex 3-dimensional shapes on 2-D paper. To study the nature of students’ difficulties in depictions, an exploration of depictions in two other contexts was carried out.
Depictions of objects and assemblies

In the first exploratory study of a series of studies of depictions of static and dynamic objects and assemblies based on verbal description or cues, a questionnaire was administered to 8 adults (age 25-27 years). Based on their drawings and feedback, a questionnaire of four tasks was developed and administered among 60 school students of Class 8. The analysis of the responses led to an intervention study with 12 students of Class 8, a session of about 2.5 hours conducted with each student involving a pre-test, a set of activities for students and a post-test followed by an interview. Analysis of the pre-test and post-test productions, audio and video recordings of interventions and transcripts of interviews of the students reveal important ideas about students understanding of proportions and its contextual usage. The intervention experiment showed that estimation and measurement activities do not produce correct proportions in students’ depictions, but contextual clues, as in a bicycle chain assembly task do. The studies suggest that it is important in school education to engage students at least as much in making drawings as in reading them. An analysis of the cognitive activity seen through students’ depictions, integrating the findings from D&T unit trials and this study was presented at the PATT-18 Conference at Glasgow.


Gandhimathy et al. (2007). xxxx. In C. Natarajan and B. Choksi (Eds.), Proceedings of epiSTEME2: International conference to review research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education (pp.xx). India: HBCSE.

Gandhimathy, S. (2007) A study of ideas about objects using depictions based on textual descriptions and cues. Technical Report No. I (07-08), Mumbai: HBCSE, December 2007

Khunyakari, R., Chunawala, S. & Natarajan, C. (2007). Comparison of depictions by middle school students elicited in different contexts. Proceedings of the Pupils’ Attitudes Towards Technology PATT-18 (pp. 210-217). Glasgow, UK: PATT 18.

Depictions of route maps

Students (Grade 8, age  13-14) were given contextual descriptions in text of routes in Tasks I and II, which they had to depict as a route map. In Task III, students had to depict the route from their school to the nearby Bus Depot. Students used a variety of spatial thinking strategies in their maps: internal perspective to locate landmarks and turns, point of view, etc.; and graphical elements, like arrows and symbols for the landmarks and streets.


Ara, F., Khunyakari, R., & Natarajan, C. (2007). A study of middle school students’ depictions of routes based on verbal description and cues. In C. Natarajan and B. Choksi (Eds.), Proceedings of epiSTEME2: International conference to review research on Science, Technology and Mathematics Education (pp.141-145). India: HBCSE.

Some of the above projects also formed part of three doctoral thesis:

Ara, F. (2013). Investigating students’, teachers’ and designers’ ideas about design and developing design activities for Indian middle school students. Doctoral Thesis. Mumbai: HBCSE, TIFR Deemed University.

Mehrotra, S. (2008). Introducing Indian middle school students to collaboration and communication centred design and technology education: A focus on socio-cultural and gender aspects. Doctoral  Thesis. Mumbai: HBCSE, TIFR Deemed University.

Khunyakari, R. (2008). Investigating middle school students’ perceptions of technology and developing design and technology education units to study students’ design productions. Doctoral Thesis. Mumbai: HBCSE, TIFR Deemed University.