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Technology Assessment: A Graduate Course To Build Decision Making Skills

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2008 Annual Conference & Exposition


Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Publication Date

June 22, 2008

Start Date

June 22, 2008

End Date

June 25, 2008



Conference Session

Improving Technical Understanding of All Americans

Tagged Division

Technological Literacy Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

13.1187.1 - 13.1187.11



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Paper Authors


Mary Rose Ball State University

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Mary Annette Rose is an Assistant Professor within the Department of Technology at Ball State University. As a certified technology teacher, teacher educator, graduate instructor, and community activist, she challenges learners to critically examine the interrelationships among technology, environment, and society. Her research interests include: teaching interventions which influence learners' critical thinking while engaging in distributed problem-based learning; conceptions of technological literacy among STEM disciplines; and consumer decision-making regarding mercury-containing lamps.

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Jim Flowers Ball State University

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Jim Flowers serves as a Professor and Director of Online Education for Ball State University’s Department of Technology. He has developed and taught several online graduate courses in the department’s master of arts programs, and assists faculty within and outside the department in the development and refinement of online education. He is the recipient of recent awards for distance education teaching and research, and has taught courses in technology assessment at the undergraduate and graduate level for nearly a decade.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Technology Assessment: A Graduate Course To Build Decision-Making Skills


The decision to adopt and use a technological innovation is often accompanied with a broad range of undesirable impacts upon the health and welfare of individuals, society, and the environment. As innovations become more complex, it becomes increasingly important that engineers, consumers, and citizens build assessment skills which will enable them to make better informed, sound decisions regarding the choice to adopt, use, and dispose of innovations. For almost a decade, Technology Use and Assessment, a graduate online course, has provided opportunities for technology educators to develop skills in assessing and predicting the possible impacts of technological innovations. This course serves as a model for building technology assessment skills for non-engineers. It combines a problem-based, collaborative pedagogy with the examination of contemporary problems, such as energy opportunities of the American roof, impacts of the American lawn, non-occupational hearing protection, and residential heating in the next fifty years. Students build data-gathering, data-analysis, and decision-making skills by developing alternative action scenarios based upon trends and other predictive models.


There are inextricable links among technology, society, and the environment. Technology—the knowledge, process, tools, and artifacts by which humans modify nature to meet their needs and desires [1]—enables efficient economic productivity and a very comfortable standard of living for U.S. citizens. However, with each new technological innovation, humans, deliberately or inadvertently, alter the balance of biotic and abiotic systems in the environment which often degrades the ability of ecosystems to persevere. In addition, the adoption of technological innovation necessitates changes within our social systems (e.g., educational, legal, political, and economic systems) as individuals and communities coordinate their efforts to design, manage, use, and dispose of these technological products and by-products.

As technology grows more complex and ubiquitous, it is increasingly important that all members of our society become better, more-informed assessors and decision-makers about technology. In essence, the challenges of our modern age demand that future citizens become technologically literate, i.e., able “to use, manage, assess and understand technology” [2](p.7), in order to approach and, hopefully, achieve sustainability.

Within U.S. public schools, technology education (TE) is a curricular program dedicated to enhancing the technological literacy of students in grades K-12. As articulated by the fairly recent Standards for Technological Literacy (STL) [2], twenty content standards and their associated benchmarks “prescribe the content knowledge and abilities of what students should know and be able to do in order to be technologically literate” (p. 12). Among these standards are three which directly relate to the interrelationships among technology, society, and the environment, including: 4. Students will develop an understanding of the cultural, social, economic, and political effects of technology.

Rose, M., & Flowers, J. (2008, June), Technology Assessment: A Graduate Course To Build Decision Making Skills Paper presented at 2008 Annual Conference & Exposition, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 10.18260/1-2--3217

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