This paper discusses the potential practice gap between design and technology needs for a progressive creative society and the perceptions of teachers who work within it. The study, based on work carried out in North West England, compares the viewpoints of two sources; textile technology industrialists who are expert in the fields of high performance textiles, medical textiles, geo-textiles and apparel manufacturing, design and technology teachers who have responsibility for the delivery and content of textile technology within schools and sixth form colleges.
Previous work in this ongoing study has examined the changing nature of textile technology in modern industrial societies and the perceptions practising teachers have about STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) applications within the textile technology field, and how these relate to their own ʻtheories-in-useʼ about design and technology teaching and learning. Constructivist grounded theory has been chosen for the research as a whole because its concurrent data gathering and analysis approach allows outcomes from each phase of the study to define the purpose and direction of subsequent research. Thus, this research has been informed by findings from previous work on the role of textile technology and its relationship to modern industrial and design practices (see Hughes et al. 2010; Hughes et al. 2011).
This paper describes the purpose of the work and its relationship to design and technology factors such as the needs of modern industry and STEM issues. Details of the constructivist grounded theory approach are briefly discussed and outcomes considered in terms of data gathering methods. Data from the two groups of respondents i.e. industrialists and textile technology teachers are compared to identify the practice gap that may exist between the needs of a progressive, creative textile technology industrial sector and aspects of the technological curriculum which are delivered at the school level. Findings indicate that there is a shift away from textiles teaching based on technologically oriented
applications to one predominantly based on art and design. However, it is argued that STEM aspects should underpin design aspects of the textile curriculum to make it applicable to the needs of an advanced and sustainable textile industrial base.