Establishment of a taxonometric structure for the study of biotecchnology as a secondary school component of technology education

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Virginia Tech

This research endeavor focused on the establishment of the first two hierarchical levels in a taxonometric structure for biotechnology. The taxonomy was developed in response to the lack of an agreed upon curriculum structure for incorporating biotechnology at the secondary school level.

The purpose of the study was to provide educators with a viable taxonometric structure for the development of biotechnology curriculum, applicable within both a technology education program or biological sciences program. As the field of modern biotechnology is still in its infancy, an unstructured, characteristic-retaining variation of the Delphi technique was used as the methodology for this investigation.

The 18 member Delphi panel consisted of biotechnology experts from four sources: (1) educational organizations, (2) biotechnology companies, (3) universities, and (4) government agencies. The Delphi I instrument was directed at ascertaining opinions on (a) what main knowledge areas describe biotechnology, and (b) what subdivisions comprise each of those areas. Delphi II and Delphi III asked panelists to rate, using an eleven point Likert-Type scale, the subdivisions identified in Delphi I. Median scores and Q-values were used in analyzing the data. Q-values determined the level of agreement among panelists and provided a dispersion estimate of their opinions. Using this method, the level of consensus among experts on opinions toward inclusion of an item in a given knowledge area was reached. A frequency distribution using all median scores was constructed to determine the 25th percentile score. This score was used as the cut-off point for determining acceptance of a subdivision as important for thorough instruction in biotechnology.

The study identified and showed consensus among the experts on eight main biotechnology knowledge areas, with a total of eighty-four subdivisions distributed among them. These knowledge areas and their accompanying subdivisions comprised the first two hierarchical levels in a taxonometric structure for biotechnology at the secondary school level.