Ritz, Doctoral Students Get International Perspectives on Technology Education at Conference in New Zealand
John Ritz, professor of STEM education at Old Dominion, took five U.S. Ph.D. students to the Pupils' Attitudes Toward Technology Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand, last month, thanks to a grant from Technical Foundation of America. Two of the students, Diana Cantu and Greg Strimel, are working on their doctorates at ODU with specialty study in technology education.
The grant paid expenses for Ritz and the ODU students, plus three doctoral students from Utah State University and Virginia Tech.
Ritz sought the grant after he attended conferences at Delft, Netherlands, and Stockholm, Sweden, where he observed international graduate students delivering research papers. With the idea of getting U.S. students active in international discussions on technology education and developing skills in publication, he approached Technical Foundation of America with a proposal to mentor students on paper development and to pay for their travel expenses.
Each U.S. student had to prepare a research paper proposal and then develop a peer-reviewed conference paper. All of the students delivered papers. Ritz presented a paper with Gene Martin, professor at Texas State University, titled "Research Needs for Technology Education: Highlights of a Preliminary Analysis." They explained research findings from a comparative analysis of research needs between the international technology education community and the United States.
Ritz used the university's Adobe Connect teleconferencing system to have group chats with the students. These were used to work with students on the development of their papers and to bring in guest presenters from New Zealand to both explain the paper review processes and the conference logistics in Christchurch. Also, the president of Technical Foundation of America was a guest in several of the group chats.
The students took some time to visit New Zealand after the conference, which ran Dec. 1-6. Ritz was on research leave during fall 2013. Part of his leave involved collecting data with researchers from Europe, the Pacific Rim and North America on perspectives of technology education doctoral students. He also visited with faculty from Auckland, Waikato and Canterbury universities on his trip to New Zealand.