Alignment of the traditional approach to perceptions and attitudes with Mitcham’s philosophical framework of technology

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According to Mitcham’s (Thinking through Technology, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1994) fourfold philosophical framework, technological knowledge and volition, with their origin within human beings, give rise to technological activities expressed as concrete technological objects. Technologies are associated with a wide array of volitional activities, drives, motivation, aspiration, intentions and choice. Subsequently, attitudes towards technology are integral to technology as volition, which is a characteristic of humanity. The use of Mitcham’s philosophical framework is becoming increasingly prevalent in technology education. Mitcham’s framework may have affordances for the current understanding of the perceptions and attitudes of pupils towards technology, which have been researched for just over three decades. It seems that the traditional approach to attitudes may resemble Mitcham’s framework in which technological knowledge (epistemology) and volition are prerequisites for technological activities (methodology), which result in technological objects (ontology). However, this resemblance has not been investigated and determined yet. The purpose of this article is twofold, namely to investigate the alignment of the traditional approach to perceptions and attitudes of students towards technology with technology’s four manifestations in Mitcham’s philosophical framework, as well as the justification for measuring the missing behavioural component of students’ attitudes. The research methodology followed for this conceptual article included a literature review and an analysis of the specific aspects measured by the mainstream Pupils’ Attitudes Towards Technology (PATT) instruments as well as new, non-related instruments to PATT studies. The specific aspects of the traditional approach, measured by these instruments, are related to Mitcham’s framework. Mitcham’s (1994) philosophical framework yielded fresh insights into the perceptions and attitudes of students towards technology and instruments for measuring these. It was found that the traditional approach to attitudes does resemble Mitcham’s philosophical framework. The mainstream PATT-NL instrument and its derivatives (i.e., PATT-USA and PATT-SQ) were aligned with the traditional approach to attitudes. These instruments have mainly been focusing on the cognitive and/or affective component of attitudes, neglecting the behavioural component. Except for the Human Being and Technology (HBT) questionnaire the closest that other instruments came to ascertaining the behavioural component (methodology or activities) was to measure readiness for action (e.g. the Attitudinal Technology Profile (ATP) questionnaire).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)329-340
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Technology and Design Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2019


  • Attitude measurement
  • Attitudes
  • Behaviour
  • Concepts
  • Mitcham
  • Philosophy of technology
  • Technology education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • General Engineering


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