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International Journal
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Vol.14 No.2
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VOLUME 14 NUMBER 2 December 2015

Table of Contents
PST Online: Meeting the Need for Teaching Innovation for Virtual Schools ................................................................ 1
Yvonne Masters, Ph.D., Sue Gregory, Ph.D. and Stephen Grono, B.A. Dip.Ed

Ubiquitous Technology-Enhanced Learning of Complex Financial Concepts ............................................................ 17


Irena Vodenska

Working Memory Training - A Cogmed Intervention ................................................................................................... 28


Linda Flth, Linda Jaensson and Karin Johansson

Exploring Career Management Skills in Higher Education: Perceived Self-efficacy in Career, Career Adaptability
and Career Resilience in Greek University Students ....................................................................................................... 36
Despina Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou, Katerina Argyropoulou, Nikos Drosos, Andronikos Kaliris, and Katerina Mikedaki

Forming Self-Study Skills for Students Bad at Math in High Schools in Vietnam ...................................................... 53
Tram Phuong Thuy Nguyen, Tuyen Thanh Thi Nguyen, Thong Duc Do, Giang Anh Pham and Son Hoang Nguyen

Designing a Classification Toolkit for Mathematically-Deficient 4 th Grade Students: A Case Study in Vietnam 68
Tuyen Thanh Thi Nguyen, Tram Phuong Thuy Nguyen, Trung Tran and r Lai Thai Dao

Continuous Collective Development as a Road to Success in Primary School ............................................................ 87


Heidi Holmen and Kitt Lyngsnes

Explorations in Online Learning using Adobe Connect .................................................................................................. 99


Deirdre Englehart

National Holidays in Greek Multicultural School: Vies of Pre- Service Teachers ..................................................... 111
Mirsini Michalelis, Kostis Tsioumis, Argyris Kyridis, Despina Papageridou and Elena Sotiropoulou

Exploring the Opportunities for Integrating New Digital Technologies in Tanzanias Higher Education
Classrooms .......................................................................................................................................................................... 131
Filipo Lubua
When and Why EFL Teachers Use L1? .......................................................................................................................... 151
Yuhong Lu and Heather Fehring

A Brief Review of Researches on the Use of Graphing Calculator in Mathematics Classrooms* ............................ 163
Jung-Chih Chen and Yung-Ling Lai

What Do College Students Really Want When it Comes to Their Instructors Use of Information and
Communication Technologies (ICTs) in Their Teaching? ............................................................................................ 173
Catherine S. Fichten, Laura King, Mary Jorgensen, Mai Nhu Nguyen, Jillian Budd, Alice Havel, Jennison Asuncion,
Rhonda Amsel, Odette Raymond and Tiiu Poldma
1

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 1-16, December 2015

PST Online: Meeting the Need for Teaching


Innovation for Virtual Schools

Yvonne Masters, Ph.D., Sue Gregory, Ph.D., Stephen Grono, B.A. Dip.Ed.
University of New England
Armidale, New South Wales, Australia

Abstract. Virtual schools are no longer a pipedream: they are already


with us. Pre-service teachers need to be prepared for this alternate
teaching medium. Unlike blended learning in the classroom, new virtual
schools have no need for physical classrooms, and students can be
geographically distant from both each other and the teacher. This
change in education delivery in schools will necessitate a new approach
to curriculum design accompanied by a reshaping of discipline-based
courses in higher education institutions in regard to teacher education.
Exclusively online teaching changes the teacher/student dynamics and
new skills, techniques and strategies should be developed. While there
has been some online teaching for many years, initial teacher education
has not prepared students for this new way of teaching. In this article
the authors present the conceptual underpinning of the need for changes
in teacher education and the perceptions of pre-service teachers in terms
of their preparedness for virtual teaching. The data from a survey
conducted with these pre-service teachers will inform the development
of online resources that are part of a funded, ongoing project.

Keywords: virtual schools, online teaching, pre-service teacher


education

1. Introduction
The use of technology in education is widespread in todays world and its
affordances particularly support the provision of online education. In higher
education, wholly online learning is common with external study (distance, off-
campus education) offered by many universities. In schools, blended learning (a
combination of face-to-face education and online learning) is widespread and
well-known, with the Connected Classroom initiative in New South Wales
providing a specific example of this (New South Wales Department of Education
and Training, 2010). However, the virtual school movement has grown such that
wholly online K-12 education is now a reality.

In the United States of America (U.S.A.), it has been reported that virtual
schooling is one of the fastest-growing areas in K-12 education (Roblyer, 2006,
p. 32) where enrolment in fulltime online schools jumped from 200,000 in 2009

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2010, to 310,000 in 20122013. This represents a 64.5 % increase in only 3 years


(Toppin & Toppin, 2015, p. 4). Australia also has a growth pattern in virtual
schools. In New South Wales, the first virtual high school was xsel and, although
this selective school has now closed, it has been followed by the advent of
Aurora College in 2015. There has also been a long history of distance education
via School of the Air across Australia, but virtual schools take online education
even further. There are references to other initiatives (see, for example,
http://www.virtualschoolsandcolleges.eu/index.php/Category:Virtual_schools
_in_Australia).

The authors examine the literature about virtual schools and make a case for
changes to teacher education programs to better develop pre-service teachers for
new teaching and learning environments. As part of an ongoing Office for
Learning and Teaching (OLT) funded research project, we explored pre-service
teacher perceptions of their readiness for virtual school teaching via an online
survey and report on that specific data here.

2. Background
Virtual schools, defined as accredited schools which deliver education almost
solely via the Internet (Barbour & Reeves, 2009), have emerged around the globe,
but have had their strongest uptake in the U.S.A. where it is estimated that thirty
states have virtual schools (Morgan, 2015). Australia also has virtual schools and
the start of a new virtual school, Aurora College, in New South Wales in 2015 is
indicative of that states government commitment, made in 2013, to extend
quality education to rural and regional areas (New South Wales Department of
Education and Communities, 2013). While there have been some criticisms of the
quality and/or integrity of virtual school education (Barbour, 2011; Barth, 2013;
Natale & Cook, 2012), there is strong acknowledgement that virtual schools can
deliver education opportunities to students who might otherwise be unable to
pursue particular studies due to a range of factors such as isolation, mobility
(such as with military families), health issues, disabilities, lack of qualified
teachers in the area or emotional issues such as bullying (Roblyer, 2006; Toppin
& Toppin, 2015; Vasquez & Straub, 2012).

An important area of discussion for virtual school teaching is the capacity of the
teachers to deliver in an online environment. Miller and Ribble (2010) argue that
not all teachers have the skills or temperament to be online instructors. Just as
some people are not destined to be classroom teachers, there are some who
should not be online teachers as well (p. 5). One concern raised is that there is
no systematic pre-service teacher education in terms of online teaching
(DiPietro, Ferdig, Black, & Preston, 2010) and that many teachers are
transitioning from a traditional classroom to virtual teaching environments
(Richardson, LaFrance, & Beck, 2015, p. 19). DiPietro et al. (2010) argue that too
little research has been done into what constitutes good online teaching in the K-
12 environment and that, while best practice documents have been written,
these:
often neglect the unique skills of virtual school teachers,
indicating the need for research that focuses on the

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instructional practices of K-12 teachers in virtual school


settings. Lacking a body of research that focuses on the K-12
online arena, these documents also draw on research
underpinning the instructional practices associated with post-
secondary online settings (p. 11).

Current teacher education programs prepare individuals for traditional


classrooms, and they do so in isolated silos of pedagogy, content, field
experiences, and to a lesser extent, technology (Archambault, 2011, p. 74). They
are geared towards face-to-face teaching where technology may be used as a tool
for learning, but is not the medium for teaching and learning. Effective online
teaching necessitates a shift from a practice of controlling to engaging students
attention (Murphy & Manzanares, 2008, p. 1061) and, with online learning
increasing in the K-12 sector, teacher education programs will need to adapt to
prepare pre-service teachers for this new milieu (Archambault, 2011). The
project reported here is a first step in this development.

3. The Project
The growth of virtual teaching and learning in schools outlined in the last
section and the lack of pre-service teacher preparation for these virtual
environments in current teacher education programs led the authors to a
successful Office for Learning and Teaching grant. Bull (2010) argues that for
the most part, teacher education programs are not yet preparing preservice
teachers to teach in this [virtual] environment successfully (p. 29) and this
research project aims to begin to re-dress that gap.

The project, Pre-service Teachers Online (PST Online), will provide pre-service
teachers and higher education institutions with a range of resources that can be
used to enhance the online teaching skills of these initial teacher education
students. As virtual classrooms become more common, these skills, currently
neglected, will be more important for teachers, particularly those in rural and
regional areas. By developing a website repository of these resources (cf.
pstonline.info, currently being developed) that is freely accessible to anyone, the
project can also assist current teachers with development of these skills to meet
their changing needs. A further output of the project will be workshop materials
that will be trialled at the project team members institution in preparation for
their use in more diverse studies. This will occur nearer the end of the project
which is due to be fully reported in May 2016.

To assist in the development of the online resource packages, the authors


conducted a survey of current pre-service teachers enrolled at their university.
While experienced teacher educators, we were keen to link the online resources
to the concerns or challenges identified by the pre-service teachers. Once these
had been identified we began to build the website and we are organising short
videos of experienced online academics discussing particular areas such as
student engagement, resource selection, etc.

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In the next section, the authors report on the perceptions of the pre-service
teachers as developed through the analysis of survey responses. Other aspects of
the project will be reported in further articles.

4. The Survey
A survey was sent to all enrolled students in 12 initial teacher education
programs at the University of New England (UNE). By including all enrolled
students, we were able to gather rich data as the students ranged across all
teaching sectors (early childhood, primary and secondary), encompassed both
on- and off-campus students (which provided a wide range of ages) and
included pre-service teachers at all stages of their program from first to final
year. As a university where all students, regardless of study mode, are expected
to engage with a learning management system (in this case Moodle), all
participants have some familiarity with learning online.

The survey was delivered online and had several components. The first section
of questions were demographic and provided information on age, gender,
location of residence, course being studied and current academic year. This
information enables us to correlate particular comments with demographic
information as necessary. The second section consisted of Likert scale questions
seeking the participants perceptions in regard to their confidence in using
Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and also their knowledge
and confidence with a range of teaching skills.

The final section of the survey related directly to virtual schools and asked the
participants the following questions:
What factors do you feel are important in developing a positive online
learning experience?
What concerns would you have or challenges might you face if you were
appointed to teach using online technology?
How might you resolve these concerns or challenges?
What resources do you feel you would need to help you in this area?
Who might you need to provide assistance?
In terms of the findings, these questions became crucial as we moved into the
resource development phase of our project. Two hundred and two (202) enrolled
students completed the first section and 147 completed Sections 2 and 3 of the
survey.

5. Findings
While the demographic data collected was interesting, providing statistics about
the age, gender and location of participants, they have been reported in a
companion paper and will only be dealt with briefly in this article to
demonstrate the extent of student diversity.

As is the trend with enrolments in education courses at UNE, most of the


participants in the survey were female, 167 (83%), with 35 males (17%). The
majority of participants who completed the survey indicated that they lived in a
capital city (69, 34%), with a regional city residence being the second largest of

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respondents (35, 17%) and small regional town/city the third largest (26, 13%),
with the least being located in a non-regional city (3, 1%). The responses
demonstrate a correlation with UNEs typical student: an online enrolled
female aged in their mid-thirties. The respondents in this survey clearly showed
a skew in this direction, as indicated in Figure 1, towards 36 to 45 years of age,
with the second largest group the 26 to 35 years of age. The results clearly show
that the majority of respondents in this survey were studying online, aged
between 26 and 45 years of age and female.

Figure 1. Age of participants who completed the survey

The demographic data also revealed that a large proportion of the respondents
(39%) were in the first year of their initial teacher education course. This means
that many of these respondents would not have yet completed a practicum and
that they still had important aspects of their teacher education still to be
completed. Whilst the age of the respondents demonstrates some life experience,
the experience within teacher education was low. This is important when
considering the responses reported in the next section regarding confidence for
teaching in virtual schools.

5.1. Capacity to Teach in a Virtual Classroom Situation


In Section 2 of the survey, participants were asked to rank their knowledge of,
experience with, and confidence in a range of teaching skills. These skills
incorporated the common teaching skills which were developed in the initial
teacher education programs (for example lesson preparation and behaviour
management skills), but also included the skill of using a virtual classroom. How
the participants rated themselves with this particular skill is shown in Figure 2.

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There is a perception among the participants that their knowledge about, and
confidence for, the use of virtual classrooms is reasonable. It is interesting that
the knowledge about the skills needed in virtual classrooms is rated at average
or above by 53.4% of participants and their confidence to use such classrooms is
56.3%, within the same range. In comparison, the rating of experience in virtual
classrooms for the same range drops to 40.2%. This is still a high percentage
given none of these students have had any experience in virtual schools. These
results were perplexing prior to analysis of the open-ended comments.
However, once this was undertaken the results became more comprehensible.

Figure 2. Perceptions about skills in observing and engaging in a virtual classroom

Despite the survey focussing on virtual schools, many participants answered the
various questions from the viewpoint of studying by online means at university.
They responded about their experience of online learning, rather than
concentrating their comments on online teaching, and/or they discussed how
academics who have taught them conducted their online teaching. When
participants responded to the question regarding the factors needed for teaching
online, comments such as those below are indicative of this misunderstanding of
the questions:

Online learning requires effective time-management skills


because you will be doing all other work: house chores, baby
sitting, cooking, cleaning and you still need to be up-to-date
with the lessons, lectures, forum activities and discussions.
Therefore, managing time while studying off-campus is a
challenging skill for online learning (Participant 17)1;

1The reported participant number is assigned by Qualtrics covering all participants who began the
survey and can, therefore, be a higher number than those reported as completing any section.

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An understanding towards mature age students with young


children i.e. the whole "work/life" balance (Participant 195).

One comment in particular demonstrated lack of understanding of


completely virtual schools with the respondent commenting that if
students in the classroom did not adhere to the rules there would be:

Repercussions eg: no ICT for a week! (Participant 108)

However, there were respondents who were willing to embrace the


challenges of online teaching with one stating that:

This could only be resolved by further learning, which Id be


very happy to engage in if a job opportunity arose in this area
(Participant 202).

Another participant acknowledged that some online skills are already known
from completing online units at university and that teaching in a virtual school
could be an extension of this providing that I was given time to learn how to
use the tools properly (Participant 159).

5.2. Concerns and Challenges


As reported previously, there is a need to develop pre-service teachers for
effective online teaching. The authors contend that this will require changes to
teacher education programs as the current programs do not consider this new
approach to teaching. While pre-service teachers are taught how to use ICT in
the physical classroom, this ICT education does not extend to wholly online
teaching requirements. In response to the open-ended questions, it became clear
not only that there was some misunderstanding of virtual teaching as reported
in the last section, but also a lack of knowledge about the advent of virtual
schools. Respondents stated that:

This has not been covered in my course at all and I am about to


complete my final unit of study (Participant 129);

Until taking this survey, and apart from my own experiences


in online learning for this degree, I have not considered online
teaching, nor has it been mentioned in ANY of my units, even
the ICT unit, so this all comes as quite a surprise. I would like
to know a lot more about it - where is it based? I would have
looked to my learning institution (e.g. UNE) to prepare me
fully for teaching. Until now I hadnt even thought about
online education and the topic has not been raised. I wish it
had been - then I might not be feeling so inept as I fill out this
survey (Participant 202).

Despite this gloomy outlook regarding preparation for online teaching in the
current teacher education programs, the survey data also indicated a general

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willingness among the participants to consider the issues that might face them in
teaching in this form of learning environment and what might be required for
success.

Analysis of the open-ended data was undertaken using manual coding around
common themes that emerged. The participant comments were grouped within
the emergent themes of engagement, technology, development of
community/relationship, and teaching skills. Several of the responses contained
more than one of the identified themes. Initial exploration of these themes
concentrated on the first two open-ended questions: the factors that participants
felt were important for success in online teaching and the concerns or challenges
they felt they could currently face. These questions were used to gauge the
current understanding of the students about what might be necessary in online
teaching and also what their primary concerns might be. This was deemed
important in assisting us to develop a relevant and useful website. The
breakdown of responses in these areas is shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Percentage of themed responses

Engagement Technology Community/ Skills


Relationship
Factors important for a positive 15% 48% 20% 17%
online learning environment
Concerns and challenges in teaching 6% 50% 25% 19%
online

A not unexpected result in this table is that technology was rated most highly as
a theme in terms of both factors needed for developing a positive online learning
environment and also in terms of participant concerns.

5.2.1. Technology
When preparing the survey, we expected that technology and the issues
surrounding this would be a key factor in the participants discussion regarding
online teaching. Although the website that is currently being developed will
have some suggestions about useful programs for online teaching, it cannot
cover technical assistance as the platforms that pre-service teachers will
encounter will vary depending on particular school systems. The participants
comments indicated that they were aware of technical issues such as internet
reliability, speed and intermittence or computer failure, but some were also
unsure about where online teaching would be delivered from, demonstrating
that their understanding of virtual schools is low. Indicative comments of this
latter confusion included comments about their home connections and who
would pay for these:

Funding for equipment and the level of connectivity available


(Participant 32);
and

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I dont have good quality internet, and would have limits to


what I could afford to download and upload (Participant 84).

The confusion was also evident in some of the comments regarding student
accessibility to equipment, given that students are generally in a home school
and are provided with relevant equipment by the education system. The
majority of the concerns about technology centred on the participants lack of
experience with online teaching technologies and also the safety and security of
using online platforms. However, there were also comments regarding the use
of technology as a learning tool of itself. Table 2 provides examples of these
responses.

Table 2: Concerns about the Use of Technology

Lack of experience and concerns about Challenges of effective teaching with


online security and behaviour technology
Concern for mutual respect in online Appropriate and effective tools
etiquette (Participant 4) (Participant 83)
Concern about having a good Using different technologies that are
understanding of all available interesting and exciting to the end
technology (Participant 122) user (Participant 5)
Lack of experience with learning Amenability of digital platforms to
environment and technologies customisation for catering to the
available (Participant 129) diverse abilities and interests of
students (Participant 163)
The main concerns I would have in The ability to find appropriate
teaching this way is my lack of educational websites that help the
experience in using the programs and student to learn but also allow them
tools required to teach effectively to ask questions (not just websites
(Participant 3) that give answers to everything)
(Participant 5)
Technical knowledge - if something Ensuring the lesson is not an excuse
fails, I cant just revert to type and to use technology, rather technology
teach the lesson without technology enhances the learning of the students
(Participant 37) and the lesson (Participant 109)

While participants were very concerned about their ability to use the technology,
it is clear that they also thought about the best ways that technology might be
used for effective learning to occur. This observation is borne out by the number
of responses that were made referring to engaging students in their learning.

5.2.2. Student Engagement


Student engagement has been linked to both academic success and personal
well-being (Corso, Bundick, Quaglia, & Haywood, 2013; Schaufeli, Bakker, &
Salanova, 2006). Corso et al. (2013) state that:

The classroom factors that have the most bearing on a


students engagement fall into three categories: the student

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10

within him or herself, the students interactions with others


(the teacher and other students), and the students interaction
with the academic content (p. 53).

Many of the participants remarked on the need for engagement and showed that
they felt that online learning environments might be challenging in terms of this
crucial aspect of education, particularly in regard to the teacher-student
interaction. There were also comments made about what might be needed to
maintain student engagement in their lessons. Participants responded to the
open-ended questions with comments such as:

The biggest challenge would be keeping the attention of


students. It would be hard to know where the students were
up to, how to engage with them (Participant 1).

One of the participants drew on personal experience of online learning to


comment that:

One of my concerns would be trying to maintain


engagement. Personally, when doing online tutorials, I
sometimes zone out and not pay attention (horrible I know)
but because I am not actually sitting in front of a teacher, and
have other things around me to distract me, I lose focus
(Participant 19).

Some participants did make suggestions about how they might try to keep
students engaged. One respondent felt there was a need to:

Ensure that my online presence was engaging (Participant 81),

while another participant stated that to gain engagement it would be necessary


to:

Get to know student and their likes/ dislikes; find out what
motivates them (Participant 94).

It is clear that the participants, while not always understanding the specific
needs of virtual teaching, were able to draw on their knowledge of what is
needed for effective learning and to extrapolate from that. This was very evident
in their comments coded as a theme of creating a sense of community and
relationship.

5.2.3. Sense of Community and Relationship


As is the case with engagement, a sense of inclusion and community is also
important for effective learning, particularly in online environments (Akyol &
Garrison, 2008; Phillippo & Stone, 2013; Tu & McIsaac, 2002). Akyol and
Garrison (2008) make reference to what has been termed as social presence and
state that a sense of community was particularly powerful for participation (p.

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11

15) in online communication, but they also mention that teacher (or instructor)
presence is even more important for student satisfaction as this promotes social
presence. Savvidou (2013) argues that teacher presence, related to a sense of
immediacy or distance, is very important in building online learning
environments.

The participants exhibited their understanding of the need for both social and
teacher presence in their comments about what would be important in online
teaching and how this could also be a challenge. A range of these comments are
shown in Tables 3 and 4.

Table 3: Comments on Factors for Successful Online Teaching

Successful online teaching


I think students need to feel like they are part of a significant community,
not on their own (Participant 5).
Teachers being present and engaged with students as fellow humans
(Participant 18).
A teacher in an online environment still needs to fulfil the social, emotional
and intellectual needs of all students as he/she would in an everyday
classroom. Obviously by a different means the same outcome needs to be
achieved (Participant 25).
Developing a style so it doesnt seem that students are located elsewhere
(Participant 33).
Presence and positivity of teaching staff (Participant 36).
Students feel they are as cared for as students in a real classroom
(Participant 87).
Where possible it is important to make the student feel like they are part of
the group/class even when they are miles away (Participant 155).
A feeling of inclusion and involvement and consistent teacher presence and
involvement to show that there is learning support available (Participant
130).

Table 4: Challenges in Online Teaching

Online teaching challenges


The ability to ensure that students dont feel alone and isolated whilst using
on-line technology to learn. As a student myself this can be a very hard
hurdle to overcome (Participant 5).
Developing some sort of relationship with students would be hard
(Participant 6).
One of my concerns is that it might be difficult to get to know the students
compared to the chance you have in a real classroom (Participant 19).
Ensuring that the course is not impersonal (Participant 30).
Connection to students. Losing students online (Participant 36).
Lack of face to face contact removing the personal element (Participant 37).
Difficult to make students feel included in a community ((Participant 51).
The environment can be quite lonely and bridging the gap would be
challenging (Participant 84).

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12

Id be concerned that being remote from the students makes it difficult to get
to know them and their strengths and weaknesses (Participant 152).
Bonding with students so they still see you as a teacher (Participant 169).

As with the responses to making an online environment engaging for students,


it is again clear that the participants drew on their understanding of the
conditions for effective learning as they discussed what would be both
important and a challenge. One respondent, who was not anti-online teaching
per se, sums up the general feeling of many of the participants. This respondent
said:

That I do not have as much ability to understand the student as


a real classroom teacher does. What does the student
feel/think? How well is the student really performing? The
student might feel an online-mode of teaching is not as serious
as real classroom teaching (Participant 87).

5.2.4. Skills
Teaching skills are an important aspect of teacher education and, quite clearly,
the participants drew on their existing knowledge of these in responding to the
various questions. The main skills that they brought to their responses were
those of time management, communication, understanding of student needs and
behavior management.

5.2.4.1. Understanding Student Needs


Whilst there was an understanding of the need for similar skills regardless of the
learning environment, there was again some confusion about what virtual
schools are and the ways in which school students would be taught. One
respondent, demonstrating awareness that the interpersonal skill for
understanding student needs is a requirement for any teacher, then went on to
wonder how this could happen in virtual schools:

The main concern is to assess students prior knowledge and


how they are coping with the lessons. Since it is one-way, i.e.
the teacher only delivers weekly resources; it is hard to assess
those two factors (Participant 17).

5.2.4.2. Communication
Communication was also seen as a necessary skill and the participants
commented on concerns that they had about this. Some responses were:

I would worry the students may not have understood the


instructions and find it harder to communicate (Participant
162);

Im quite a direct person and only using online resources, tact


might get lost in translation ((Participant 57);

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13

Communication can be challenging using online forums at the


best of times, and often using these virtual classrooms requires
a lot of patience and perseverance on part of teacher and
student to allow it to be a mutually helpful space for learning
(Participant 11).

5.2.4.3. Behavior Management


Interestingly, behavior management was mentioned as a necessary skill and also
a concern, but there seemed to be little understanding about what the difference
might be between a face-to-face classroom and a virtual classroom. Participants
commented on the need to be able to monitor what sites students were accessing
and one respondent stated that behavior management would be harder, but
gave no further detail. It is difficult to ascertain from the data whether
participants are responding to the general concern of pre-service teachers with
behavior management skills (ONeill & Stephenson, 2011; Peters, 2009) or are
aware that there will need to be other skills developed in this area.

Overall, participants had concerns about being virtual school teachers and could
articulate these as demonstrated by the respondent who questioned:

How do you get to know your students? How do you find out
how they learn in order to differentiate your lessons? How do
you differentiate your lessons? (Participant 45).

However, it was also clear that they understood that, to teach in virtual schools,
they may benefit from opportunities to develop new skills, techniques and
strategies (Murphy & Manzanares, 2008, p. 1070). They were also able to
articulate the resources they feel would be useful to them in developing the
requisite skills.

5.3. Resources Needed


A crucial question for the development of the PST Online website was centered
on the resources that participants felt would most assist them in gaining the
essential knowledge and skills to become effective virtual teachers. Given that
virtual schools already exist, and are considered a vital means for improving
access to education for disadvantaged students, such as those who are rural or
remote (New South Wales Department of Education and Communities, 2013), it
is important that current pre-service teachers are assisted to be virtual
classroom ready. The assistance that the participants targeted is diverse, but the
PST Online website has the capacity to deliver much of this.

An important area indicated by the participants was, not surprisingly, in the


area of ICT training. One participant typified a number of similar responses,
stating that:

Id most likely need help in all technical areas. I am confident


with my writing skills, lesson planning skills, communication
skills, and other areas of teaching; its the ICT specific skills
that would let me down. So I would require specific and

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14

explicit help to learn how to run the programmes used from a


teachers perspective (Participant 202).

This comment exemplifies how many of the pre-service teachers felt comfortable
with the general teaching skills, but sought development not only in technical
skills themselves, but also how to use technology for effective teaching. It was
heartening to see that some respondents knew some of the kinds of programs
that would be helpful as a teacher such as Edmodo, wikis, YouTube, and iTunes.

Many of the participants were keen on a resource that provided a supportive


network for new ideas, preferably with access to more experienced practitioners
in the field. They also hoped to have somewhere that could be a repository for
shared resources. These are areas that this project is developing.

Despite a dissonance between virtual school teaching skills and most


participants current understandings of what these may be, the wealth of
feedback can be readily adapted to fit the needs of both virtual and face-to-face
classroom teachers use of technology.

6. Conclusion
It is clear that knowledge about virtual schools is limited and also that students
in initial teacher education courses do not feel equipped to cope with this aspect
of teaching. However, the data from the survey suggest that current pre-service
teachers are, in the main, prepared to consider the possibilities of online
teaching. However, there were, as one might expect, a few respondents who
could not countenance something quite as innovative as teaching without a
physical classroom:

I think I would refuse any position that required on-line


technology as I personally feel it prevents the type of personal
interaction that I need to complete tasks properly (Participant
48).

Generally, participants showed that they had a solid grounding in what is


required to be an effective teacher, but were unable to see how this
understanding translated into a virtual teaching scenario. There was awareness
of the need to incorporate technology into 21st century classrooms, evidenced by
comments which referred to specific programs and also to the use of interactive
whiteboards (IWBs) in classrooms, but low awareness that IWBs might not be a
tool for a virtual classroom: they did not make the transition from what they
knew of traditional face-to-face classrooms. This is to be expected when it is
clear that current pre-service teachers have a very limited knowledge of school
education outside a traditional school setting.

The PST Online project, and the website that will be the main output, is poised
to begin the education of pre-service teachers not only in an understanding of
virtual teaching and its requirements, but also providing assistance for those
using blended learning in traditional classrooms for, as one respondent stated in

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15

regard to the use of technology for learning:

I think this is such a fast growing area of teaching, and yet so


many people still know very little about how to utilise it to
their advantage (Participant 5).

While the website is a first step, it is clear that the pre-service teachers who
participated in the survey feel somewhat let down that they have not heard of
virtual schools before this and that there is no inclusion, in an integrated fashion,
to incorporate appropriate skills across all aspects of their teacher education. As
one participant said, it would be great if included in a university course. The
authors are planning for further research into what can be done to rectify this
situation.

Acknowledgements
Support for this publication has been provided by the Australian Government
Office for Learning and Teaching. The views in this publication do not
necessarily reflect the views of the Australian Government Office for Learning
and Teaching.

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17

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 17-27, December 2015

Ubiquitous Technology-Enhanced Learning of


Complex Financial Concepts
Pedagogy Improvement in Face-to-Face and Online Teaching
Environments

Irena Vodenska
Administrative Sciences Department, Metropolitan College, Boston University,
808 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA United States

Abstract. Technology-based finance education is designed to fully


engage students during lectures and individual study times in order to
increase their learning efficiency. Students are immersed in a new
teaching environment where the emphasis is on achieving high
knowledge retention rate by synchronously presenting the material
through non-sequential links of learning objects such as graphics,
multimedia files, and links to external documents. While studying,
students have possibilities to refer to earlier material when learning
more complex ideas in the later part of a lecture, as well as to relate to
the material that may be following the topics being introduced. The
integrative technology-enhanced approach to learning provides
students with a possibility to maintain the overall view of the material,
while absorbing detailed explanations of the individual study
components. We have conducted a preliminary pilot program testing
this approach, and we found, based on student feedback, that the
integrative technology-enhanced approach to teaching improves student
overall learning experience in face-to-face as well as in online courses.
Moreover, course material organization and instructor presentation of
the material contribute significantly to the overall student satisfaction
while technology per se is not a statistically significant factor for overall
course experience.

Keywords: Face-to-face & online programs; Synchronous &


asynchronous teaching; Technology enhanced learning; Distance
education

1. Introduction

A major challenge in teaching advanced finance courses today is to fully


engage students and to increase the efficiency rate of learning important
financial concepts and risk management tools. Just few years ago the world
financial system was on the brink of collapse creating a fundamental need for
finance graduates to thoroughly understand the intricacies of complex financial
and risk management tools. At the time when we have seen some of the most

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18

outrageous government rescue interventions in the corporate world (Fender and


Gyntelberg, 2008), we strive to equip our students to approach financial risk
management meticulously and methodically, in order to be prepared to face the
challenges of todays financial industry.
There is a need to constantly upgrade and update not only the course
material to incorporate novel concepts and risk management techniques, but
also to create a learning environment that introduces effective approaches and
utilize technological advancements to facilitate meaningful teaching of complex
financial models, decision-making tools, and structured financial products.
One of the goals of advanced finance education is to teach students how
to utilize existing financial concepts and tools and to prepare graduates to have
analytical and flexible open minds to effectively grasp new, innovative financial
products and utilize them appropriately in their workplace environments.
Sequential educational style has historically been traditional and most
common method of presenting lecture material (Saunders, 2001). It is based on
presentation of different concepts to be learned in a serial mode, one following
the other, without stressing the correlation and causality between various topics.
This is similar to a short-term memory process, where relationship is established
only between consecutive topics. Despite the benefits of this widely adopted
teaching style, it also has number of drawbacks, especially for complex, highly
correlated relational subject matters, such as finance.
One of the most significant shortcomings of sequential teaching methods
is a reduced knowledge retention rate of novel concepts acquired in a lecture
format (Butler, 1992). Students have different learning styles and it is important
to offer teaching approaches to accommodate different student types (intuitive,
visual, active) to capture their attention for the duration of the class and prevent
learning-teaching mismatch that could result in inattentiveness, boredom, and
ultimately dropping from the class (Felder & Spurlin, 2005). Longer-term
memory is essential when students are building knowledge based on material
introduced in a finance lecture. Hence, it is important to refer to earlier material
when learning more complex ideas in the later part of the lecture. Equally
important is to be able to relate to the material that follows the topics being
introduced. In the sequential teaching environment students often lose the
thread of the presentation. That can reduce the benefits of the lecture to a point
when students stop accepting and processing information.
To address this limitation of sequential classroom teaching techniques,
we introduce comprehensive computer-aided approach to teaching, where the
complete lecture is presented interactively allowing students to learn the
material through various components that are linked in a non-sequential way.
This approach provides the students with a possibility to maintain the overall
view of the material while the instructor explains the lecture material building
blocks in detail.

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19

2. Comprehensive technology-enhanced learning

The integrative technology-enhanced approach matches well the


teaching style of the instructor with different learning preferences of individual
students. This methodology provides virtual step-by-step instruction for a
subgroup of students who prefer learning the material by hearing and seeing the
concepts in a sequence. At the same time it gives an opportunity to students who
prefer the non-sequential learning style to connect differently the presented
material objects. This approach allows instructors to reach out and successfully
teach much broader population of students. Since some students are passive and
some are active learners (Rodrigues, 2004), they can choose the type of
computer-aided modules that correspond to their learning style. We believe that
giving students an opportunity to non-sequentially navigate through the
material will provide immediate benefit to their understanding of the presented
concepts and may detect and correct promptly certain misconceptions with
instructors assistance and feedback. Students will also be able to study the
material outside the classroom, at their own pace, and to solidify their
knowledge on their own after the lecture. This approach will present a
possibility for students to benefit from both, immediate and delayed knowledge
transfer to obtain solid conceptual understanding of the material by developing
improved retention skills over time (Mathan and Koedinger, 2005).
In finance courses it is extremely important to understand all the
building blocks of risk management or the decision-making process. If students
do not completely understand an important theory or if they learn a model
incorrectly, this introduces confusion and potentially erroneous understanding
of the overall material. Needless to say, this inaccurate understanding can trickle
down to future, more complex concepts and can lead to incorrect solutions of
multifaceted problems.
We tested the integrated approach to learning within both, face-to-face and
online formats, and demonstrated that this methodology can be modified to fit
both of these different environments. For example, in online classes, we preserve
the traditional component of teaching by using tablet computers in addition to
already prepared integrative lecture material (Hoppe et al., 1999, Turban and
Muhlhauser, 2007). In face-to-face classes, we utilize technology to bring the
integrative approach to teaching in the classroom.
In Figure 1 we illustrate how the integrative approach to teaching
corresponds better to real world corporate and economic systems, by showing
the difference between sequential and interconnected network-like flow of links
among learning objects.

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20

a)

D C

b)

A B
C D

c)

A B

D C

Figure 1: a) shows a real world system where links exist among all the nodes in the
graph; b) illustrates example of sequential instruction where certain links (A-C, A-D,
and B-D) are missing; c) represents a comprehensive integrative approach to
delivering complex financial concept teaching material.

Within the integrative technology-enhanced approach to teaching, students


are given an opportunity to focus on individual teaching components while
learning sophisticated financial models and obtaining a thorough understanding
of multifaceted economics concepts.
As illustrated in Figure 2, a complex concept of pricing a derivative
instrument, such as option, involves integrative approach to carry on the
option valuation process. In this example, we show the binomial tree option
pricing approach and present the entire process integratively, giving students an
overall big picture of the pricing steps, with a possibility to zoom into specific
pricing segments, while keeping the overall evaluation procedure visible.

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21

Figure 2: Example of multiple-screen lectrure delivery format which allows students


to see the overall lecture material at all times with a possibility to zoom in and out of
specific screens.

2.1. Teaching with Non-sequentially Linked Learning Modules

Instructors use multiple screens and enhanced presentation tools to link the
learning components delivered non-sequentially within a lecture. The objects are
connected in a network where directional links exist to successfully navigate
through the required material. This teaching approach keeps student attention to
multiple lecture
Although, the integrated technology-enhanced approach to teaching brings
benefits to students, based on our experience, it also creates additional burden to
instructors, who experience approximately 20-25% increase in their workload.
This overload is a result of the need to create the video or audio objects, to link
the lecture objects appropriately, and to learn how to utilize new technologies.
Introducing cutting edge integrative technology-enhanced teaching approach
keeps the students abreast with new developments in the financial industry,
especially in the fast-paced advances in the area of financial risk management.
The non-sequentially linked lecture components could represent 1)
embedded lecture notes 2) hyperlinks to additional learning sources, 3) links to
outside applications such as PowerPoint, Excel, or Access, or 4) pointers to pre-
recorded multimedia objects either developed by the instructor or accessed on
the Web.

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22

The integrative teaching model can work well in large or small groups or in
laboratory or practical classes where students need to deliver computational
results based on a set of learning objects by planning, developing, and managing
their own learning (Bourner and Flowers, 1999). Concurrent to introducing the
integrative approach to learning, it is important to determine proper use of
technology to optimize customized course development and delivery and
streamline technical support (Bates and Poole, 2003).
The comprehensive computer-aided teaching approach is becoming more
attractive to students because it relates better to the advanced multimedia
technologies that they use in their daily lives and its more suitable for designing
personalized learning environments (Franzoni et al., 2008). Students nowadays
are accustomed to multitasking and rapid switching between various
information-providing devices, such as smart phones and iPads. They are used
to browsing between applications like email and Internet browsers, music and
video downloads, various social media sites, or getting access to online
shopping, travel booking, and making restaurant reservations. This trend is
expected to continue, which could make the integrative approach to learning a
preferred teaching model. In addition to focusing on creating appealing learning
environment for students, professors also need to adapt successfully to
technology-enhanced education and morph their instruction to be more
compatible with distance learning and cyber teaching environments (Fuller et
al., 2000). Additionally, research has shown that in general students are more
engaged in achieving course learning outcomes when technology is used in
teaching. Another interesting angle of assessing the importance of online, or
computer-based, technology-enhanced courses is the minority student
participation and performance as they are more likely to enrol in online courses,
where the exposure to classmates is reduced (Chen et al., 2010). An important
aspect of using technology in the classroom or online courses is understanding
how pedagogies evolve to ensure effectiveness of teaching and learning
materials. New technological breakthroughs, self-paced learning software
design, or interactive learning tools have tremendous impact on the computer-
based learning style and scope (Stephenson, 2001).

2.2 Data Analysis and Methodology

We tested the integrated technology-enhanced approach to teaching, by


conducting a pilot study of overall student experience for three finance courses,
delivered in online and face-to-face formats in 2011. We also performed a
comparative analysis of the courses included in the pilot study and previously
delivered courses from fall 2009 to fall 2011. During this period we studied
student feedback for 15 graduate finance courses with total enrolment of 645
students. Out of the 15 courses, 9 were face-to-face and 6 were delivered in an
online format. The online courses had 464 students enrolled, while the face-to-
face courses had 181 students. To evaluate student satisfaction rating, we
surveyed students about their overall course experience. The survey questions
were organized in 4 groups evaluating the course, the instructor, the technology,
and teaching assistants if applicable. The questions were rated on a 5-level Likert
scale from 1-negative/strongly disagree to 5-positive/strongly agree. We

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23

selected 4 survey questions 1) course material organization; 2) instructors ability


to present material; and 3) use of technology, and 4) overall course experience to
conduct our analysis. We selected these questions because they most
appropriately cover the aspects of the overall course evaluation. The survey
response rate was 41% for online courses and 90% for face-to-face courses or
total of 350 students.
We performed regression analysis for 95% confidence level by designating
the Overall course experience as a dependent variable, and Course material
organization, Instructors ability to present course material, and Use of technology as
dependent variables.
Our hypotheses that we test in this paper are as follows:
H1: Course material organization is significant determinant of Overall course
experience
We demonstrate in Figure 3 that Course material organization is statistically
significant factor with a p-value of 0.00007 < 0.05 and it is an important
determinant of overall course satisfaction with R-square of 0.7121.

5
y = 0.7636x + 0.879
R = 0.7121
4.5 P-value=0.00007 < 0.05

4
3.5
3
3 3.5 4 4.5 5

Figure 3: Overall course experience vs. Course material organization for fall 2009 to fall
2011. (Statistically significant for p < 0.05 at 95% confidence level).

H2: Instructors ability to present course material is significant determinant of


Overall course experience
Figure 4 shows that Instructors ability to present course material also offers
significant explanatory power to the Overall student course satisfaction with p-
value of 0.000006 and R-square of 0.8010.

5 y = 1.0329x - 0.1492
R = 0.801
4.5 P-value=0.000006 < 0.05

4
3.5
3
3 3.5 4 4.5 5

Figure 4: Overall course experience vs. Instructors ability to present material for fall
2009 to fall 2011. (Statistically significant for p < 0.05 at 95% confidence level).

H3: Use of technology is significant determinant of Overall course experience

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24

While the Course material organization and Instructors ability to present material
are statistically important factors for Overall course experience, in Figure 5 we
show that Use of technology is not statistically significant factor for Overall course
satisfaction. The coefficient of determination R-square for this regression is
0.5042, while the p-value is 0.1138.

5 y = 0.8612x - 0.0649
R = 0.5042
4.5 P-value=0.1138 > 0.05
4
3.5
3
3 4 5

Figure 5: Overall course experience vs. Use of technology for fall 2009 to fall 2011. (Not
statistically significant for p > 0.05 at 95% confidence level).

Similar results were obtained by Zlateva et al., 2011 for the statistical analysis
of computer information system courses, contrary to the findings by Volery and
Lord 2000, Soong et al., 2001, and Sun et al., 2008, where technology was
presented as one of the critical success factors in online education. We argue in
this paper that the technology is an extremely important factor that facilitates
creation of novel approaches to present course material and significantly
enhances instructor effectiveness in presenting course material; however, if we
only have great technology, and do not utilize it creatively, the technology per se
will not be the determining factor for overall course satisfaction. Additional
explanation to not finding the Use of technology statistically significant could be
that the technology is underlying, necessary, and expected prerequisite in
delivering todays education, hence, it is not perceived as significant
determinant of the Overall course experience. In other words, while Course material
organization and Instructors ability to present material varies greatly from course to
course, the Use of technology is more stable as measured by the standard
deviation (s.d.) of these variables (i.e. 45% s.d. for Course material organization vs.
32% s.d. for Use of technology).
In addition to the regression analysis of Likert scale rated questions, we also
analysed the descriptive feedback from students. Table 1 shows samples of
student written feedback from the pilot courses, pointing to the different
teaching style, material organization, and course structure as positive course
developments. Chitkushev et al., 2014 show that student course satisfaction is
strongly related with students instructor satisfaction, and that there is a positive
correlation between students final grade distribution and their overall
satisfaction with the course.
We argue that statements from students such as very organized course,
instructor teaching style is unique or the approach made it easy for us to learn the
material that appear in the pilot courses and are absent from other course
feedback, testify that the new integrated technology-enhanced approach to
teaching is effective and makes a difference in student learning.

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25

Table 1: Student Feedback

Descriptive Student Feedback for pilot courses with integrated technology-


enhanced approach to teaching

a) One of the strongest aspects of the course was the simplicity in the
layout of each week. It was easy to follow the structure, the lecture
notes were outlined and organized very clearly
b) Very organized class and learned a lot of material
c) This is the most organized class I have had in the program
d) I thought it was an excellent course and I would not change anything
about it
e) This has been an excellent course
f) I thought this was the best course so far. Professor did an outstanding
job in teaching us the different aspects of finance. This course has
helped me to get a good perspective on the markets, economic
environment, systemic risk, and what the future may hold
g) Thank you for all that you taught us. Your teaching style is unique
along with your detailed explanation, which made it easy for us to
learn the material

In addition, in Figure 6 we plot the ratings for Course material organization for
different terms including pilot courses (circled), and found that the pilot courses
feedback is persistently positive.

4.5

3.5

3
Jan-10

Jan-11
Mar-10
May-10

Mar-11
May-11
Sep-09
Nov-09

Jul-10
Sep-10
Nov-10

Jul-11
Sep-11

Figure 6: Course material organization ratings for fall 2009 to fall 2011 including
the pilot courses (circled) where the integrative technology-enhanced approach to
teaching was adopted.

3. Conclusion

The integrative technology-enhanced education essentially increases the


dimension of the space in which the lecture material is being presented, going
from a flat sequential two-dimensional system to a three-dimensional space

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26

where connections between spatially and temporally distant components is


possible. This methodology is based on lecture delivery where the entire
material is presented as a poster in the beginning of the lecture. There are
various techniques that can be used to implement this approach such as multiple
screens with links between the learning objects or hyperlinks to multimedia files
or relevant documents. This teaching methodology enhances students
educational experience. While actively participating in the lecture, students can
point out objects in the overall material and ask for further explanations or
clarifications of the lecture building blocks. We use interactive object focus tools
to emphasize the relevant components that need further discussion without
moving backward or forward through the material in order to search for a
concept or a definition.
Besides having many benefits, the comprehensive technology-enhanced
education has shortfalls as well. One of the major drawbacks of computer-aided
education is excessive reliance on technology. Any technical problem can
contribute to major frustration and derailment in the class. To overcome this
weakness, and improve the technology reliability, it is important to secure
redundant resources that can be activated in case of technical difficulties to
enable seamless continuation of the class.
We performed a pilot study introducing the integrative technology-
enhanced approach and found that Course material organization and Ability of the
instructor to deliver the lecture effectively are statistically significant factors for
overall course satisfaction, while interestingly enough Use of technology per se
was not a statistically significant factor for overall course satisfaction.
The initial feedback from students has been very positive in regards to
the benefits that the integrative technology-enhanced approach to teaching
brings into the online and face-to-face educational programs. Overall, the use of
advanced technologies to create integrative big picture delivery of the course has
helped students understand better the complex risk management and financial
decision making for the global financial industry.

References

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Fender, I. and Gyntelberg, J. (December, 2008). Overview: Global Financial Crisis spurs
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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 28-35, December 2015

Working Memory Training - A Cogmed


Intervention

Linda Flth
Linnaeus University,
Vxj, Sweden

Linda Jaensson
Mrbylnga Municipality,
Mrbylnga, Sweden

Karin Johansson
Hultsfred Municipality,
Hultsfred, Sweden

Abstract. This study of working memory training investigates the


impact of intervention with memory training on students' school
performance. The training consisted of 25 occasions spread over five
weeks. A total of 32 students from the first grade of primary school
participated in the study, with 16 students in the intervention and 16 in
the control group.
Before and after the intervention, all the participants were tested on
word decoding skills, reading comprehension, and automated mental
arithmetic. The results showed that both groups had improved on all
tests after the intervention, but that the intervention group performed
significantly better on the word decoding test than the control group.
However, this study demonstrated no differences due to memory
training with regard to mental arithmetic between the intervention
group and the control group. A possible interpretation of the result is
that structured memory training is beneficial for students reading
development.

Keywords: working memory; intervention; inclusion; motivation; word


decoding

Introduction
Working memory (WM), the ability to process and remember information, plays
a crucial role in supporting learning, including reading. Working memory can
also be described as the ability to keep information current for a short time,
which is necessary for cognitive tasks such as reading comprehension and
problem solving (Baddeley, 2000). WM is composed of four components whose

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29

coordinated activity is responsible for the storage and manipulation of


information (Alloway & Alloway, 2010). Three components were proposed by
Baddeley and Hitch (1974) with a fourth component added later on by Baddeley
(2000, 2003).

The crucial role that WM is considered to play is related to scholastic


achievement and to learning support (Alloway & Alloway, 2010; Alloway,
Gathercole, Kirkwood, & Elliot, 2009; Swanson & Sachse-Lee, 2001). A great
many students in today's schools have difficulties in reading and writing. Some
students find it difficult to concentrate and focus on their work for long periods
and are easily disturbed by external stimuli. This background can be a factor
affecting the word decoding ability, which in turn affects comprehension and
reading fluency.

An example of our use of working memory in everyday life is mental arithmetic


and problem solving. When students visualize the internal mental ruler to make
an actual calculation, a connection to the working memory is necessary,
according to Klingberg (2013). Working memory is required to remember the
different stages in maths and problem solving and for keeping several
operations in mind. Until recently it was believed that working memory could
not be influenced by stimulation or training. However more recent research has
shown that working memory capacity can be improved through cognitive
training. (Lohaugen, et.al., 2011; Thorell, Lindqvist, Bergman Nutley, Bohlin &
Klingberg, 2009). Another study by Gathercole shows that students with
impaired working memory also had difficulties in mathematics. The difficulties
excelled in both visuospatial and verbal working memory (Gathercole &
Pickering, 2000; Gathercole 2013). Another study that used working memory
tests with students diagnosed with dyscalculia showed that their difficulties
primarily concerned visuospatial working memory (Landerl et al., 2009). These
studies unanimously show that visuospatial working memory and mathematics
are related. This applies especially to problem solving and long mental
arithmetic operations.

For the purposes of the current study, it is important to understand how deficits
in WM impair reading skills. According to research, decoding requires a great
deal of energy when not automatized and then also affects the working memory
(Ehri, 2007). Given the importance of the WM system in reading acquisition and
development (Gathercole et al., 2006; Nevo & Breznitz, 2013), it can be
hypothesized that training WM abilities may affect the enhancement of reading
skills. The aim of this study is to investigate the impact of structured memory
training related to word decoding and reading comprehension among children
in grade one.

Dahlin (2013) shows the relationship between good reading acquisition and
working memory in a study where students improved working memory
capacity after a five-week intervention with Cogmed. The results of the study
also showed significantly improved results in terms of reading comprehension.
The chief gains, according to this study, occur in the visuo-spatial area. These

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30

improvements remained three years later when compared with the control
group. According to researchers, the visuospatial ability and literacy skills are
related to each other (Smith, Spark & Fish, 2007). Among the consequences for
students with low capacity in working memory may also be the difficulty of
remembering instructions and planning ones tasks (Dahlin, 2013; Gathercole &
Alloway, 2008). In a study by Gathercole and Alloway (2008) it was found that
students with low working memory had difficulties in both mathematics and
reading comprehension. Difficulties with low working memory can be
compensated for by shorter instructions to students, and supportive images can
facilitate for students and to a lesser extent burden the working memory.

Being able to read a text includes a variety of features that need to be mastered,
for example, the reader has to be able to maintain concentration on the text,
understand the words and content, remembering the beginning of the sentence
and linking auditory representations (Klingberg, et al., 2005). Klingberg states
that the same areas of the brain are activated during the reading and the
working memory tasks. This area is activated by both verbal and visuospatial
working memory. The area is important for focusing on attention, which is
essential when reading. There is a correlation between concentration and
reading skills, and concentration, in turn, depends on the working memory
(Gathercole & Alloway, 2008; Klingberg, 2013). On the other hand, when it
comes to reading acquisition, Melby-Lervg (2012) reported in her study about
the benefits of working memory training for providing power for tasks that are
close to what has been trained but did not see any transfer effects to other
capabilities, such as reading. For students with reading and writing difficulties
she emphasizes the importance of training phonology to automate the decoding
instead of spending time on working memory training. However, in this context
working memory is important because it determines how many audio segments
can be stored and processed during the synthesis process while reading (Lervg,
2012).

Aim and Research question


The aim of this study is to investigate the impact of structured memory training
related to word decoding and reading comprehension.

The research question is: What impact does structured memory training have on
the word decoding ability and reading comprehension among students in grade
one at primary school?

Method
Participants
A total of 32 students participated in the study, divided into two classes in grade
one at primary school. The classes belonged to two different schools, comprising
a total of 16 students in one of the classes, and a total of 21 students in the other.
The two classes were randomly assigned into one experimental group and one
comparison group with 16 students in each. In the class with 21 students, 16
were randomly selected by lottery to participate in the study. Both classes come

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31

from areas with similar conditions in terms of socio-economics, study culture


and school organization.

Test procedure
All tests were administered by one of the authors (L.J.). All participants were
tested on three different occasions with the same test. The first test session (T1)
took place immediately before the intervention started. Test session 2 (T2) took
place right after the intervention was carried out, and was followed up (Test
session 3, T3) 8 weeks after the intervention ended.

Test Materials
The tests used were chosen on the basis of the students' age. The number of
decoding tests for seven-year-olds is limited. As tests take a short time only they
require no further moment of concentration, which favours students who are
easily disturbed by external stimuli and have difficulty with the executive
system (Baddeley, 2000). When the same test is used several times, the
possibility of a certain recognition factor must be taken into account. On the
other hand, the ratio was equal for both groups.

Words and Image is a screening test for word decoding for grades 1 and 2
(Sderberg- Juhlander & Olofsson, 2013). The test takes 2 minutes to perform,
and standardization results are available for grades 1 and 2. It consists of six
pages with a total of 60 words, each word having four pictures attached, only
one of which is correct. The pupils task is to choose the correct picture to the
given word and mark it by drawing a cross. The maximum score is 60.

AG1 is a test in basic arithmetic (Skolverket, 2009) consisting of additions and


subtractions within the number range of 1-9. The diagnosis showing the
students ability to handle basic mental arithmetic contains six different sections
that represent different aspects of addition and subtraction. The test consists of
36 tasks. For students who have mastered these tasks, it takes about 2-3 minutes
to complete. The test is recommended to be discontinued after 6 minutes. The
maximum score is 36.

The intervention program - Cogmed


The intervention group used a computerized program for working memory
training called Cogmed (Klingberg, 2007). The program, which was developed
at Karolinska Institutet, is described as providing enhanced concentration,
attention and impulse control, as well as contributing to improved results in
students' reading comprehension and mathematical ability (Klingberg, 2013).

The program is web-based and consists of a variety of game-format tasks that


affect the auditory and visouspatial working memory and that are adaptive,
which means that difficulty level is being adjusted automatically to match the
WM span of the child on each task. The program includes 12 different
visuospatial and/or verbal WM tasks, eight of these tasks (90 trials in total) are
being completed every day (Klingberg et al., 2005). The students followed a
standard protocol which means following the computer training program for 5
weeks, five times a week, 45 min a day. The program was provided via the

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32

internet on a laptop in a separate room. The students were trained individually


at school, guided by a coach trained in the method and who was supervised by a
certified Cogmed Coach.

Procedure
The training took place on 25 occasions distributed over five weeks, with five
days per week and was led by a trained coach (class teacher). The training,
which is web-based, was done with iPad and headphones for each pupil. It was
carried out in groups of 8 students per session with the teacher present all the
time. The exercises were constructed to enable the students to conduct them on
their own without any help from the teacher.

Result

_________________________________________________________________
T1 Mean (SD) T2 Mean (SD) T3 Mean (SD)

Intervention 24.3 (8.1) 37.7 (6.1) 42.1 (6.9)


group

Control 23.4 (7.5) 28.3 (7.9) 31.5 (8.1)


group

Table 1. Means and SD for the intervention and control groups at test Words and
images, on three test sessions

The results of Word and images showed an increase of 17.8 points from the
first to the last test session for the intervention group. The groups had similar
means at the pretest. The control group increased by an average of 8.1 points on
the test performed during the same time.

_________________________________________________________________
T1 Mean (SD) T2 Mean (SD) T3 Mean (SD)

Intervention 29.3 (5.6) 34.2 (5.8) 33.2 (5.2)


group

Control 20.6 (8.2) 25.6 (7.0) 30.5 (7.1)


group

Table 2. Means and SD for the intervention and control groups at the mathematic test
AG1, on three test sessions

Test results for the AG1 mathematical test showed an increase of 3.9 correctly
solved tasks for the intervention group. This may seem remarkable when
compared to the comparison group, which increased by 9.9 points. On the other

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33

hand, the average value of the intervention group performance on the pretest
was high from the beginning and also produced a ceiling effect. The maximum
results for the test are 36 correctly solved tasks, which some students in the
intervention group achieved already at T2.

Discussion

The memory training was conducted in groups of eight students in order to


strengthen the motivation of an inclusive approach. Students who are easily
disturbed by external and internal stimuli were supported in continuing to
practise in the focused environment among comrades. It should be noted that,
unlike the students in the comparison group, those in the experimental group
did not receive any additional adaptations in the form of reading training along
with special education teachers.

The results for 'Word and Image' showed that at the end of the intervention
almost all students in the intervention group had acquired a good decoding
ability for their grade. The improvement was significantly greater than that of
the control group. One pupil still had a low result on the decoding test, which
may be due to a lack of vocabulary, as the test Words and images is based on
reading a word and emphasizing the right picture. To find out the pupil's
decoding ability, another test that only measures decoding ability had to be
used. For students with no difficulty in comprehending the meaning of words,
memory training had a good influence on the decoding (Hien, & Lundberg,
2013). Automatized word decoding, which relieves poor working memory, is
necessary to achieve fluency in reading (Hien & Lundberg, 2013). Our results
indicate that the opposite view may also obtain. Training the working memory
facilitated word decoding and can thus easily be automatized.

A study by Dahlin (2013) also showed improved results in reading


comprehension after Cogmed intervention. For the results to become permanent,
time on task is required for continued reading training (Klingberg, 2013). There
are now good opportunities for students with reading difficulties to continue
training to offset the negative spiral of the Matthew effect (Stanovich, 2000). It
would be preferable to implement working memory training early in the fall
semester of the first grade of primary school in order to develop the increased
literacy skills through conscious reading training for all students. To read a text
requires different features such as being able to maintain concentration on it to
understand the meaning of words, remembering the beginning of the sentence
and linking auditory representations (Klingberg, 2011). Working memory tasks
and reading activate the same area of the brain. As visuospatial ability is related
to reading disabilities (Smith-Spark & Fish, 2007) training in the visuospatial
area improves results in reading comprehension (Dahlin, 2013), as also emerges
from our study. Contrary to this, Melby Lervg (2012) remains critical of
memory training. She argues that other parts of the brain are more crucial when
it comes to reading skills. Of course, we must remain humble about the results
obtained in this study, as the number of participants is small. Still, the results

2015 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


34

show that memory training may also give a boost to literacy skills, which can
then be developed by maintaining various forms of reading training.

As even mathematical difficulties and the lack of working memory are


interrelated (Gathercole & Pickerin, 2000), we had expected improved results
even on the AG 1 ' math test. This could, however, not be substantiated. The
reason may nevertheless be that students in grade 1 are only seven years old and
the tasks they received only showed their ability to handle the most basic
arithmetic calculation operations (National Agency for Education, 2009).
Visuospatial working memory is primarily related to the problem-solving ability
(Klingberg, 2013), and this is not tested within AG1. Furthermore, the results
were positive on this pre-test (Test Session 1). A limitation in this study is that
since the intervention was only made in a group of 16 students, the substrate is
too small for drawing any general conclusions. However, the results showed a
significant difference in reading skills between the intervention and the control
groups, which we cannot explain otherwise than that memory training has an
impact on literacy skills, mainly with regard to word decoding, but also in
reading comprehension.

References

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memory and IQ in academic attainment. Journal of Experimental Child
Psychology, 106, 2029.
Alloway, T.P., Gathercole, S. E., Kirkwood, H., & Elliot, J. (2009). The working memory
rating scale: A classroom-based behavioral assessment of working memory.
Learning and Individual Differences, 19, 242245.
Baddeley, A.D. (2000). The episodic buffer: a new component of working memory? Trends in
Cognitive Sciences-vol. 4, no. 11, November 2000.
Baddeley, A.D. (2003). Working memory and language: An overview. Journal of
Communication Disorders, 36, 189208.
Baddeley, A.D., & Hitch, G. J. (1974). Working memory. In G. A. Bower (Ed.), Recent
advances in learning and motivation (Vol. 8, pp. 4789). New York, NY:
Academic Press
Dahlin, K. E. (2013). Does it pay to practice? : a quasi-experimental study on working memory
training and its effects on reading and basic number skills. Stockholm : Department of
Special Education, Stockholm University, 2013.
Ehri, L. (2007). Development of sight word reading: Phases and findings. I Margaret J.
Snowling & Charles Hulme (red.). The science of reading. A handbook. (s. 135-154).
Oxford, UK: Blackwell publishing.
Gathercole, S. E., & Pickering, S. J. (2000). Working memory deficits in children with low
achievements in the national curriculum at 7 years of age. The British Journal Of
Educational Psychology, 70 (Pt 2)177-194.
Gathercole, S.E., & Alloway, T.P (2008). Working memory and learning: A practical guide for
teachers. Sage Publications.
Gathercole S.E., Alloway T.P., Willis C & Adams (2006). Working memory in children
with reading disabilities. Journal of Experimental Child Psycology, 93 (3), pp. 265-
281.

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35

Gathercole, S.E (2013). Taking working memory training from the laboratory into
schools. Educational Psycology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational
Psycology.

Hien, T. & Lundberg, I. (2013). Dyslexi, frn teori till praktik. Stockholm: Natur & kultur.
Klingberg, T. A., Fernell, E. A., Olesen, P. A., Johnson, M. A., Gustafsson, P. A.,
Dahlstrm, K. A., & ... University of Gothenburg, S. P. (2005). Computerized
training of working memory in children with ADHD--a randomized, controlled
trial. Journal Of The American Academy Of Child And Adolescent Psychiatry, 177.
Klingberg, T. (2013). The Learning Brain: Memory and Brain Development in
Children. Library Journal, (4). 83.
Landerl, K., Fussenegger, B., Moll, K., Willburger, E, et al.. (2009). Dyslexia and
dyscalculia: two learning disorders with different cognitive profiles. Journal of
Experimental Child Psychology, 103.
Lhaugen, G. C., Antonsen, I., Hberg, A., Gramstad, A., Vik, T., Brubakk, A., & Skranes,
J. (2011). Original Article: Computerized Working Memory Training Improves
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Smith-Spark, J. H., & Fisk, J. E. (2007). Working memory functioning in developmental
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2015 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


36

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 36-52, December 2015

Exploring Career Management Skills in Higher


Education: Perceived Self-efficacy in Career,
Career Adaptability and Career Resilience in
Greek University Students

Despina Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou, Katerina Argyropoulou, Nikos Drosos,


Andronikos Kaliris, and Katerina Mikedaki

Career Counseling Research and Assessment Centre


Faculty of Philosophy, Pedagogy, and Psychology
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
Athens, Greece

Abstract. This paper aims at highlighting a grid of career management


skills which can help university students respond effectively to the
complexity of labor market and career development, namely, career
adaptability, perceived career self-efficacy beliefs and career resilience.
Given that little is known so far regarding the degree to which higher
education students possess and develop such skills, a cross-sectional
survey was conducted to investigate: (a) students perceived level of the
above mentioned skills, (b) the relationships that may exist among them,
and (c) possible differences in skill levels between working and non-
working students. Results demonstrated relatively high scores in all
skills, strong positive relationships among them as well as significant
differences at scores as to students work status. Implications for
training, career counseling interventions and further research are
provided.

Keywords: Higher Education; career management skills; career


adaptability; perceived career self-efficacy; career resilience

Introduction
The contemporary world of work is characterized by complexity and constant
change. Career is influenced by numerous contextual factors such as national
culture, economy, the political environment, as well as by personal variables,
such as relationships with others (Greenhaus, Callanan, & DiRenzo, 2008).
Changing labor markets and shifts in job and life roles make career and work
quite challenging tasks (Mylonas & Furnham, 2014) causing unpredictable
effects on individuals life (Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou, Argyropoulou, & Drosos,
2013).

@2015 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


37

Societal changes along with rapid technological advancements, globalization


and the contemporary global financial crisis, all have created changes as to how
individuals pursue and manage their career. Career has largely lost traditional
elements of linearity and predictability (Akkermans, Brenninkmeijer, Huibers, &
Blonk, 2013) which has led to numerous challenges for citizens such as the
increase of unemployment and underemployment rates, flexible job contracts
and constant reformulations on vocational self-concepts (Kaliris & Kriwas, 2014).
All aforementioned situations are forcing individuals to adapt to multiple roles
and transitions, to direct their life toward the achievement of specific goals, to
strengthen their personal and career self-efficacy beliefs (Savickas, 2013;
Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou, Argyropoulou, Drosos, Kaliris, & Mikedaki, 2014).
Past boundaries between career and personal counseling constructs and aims
are rendered quite vague today. Rather, career counseling attempts to help the
person deal effectively with life-design issues, with career being a critical one.
Our views align with McIlveens (2015) considerations, who claims that today,
career counseling practice should place more emphasis on its preventive -
educational role with the aim of supporting clients to act proactively in order to
confront increased career and labor market demands. We contend that this aim
can be realized by helping clients acquire and develop a set of core lifelong
career management skills.

Lifelong Career Management Skills


Lifelong career management skills refer to multifaceted skills and attitudes
which encompass collection, analysis, composition and organization of
information about self, education and professions (European Lifelong Guidance
Policy Network, 2012). The prior term is intrinsic to career decision-making,
problem solving and transition management (ELGPN, 2012; Sultana, 2012). The
similar notion of meta-competences is associated with core skills considered to
facilitate career management within the post-modern context, whereby notions
of protean, circular, transitional and boundaryless career have come
into prominence (Lo Presti, 2009).
Career management skills (CMS) are considered highly significant as they
may support individuals in taking full advantage of educational and career
opportunities, in coping with difficulties in the workplace, and in maintaining
balance among various roles at work, education and family, throughout the life
span (ELGPN, 2012; Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou, Argyropoulou, & Drosos, 2010a).

Career management skills in Higher Education


College or university is a critical time in young peoples career development.
During this developmental period, students partially form career trajectories
which are either supported or hindered by their abilities to set and address
academic and career-related goals (Sung, Turner, & Kaewchinda, 2013).
Considering the multiple career-related challenges which arise for higher
education students, both during and after graduation, it is self-evident how
important it is to help them develop certain types of CMS as a way for them to
successfully deal with transitions, such as that from school to work, to reach
specific academic and career goals (Sung et al., 2013), to enhance their
employability rates (Mason, Williams, & Cranmer, 2009) and finally, to be
successful both at work and in life (Tran, 2013).

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38

Next, career adaptability, perceived career self-efficacy, and career resilience


will be highlighted as they represent skills with great potential for the
facilitation of higher education students career development.
Career adaptability
Career adaptability describes an individuals readiness to respond to a
conscious and continuous exploration of the self and the environment in order
to cope with change of work roles and successfully handle unforeseen
adaptations in career (Savickas, 2013). The construct consists of the following
core adaptability resources (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012): Concern, control, curiosity,
and confidence. Concern is related to future orientation issues encompassing a
sense of optimism about the future. Control refers to ones need to exert influence
on the vocational issues that concern them. Curiosity refers to the formulation of
future career plans through exploration of self and the environment. Confidence
is associated with person's belief in their abilities to accomplish necessary career
actions.
Those who possess high levels of adapt-abilities tend to exhibit behavioral
patterns that enable them to design their careers by attributing optimistic
meanings to various career roles (Argyropoulou, 2013), whereas they ensure
harmony in their personal and professional lives (Savickas & Porfeli, 2012).

Perceived self-efficacy in career


People with high confidence in their abilities tend to face difficult situations
as challenges to overcome rather than as threats to be avoided (Bandura, 1997).
Therefore, they try to exercise control over various complicated and hard tasks
or situations (Kaliris & Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou, 2012).
Perceived self-efficacy in career refers to the beliefs people form in terms of their
ability to implement the appropriate actions required to effectively manage
various career issues (Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou, Mylonas, & Argyropoulou,
2012). A relatively high degree of self-efficacy in career may strengthen the
ability through which cognitive, social and behavioral skills are organized into a
single course of action for the achievement of career objectives. Moreover,
employees equipped with high self-efficacy levels are more likely to perform
occupational roles innovatively, whereas those with low self-efficacy levels are
prone to processing occupational duties conventionally and with little personal
embellishment (Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou, Mylonas, & Argyropoulou, 2015).

Career resilience
Resilience reflects the ability to adapt to change, even when circumstances are
discouraging or disruptive (London, 1997). It is about being able to tolerate
uncertainty and ambiguity, whilst at the same time being flexible and
autonomous (Bimrose, Brown, Barnes, & Hughes, 2011, p. 17). Resilience also
entails turning the effects of tension and painful events to ones benefit. Career
resilience development is supported from factors such as positive self-image and
self-confidence, problem-solving skills, a sense of control, and search for
meaning in life despite difficulties or traumatic events.
Career resilience is conceptually close to career adaptability as both concepts
assist the person in the navigation of an uncertain labor market (Bimrose,
Barnes, & Hughes, 2008). Nevertheless, career resilience focuses on individuals
ability to manage and survive from change precisely when it happens

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39

(Goodman, 1994; Kohn, OBrien, Wood, Pickering, & Decicco, 2003) while career
adaptability is most determined by a persons competency to manage change
over time.
The grid of the career management skills described above could serve as a
robust set of resources and strategies for young individuals to navigate the
world of work and to self-negotiate life and career transitions (Bimrose &
Hearne, 2012; Lo Presti, 2009). It was of great interest to us to investigate the
extent to which a sample of University students possess such skills and the
relationships that may have with each other. Our particular focus was on career
adaptability and career resilience as they are conceptually similar constructs
considered valuable in supporting adults manage positive or negative career
transitions (i.e., the one from tertiary education to the labor market) in smoother
ways (Bimrose & Hearne, 2012; Bridgstock, 2009). The relationship of perceived
self-efficacy in career with the prior skills was also considered crucial as all
being together may enhance students efforts in organizing and performing
career-related tasks despite adversities (Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou et al., 2014).

Aim of the study and research questions


Our aim was to explore the degree to which university students think they
possess career adaptability, perceived self-efficacy in career and career
resilience. Another goal was to comprehend possible similarities or differences
among these skills by investigating their interrelationships. The role of work was
also examined as provision of work experiences to students (e.g. through
practicum) may stand as a critical factor for CMS development. There have been
a few studies focused on the impact of learning and training in the development
of career adaptability (Brown, Bimrose, Barnes, & Hughes, 2012; Koen, Klehe, &
Van Vianen, 2012) or on the relationships between career adaptability and
factors such as work engagement or work conditions (Maggiori, Johnston,
Krings, Massoudi, & Rossier, 2013; Rossier, Zecca, Stauffer, Maggiori, &
Dauwalder, 2012). However, there is a lack of studies examining explicitly
whether work experience differentiates students level at a set of CMS. This is a
gap in bibliography we intended to fill with this study. Finally, we were
interested in receiving students opinions about the skills they consider most
important to succeed in any work environment. In particular, the following
research questions were addressed:
(1) Which is the perceived level of career adaptability, self-efficacy in career and
career resilience in university students?,
(2) What relationships occur among career adaptability, perceived self-efficacy
in career and career resilience?,
(3) Are there any differences regarding the level of skills between working and
non-working students?,
(4) Which three career management skills do students regard as most essential to
succeed in any working environment?

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40

Method

Participants
Two hundred thirty-six (236) undergraduate students of the Department
of Philosophy, Pedagogy and Psychology of the University of Athens
participated in this study. Graduates of the prior Department have a licensure of
philologist. Common obligatory subjects for all students are Ancient Greek,
Philosophy, Theory and Methodology of Teaching, Educational Assessment,
Career Guidance, Educational Psychology etc. The curriculum gives students the
opportunity after the second semester to select their major of study among the
directions of Philosophy, Pedagogy or Psychology. Students carry out a short
practicum in teaching, however, the practicum experience being offered is not
targeted to developing specific career management skills to participants.
Most students of the sample were up to 25 years old. Eight students who
were over 25 were excluded from further analysis so as not to bias results,
leading to a final sample of 228 participants. The majority of them were women
(n = 209, 91.7%). Most participants were unemployed (n = 169, 74%) whereas 59
students (26%) held a job at the time of the survey.

Measures
Career adaptability. The adjusted Greek form (Mikedaki, 2015) of the
Career Adapt-abilities Scale International Form 2.0 (CA-AS; Savickas & Porfeli,
2012) was used to indicate the level of participants in career adaptability
resources. The Greek scale consists of 24 items, the same as the original one.
Participants responded to each item employing a 5-point Likert-type scale
(1=not strong, 5=strongest). Below, examples of items are given for each sub-
scale: Concern: thinking about what my future will be like, control: taking
responsibility for my actions, curiosity: Becoming curious about new
opportunities, confidence: Performing tasks efficiently. High reliability is
reported as to the total scale (.92) and the sub-scale scores [concern (.83), control
(.74), curiosity (.79) and confidence (.85)]. In the current study estimates were
also high (total scale: .94, concern: .87, control: .85, curiosity: .83, confidence: .86).
Perceived self-efficacy in career. Perceived Self-efficacy in Career Scale
(PSECS; Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou et al., 2012) was used to explore career self-
efficacy beliefs. The 21-item scale has reached adequate psychometric properties
in studies with adults (N = 126) and high school students (N = 276). Four
dimensions were supported by exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses
(Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou et al., 2015): Career management represents
individuals ability to cope effectively with practical and emotional issues in
career (e.g. I believe I am able to achieve most of the career goals that I have set
for myself despite the current social and economic difficulties); Career skills
relates to the utilization of organizational skills and performance when working
under harsh conditions (e.g. In general, I can think of alternative ways to better
organize my work and become more efficient); Flexibility at work refers to a
persons ability to adapt to transitions and changes that may occur in the
workplace (e.g. Even when duties in my job change, I am able to perform
efficiently); Creativity at work represents active interest in career through
creativity and ingenuity (e.g. Thanks to my resourcefulness, I know how to

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41

deal with unexpected situations in my work). Items are scored on a 5-point


Likert-type scale (1 = no confidence at all, 5 = complete confidence). Alpha
estimates in this sample were high for the total scale ( = .91) as well as for the
sub-scales (.80, .75, .75, .80).
Career resilience. The Career Resilience Self-Assessment (Straby, 2010)
was translated in Greek in order to measure students career resilience level.
This scale is unidimensional and comprises 14 statements scored at a 5-point
Likert-type scale (1 = Do not agree at all, 5 = Strongly agree). Higher scores
demonstrate that the individual is better prepared and willing to be in charge of
their career development and more likely to be pursuing career-resilient
activities as normal practice. Examples of items are as follows: The skills and
abilities that I need to be employable are clear to me, I can identify three
important accomplishments from my current/last job. In the present research
Cronbachs was high ( = .89).
Question as to the most important career skills. An additional question was
included in the survey with the aim of exploring three (3) skills students
consider primary to succeed in any working environment.
Demographics. A questionnaire was employed to gather data on
students gender, age, major of studies and status of employment
(distinguishing between working and non-working students).

Procedure
A cross-sectional survey was carried out from April to June 2014 at the
Department of Philosophy, Pedagogy, and Psychology of the National and
Kapodistrian University of Athens. Cluster sampling was applied as participants
represented entire classes. Questionnaires were completed during a regular
class. No award was given for participation in the study. Confidentiality of the
data was maintained throughout all research stages.

Data analysis
SPSS V.22 was used to analyze data. Normality of data distribution was
confirmed as the quotients of kurtosis and skewness with their corresponding
standard errors were less than the number 3.29 (Roussos & Efstathiou, 2008).
Additionally, the Kolmogorov-Smirnoff test had a non-significant result (p = .20)
demonstrating that it would be secure to execute parametric analyses.
Descriptive statistics (means, standard deviations) were computed for all scales
as well as MANOVA and t-test in order to examine differences in skill levels
between working and non-working students. Product-moment correlation
coefficient (Pearsons r) was also applied to investigate relationships among
variables. Finally, critical z-scores were calculated to compare considerable
differences in correlations between groups.

Results

Perceived level of career management skills


Table 1 shows that participants scored highest at career adaptability (M = 3.59,
SD = .64). Concerning career adaptability resources levels, the highest score
appeared at the dimension of control (M = 3.70, SD = .77). Relatively high scores
were also found for perceived self-efficacy in career (M = 3.35, SD = .54). The PSECS

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42

component of career skills (M = 3.49, SD = .58) scored higher than other self-
efficacy components (Table 1). Finally, score on career resilience was the lowest
of all skills (M = 3.12, SD = .73).

Relationships among career management skills


Moderate to high positive correlations occurred among most variables at the
0.01 level of significance. An overview of Table 2 shows that there is a high
positive relationship between perceived self-efficacy in career and career
adaptability (r = .70) and a moderate relationship between perceived self-
efficacy in career and career resilience (r = .62). Career resilience and career
adaptability were also moderately related to each other (r = .62). No significant
relationships were found between skills and participants age (see Table 2).

Table 1. Means, standard deviations and Cronbachs reliability coefficients for the scales used in
the study
Work
Scales M SD M SD
status
Working 3.52 0.57
Perceived Self-efficacy in career 3.35 .54 .91 Non-
working
3.29 0.52
Working 3.51 0.67
SE 1: Career Management 3.35 .63 .80 Non-
working
3.29 0.61
Working 3.61 0.58
SE 2: Career Skills 3.49 .58 .75 Non-
working
3.44 0.57
Working 3.56 0.71
SE 3: Flexibility at work 3.31 .66 .75 Non-
working
3.22 0.62
Working 3.37 0.82
SE 4: Creativity at work 3.18 .74 .80 Non-
working
3.12 0.70
Working 3.72 0.74
Career Adaptability 3.59 .64 .94 Non-
working
3.54 0.59
Working 3.68 0.92
CA 1: Concern 3.49 .79 .87 Non-
Working
3.42 0.73
Working 3.86 0.81
CA 2: Control 3.70 .77 .85 Non-
working
3.65 0.75
Working 3.62 0.86
CA 3: Curiosity 3.50 .75 .83 Non-
working
3.45 0.71
Working 3.73 0.81
CA 4 : Confidence 3.68 .72 .86 Non-
working
3.66 0.69
Working 3.44 0.75
Career Resilience 3.12 .73 .89 Non-
working
3.00 0.69
N = 228. SE 1, SE 2, SE 3, SE 4= components of PSECS. CA 1, CA 2, CA 3, CA 4 = components of the
Career Adapt-abilities Scale

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43

Differences in the level of perceived career management skills between working and
non-working students
Multivariate analysis of variance demonstrated statistically significant
differences in the perceived level of self-efficacy in career and its dimensions, in
favor of the students who held a job at the time of the survey. [Self-efficacy in
career: F(1, 223) = 8.203, Wilks = 2.957, p = .005, 2 = .035; Career
management: F(1, 223) = 4.997, p = .026, 2 = .022; Career skills: F(1, 223) = 3.835,
p = .05, 2 = .017; Flexibility at work: F(1, 223) = 11.571, p = .001, 2 = .049;
Creativity at work: F(1, 223) = 5.06, p = .025, 2 = .022]. A statistically significant
difference was also found at career resilience, again with the highest score
having been achieved by the working students, t(223) = 4.049, p < .001, 95% CI
[.22, .64]. Neither at career adaptability as total scale nor at its components
significant differences were found between the two student groups, except for
the component of concern, F(1, 226) = 4.612, p = .033, 2 = .020.

Differences in correlations among perceived career management skills between


working and non-working students
Several statistically significant differences in correlations among skills were
detected, in favor of the group of working students (n = 58). These are, as
follows: (a) career adaptability and career resilience, (r = .79, p < .01, r = .52, p <
.01, z = 3.17, p = .0015), (b) career adaptability component of control and career
resilience (r = .62, p < .01, r = .30, p < .01, z = 2.66, p = .008), (c) career adaptability
component of curiosity and career resilience (r = .76, p < .01, r = .50, p < .01, z =
2.86, p = .004), as well as (d) career adaptability component of confidence and
career resilience (r = .76, p < .01, r = .50, p < .01, z = 2.86, p = .004).

Most important career management skills


Students reported the following three skills as the most important in order to
succeed in work: 1) communicative - transpersonal skills (25%), 2) team-working
skills (20%), and 3) eagerness-diligence (18%). This set of skills was followed by
a series of other significant skills mentioned by students in descending order
(based on the amount of responses): creativity, responsibility, patience,
knowledge of foreign languages, seminars, IT skills, persistence, coordination
skills, adaptability, self-determination, self-efficacy, self-confidence, consistence,
flexibility and willingness.

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0

Table 2. Correlations among perceived self-efficacy in career, career adaptability and career resilience

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12

1. Age 1
2. PSECS -.04 1
3. CM -.02 .81** 1
4. CS -.03 .88** .62** 1
5. FW -.03 .86** .59** .67** 1
6. CW -.11* .83** .50** .64** .69** 1
7. CA -.004 .70** .56** .63** .59** .60** 1
8. CON -.03 .49** .40** .43** .45** .39** .83** 1
9. CONT. -.08 .64** .53** .59** .48** .54** .80** .50** 1
10. CUR -.06 .63** .49** .54** .50** .58** .86** .65** .56** 1
11. CONF. .01 .62** .47** .56** .54** .52** .87** .64** .62** .70** 1
12. CR -.02 .62** .45** .51** .59** .57** .61** .51** .41** .58** . 57** 1

Note. = 222, PSECS = Perceived self-efficacy in career, CM = Career management skills, CS = Career skills, FW = Flexibility at work, CW = Creativity
at work, CA = Career adaptability, CON = Concern, CONT = Control, CUR = Curiosity, CONF = Confidence, CR = Career resilience.
**p < .01

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45

Discussion
An important justification for introducing or strengthening CMS is a greater
awareness of the need for skills in managing ones non-linear career pathways in
knowledge-based economies. However, there is evidence to suggest that the
potential for student career management skill development remains mostly
unrealized in universities (Bridgstock, 2009). Many of them concentrate mostly
on instilling content and theory into students. Thus, there is a lack of alignment
between the skills students have to gain, the skills they acquire from their
degrees and the skills employers require (Dennis, Smith, & Wadsworth, 2012).
Within this context skills systems that equip people with a single set of skills or
functional knowledge at the outset of their working life are inadequate
(Borbly-Pecze & Hutchinson, 2014, p. 10).
Recent evidence reveals that developing CMS may help individuals achieve
better career outcomes. For example, a study of 3,499 students and 166 teachers
in vocational education (Meijers, Kuijpers, & Gundy, 2013) showed that several
career competencies (e.g. career reflection, career-forming through pro-active
behavior) were positively associated with learning motivation and experienced
quality of study choice. Sung et al. (2013) also found that educational and career
development skills (e.g. career exploration, social/ pro-social/ work readiness)
predicted interrelated educational and career development outcomes (e.g. self-
efficacy, magnitude of vocational interests and pro-activity) at university
students (N = 132). Furthermore, Komarraju, Swanson, and Nadlers (2014)
study demonstrated that career self-efficacy predicted academic motivation,
course and major satisfaction (Study 2, N = 226).
Despite the significance of aforementioned research, yet there is no emphasis
given at (a) the degree that university students possess a nexus of critical CMS in
the context of instability in career and at (b) the interrelationships among
specific groups of CMS. The present research may provide underpinnings for
further research on the role CMS have for students career and life design.
Specifically, our study revealed that students who are equipped with work
experience tend to report higher levels of confidence in managing career-related
issues. It is possible that workers tend to formulate more optimistic beliefs about
their future career than their non-working peers due to the fact of holding a job
despite social adversities, and financial or work difficulties. The largest effect
size was demonstrated at flexibility at work (2 = .049), a result which may
show that university students participation in work tasks forces their
implementation of career management skills in daily work. This consequently
may support the development of abilities to adapt to unexpected work changes
and transitions.
Students reported high scores in total career adapt-abilities scale with the
dimension of control being scored highest of other adaptability resources (M =
3.70, Table 1). This finding probably highlights students confidence in their
abilities to make reliable career decisions and take control of career issues that
concern them. It was also interesting that participants scores on the dimension
of concern were differentiated as to their work status, with those working at the
period the survey was carried out reporting higher scores than those reported by
the sample of non-working ones. Probably more experienced students tend to be

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46

highly interested in future career plans based on their current work influences.
Furthermore, they probably realize the vital role of career exploration and
preparedness for future success. The above results are complementary to those
generated from Koen et al.s (2012) study which highlighted the role of training
in the development of career adaptability resources. Specifically, their quasi-
experimental study demonstrated that a group of employees trained in career
adaptability resources reported higher control, curiosity and interest scores than
the ones who did not participate in the training course. The comparison group
also held higher quality work positions shortly after training (Koen et al., 2012).
Another important finding of the research was that job holders as compared
with their non-working counterparts tend to use career resilient activities as a
normal practice (e.g. creating professional networks, exhibiting self-presentation
skills, being involved in career-planning) to a higher degree, by exerting
influence on career issues. Probably, work experience along with exhibition at
work-related attitudes and behaviors fosters students awareness of helpful
career management strategies. An alternative explanation may be that people
who have developed career resilient behaviors are more likely to hold a job,
something that could be especially true within a context of high unemployment
rates in Greece during the last period.
Perceived self-efficacy in career, career adaptability and career resilience were
interrelated from moderate to high degree. This could indicate that these skills
share common constructs. Furthermore, it is likely that the strong relationships
occurred between control, curiosity and confidence (career adapt-abilities) and
career resilience for the sample of workers represent their tendency to activate a
grid of CMS in order to perform effectively in the face of difficulties. On the
other hand, they are indicative of the strong connections existing between ones
sense of control and exploration of the environment with the exhibition of career
resilient behaviors.
In line with the above findings several recent studies have demonstrated
positive associations of career adapt-abilities with numerous life and career
factors, these are, career resilience (Bimrose & Hearne, 2012), vocational
commitment (Rossier et al., 2012), orientation to happiness (Johnston, Luciano,
Maggiori, Ruch, & Rossier, 2013), career optimism and orientation to learning
goals (Tolentino et al., 2014), hope and satisfaction from life (Wilkins et al., 2014),
subjective career success (Zacher, 2014a), life quality and breadth of interests
(Soresi, Nota, Ferrari, 2012), emotional intelligence (Coetzee & Harry, 2014),
personal control on life (Duffy, 2010) as well as career progression and
cultivation of intellectual skills (Creed, Fallon, & Hood, 2009).
Finally, students consider crucial to succeed at any work environment skills
that refer to communication and management of relationships, operating in
teams, common qualifications such as IT skills and skills in foreign languages as
well as other competencies such as self-efficacy, leadership, creativity and
flexibility. We anticipated these results due to the fact that all students were
studying at the Department of Philosophy, Pedagogy, and Psychology. The
graduates of this department mainly work as philologists and educators. Thus, it
is very likely they prioritize skills related to use of language, communication,
and working in teams.

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47

Regarding the psychometric properties of the scales used in the survey,


differentiations observed in scores between the groups of working and non-
working participants along with high reliability coefficients provide evidence of
construct validity for CA-AS, PSECS and the Career Resilience Self-Assessment.
Furthermore, the fact that all scales correlate with each other is indicative of
convergent validity as these scales are assumed to reflect similar constructs
(Sarafidou, 2011).
In order to make the goal of teaching job-related skills more explicit, some
universities (e.g. in England) introduce new stand alone courses to the existing
curriculum and also expand the provision of opportunities for work experience.
Other university departments use a mix of integrated and stand-alone teaching
methods (Mason et al., 2009). Our research results reinforce these implications
for Greek higher education and call for the integration of practicum or
internship to the curricula, as work experience was found to differentiate
acquisition of skills in students. CMS development interventions should
acknowledge the richly textured lives of individuals, all of whom will have built
up a range of CMS as part of their everyday experiences, e.g. part-time jobs, and
summer job-experiences (Sultana, 2012). University students should be offered
opportunities to gain and practice skills that are relevant both to all work fields
(e.g. career self-efficacy, career adaptability, communication skills, problem-
solving skills etc.) and to particular occupations (Borbly-Pecze & Hutchinson,
2014). Experiential activities (e.g. case studies, role playing) could stimulate
students active participation in the learning process and provide stimuli for free
expression and development of social skills (Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou,
Argyropoulou, & Drosos, 2010b). Additionally, seminar-type workshops would
be ideal to facilitate learning of job search techniques, resume preparation,
utilization of professional social media etc.
Given the strong interrelationships found in our study among career
adaptability, career resilience and career self-efficacy, it might be advisable to
create programs that focus on the development of a sole skill, as this may foster
many other relevant skills. Interventions building on the underlying resources of
perceived self-efficacy beliefs in career and career adaptability could benefit
university students. The Career Counseling Research and Assessment Center of
the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens has developed a
comprehensive program to enhance career adapt-abilities in university students
(Argyropoulou, 2013; Sidiropoulou-Dimakakou, Argyropoulou, Mikedaki, &
Tsakanika, 2013). Special emphasis is placed on how the individual can
construct a future self-image by designing an action plan (Argyropoulou, 2013).
The program consists of 7 one-hour sessions. In the first session a 15-minute-
video is displayed, usually an excerpt of a film with career adaptability as a
central issue. In each following session, the counselor presents a career
adaptability resource and, then, participants work in teams in order to develop
the corresponding skill through experiential activities.
Regarding future research, there is a need of conducting both concurrent and
longitudinal studies to evaluate CMS impact on multiple career outcomes (e.g.
work performance, balance between work and life roles, rates and quality of job
placements). Relationships among career adaptability, perceived self-efficacy in
career and career resilience should be further examined in order to comprehend

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48

similarities or differences they have with each other. These 3 skills may reflect a
meta-competence, which could serve as a powerful tool for designing future
career interventions.
A major limitation of the study is the use of a sample derived only from a
single university department. Indeed, this reduces the generalizability of the
findings to other populations. However, this is a limitation we aim to address in
the future by expanding the present research into many other departments of
various fields of study. Another similar limitation relates to the fact that women
far outnumber men in the sample. This was expected due to the fact that the
Department of Philosophy, Pedagogy and Psychology traditionally consists of a
high percentage of women. Another drawback that should be addressed in
future research refers to the use of self-report questionnaires, which constitutes a
potential bias of results. In future studies, it would be recommended that a
mixture of self-report scales, reports of professors and other qualitative methods
such as interviews are used in order to reduce potential errors.
All in all, the findings of this research contribute to: (a) pursuing active
methods of working, (b) refining career counseling services and interventions in
higher education by using them as a tool of empowerment, training and
prevention, (c) supporting individuals to show a great deal of personal
responsibility for managing career effectively.

Declaration of Conflicting Interests


The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the
research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 53-67, December 2015

Forming Self-Study Skills for Students Bad at


Math in High Schools in Vietnam

Tram Phuong Thuy Nguyen


Duc Trong High School, Duc Trong district, Lam Dong province, Vietnam

Tuyen Thanh Thi Nguyen


Hung Vuong University, Phu Tho province, Vietnam

Thong Duc Do
Trieu Son 5 high school, Trieu Son district, Thanh Hoa province, Vietnam

Giang Anh Pham


Hong Duc University, Thanh Hoa province, Vietnam

Son Hoang Nguyen


Technical and Economic college of Lam Dong

Abstract. Self-study helps people study actively in their whole life. The
process of self-study which helps students gradually acquire the general
knowledge of humankind for themselves self-consciously, positively,
and independently has become the key factor in education quality. If
each bad student can form his self-study skills and use his own study
time suitably, the result and quality of his study will improve, which
helps to reduce the rate of bad students in schools.

Keywords: Bad student at math, self-study, self-check.

1. Introduction
Nowadays, teaching is not limited at the function of teaching knowledge, but it
also improves students learning methods. Besides, school time is limited, which
requires students necessary attitudes and abilities to self-orientate, self-update,
and enrich their knowledge to meet the requirements of the society.
Mentioning learning methods means mainly mentioning self-study kills which
are a bridge connecting learning and scientific research. If learners are trained to
have skills, methods, and self-study habits and know how to apply what they
have learned to new situations, as well as find out and solve their problems,
their love for learning will rise, which is the potential of each person. Studying
math should follow this trend, especially when math has some advantages in
meeting the above requirements compared with other subjects.

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Self-study has been done since education was not real science. At that time,
people were already interested in how to make learners study hard, positively
remember teacher's teachings and practice what they had learned. In the middle
of 1970s, there were books or writings about this matter, such as Freedom,
Autonomy and the Concept of the Person (Benn, S.-I (1976)), Autonomy
in Foreign Language Learning (Holec, H. (1981)) . In Vietnam, self-study has
been launched seriously and widely since the revolution education appeared in
1945, which President Ho Chi Minh was not only the promoter but also an
example of teaching spirit and methods. In the 20th century, thoughts of self-
study were presented directly and indirectly by many authors (Nguyen, C. T ,
Nguyen, B. K, etc.) in their research works, such as psychology, pedagogy,
subject teaching method, etc.

At the beginning of the current innovation, self-study in general and students'


self-study in particular are more and more interested and researched because of
the important role of self-study in teaching and learning processes towards
learner-centered innovation.
In theory as well as in practice, self-study is an activity having an important
meaning in creating the quality and efficiency in teaching math. The current
learning activity of high school students is happening in very new conditions.
The formation of an information society in a knowledge economy is creating
favourable conditions, but also putting pressures on students. It requires
students to have big changes in orienting and choosing information, as well as in
the way they gain, process, and store information. In that situation, the math
knowledge that students have gained in class through teachers lessons becomes
little. They tend to get out of the lessons in class to find out, widen, and deepen
knowledge from different sources of information. Therefore, self-study in high
schools has turned popular and become a typical characteristic of teaching.
Developing the ability of students to self-study is the key point to produce
internal force and improve the quality and efficiency in teaching math.
According to Nguyen, B.-K (2007), students bad at math are those who have
frequent bad results. Acquiring knowledge and training necessary skills of these
students require a lot of force and time, compared with other students.
One of the visible expressions of bad students is that they have bad learning
methods. Therefore, to surmount the situation of these students, teachers should
have methods to help them study actively and teach them how to learn properly.
In our country, this issue is considered and determined one of the orientations to
innovate teaching methods in high schools at present.
According to Nguyen. C. T., Nguyen, K. Le, K. B., & Vu, V. T. (2004), studying
mainly means self-study, a process of inner development, in which one
expresses and changes oneself as well as enriches ones values by receiving and
processing information from the surroundings. Meanwhile, according to Pham,
D.-K. (2005), the nature of self-study is the process in which a learner
personalizes his study so as to meet learning needs and conducts learning
activities by himself (through thought manipulation, practice, communications,
self-check, self-assessment, etc.) to perform the learning goal and duty
effectively.
Thai, D.-T (2008, p.311) has pointed out that building learning motives for
students is one of the most important things in improving students self-study

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55

because the self-study must start internally from the inner ability. Learning
motives can be divided into two main groups: cognitive excitement motives and
learning duty motives.
Therefore, teachers should find ways to motivate, inspire, and help students
form methods and self-study ability so that they can acquire knowledge by
themselves and perfect themselves later. Bad students, especially, are not good
at knowledge methods (skills in analysis, synthesis, analogy, logical inference,
etc.). Therefore, teachers should pay attention to fostering students knowledge
methods by giving math problems with sample key showing the algorithm
clearly. Based on this, students should pay more attention to practicing skills in
analysis, synthesis, and logical inference. As a result, teachers can enhance
identification activities and show them in students learning process both at
school and at home. This skill can be consolidated by classification exercises
suitable for students learning level.
2. The concepts of students self-study skills
According to Vietnamese Dictionary, practice means practicing many times in
reality to gain a stable quality or level. (Hoang, P, (1998))
According to Dang, T.-H (2012), a skill is a form of action performed voluntarily
based on the knowledge about work, mobility, and other biological-
psychological conditions of a person (who has the skill) such as needs, affection,
wills, individual positive, etc. to gain results by purpose, defined criteria, or the
level of success following a standard or regulation.
Self-study skill is the ability to carry out a system of self-organized actions and
self-control self-study activity based on applying the experience relevant to that
activity.

Self-study skills are a system including general skills for learning activities and
specialized skills. The number of types of study is equal to the number of
specialized skills.
According to Vu, T.-R, self-study skills include four groups: cognitive skills,
practical skills, organizational skills, and assessment skills. (1994)
Thus, forming self-study skills for students is teachers duty with measures
combined reasonably, suitable for students level and the schools teaching
conditions. Students should be self-aware and enthusiastic about practicing to
form the self-study skills for themselves. Therefore, while practicing, students
need to be aware of the meaning and the role of self-study in their future careers.
Students should have a proper practicing motive and turn practice into self-
practice.
For those whose are bad at math, teachers should require students self-study
skills, especially cognitive skills and practical skills.
3. Factors that affect students self-study skills
There are a lot of determinants that influence students self-study. It is the role of
teachers in determining students learning motives, guiding the way of self-
study and encouraging students. It is the role of the management in instructing
the self-study mission. Or it is the investment of facilities in self-study activities.
For students who are bad at math, self-study skills include corresponding skills
such as skills in taking notes, reading references, analyzing and synthesizing

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56

knowledge, working in groups, applying knowledge in solving math problems,


using information technology, etc.

During the past time, many senior high schools have been interested in training
self-study skills for their students. According to our survey at six senior high
schools in Lam Dong Province, there are many factors affecting students' self-
study activities, as follows:

3.1. Learning motives


Learning motives are what that stimulates and motivates students learning
positive to gain results of awareness and the formation and development of
personality. This is a complex structure including many specific motives with
differences in the content, quality as well as its position in the structure. The
differences make the effect on the subjects activities different and this leads to
the difference in the results of activities.

Learning motives decide students learning results. This requires students to


build their needs and learning motives all the time in the process of study. In
practice students learning activities are driven by the motive from their need to
learn. They study by themselves to gain knowledge. In fact, many students have
not seen the applicability and beauty of math, so they lack their learning motives
for this subject, Reducing students' self-study need (accounting for about 92 %)

3.2. Learning interest


Learning interest is one of the important factors that affect the process of
students self-study (accounting for 86 %). When having the interest in the
subject, students will feel passionate and want to learn and discover the
knowledge relevant to this subject. The interest in math subject is expressed in
the concentration and attention to self-study in which the learner see the
significance of math in reality.
3.3. The facilities, infrastructure conditions, and time for self-study
Besides the factors from learners such as motives and interest, external factors
such as technical infrastructure, facilities and teaching equipment also
significantly affect the process of students self-study (accounting for 78 %). The
time for self-study does too because high school students have many subjects.
Each subject has a different position, feature, content, information volume and a
mutual relationship. To self-study well, students must arrange and manage a
reasonable time. At present, most bad students are not used to seeking materials
to support self-study and planning a suitable timetable, so their self-study is still
limited.
3.4. The role of teachers in orienting self-study activities
According to the oriented education innovation, teachers have to change their
form of teaching and teaching methods by improving students self-study.
Teachers have to teach students about the contents, methods, and forms of self-
study. At present, the teaching methods and the perspective on assessing
learning results of some teachers have not changed much. Teachers still keep

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57

their old habit of lecturing and assessing learning results primarily by periodical
written tests without following students process of learning. Teaching and
assessing in that way can have a big effect on the practice of self-study skill of
students in most of the subjects, especially math (accounting for 69 %).
4. Self-study skills that need training for bad students at math
Through researching materials and exchanging with colleagues, we have found
that to form self-study skills for students bad at math, teachers need to train
them in the following skills:

1. Identify learning goals clearly. It is because the learning goals will decide the
learning methods and results of students.

2. Have a specific plan and arrange learning time specifically and scientifically to
study and relax reasonably.

3. Train ability to read books perseveringly, rewrite important and essential


content, and revise every day.

4. Use memory skills to acquire information: while studying in class, students


pay attention to the lessons, and then write down the basic content.

5. To understand and be retentive, students should always give opinions to


build lessons, give feedbacks, and minimize the passive in class.

6. Methods to learn theorems and formula by heart: skim the whole theorems or
formula once, then read slowly and remember the main content. After reading
and grasping the key information, take notes by diagrams or summarize the
main content on paper.

7. When starting to sit at the desk, the first thing to do is to review the whole
lesson of the day, what was taught by the teacher, and then look at the lesson of
the next day. Make notes or asterisk what we do not understand or have not
understood clearly so that we will pay more attention to these issues when being
explained on the next day.

8. Never be complacent towards the results we have gained. Study at school, at


home, from books, from friends, outside the textbooks by learning new
knowledge in reference books.

In order to train students self-study effectively, teachers lesson plan should


ensure the following requirements:
- Logical, systematic and linked to forms of classroom teaching.

- Practical and applicable to solving math problems that are interdisciplinary.

- Prepared seriously by teacher and be able to create excitement for students.

- Especially for bad students, teachers can instruct them to write their work
carefully in their notebooks. After each class, teachers should also save time to
instruct students to read in advance the content of the lesson necessary for the
next class: the focused content, the notes of the content, the requirements of the

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58

knowledge, etc. And the most important thing is that teachers should make
student feel self-confident and excited about learning math.

Example 1
To improve self-study ability for bad students at math, teachers can conduct
teaching this part of knowledge The difference of two vectors (Vietnamese
Geometry Textbook 10), as follows:
Activity 1: Creating learning motives for students
Teacher raises an issue
Two people act on one object in two opposite directions and with the same
magnitude of force. In which direction will the object move?

B O A
- Predict the direction the object placed at O will move when there are three
forces acting on the object at the same time as shown in the following figure:

B A

D
Activity 2: Assigning tasks to students (practice reading skill and group work
skill for students)
Teacher asks students to look at the presentation in the textbooks and group
work to grasp the issues:
- The concept of opposite vectors

- The definition of the difference of two vectors

- The three-point rule in the subtraction of vectors

Activity 3: Have students present the knowledge by themselves (practice


memory skill to gain knowledge, minimize the passive in class and practice
review skill during class)
- Teacher makes a request:

+ Given two vectors a and b (teacher draws on the board)


Students identify and draw:
- The opposite vector of a

- The difference of a and b

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+ Compare and recall the rule of three points for the sum and the subtraction of
two vectors.
Activity 4: Organize identification activities to inculcate the subtraction of two
vectors (practice review skill and inculcate knowledge)

Problem 1

Given a parallelogram ABCD with center O . Prove that:

a) CO OB BA

b) AB BC DB

c) DA DB OD OC

d) DA DB DC 0

Problem 2

Given an equilateral ABC with its side a . Calculate the length of vector

AB BC

Problem 3
Return to the problem in the motive prompting activity, teacher asks students to
explain using the knowledge of the difference of two vectors (the object will
move from O to H )
C

B H A

D
OA OB OD = OC OD = OC OH = HC = OH

Activity 5: Assigning homework (train skills in using reference books and


exploiting learning time properly of students)
Teacher asks students to:
- Review knowledge learned about vectors:

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+ The components of a vector


+ Determining the sum of two vectors
+ The three-point rule in the addition and subtraction of two vectors
+ Parallelogram rule
+ Vector relation to the midpoint of the segment and the focus of the triangle
- Solve the exercises in the Geometry workbook 10: 1.8, 1.9, 1.11, 1.12, page
21. (Nguyen, M.-H (2012))

- Identify and draw the following vectors ( a given before):

x aa
y a a
Make a comment on the direction and the length of x , y compared with a
In order for students to have good self-study skills, teachers should have
measures to help them get self-confidence in learning first. One of the measures
is that teachers give suitable exercises and practice analytical and synthetic
activities for students when teaching specific contents of math subject. Students
will understand and remember what they have learned through their active
learning and efforts.
According to Polya, G, analysis and synthesis are two important actions of the
mind. If one goes into detail, he can be submerged in it. Too much petty detail
impedes thoughts and focus on the main point. It is the case of the person who
only sees a tree, not a forest. First, one must understand the exercise as a whole.
When the exercise is understood clearly, it is easier for one to consider which
detail is fundamental. One has to study the exercise very closely, divides it into
steps, and avoids going too far. (Polya, G, (1975))
One researcher has said that analysis is splitting information and concepts into
small parts to understand it more fully. Synthesis is joining pieces of information
to create a new content. Analysis can be understood as the manipulation of
splitting information and concepts into small parts and pointing out their
relationship with the whole. Synthesis is a process that discovers the
relationships uniting the parts which seem to be separate as a whole to realize
them. Therefore, analytical and synthetic activities have an important role in the
intellectual development of students.
Students bad at math can especially be limited in the ability to cover issues.
Thus teachers should divide issues to be presented into detailed parts and find
appropriate activities for each detail.
For example, when having students prove a theorem or do an exercise (a
complex activity) with difficulty, we have to divide it into smaller activities:
- What can we infer from the assumption?

- What conditions do we need to get to conclusion?

- Consider a similar special case.

These activities help students not only find out the way to solve a math problem
(an activity of condition), but also understand more deeply (an activity of result)
Studying effectively in a learning hour often requires certain prerequisites of the
level of knowledge and available skills of students. Bad students, however, do

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61

not sometimes have these prerequisites and teachers should help them make the
starting premise in class. Teachers should use an explicit form of reproduction,
which means stating the knowledge and skills needing to be revised in order to
prepare for the learning content of the upcoming formal lesson. Doing so is to
enhance the target oriented effectiveness, provide motives and improve
students responsibility for lessons. This helps students feel more confident in
learning.
Knowledge with many gaps is a common disease of students bad at math.
The starting premise is also aimed at filling gaps in knowledge and skills of
students. In the process of teaching, teachers should be interested in discovering
and classifying knowledge gaps and skills of students. Typical gaps which have
not been recovered in class because of the time should be continued to solve in
groups of bad students. Through the process of learning theory and doing
exercises of students, teachers also help students, including bad students self-
consciously discover their gaps and know how to fill them.
In reality, training is done under general level and sometimes unsuitable for
students bad at math. Therefore, teachers should pay attention to bad students
and save time to train them to enhance practice moderately, divide the overall
activity into many detailed ones with the following notes:
- Make sure students understand the beginning of an exercise: bad students
often stumble right from the first step. They do not understand what the
problem is about, so they cannot continue the process. Therefore, teachers
should help them overcome this first stumble.

- Increase the number of assignments of the same kind and level: to understand
and practice a certain skill, bad students need more exercises of the same kind
and level than other average or good students. This increase is implemented in
students self-study time.

- Divide and grade exercises in teaching math: especially for students bad at
math, this grading needs to be more meticulous than the general level. That is,
the gap between two consecutive grades should not be too far or too high. Many
grades of bad students can be put together into one grade of average or good
students.

- Driven with the requirements to fit their best, bad students will be less
deprived, and since then they will gradually gain the knowledge and skills that
the syllabus requires. Although the initial requirements are low, they will create
a very important psychological factor if students study successfully: they will
believe in themselves, and then have enough courage and determination to
overcome the weakness.

Example 2
For good students, mastering the definition The product of vectors with a
number is simple. They easily grasp the concept. For students bad at math,
however, this is a difficult concept. Therefore, teachers should have many
activities to help them understand.
The definition in Geometry Textbook 10: Given a number k 0 and vector
a 0 . The product of vector a with a number k is a vector, symbolized ka in

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62

the same direction with a if k > 0, in the opposite direction with a if k < 0, and
its length equals k a .
In order for students bad at math to grasp the problem, teachers can divide this
activity into many smaller ones:
1) Based on the instructions of the previous lesson The sum and difference of
two vectors

x a a 2a

y a a 2a

Give comments on the direction and length of x , y , compared with a


2) Given a number k 0 and vector a 0 . Have students determine the
relationship between ka and a .

3) Students look at the textbook and determine the direction and length of a in
the following cases:

k =0
a= 0
From this, teachers generalize the definition The product of a vector and a
number
4) Determine and draw the following vectors:

1
u a
2
2
v a
3
with a is given.
The above example helps bad students grasp the definition The product of a
vector and a number, and then students can solve relevant problems.
Example 3
Solve the following exercise (the problem on page 16, Geometry Textbook 10
(Tran, V. H., & Nguyen, M. H (2006))

Given a triangle ABC with centroid G , let I be the midpoint of AG and K be a point
1
on the side AB so that: AK = AB .
5

a) Find the vectors AI , AK , CI , CK by a CA, b CB

b) Prove that the three points C , I , K are collinear.


Students with average learning capacity or higher can use extra points to solve
the problem, but bad students may not realize. Therefore, teachers give some
more extra questions in the problem (divide the problem into many detailed
parts).

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63

Given a triangle ABC with centroid G , let I be the midpoint of segment AG and K
1
be the midpoint on segment AB so that: AK = AB .
5
a) Find the vectors AI , AK , CI , CK by a , b . Let D be the midpoint of BC . Find the
vector AD by CA, CB .
b) Find the vectors a CA, b CB
6
c) Prove that: CK CI . From that, the three points C , I , K are collinear.
5

A
K
I

C
D B

Solution
1
a) AD CD CA CB CA
2
1 1 1 1
b) AI AG AD b a
2 3 6 3
1 1 1

AK AB CB CA b a
5 5 5

1 1 1 2
CI CA AI a b a b a
6 3 6 3

1 1 1 4
CK CA AK a b a b a
5 5 5 5

1 2 1
c) CI b a b 4a
6 3 6

1 4 1
CK b a b 4 a
5 5 5

6
It is inferred that: CK CI
5

Therefore: C , I , K are collinear.

Example 4

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64

For students good at math, it is not difficult to solve this problem. They can
easily find out the solution.

Given a triangle ABC, M and N are movable points so that:



MN 2. MA 3. MB MC (*)

a) Find point I so that: 2. 2 IA 3. IB IC 0 .

b) Prove that line MN always passes through a fixed point.

Solution

a) According to the assumption and changing the relation, we have:



0 2 IA 3 IB IC 2 IA 3( IA AB) ( IA AC ) 4. IA 3. AB AC
1
From this, we have IA ( AC 3 AB). This equation completely determines
4
point I .
b) Comment that the coefficients on the right of (*) are the same as in a). To
use the results of a), we just put in point I .

MN 2 MA 3 MB MC 2( MI IA) 3( MI IB) ( MI IC )

4 MI (2 IA 3 IB IC ) 4 MI

Therefore, MN 4 MI .
This equation proves that M , N , I are collinear or MN passes through the
fixed point I .
However, for students bad at math, the possibility to solve this problem is not
high. Teachers can divide the problem into several smaller question to help them
find out the solution as well as feel more interested and confident in learning.
And the problem can be modified to suit all students, as follows:

Given a triangle ABC , M and N are points so that:



MN 2. MA 3. MB MC (*)

Let I be a point so that: 2. IA 3. IB IC 0 .
1
a) Prove that: IA ( AC 3 AB)
4

b) Prove that: MN 4 MI and M , N , I are collinear or MN passes through a fixed
point I.

Solution
a) When looking at the request of the problem, students bad at math will
know how to analyze and find IA .

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65


0 2 IA 3 IB IC 2 IA 3( IA AB) ( IA AC ) 4. IA 3. AB AC

From that, we have


1
IA ( AC 3 AB)
4

b) Comment that the coefficients on the right of (*) are the same as in a). To
use the results of a), we just put in point I.

MN 2 MA 3 MB MC 2( MI IA) 3( MI IB) ( MI IC )

4 MI (2 IA 3 IB IC ) 4 MI

Therefore, MN 4 MI .
This equation proves that M , N , I are collinear or MN passes through the
fixed point I .
Arranging suitable learning time in the process of self-study will bring high
effectiveness for learning. Although textbooks usually group exercises together
according to topic, teachers can divide the kinds in their own way to match their
students. For students bad at math, teachers should guide them to plan in
advance and to overcome learners common obstacles which is delaying
revision. In an Internet-based research on learning grammar, rhetoric and logic,
the highest result achieved when the session of revision is approximately 10 -
20% of the length of time students need to remember the knowledge. To
remember something in a week, sessions of revision should be apart from each
other from 12 to 24 hours. To remember something in five years, sessions of
revision should be apart from each other from 6 to 12 months. Hence, arranging
time suitably for revision will be effective for learners in learning in many
different fields, especially for students bad at math.

5. Results and discussion


We delivered survey forms to 237 students at high schools in Lam Dong
province, Vietnam in order to check their ideas on teaching bad students at math
of their teacher. The result is as follows:

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66

Chart 1.1. The altitude of students toward teaching bad students at math of their
teacher

0%
16%

very necessary
45% Necessary
Not necessary yet
Not necessary

39%

The result shows that 107 students (45%) think that it is very necessary; 93
students (39%) think that it is necessary; 37 students (16%) think that it is not
necessary yet; nobody thinks that it is not necessary. It shows that students are
interested in teaching bad students at math of their teacher.

We also delivered survey forms to 45 teachers of high schools of Lam Dong


province, Vietnam in order to check teaching bad students at math. The result is
as follows:

Chart 1.2. The ideas of teachers on teaching bad students at math

50
45
40
35
30 Disagree
25
20 Agree
15
10
5
0
Teaching bad Teaching bad Teaching bad
students at math students at math students at math
takes a lot of time takes a lot of effort helps teacher to
improve his
teaching skills

From the above chart, the number of teachers who agree that it spends a lot of
their time and effort is high.

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67

6. Conclusion
Most students bad at math are students lacking a suitable learning method. If
learners are trained to have self-study skills, make good use of their learning
time, know how to apply what they have learned to practice, and know how to
discover and solve the problems encountered, they will be motivated to learn,
which arouse the inherent potential of each person. Thus to reduce the rate of
students bad at math in high school, teachers should regularly train students in
self-study skills.

References
Benn, S.-I. (1976). Freedom, Autonomy and the Concept of the Person. In Aristotelian
Society Proceedings
Cleugh, M.-F. (1961). Teaching the slow learner in the Secondary school, Methuen & Co
Ltd.
Dang, T.-H. (2012). Theory on teaching and learning method, The Vietnam Institute of
educational sciences Publishing.
Dao, T. (2012). The method of teaching geometry at high school, University of Education
Publishing House.
Duncan, A. (1978). Teaching mathematics to slow learners, Ward Lock Educational
Publishing.
Hoang, P. (1998). Vietnamese dictionary, Social sciences Publishing House.
Holec, H. (1981). Autonomy in Foreign Language Learning, NXB Oxford
Lewallen, J. (1976). Individualized techniques and activities for teaching slow learners,
Parker Publishing Company, Inc.
Mark, K. (2008). A drive for Alternative Lessons, activities and Methods for teaching Algebra,
karadimosmd@mathguide.com
Mercer, C. (1996). Learning Disabilities Definitions and Criteria used by state Education
Departments, Learning Disabilities Quarterly.
Nguyen, B.-K. (2007). Mathematical teaching and learningl method, University of Education
Publishing House.
Nguyen. C. T., Nguyen, K., Le, K. B., & Vu, V. T (2004). Learning and teaching the way
of learning, University of Education Publishing House.
Nguyen, M.-H. (2012). Exercise in geometry grade 10, Vietnamese Education Publishing
House.
Nguyen, V.-T. (2015). Assessment on the reliability of messurement. doi:
http://ykhoa.net/baigiang/lamsangthongke/lstk10_danhgiadotincay.pdf
Pham, D.-K. (2005). Some methods on the development of mathematical self-study
competency of high schools students, Doctoral Dissertation.
Polya, G. (1975). How to solve it? (A new aspect of mathematical method), Second
Edition.
Thai, D.-T. (2008). The classical and innovative method, Vietnamese Education
Publishing House
Tran, V. H., & Nguyen, M. H. (2006). Geometry grade 10, Vietnamese Education
Publishing House.
Vu, T.-R. (1994). Some problems of theory on training the learning techinics for students,
The Vietnam Institute of educational sciences Publishing.

2015 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


68

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 68-86, December 2015

Designing a Classification Toolkit for


Mathematically-Deficient 4th Grade Students: A
Case Study in Vietnam

Doctors degree student Tuyen Thanh Thi Nguyen


Hung Vuong University, Phu Tho, Vietnam

Doctors degree student Tram Phuong Thuy Nguyen


Duc Trong High School, Lam Dong, Vietnam

Associate Professor, Dr Trung Tran


Ethnic Cadre University, Ha Noi, Vietnam

Associate Professor, Dr Lai Thai Dao


The Vietnam Institute of Educational Sciences, Hanoi, Vietnam

Abstract: The theory of educating slow-learning students has pointed


out that, the first and most important step in this study is to identify and
categorize the slow learners. In order for this study to be carried out
effectively, a feasible and scientific procedure which complies the
teachers ability with educational environment in different schools is
highly required (Brennan, W. Kyran (1974)), (Reddy and Ramar (2006)),
(Vu, Q. Chung, Dao, T. Lai, Do, T. Dat, Tran, N. Lan, Nguyen, Q. Hung
and Le, N. Son (2005)). The following study will examine some studies
of categorizing slow-learning students, as well as suggesting a method
of categorizing 4th-grade students who perform poorly in mathematics
via the assessing mathematical ability toolkit. To develop the assessing
mathematical ability toolkit to categorize slow-learning 4thgrade
students, we have focused on some of the following tasks: (i)
Determining the criteria for creating sets of exercises, (ii) Assessing the
reliability and validity of the toolkit, and (iii) Choosing the conditions
for categorizing slow-learning students.

Keywords: categorizing, slow-learning students, mathematics, 4th grade.

1. Introduction
There are various methods of categorizing slow-learning students: Budanui, A.
A (1960) believes that low performance in students is conventional in specific
circumstances so he divided slow-learning into two types: Absolute slow-

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69

learning and relative slow-learning. Inkovlev, N. M (1962) and other Polish


educationists share the same notion. They believe this phenomenon is
demonstrated in two different ways: Evidently and potentially. In terms of
internal and external factors that motivate the students, Kalnukova, Z (1962), I
divided slow-learning students into two groups: those who are academically
abandoned and those who are academically deficient. In terms of the duration,
extent and level of low performance, Genmont, A. M (1959) suggested 3 groups
of underachievers: (1) Completely and seriously deficient in every subject over a
long period, (2) Relatively and stably deficient in parts of the curriculum of some
complex subjects (Mathematics, Foreign Languages), (3) Temporarily deficient in
a random subject, but can be easily resolved (MEHHCK H. A.
KMLKOB. . (1964)).
In terms of personality structure, there is another categorization. Some scientists
such as Babanskij, Iu. K (1964); Menchinskaja, N. A (1964), Kazanskij, N. G
(1964) (MEHHCK H. A. KMLKOB. . (1964)) divided slow-
learners based on the premise of combining two basic personality complexes: the
first complex is characterized by features of logical thinking (relating to
academic levels), the second one is characterized by personal trends including
learning attitude and internal point of view. Thus, there are 3 different 2-
combinations between the aforementioned complexes and 3 groups of slow-
learning students: (1) Poor logical thinking coupled with positive learning
attitude and strong point of view, (2) Good logical thinking coupled with
negative learning attitude and partial or no point of view, (3) Poor logical
thinking coupled with partial to or point of view.
In terms of the students cognitive ability, World Health Organization (WHO)
divides slow-learners into 3 groups based on their IQ scores: (1) The educable
mentally retarded (EMR) who have IQ ranging from 50 80, (2) the trainable
mentally retarded (TMR) who have IQ ranging from 20 50, (3) the severely and
profoundly handicapped (SPH) who have IQ ranging from 8 20 (Brennan, W.
K. (1974)), (Curtis, K., & Shaver, J.P. (1980)).
In terms of the mechanism for slow development in functional areas of the brain,
Tran, T. T, based on results from Luria 90 test, clinical evaluations,
electroencephalogram (EEG) diagnoses, has suggested 3 groups: (1) Slow
development in the Frontal, Parietal and Temporal lobes in both cerebral
hemispheres, (2) slow development in the Occipital lobes in both cerebral
hemispheres, (3) slow development in the left Temporal lobe (Tran, T. T. (1997)).
Based on indications of cognitive limitations, psychologists have suggested the
following categories: (1) Those who have poor memory, (2) those who have
attention deficit disorder, (3) those who have intellectual disabilities, (4) those
who have linguistic disabilities. For mathematically-deficient students in
primary school, we can categorize them on the basis of the curriculum contents:
slow learners in arithmetic, slow learners in geometry, slow learners in problem-
solving, slow learners in statistics. In terms of levels of knowledge acquisition
(Reddy and Ramar (2006)),there are: (1) slow learners who are lacking
mathematical concepts or unable to memorize the principles, theorems or
formulae, (2) slow learners who do not understand or remember the nature of
the problems, (3) slow learners who are unable to apply mathematical
knowledge to solving problems (Vu, Q. C., Dao, T. L., Do, T. D., Tran, N. L,

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70

Nguyen, H. Q., & Le, N. S. (2005)).


Therefore, categorizing slow-learners is crucial and has been an interesting
subject of study for many authors. These studies, however, only approached this
matter from diagnostic, neuropsychological and educational-psychological
aspects. With these categorizations, teachers will come up against a great many
difficulties in identifying slow learners via traditional methods. In reality, in
order to effectively help low-performing students, teachers need a categorizing
toolkit in the form of exercise sets so as to understand the students level of
mathematical knowledge acquisition, they can pinpoint the students difficulties,
mistakes and gaps in knowledge (Nguyen, V. C., Le, T. N., & Phan, T. Q.,
(2002)). Those are the points on which we have focused and aimed to resolve in
our research. In order to develop such a toolkit, we have carried out the
following tasks: (i) Determining the criteria for creating sets of exercises, (ii)
Assessing the reliability and validity of the toolkit, and (iii) Choosing the
conditions for categorizing slow-learning students. Here we have chosen
4thgrade students to be our research subjects and the aim of this toolkit is to
categorize mathematically-deficient 4thgrade students. The statistics used in this
research are from some primary schools in Thai Nguyen and Phu Tho provinces
in Vietnam.
2. Content
2.1. The criteria for developing the toolkit
Based on the mandatory standards of 4th grade mathematics and the minimum
standards of elementary mathematics (Do, D. H., Do, T. D., Dao, T. L., & Do, T.
H (2015)), we have built an assessing toolkit in the form of an exercise system
aiming to test math proficiency of 4thgrade students, through which we can
identify and categorize mathematically-deficient 4thgrade students. In order to
meet the requirements for elementary mathematics in general, the students must
fully understand the following areas and these can also be regarded as the
criteria for evaluating math proficiency of 4thgrade students:
1- Recognizing and understanding the meaning of numbers: Capable of
counting, analyzing the formation and comparing between different numbers
2- Arranging the arithmetic algorithm and calculating: Capable of computing
four basic arithmetic operations
3- Geometry: Capable of identifying basic shapes, properties of shapes. Know
the formulae for calculating the circumference, diameter and area of shapes
4- Units of measurement: Understand and memorize units of measurement
table, capable of converting between metric units
5- Problem solving: Capable of solving practical mathematical problems
Therefore, the exercise system must consist of all 5 above-mentioned areas.
Meanwhile, in each area, the system must be able to assess which stage in the
development process the contemporary knowledge of the student is at. In other
words, which grade is the students understanding of each mathematical area
equivalent to? The system should be also able to identify which problems and
shortcomings the children are experiencing in each mathematical area.
2.2. Introduction of the toolkit
From the listed criteria and skill requirements in each mathematical area from 1st
grade to 4th grade, we have constructed a toolkit assessing math proficiency of
4thgrade students in which the 5 listed areas correspond to 5 domains. In each

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71

domain, the exercises are designed in chronological order starting from the
beginning of the knowledge acquisition process up to the contemporary period
(4th grade). The level of the exercises the students manage to complete will
reflect their level of knowledge acquisition in terms of scores.
Content 1: Assessing the ability to recognize numbers and the meaning of
numbers
Type 1: Read and write numbers: two-digit numbers (1st grade); three-digit
numbers (2nd grade); five-digit numbers (3rd grade); seven-digit numbers (4th
grade).
Type 2: Compare and arrange numbers: Find the largest number in a sequence of 3-
digit numbers (2nd grade); Continue a sequence of 5-digit numbers (3rd grade);
Identify fractions which are larger than 1 (4th grade).
The exercise system corresponding Content 1 is called Scale A, which is
suggested as below:
A. UNDERSTANDING NUMBERS AND MEANING OF NUMERS
A1. READ AND WRITE NUMBERS
No. Numericals Written number Correct

( )
Ten million three hundred and fifty-six
10 356 217
thousand two hundred and seventeen
1 Twenty million four hundred and sixty-three 1pt

thousand two hundred and six
2 67 246 ... 1pt
3 .. One million two hundred and thirty-four 1pt
4 222 ....... 1pt
5 Ninety nine 1pt
5 1pt
6 .
7
7 . Eighteen twenty-fifths 1pt
Total A1: ../7 points

A2. COMPARING AND ARRANGING NUMBERS


No. Exercise Correct

( )
8 Find the largest number among 395; 695; 375 1pt

9 Fill in the blanks: 18 301;18 302; .................; .................; .................;18 306; 1pt
.................;

10 1pt

Circle the fractions which are larger than 1: ; ; ;

Total A2:/3 points

Total Scale A= A1+A2: ./10 points


Common mistakes: ....

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72

Content 2: Assessing the ability to arrange the arithmetic algorithm and


calculate
Type 1: Addition: No-carrying addition (1st grade); one-carrying addition (2nd
grade); 2-carrying addition (3rd grade); more-than-2-carrying addition, adding
fractions with the same and different denominator (4th grade)
Type 2: Subtraction: No-carrying subtraction (1st grade); one-carrying subtraction
(2nd grade); 2-carrying subtraction (3rd grade); more-than-2-carrying subtraction,
subtracting fractions with the same and different denominator (4th grade)
Type 3: Multiplication: Multiplication table (2nd grade); one-digit multiplication
(2nd and 3rd grade); 2-digit and 3-digit multiplication, fraction multiplication (3rd
and 4th grade)
Type 4: Division: Division table (2nd grade); one-digit division (2nd and 3rd grade);
2-digit and 3-digit division, fraction division (3rd and 4th grade)
The exercise system corresponding to Content 2 is called Scale B, which is
suggested as below:
B. USING THE ARITHMETIC ALGORITHMS TO CALCULATE
B1. ADDTION SKILL
No. Exercises Correct
Calculate Answer
( )
11 23 + 14 1pt

12 239 + 517 1pt

13 356 + 276 1pt

14 47865 + 78537 2pts

15 3 2 1pt

5 5

16 5 2 1pt

4 3
Total B1: / 7 points
B2. SUBTRACTION SKILL
No. Exercises Correct
Calculate Answer
( )
17 56 13 1pt

18 451 23 1pt
19 534 265 1pt
20 123456 10678 2pts
21 1pt

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73

5 2

7 7
22 5 2 1pt

3 4
Total B2: / 7 points
B3. MULTIPLICATION SKILL
No. Exercises Correct
Calculate Answer
( )
23 3x6= 2pts
4x8=
24 12 x 4 = 2pts

25 23 x 12 = 2pts

26 1456 x 123 = 2pts

27 5 2 2pts

3 7
Total B3: / 10 points

B4. DIVISION SKILL


No. Exercises Correct
Calculate Answer
( )
28 6:2= 2pts
8:4=
29 84 : 4 = 2pts
30 2pts
276 : 12 =
31 2pts
4428 : 123
32 2 4 2pts
:
3 5
Total B4: /10 points
Total Scale B = B1+B2+B3+B4=../34 points
Common mistakes: .

Content 3: Assessing geometry skills


Type 1: Match the shapes with the correct names and colors (1st grade)
Type 2: Calculate the diameter of a triangle (2nd grade)
Type 3: Calculate the area of a rectangle (3rd grade)
Type 4: Draw parallel and perpendicular lines, identify different types of angles (4th grade)

The exercise system corresponding to Content 3 is called Scale C, which is


suggested as below:

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74

C. GEOMETRY
No. Exercises Correc

t( )
33 Match the shapes with the correct labels: 2pts

Red Green Purple Yellow

Circle Triangle Rectangle Square


34 Calculate the diameter of the triangle 2pts

35 Calculate the area of the rectangle 2pts

36 Draw a line through point C and parallel to AB 2pts

37 Draw a line through point C and perpendicular to AB 2pts

38 Match the angles with the correct names 2pts

Straight angle Right angle Obtuse angle Acute angle

Total: ./ 12 points

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75

Common mistakes:

Content 4: Assessing understanding of units of measurement

Types of metric units: weight, time, length, area. In each type we will test
understanding of the metric unit chart and unit conversion.

The exercise system corresponding Content 4 is called Scale D, which is


suggested as below:

D. UNITS OF MEASUREMENT

D1. UNITS OF MASS

No. Exercises
Correct ( )

39 1 centitonne = .kg 1pt

40 1 quintal = centitonne 1pt

41 1 quintal = .kg 1pt

42 1 tonne = quintal 1pt

43 1 tonne = .kg 1pt

44 1 centitonne 7 kg = kg 2pts

45 4 quintal 60 kg = .kg 2pts

Total D1: /9 points.

D2. UNITS OF TIME

No. Exercises
Correct ( )

46 1 hour = minutes 1pt

47 1 minute = ..seconds 1pt

48 1 century = .years 1pt

49 1 minute 8 seconds = .seconds 2pts

50 1 2pts
century = .years
5

Total D2: /7 points.

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76

D3. UNITS OF LENGTH

No. Exercises
Correct ( )

51 1 km = ..m 1pt

52 1 m = dm 1pt

53 1 dm = .cm 1pt

54 1 cm = ..mm 1pt

55 1 m = .cm 1pt

56 1 m = mm 1pt

57 2 km 35 m = m 2pts

58 3 m 2 cm = ..cm 2pts

Total D3: /10 points.

D4. UNITS OF AREA

No. Exercises
Correct ( )

59 1m2 = ..dm2 1pt

60 1 dm2 = .cm2 1pt

61 1 m2 = cm2 2pts

62 1 km2 = ...m2 2pts

63 10 dm2 2 cm2 =cm2 2pts

64 9900 cm2 =.. dm2 2pts

Total D4: /10 points.

Total Scale D= D1+D2+D3+D4 = ../36 points

Common mistakes: .

Content 5: Assessing the ability to solve practical problems

Type 1: 1-operation problems about addition (1st grade)

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77

Type 2: 1-operation problems about more than/less than (2nd grade)

Type 3: 2-operation problems (3rd grade)

Type 4: 2-to-3-operation problems (4th grade)

The exercise system corresponding to Content 5 is called Scale E, which is


suggested as below:

E. PROBLEM SOLVING

No. Exercises Correct

Problem Answer ( )

65 Exercise 1: Minh has 12 pieces .. 2pts


of candy; Mai has 23 pieces of
..
candy. How many pieces of
candy do Minh and Mai have?

66 Exercise 2: The small jar holds .. 2pts


10 litters of fish sauce; the big
..
jar holds 5 litters more than the
small jar. How many litters of ..
fish sauce does the big jar hold?
..

67 Exercise 3: 42 identical cups are .. 2pts


placed into 7 boxes. If there are
..
4572 cups, how many boxes are
they placed into? ..

68 Exercise 4: There are 45 .. 2pts


3
students in a class, of whom ..
4
are girls. How many boys and ..
girls are there in the class?
..

Total: ../ 8 points


Common mistakes: .
2.3. Evaluating the reliability and validity of the toolkit
After being designed, constructed, and consulted by professionals, the toolkit
has been completed, comprised of a system of 68 exercises with 5 domains. The
points are given in accordance with the scale of each domain with the total sum
of 100. We have conducted a small-scale test to determine the reliability and

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78

validity of the scales before conducting a large-scale test. To test the reliability of
the toolkit, we have applied the Test-Retest Method to twenty 4th grade students
from Tu Xa 2 elementary school in late April, 2015. The students results from
the two tests at a one-week interval have been summed up in the following
table:
Table 1: The results of 20 students in two tests
First
Second
Student test
test score
score Deviation Mean Variance
(i)
xi 2
xi1

1 84 92 -8 88 32

2 100 100 0 100 0

3 88 80 8 84 32

4 56 62 -6 59 18

5 72 76 -4 74 8

6 30 28 2 29 2

7 86 80 6 83 18

8 68 74 -6 71 18

9 88 80 8 84 32

10 100 98 2 99 2

11 90 98 -8 94 32

12 86 82 4 84 8

13 48 46 2 47 2

14 74 76 -2 75 2

15 72 70 2 71 2

16 86 88 -2 87 2

17 54 48 6 51 18

18 100 88 12 94 72

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79

19 56 64 -8 60 32

20 46 42 4 44 8

Mean 74.2 73.6 xi =0.6 x =73.9

The coefficient of reliability of the toolkit can be calculated using the following
formula
S2
R 2 T 2 in which: R is the coefficient of reliability
ST SE
S12 S22 ... SN2
SE2 is the deviation in the test scores SE2 , Si2 being the
N
variance of student i , N being the number of participants.
BMS WMS
ST2 is the actual score reflecting the students ability. ST2 (with
k
1 N 1 N
BMS
N 1 i 1
2( xi x )2 and WMS Si2 , xi being the mean score of
N i 1
student i in the two tests; x being the mean of the test scores; k being the
number of tests conducted on one student, in this case k =2). The results are
ST2 354.1 ; SE2 17 , and the coefficient of reliability of the toolkit is R = 0.95.
These results show that the stability of the classification toolkit for
mathematically-deficient 4th grade students is rather high. (Nguyen, V. T (2015)).
The validity of the toolkit has been taken into account with two values: internal
validity and external validity. The internal validity answers the question: Is the
toolkit well-structured? Does it conform to the whole scale? This index is
assessed using the coefficient of correlation between different domains, as well
as between the domains and the whole scale. The toolkit will have a high
internal validity (construct validity) if the smaller scales match up with one
another and with the whole scale. The following table illustrates the correlation
between the 5 domains, using figures from the test results of the above-
mentioned 20 students in the first test:
Table 2: Coefficient of correlation between domains
Coefficient of Domain Domain Domain Domain Domain The whole
correlation A B C D E scale

Domain A 0.933 0.788 0.814 0.780 0.912

Domain B 0.886 0.887 0.854 0.982

Domain C 0.791 0.762 0.905

Domain D 0.814 0.948

Domain E 0.882

The whole scale

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80

The table shows that the coefficient of correlation between each domain and the
coefficient of correlation between the domains and the whole scale both have
positive value (from 0.762 to 0.982), which means that there is a direct
correlation between them. On the other hand, these figures reflect the structural
unity of elementary math in Vietnam.
3. Experimenting the classification toolkit for mathematically-deficient
4th grade students
Having confirmed the reliability and validity of the toolkit, we conducted an
experiment to identify and classify slow-learning students in 156 students from
three schools: Tu Xa 2 Elementary school (65 students), Cao Mai Elementary
school (56 students) and Linh Thong Elementary school (36 students). These
schools are located in two provinces, Thai Nguyen and Phu Tho, Vietnam. The
results are depicted in the following table, using SPSS program
Table 3: Collected figures

Table 4: Frequency of test scores


Valid Frequency Percent Valid Frequency Percent

28 1 0.6 % 81 1 0.6 %
29 1 0.6 % 82 7 4.5 %
30 1 0.6 % 83 5 3.2 %
31 1 0.6 % 84 10 6.4 %
32 2 1.3 % 85 10 6.4 %
46 1 0.6 % 86 6 3.8 %
57 1 0.6 % 87 10 6.4 %
58 2 1.3 % 88 12 7.7 %
60 2 1.3 % 89 7 4.5 %
61 2 1.3 % 90 6 3.8 %
62 1 0.6 % 91 3 1.9 %
63 2 1.3 % 92 7 4.5 %
64 3 1.9 % 93 4 2.6 %
72 1 0.6 % 94 9 5.8 %
74 1 0.6 % 95 4 2.6 %
75 1 0.6 % 96 3 1.9 %
76 7 4.5 % 97 2 1.3 %
77 2 1.3 % 98 2 1.3 %

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81

Valid Frequency Percent Valid Frequency Percent

78 8 5.1 % 99 2 1.3 %
79 4 2.6 % 100 2 1.3 %

Based on the above table, we have the following graph of distribution of the
students scores:
Graph 1: Distribution of 4th grade students test scores

The table has reflected the expected characteristics of the toolkit. The overall
mean score of the students is over 82.29 out of a maximum of 100. This can be
explained by the expectation that this toolkit is designed to identify students
who perform poorly in 4th grade math, with the minimum requirements, so that
at least 80% (the calculated figure is 81.8%) of the students can complete most of
the exercises. Moreover, the arithmetic domain including: number formation
and operation already accounts for 44/100 points of the scale; the remaining
smaller scales have a certain minimum difficulty to ensure that it is possible for
any regular 4th grade student in their second semester to solve them, and can
only be a challenge for slow-learning students.
The table of the score distribution of 4th grade students Graph 1 has
fundamentally conformed to the rules of normal distribution this is an
essential element in identifying slow-learning students in 4th grade. The results
in Table 4 shows that the mean score of the students is M= 82.29 and the
standard deviation is SD = 14.56. The specific results of the mean score and
standard deviation of the domains are as follows:

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82

Table 5: The mean score and standard deviation of each domain

Domain
Domains Total score A Domain B Domain C Domain D Domain E

Mean score (M) MS= 82.29 MA = 9.69 MB= 29.29 MC = 10.14 MD = 26.47 ME= 6.69

Standard
deviation (SD) SDS =14.56 SDA =1.11 SDB =6.01 SDC =2.57 SDD =4.34 SDM=1.60

Therefore, if the total test score of a student is T, we can divide the level of
mathematical ability of 4th grade students based on the distribution of the mean
score MS and standard deviation SDS as follow:
Table 6: Categorization of 4th grade students mathematical ability
Categories Slow learners Non-slow learners

Type 1: Non- Type 2: Non-definite Basic knowledge of Firm basis


definite knowledge in some mathematics, meeting in math
knowledge in areas requirements in the
all areas standard of 4th grade
math

Boundary T M S 2SDS M S 2SDS T M S SDS M s SDs T M s SDsT M s SDs

Corresponding T< 53,17 53,17 T 67,73 67,73 T 96,85 T 96,85


score

Based on the above categorization, Cao Mai elementary school does not have
any type 1 slow-learning students. However, if we consider more criteria of
domains A and B, and call TA, TB the total scores which students gained from
domains A and B, with the same categorizing way as above, which means

Table 7: Categorizing slow learners according to three criteria

Criteria Slow learners Type 1 Slow learners Type 2

Total score of the Formula T M S 2SDS M S 2SDS T M S SDS


survey
Correspondent T < 53,17 53,17 T 67,73
score

Score of domain A Formula TA M A 2SDA M A 2SDA TA M A SDA

Correspondent TA < 7,47 7, 47 TA 8,58

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83

score

Score of domain B Formula TB M B 2SDB M B 2SDB TB M B SDB

Correspondent TB < 17,27 17, 27 TB 23, 28


score

So the rate of slow learners between schools is distributed as follows:

Table 8: Proportion of different student groups in chosen schools

Cao Mai primary school Tu Xa 2 primary school Linh Thong primary school
And the rate (Slow learners Type 1: Slow learners Type 2: Non-slow learners) in
the whole is (4%:8%:88%). This result also corresponds to Newmans error
analysis (1977) (Newman, M. A, (1977). Therefore, use the above system of
exercises and consider domains using the three criteria: 1. The total score of the
survey, 2. Score of domain A, 3. Score of domain A with the determination
according to the formula of Table 7, we can determine and categorize students
bad at math in 4th grade Mathematics Subject in Vietnam more properly.

Example:

The following table is the test results of a student (Ngo, D. Bang) from Tu Xa 2
elementary school Lam Thao district Phu Tho province. This student has the
total test score T= 28/100 points, Domain A = 4/10 points, Domain B = 8/34
points. According to the above criteria, this student is a Type 1 slow learner,
whose common mistakes have been depicted as follow

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84

Table 9: Analyzing the mistakes in a students test


Item Maxi Resu Common mistakes
mum lt
score

A. A1 Reading 7 3 Mistakes due to lack of knowledge of


Recognizing and writing the composition of numbers with more
numbers numbers than 3 digits
and their
meanings A2- Comparing 3 1 Mistakes due to inability to compare
and arranging fractions as well as multi-digit numbers
numbers

B1-Addition 7 4 Mistakes when adding multi-digit


skills numbers with multiple carryings; not
B. Using
remembering the rule of adding
arithmetic
fractions with unlike denominators
algorithms
to calculate B2- Subtraction 7 2 Mistakes when subtracting with
skills carryings; not remembering the rule of
subtracting fractions with unlike
denominators

B3- 10 1 Mistakes due to not remembering the


Multiplication multiplication table, not having any
skills multiplication skill

B4- Division 10 1 Mistakes due to not remembering the


skills division table, not having any division
skill

C. Geometry 12 4 Mistakes due to not remembering the


formula for area, the parallelism and
perpendicularity of two straight lines,
inability to differentiate basic types of
angles.

D1- Mass 9 5 Mistakes due to unfamiliarity to


conversion of units of mass
D. Units of
measurement D2- Time 7 4 Mistakes due to unfamiliarity to
conversion of units of time

D3- Length 10 1 Mistakes due to unfamiliarity to


conversion of units of length

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85

D4- Area 10 0 Mistakes due to unfamiliarity to


conversion of units of area

E Problem solving 8 2 Mistakes right from the process of


analyzing, summarizing and
determining the problem lead to
inability to use the correct algorithm
and inability to give appropriate
answers

Total 100 28

Assessment of the students mathematical ability: Current mathematical ability


is equal to that of a 1st grade student. This student lacks the knowledge right
from the understanding of numbers and basic calculations, resulting in
consecutive difficulties in acquiring mathematical knowledge.
he solution to the case of student Ngo D. Bang: Math teacher had to tutor Ngo
individually to fulfill the lacking knowledge in math for him, cut down general
assignments in class, and give him individually suitable duties. Besides, the
math teacher had more regular cooperation with the parents in instructing the
students to review the lessons at home, as well as asked a group of better
students to help him study math.
5. Conclusion
As mentioned in the introduction, there are many methods of identifying slow
learners. However, not only does this method of using an exercise system
categorize slow learners in terms of their cognitive abilities, but it can also
identify the difficulties, mistakes and gaps in the students knowledge. These are
essential for a more effective orientation towards aiding slow learners.
References

Brennan, W.-K. (1974). Shaping the education of slow learners. Routledge & Kegan Paul
London and Boston.
Curtis, K., & Shaver, J.P. (1980). Slow Learners and the Study of Contemporary
Problems, Social Education, 44 (4), pp. 302-38. April.
Do, D. H., Do, T. D., Dao, T. L., & Do, T. H (2015). Mathematics 1, Vietnam Education
Publishing House, Hanoi.
Do, D. H., Do, T. D., Dao, T. L., & Do, T. H (2015). Mathematics 2, Vietnam Education
Publishing House, Hanoi.
Do, D. H., Do, T. D., Dao, T. L., & Do, T. H (2015). Mathematics 3, Vietnam Education
Publishing House, H Ni.
Do, D. H., Do, T. D., Dao, T. L., & Do, T. H (2015). Mathematics 4, Vietnam Education
Publishing House, Hanoi.
Do, D. H., Do, T. D., Dao, T. L., & Do, T. H (2015). Mathematics 5, Vietnam Education
Publishing House, H Ni.
Don Eastmead, M. D., & Drew Eastmead (2004). What is a Slow Learner? Neurology
7645 Wolf River Circle Germantown, TN 38138
Holec, H. (1981), Autonomy in Foreign Language Learning, Oxford Publishing House.
Newman, M.-A. (1977). An analysis of sixth-grade pupils errors on written mathematical
tasks. Victorian Institute for Educational Research Bulletin, 39, 31-43.

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Nguyen, V. C., Le, T. N., & Phan, T. Q. (2002). The popular mistakes of solving problems,
Vietnam Education Publishing House, Hanoi.
Nguyen, V.-T. (2015). Assessment on the reliability of messurement. doi:
http://ykhoa.net/baigiang/lamsangthongke/lstk10_danhgiadotincay.pdf
MEHHCK H. A. KMLKOB. . (1964), POEML PEOOEH
HEYCEBEMOCT, HPOHOE OPOBHE, NO.4.
Surabhi, V. (2013). Are you dealing with a slow learner? doi:
http://www.thehealthsite.com/diseases-conditions/are-you-dealing-with-a-
slow-learner/
Reddy and Ramar (2006). Slow Learners their Psychology and Instruction. Discovery
Publishing House. New Delhi. pp. 1-114.
Sangeeta, C. (2011). Slow learners: Their psychology and Educational programmes,
Zenith- International Journal of Multidisciplinary Research.
Shaw, S., Crimes, D. & Bulman, J. (2005). Educating Slow Learners: Are the last, Best
Hope for their Educational success?, The Charter schools Resource Juornal
Tansley, A. E., & Guilford, R. (1962). The Education of Slow Learning Children.
Routledge and Kagan Paul Ltd. London. Pp. 45-190.
Tran, T.-T. (1997). Intellectual Development of elementary students , Technological and
scientific theme by Ministry of Education and Training, Vietnam Institute of
Educational Sciences, Hanoi.
Vu, Q. C., Dao, T. L., Do, T. D., Tran, N. L, Nguyen, H. Q., & Le, N. S. (2005). Syllabus of
elementary mathematical teaching method, primary school education college
traning textbook, Vietnam Education Publishing House, Hanoi.
YushaU, M.-A. (2012). Teaching slow learners in Mathematics: Yugal Remediation
Model as alternative method, Springer International Publishing Switzerland.

2015 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


87

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 87-98, December 2015

Continuous Collective Development as a


Road to Success in Primary School

Heidi Holmen and Kitt Lyngsnes


Nord-Trndelag University College
Levanger, Norway

Abstract. In most countries today, schools are required to


conduct comprehensive testing and assessment. In Norway,
national tests in the fifth, eighth, and ninth grades evaluate
basic skills in reading, numeracy, and English. This article
presents a qualitative study of schools that have over time
performed well on national tests and for whom results cannot
be explained by the socio-economic profile in the school
context. Interviews were conducted with teachers and
administrators in four of these schools. The purpose of this
study is to present these schools own explanations and
reflections about why they have performed well on these tests
over time. The results show that the following issues emerged
as central themes: collective understanding, the importance of
school leadership, stability and long-term goals, and focus on
reading. These are discussed from the point of view of theory
of school development.

Keywords: Teaching; school leadership; collective knowledge


development

Introduction
In todays school, there is a strong focus on quality and results. In
Norway, both politicians and the media have focused on the basic skills
that received a lot of attention after the PISA shock in 2001, which
showed Norwegian 15 year-olds, expected to rank among the best, as
only average in reading and science when compared to other countries
in the OECD region (Haug, 2012). In order to improve the quality of
Norwegian schools, a national quality assessment system was
introduced in 2004 which included national testing in grade five, eight
and nine of three basic skills areas; reading, numeracy, and English.
Research connected to national testing has shown that test results, as
well as marks in general, can be connected to a pupils socio-economic

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88

status (Grgaard, Helland & Lauglo, 2011; Huang, 2009). However,


pupils learning and school performance are also connected to the
teaching they receive and the learning situations they experience. In
other words, it is the learning environment of each individual school
that has the greatest impact (Day, Stobart, Sammons & Kington, 2006:
Hattie, 2009). This is one factor explains why some schools can get good
results on national tests despite the fact that parents socio-economic
status would suggest otherwise. When these schools continue over time
to get high results on national tests, the explanation could be that they
have created an environment that is conducive to good learning for a
diverse pupil population, or that they are teaching to the test.

Since the goal of national testing is to improve the quality of schools, it


is important to gain more insight into attitudes towards tests as well as
the work that goes into preparing for them in the schools. It is
particularly interesting to understand what characterizes particular
practices in the schools that repeatedly get good results. The study
referred to in this article is part of a larger study, funded by the
Norwegian Research Council, of schools that have received good
national test results (Langfeldt, 2015; Lyngsnes & Vestheim, 2015). This
article addresses the question: How do teachers and school leaders
explain continuous high results on national tests at their school? As the
research question reflects, the purpose of the study was to shed light on
the perspectives of teachers and school leaders as to why their schools
continually achieve good results on national tests. The findings will
have impact as a reflection tool (Gudmundsdottir, 1997, 2001) for those
who are concerned with and involved in training and for others who
wish to improve their own teaching practice and develop learning
outcomes for their pupils.

Theoretical background
Our objective in this article is to explore how teachers and school
leaders explain their schools good results, and their perspectives and
reflections are therefore central. This study is located within a
constructivist paradigm (Postholm, 2010) in which individuals are
active and responsible participants, knowledge is in a constant state of
improvement and change, and understanding and opinions are created
through interactions with each other. Words and phrases are
interpreted differently depending on the contexts people find
themselves in and the environment in which they live also has an
impact on perceptions and understandings. It can therefore be said that
people living in similar environments and in the same context will more
or less interpret things in a similar way (Postholm, 2010).

Teaching traditionally has been seen as the responsibility of each


individual teacher, and something he or she does alone. Today we have
a widespread understanding that collaboration between teachers and
teamwork leads toward development and change in a school. When

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89

teachers work together, exchange experiences, for example about


pupils work plans or teaching materials, the knowledge and skills of
the entire teaching team improves. These colleague-based interactions
are part of professional development. When teachers work together to
improve the daily learning environment, this collective learning process
also stimulates further reflection and the development of skills, which
in turn helps influence and improve teaching in the classroom (Jenssen
& Roald, 2012). In accordance with this, Hargreaves and Fullan (2012)
describe how high performing schools are those in which a professional
group as a collective is growing. They claim that in school development
the professional capital of the teachers needs to be developed. The
essence of professional capital is, according to Hargreaves and Fullan
(2012, p. 76): [] capability and commitment that are constantly
developed, applied, and refined with colleagues within the school and
beyond it. Irgens (2010) also argues that quality in a school is not just a
result of what each individual teacher does on their own, but also what
teachers do as a group of teachers together. He says that this collective
dimension is of great importance for a number of factors, including
pupils learning outcomes. A survey conducted by Dahl, Klewen, and
Skov (2003, in Irgens 2010, p. 134) supports this argument, concluding
that schools that work collectively support the individual in such a way
that it has a positive impact on the pupils. According to Irgens (2010) a
fundamental question is how schools can achieve a balance between
individual and collective performance, daily operations in the school,
and development. He has developed a model called the Development
Wheel for a school in movement that can be used to facilitate an
analytical and practical look at a schools challenges and position in
areas of tension.

Figure 1. Development Wheel (Irgens, 2010, p 136)

This model is based on the tension between operations and

The Collective

(2)
Develop
(1) common goals
Collective group Information Find solutions Collective
assignments exchange and routines development
Coordination together
meetings Group planning,
Information evaluation, and
meetings development
Operations Development
environment
(4) (3)
Individual Make own work
teaching more effective
Correcting/ Personal
Individual work pedagogic and Individual
evaluations
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authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.
professional development
preparation
development

The Individual
90

development, that is, between the daily work that is carried out in a
school and the more long-term growth and development of the schools
organisation and practice. The other main dimension in the model is
between individual and collective work. This type of model is,
according to Irgens (2010, p. 136), a gross simplification. However, it
illustrates that a school should be in all the sectors of the model,
something that will challenge both the teachers personal identity and
the role of the school leaders. If the tasks in section one are prioritized,
that will mean that the responsibility to create good teaching as well as
a good teaching environment is in the hands of the individual. In
section two teachers have the opportunity to work on their own
development. However, as this is focused on the individual, it isnt
conducive to creating a good learning environment that is focused on
work as a team that establishes procedures and rules. Irgens (2010)
argues that to create a good school, one needs good teachers who have
competence in all four sections and school leaders who are able to
facilitate and monitor teachers work outside their individual
classrooms.

Robinsons work (2011) supports this concept. She writes that teachers
in professional teaching partnerships not only feel commitment to and
responsibility for their own teaching and pupils, but also for the
training of all the pupils in the entire school. The leadership plays a key
role in facilitating this process. Robinson points out that leadership has
many dimensions that overlap each other, affecting pupils learning.
She concludes that the more leaders focus their work on developing
teaching and learning, the greater impact they will have on pupils
learning outcomes.

In summary, Robinsons research and Irgens model show the


importance of both school leaders who focus on teaching and learning,
and a school that balances individual and collective development.
Irgens' (2010) model captures these dimensions, and we will therefore
use it to discuss our results.

Method
Based on the research question, we made a strategic choice to focus on
schools with a few special characteristics (Patton, 1990), namely those
who had high scores on national tests but were not in areas with a high
socio-economic profile. Four primary schools in three different
provinces that fit the criteria were selected. Schools will be referred to
here as school A, B, C, and D. All the schools were of medium size in a
Norwegian context with 200-300 pupils.

Data consists of group interviews with teacher teams in lower primary,


upper primary, and lower secondary schools respectively, nineteen
teachers altogether. Interviews were also conducted with the four
headmasters. To capture their points of view and their reflections, we

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91

chose to conduct qualitative semi-structured interviews (Kvale &


Brinkmann, 2009). The interview guide was partially structured with
most interview topics determined in advance, but room was allowed
for changes and additions. The interview guide focused primarily on
thoughts about teaching and learning, teamwork between teachers,
school development, leadership, and adaptive teaching. School
administrators and teachers were interviewed on the same themes.

Data was transcribed and analysed with the use of the constant
comparative analysis method (Corbin & Strauss, 2008). This involved
first open coding, reviewing all the material from each school and
extracting all statements that dealt with reflections on or reasons for the
schools good results; these were then sorted into teacher and leader
statements. In the axial coding stage, these statements were processed
and compared to each other, and a pattern emerged. This formed the
basis for selective coding which identified the main themes in the data;
collective understanding, the importance of school leadership, stability and
long-term goals, and focus on reading.

Qualitative studies are interpretative research that is unique and


contextual (Bryman & Bell, 2011). Schoefield (2007) points out the
significance of studying cases that are considered to be good or ideal, as
in high achieving schools. Findings from such studies will have an
impact well beyond their own context, as analysis and interpretation of
these schools can have an impact on others who are concerned with and
involved in training. The text represents, therefore, experiences that can
be used as a reflection tool (Gudmundsdottir, 1997, 2001) for others who
wish to contribute to and improve their own teaching practice.

The trustworthiness of the study was ensured by triangulation in


different forms (Silverman, 2000). All interviews were conducted by
two researchers, and school administrators and teachers were
interviewed on the same topic. Thus, the topics were illuminated from
different perspectives. Furthermore, the data was analysed and
categorised by each of the researchers individually, before being
discussed and given its eventual name.

Results
Collective understanding

Analysis of the data concluded that cooperation and the sharing of


experiences, as well as reflection in a professional community, were
prominent explanations for good test results. The headmaster in school
A commented that the teachers working closely together in teams was
important. They also have dedicated time each week for development
work, and often have this as part of their plenary at school. Reflections
from teachers at this school say the same thing. One teacher reflecting
on good results says:

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92

It has something to do with working as a team. In one subject we have


at least two-three people who are responsible for teaching reading and
writing, and therefore the pupils are exposed to many different
perspectives [] We are not alone, we are many, and so we have the
opportunity to also observe each other. We divide responsibilities and
discuss them. We dont keep what we think and do to ourselves; we
share these things with each other.

These teachers feel that talking about their subjects on a regular basis,
discussing and dividing teaching assignments, as well as often
observing each others teaching, are significant, help them feel safer
with each other, and develop a spirit of cooperation. One teacher
comments: It isnt looked down upon here to ask for advice. You share
all the time. This is a we-school. This is our school and these are our
pupils. This underlines the comments of another teacher, who also
emphasised the importance of reflection: It is about reflection all the
way. This is a culture in which we ask each other, borrow from each
other and share. This collective way of thinking is also reflected in the
comments from the headmaster of school B. He thinks it is important
that they all work together towards a common understanding. In his
opinion, the fact that they have been good at sharing experiences,
expertise, and questioning why things are done a certain way is also
significant. In reflecting on factors that could impair or hinder
improvement in their school, both the headmaster and the teachers tell
that the biggest limitation was not having enough group time for joint
cooperation and collaboration. Because of this, they increased the
number of hours allocated for meetings and teamwork each week. The
headmaster emphasises that they want to be known as a good school,
and so in his opinion it is important to focus on the school as a whole
and not on each individual teacher, because we can never all be good
at the same things, but together we can be good at everything.
Teachers at this school also feel that teamwork and a good division of
teaching responsibilities is the key, and that one reaps great benefits
when colleagues have advanced to the point that they have a common
perspective and similar approaches to teaching. You dont have your
private lesson plans, you dont work in a vacuum and I think that is
good for our pupils, one teacher remarks.

If we are going to be a dynamic and learning-rich organization we


must constantly evaluate what we are doing, says the headmaster
from school C. As part of meeting this objective, this school has weekly
reflection groups where dialogue between teachers is given priority. He
feels listening to each other and reflecting together about classroom
practice is central. The teachers talk about the importance of being
challenged to analyse and reflect upon their own practice and set new
goals. In addition, they feel that having two teachers connected to each
class, and working as a team could be one of the reasons their school
has had high national test scores for many years. Even though they

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93

each have their own individual ways of working, these teachers


acknowledge that their underlying foundation is the same.

This same ideology is echoed in the reflections of the headmaster at


school D. He says, We work as a team, planning and reflecting
together. He believes that when you share experiences and reflect on
the experiences together you gain new understandings and insights,
and that is characteristic of his school as an organization. Teachers at
this school also comment that the entire staff is trained and involved in
the development process, and in that way form a common way of
thinking for the future. In addition, they train each other, recognizing
there is a great deal of experience to share within the staff itself. They
do not always need to find it elsewhere, they say, because they can
share their own competence and skills within their own work
environment. They point out that they are also encouraged to reflect on
things they have done, and they need to justify their own practices and
decisions. It is always about reflection, one teacher comments.

The importance of school leadership


The importance of school leadership in determining how a school
functions is mentioned by teachers from each school. The headmaster
from school A says that she prioritizes time for what she calls
pedagogical leadership. She believes that one of her primary
responsibilities as the school leader is to build the culture, something
confirmed by the teachers who say the headmaster is of great
importance for getting good results. They emphasise that the
headmaster both nudges us towards the academic and that she has
been effective at building a high-quality working environment.

Schools B and C also link good results to good leadership. Teachers at


school B highlight that the connection between teachers and headmaster
is important. They work together towards common goals that enrich
and empower both parties. Teachers in school C also say that they have
good and straight-forward leadership that has clear expectations and
demands for them. The importance of school leadership as a builder of
internal culture is supported in the following statement: I have to brag
about the leadership there has been a focus that here we will have a
common culture where we work together throughout the entire school
and that has been incorporated for a long, long time.

In school D the teachers recognise the importance of school leadership


and a long-range development plan. They point out that the
headmaster has made it a priority that the entire school staff will have
development opportunities, and that things must then be implemented.
If you will go in a forward direction, it is important that everyone
knows what is happening and is a part of it. Teachers at this school
also say that it is important that they have a headmaster who follows up
and asks questions. One teacher said: It is she, our leader, who is

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94

always insisting that when we have learned something new we need to


use it in our teaching, and to share it, so the learning is not wasted.
Then all can benefit.

Stability and long-term goals


There is also a common thread among the responses from the schools
that everything they do is for the long-term, and they are more
concerned with creating a stable school environment than following the
latest trends. You just have to do some things because that is what you
are required to do, but other things you can skip. We do things because
we think they are important, because we have discussed them, says
the headmaster at school A.

The headmaster at school B says much the same, emphasizing that


teachers at his school are willing to try new things, even though they
arent always the first to jump on new ideas. He emphasises that they
think through what they do, keeping what works and reflecting over
what to take with them into the future and what they will set aside.
This way of thinking is confirmed by the teachers:
We dont hop on some of these trends before we are certain they will
improve the system we already have. So we are not concerned with
being the first ones out with something new, but we are not outdated
because of that. We get good results because of the work we do and
have done over many years.

The significance of long-term work is emphasised again in an interview


with the leadership at school C where they work towards long-term
goals, thinking about the bigger picture and what brings the best
learning outcomes. Teachers at this school also feel they are good at
finding outside ideas without feeling like they have to try everything.
Stability and having clear priorities are significant, but it is also
essential to have a stable group of teachers. The headmaster at school D
also emphasises that systematic work over time is essential to get good
results and says: I think stability and development over time are
important.

Focus on reading
The last common theme we have identified is that the school leaders
and teachers in all the schools believe that focus on reading is an
important reason for their good results. School A teachers report that
they have worked hard with reading, and that they have a plan for
teaching reading, but that they dont have a common method. The
headmaster at school B reports that they have prioritized reading
development as an area of focus for many years. They had previously
had a narrow view on reading, focusing primarily on beginning
readers. Now they have a plan for reading development for pupils in
grades 1-10, believing that reading in all subjects is the responsibility of
all the teachers. The headmaster comments, One could say, therefore,
that the national tests have given us a better focus on what the basic

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95

skills are. Teachers at school B also say that there has been a significant
focus on reading, reading skills, and reading comprehension, and that
everyone is required to be up-to-date on all the latest reading research.
They involve parents and have a very systematic plan for following up
on reading homework. They use time for reading in parent meetings,
explaining to the parents why reading is important.

School C has primarily focused on beginning readers, and has


developed what they feel is a good reading concept for grades 1-4. The
importance of reading skills is emphasised in school D, and all the
teachers have had training in teaching reading. This school has also
been involved in a national initiative for using the school library as a
resource. The headmaster explains this great reading initiative was a
response to previously not being good enough to read in all subjects
and points out that as a result they have prioritized training and
development for the entire teaching staff. However, he stresses that
they are not guided by getting good results on national tests, but
instead that pupils will learn.

Discussion
The four schools presented here share common practices that might
explain their good results on national tests. The first is about classroom
teaching. A two-teacher system, observation, and the sharing of
knowledge and experience is a natural part of daily approach to
teaching. If we compare our results with Irgens' model, we see that the
practice he has placed in sector one, individual work assignments, also
has a collective dimension at these schools. No one mentioned that
individual job performance or a competent private practice teacher
was a reason for their good results.

We also found the collective dimension along with the development


dimension in sector two. Teachers at these schools were involved with
both pedagogical and professional development through their teams
and cooperative relationships. Teachers commented that they worked
tightly together in teams, had group planning and evaluating sessions
about their teaching, were present in each others classrooms, and
shared teaching responsibilities. This ongoing, daily sharing of ideas
and knowledge, as well as transparency and open and honest
discussions about each others practice, were apparent in their
comments. Additional training in the form of continuing education in
many of the schools was prioritized for the entire teaching team and not
just for individual teachers. A typical model for continuing education
in the schools fits into sector 2 of Irgens model. In the schools in this
study, there is also room for individual development, but for the most
part in a collective framework. Professional development in both
subject matter and pedagogical approaches is primarily found in sector
four, as in schools where all teachers receive continuing education in

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96

reading. This then creates a group framework and way of thinking that
creates a school focused on what is best for pupils learning.

Teachers and school leaders comment on the sharing of knowledge,


reflection, and a joint long-term educational plan that can be placed in
sector four of Irgens model. Allowing room for collective development
is important for these schools. They emphasised the growth
opportunities within the school, feeling that they affected all aspects of
their own teaching practice. These schools demonstrate many aspects of
what Hargreaves and Fullan (2012) describe as professional capital in
which the teachers collective capacity and commitment are applied and
refined, leading towards continual growth.

It appears that these schools, in the way that they have presented
themselves, have developed a we-culture in which they are
participants in a professional learning community that considers not
only their commitment to and responsibilities for their own classrooms,
but for all the students in the school. It is apparent that these schools
fulfil many of the requirements for a collective oriented school,
characterized by extensive teacher cooperation, shared values and
visions, collective responsibility for student learning, reflection,
individual and group learning, and shared leadership (Robinson, 2011).

School leaders at these schools are pedagogical leaders. According to


Robinson (2011) pedagogical leaders, leaders who focus on teaching
and learning will, in turn, have a direct impact on pupils learning
outcomes. This has also been emphasised by the teachers in this study
that school leadership is important for the good results the pupils at
their schools have. They stress that it is the leadership that creates a safe
climate, where everyone feels that they are free to share experiences and
reflections.

Conclusion
Based on the perspectives and reflections from teachers and school
leaders in this study, we can conclude that these schools achieve good
results on national tests over time because they have developed a
collective reflective practice that promotes pupils learning. They do not
achieve these results because they teach to the test.

The findings from this study are based on results from interviews with
four headmasters and nineteen teachers at four schools. The findings
are thus related to a few people in a Norwegian school context. Our
results can still have significance in that they can provide insight and
provide a tool for reflection and development of ones own practice.
The results of this study correlate well with other research in schools
with good results. This includes the school administrator's importance
for teachers 'professional development, and hence students' learning in

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97

school (Hallinger, 2005, Hargreaves & Fullan, 2012, Irgens, 2010,


Robinson, 2011).

Our small-scale study raises new questions for further research. It


would be interesting to do observational studies, where we could go
into detail about how teachers work with pupils in in the classrooms,
and how they reflect and share knowledge within the team.

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111

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 111-130, December 2015

National Holidays in Greek Multicultural School:


Vies of Pre- Service Teachers
Mirsini Michalelis
Kindergarten teacher, Postgraduate Student

Kostis Tsioumis and Argyris Kyridis


Professor, School of Early Childhood Education, Aristotle University of
Thessaloniki, Greece

Despina Papageridou
Kindergarten teacher, M.Phil., School of Early Childhood Education,
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece

Elena Sotiropoulou
Ph.D. student, School of Early Childhood Education, Aristotle University
of Thessaloniki, Greece

Abstract. In early childhood education pupils have the opportunity to


come into first contact with the historical events and acquire the first
historical knowledge. However, research has shown the existence of strong
nationalist elements and the viewing of the nation as a homogeneous
entity and an unchanged Hellenism. The Greek educational system does
not take into account the cultural background of students coming from
other countries. This issue is the reason for conducting this survey, which
studied the views of prospective teachers on national celebrations, namely
their role and content. Their views on speeches, on the reproduction of
national identity, on national and political education and the institution of
parades in the context of the multicultural school are also explored. The
issue of research considers that prospective teachers agree with the
conduct of national celebrations in multicultural schools, but in a way that
should include other cultural groups as well. The survey was conducted in
spring of 2014, using a questionnaire with sixty close questions. The
sample of research consists of 120 students of the departments of primary
and pre-school education in the Faculties of Education in Thessaloniki and
Alexandroupoli and the department of Early Childhood education in
Thessaloniki (A.T.E.I.). According to the research results, the celebration of
national holidays in schools should not be abolished as national holidays
contribute to pupils learning about the history of the country and maintain
historical memory. What should be done, however, is to change the way
national holidays are presented in schools and the specific values they
promote to pupils.

Key words: National Holidays, multiculturalism, teachers

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Introduction
Celebrations are important events in the school life of the kindergarten,
as there is a multitude of standard or non standard ones. At the same time, they
can be of significant educational importance, since the value of celebration of
important events and their dates is found both in the concepts, information and
messages we can pass to children, and the benefits they derive from their
participation in preparing and implementing them as Birbili & Kamberi point
out (2007:153). However, recordings from kindergartens reveal that, the way
celebrations are mostly held make children anxious, because they upset their
"routine", engage them in activities that are not consistent with their capabilities,
oblige them to spend time in standardized, identical constructions, provide
incorrect or inaccurate historical and cultural information and make it difficult
for children and parents, who do not wish to participate for social or religious
reasons. This situation raises questions about the views and attitudes of teachers
on issues concerning the choice as well as the organization of celebrations
realized in the modern, multicultural kindergarten. The teacher is the one who
selects and determines not only which holidays will be celebrated in the
classroom or in the kindergarten, but also their place in the daily schedule, the
degree of participation and the role of children and parents to them and the
knowledge and messages that will pass to children (Birbili, Kamberi, 2007).
In Greece, the national holidays, which are considered the most
important and are celebrated with solemnity in schools of all levels, are March
25, 1821 and October 28, 1940. The first one was established as a national holiday
by the Royal Decree of 1838, which put forward two reasons, the "independence
struggle of the Greek nation" and the "feast of the Annunciation", as highlighted
by Koulouris (1995) and Asdrachas (1995). Their presence is therefore recorded
in Greek education mainly in the early 20th century (Bonidis, 2004, 2008).
The decorative material used on national holidays and the general style
of national holidays, such as ritual and content of texts, have both been the
subjects of research in Greek schools (Bonidis, 2004.2008, Halaris, 2005).
Moreover Golia (2006) dealt with the national holidays at schools at doctoral
level. Research results from these few studies on Greek national holidays, reveal
the strong presence of nationalistic elements and references. Specifically, the
spirit that pervades the whole ritual of national holidays are festive speeches,
dramatizations, reciting poems of nationalistic and patriotic character, wreaths
deposit, parade accompanied by patriotic marches and aims to the eternal and
undisturbed bond of participants with their ancestors and their initiation in a
timeless ethnic group (Bonidis, 2004). At the same time, it is revealed that
national holidays in Greece present the nation as a homogeneous entity, united
and uninterrupted through time (Avdela 1998), i.e. the image of a homogeneous
and unchangeable Hellenism is shown and the Greek nation is "made" as a
biological entity (Fragoudaki , Dragona, 1997 Bonidis, 2004, 2008). Moreover, the
nation's bond with Orthodoxy is observed, with frequent references to the role
played by the church through its representatives mainly in the 1821 period. The
influence, therefore, of nationalist ideology is clear on the organization, the
subjects, the messages and generally the entire philosophy behind national
holidays.

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113

Moreover, under the influence of nationalism, national holidays in Greece


aim, in an indirect way however, to the forging of national identity (Avdela,
2001 Bonidis 2004, Golia, 2006), or its perpetuation and strengthening.
Nationalism contributed to the making of national identity forming the official
national word, of which the educational system is a key vehicle. Via these
celebrations, which take place in schools, the sense of ethnically superior and
fearless Greek warrior (Halaris, 2005) is reinforced compared to the ethnically
inferior "other", unrighteous and evil, always threatening and lurking. In
addition, school national celebrations aim to national and political education of
pupils (Fragoudaki, Dragona, 1997, Golia, 2006), mainly through their ritual,
formal part (Koulouri, 1995), but also to the cultivation of national pride,
cohesion and unity (Lentz, 2013), as they carry ideologically charged messages
that are "submitted" by the dominant socio-political group and its ideology and
project specific standards of political behavior that must be followed by pupils
as future citizens. Also, the status of teachers in the educational process dictates
to some extent the role of vehicle of national education within the school
(Avdela, 1997a: 34). Little room is left to teachers to differentiate the conduct of
national education of their pupils, especially if, as in Greece, the centralized
nature of education systems is strong in terms of pedagogical methods,
assessment and determination of teaching content. On the other hand we cannot
nominate teachers as docile providers of national education (Safran 2008,
Avdela, 1997b: 50). "Teachers are not just executive bodies" (Avdela, 1997 a: 34);
they have an opinion on all matters of education policy such as the curriculum,
the contents of school knowledge, evaluation of students, the citizen standard
formed by the school. So the question remains unanswered: how and to what
extent teachers exercise the role of provider of the national education in
everyday practice at school.
The use of national symbols and ceremonies mainly aims at mobilizing
the emotional ties and the reinforcement of the national sentiment of
"belonging (Becker-Lentz, 2013). Concerning parades held during national
holidays, they transmit core values and principles of the state, while
overwhelmed by symbols (Bonidis, 2004, Unlu, 2007, Golia, 2007). So the main
features of parades are the following: they take place in a neuralgic point, in
terms of city planning, where the national flag usually dominates. Students are
dressed in traditional or student uniforms, soldiers march with characteristic
military gait, while marches are heard from bands or loudspeakers. Comments
are also heard from the speakers, and even the course of the parade itself takes
symbolic significance for the state. According to Firth (Firth, 1973:81) the
identification and clarification of the symbolic value of a ritual is not always
something achievable, because symbols by nature allow room for interpretative
maneuvers by those who use them.
There is a close relationship of national holidays with management of
history, as Kremmydas (2004) characteristically states, the anniversary
celebration is a history lesson. In particular, national holidays refer to important
events of a nation-state's history and thus revive glorious historical moments of
its course over time (Lomsky-Feder 2011). Therefore, as Golia (2006) states, the
celebration of national holidays helps to enhance historical education of students
in the Greek educational system, as they focus on timeless values and historical

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114

events presented in such a way as to highlight their catalytic role in society. In


kindergarten, a first approach of pupils to historical concepts takes place
through national holidays (Kokkinos, 2002). However, these celebrations, like
any kind of celebration, constitute a form of education and cultivate attitudes
and behaviors, since they primarily transform experiences and actions into
knowledge, contribute significantly to the development of social sentiment and
social adaptation of toddlers, while aim at the same time to the spiritual, artistic
and moral development of young pupils (Golia, 2006).
However, social reality at international level has changed radically. The
profile of Greek society differentiated significantly during the 1980s, following
the influx of economic migrants from other countries mainly of the Balkan
Peninsula, and the return of expatriates from the countries of the former eastern
bloc states. A variety of definitions were used for the characterization and the
subsequent integration of these people into cultural categories, with different
however semiology, such as foreigners, migrants, repatriates, returnees
expatriates, which aimed primarily at overstressing their deviation from what is
defined as "normal "and socially acceptable as pointed out by Paleologou (2004).
Within the new social context of changes and increased demands, the
role of the teacher becomes of increased importance, especially when dealing
with pupils on the subject of the national holidays school celebrations. However,
the teacher cannot be considered politically and socially neutral, as he operates
within an educational system that clearly fulfills a political act (Freire, 1977).
Therefore, consciously or not, he chooses a political stance and participates in a
political process. This political stance, based on which he interprets and then
presents the national holiday school celebration in class, is the result of his own
personal theory, experiences, his personal history and course, beliefs and
perceptions on national state and his attitude towards the "other". At the same
time, other factors affect him, such as social and political demands of the specific
time period in which he belongs and lives (Stigler, Hiebert, 1998, Dimitriadou,
2004), his cultural background (Pine, Hillard, 1990), his views on the learning
needs of pupils and the general professional training (Day, 1999). These personal
beliefs and perceptions of the teacher, although often covered, are nevertheless
powerful, as they determine every behavior and action and his teaching
approach applied in class (Cummins, 2001).
Following the above, the way celebrations are arranged in modern
kindergarten turns the focus of research and hence of training, on the views and
attitudes of teachers, as they seem to be those who, for the most part, decide
which celebrations will be celebrated in class, apart from the established ones,
their place in the daily program, the degree of participation and the role of
children and parents in them and, finally, the knowledge and messages to be
passed to children. Effort is often made to express broader messages
(Poimenidou-Kakkana, 2012). Nonetheless, national celebrations in Greek school
cannot be regarded as less useful and effective, but as a supplement of historical
knowledge of pupils, as they focus on timeless values and aim to focus the
pupils' attention on a "symbol" or event so as to enhance the social value, the
importance and their role (Golia, Vamvakidou, Anastasiadou, Kyridis, 2007).

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115

Methodology of research - Research objectives


The purpose of conducting this research is to investigate the perceptions of
future primary school teachers on the celebration of national holidays in the
multicultural school. The problematic of this study examines the views of
prospective teachers on issues related to the formation of a national identity in
the context of the class as according to research carried out, such as by "K.
Bonidis" (2004, 2008), issues related to the decorative material and general style
that dominates national celebrations have been explored and through the
doctoral thesis of "P. Golia" (2006) on the issue of national holidays, the result
has turned out to be the existence of strong nationalist elements and the
projection of the nation as a homogeneous entity and an unchanged Hellenism
(Mousiadou, 2014).
Therefore, the research aims to study the values expressed by prospective
teachers in order to investigate the problematic of integrating children belonging
to minority groups.

Research assumptions
Data collection means
A questionnaire was used as a research tool in order to record the attitudes
of prospective teachers towards the celebration of national holidays in the
multicultural school. The questionnaire contained 8 questions on demographic
data and 60 closed type, tiered scale questions, in which students had to indicate
the degree of agreement with each question. For the rating of questions a regular
five-point (1-5), Likert (1: Strongly disagree 2: Disagree. 3: Neither agree nor
disagree, 4: agree, 5: I completely agree) type scale was used for accurate and
reliable results. The questions concerned five thematic sections: "The role and
content of school celebrations", "The anniversary speeches", "The reproduction of
national identity", "The national and political education" and "The institution of
parades".
The quantitative method for data analysis was followed and the processing
of responses was done with descriptive statistical analysis, using the statistical
package IBM SPSS Statistics 22, for the questionnaires for prospective teachers.
The questionnaire was weighted by measuring the reliability of values and the
internal validity index of the instrument showed that Cronbach's Alpha
reliability value is 0.847, which proves that a reliable set of questions on the
questionnaire was used for the research.
The survey was conducted during the academic year 2013-2014.

Research sample
The sample of the research consisted of the responses of 120 undergraduate
students of the departments of primary and pre-school education in the Faculties
of Education in Thessaloniki and Alexandroupoli and the department of Early
Childhood education in Thessaloniki (A.T.E.I.). The sample was selected
randomly without prior stratification of subjects. The demographic
characteristics of the subjects requested are the following: gender, occupation
and education of parents, educational institution, faculty, residence and
ideology.

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116

Table 1. Distribution of reports by gender.


GENDER
Frequency Percent age

Men 20 16,7
Woman 100 83,3
Total 120 100,0

Table 2. Distribution of reports by occupation of fathers and mothers


FATHERS OCCUPATION
Frequency Percent age

Freelance 8 6,7
professional
Scientist
Public Servant 36 30,0
Private sector 29 24,2
employee
Freelance 22 18,3
professional
Technician
Merchant 8 6,7
Worker 4 3,3
Farmer 13 10,8
Total 120 100,0

Table 3. Distribution of reports by occupation of mothers.


MOTHERS OCCUPATION
Frequency Percent age

Freelance 4 3,3
professional
Scientist
Public Servant 40 33,3
Private sector 19 15,8
employee
Freelance 4 3,3
professional
Technician
Merchant 4 3,3
Worker 6 5,0
Farmer 11 9,2
Housekeeping 32 26,7
Total 120 100,0

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117

Table 4. Distribution of reports by education of fathers.


FATHERS EDUCATION
Frequency Percent age

Primary school 16 13,3


High School 47 39,2
Higher Technical 32 26,7
education
University 20 16,7
graduate
Postgraduate 5 4,2
Total 120 100,0

Table 5. Distribution of reports by education of mothers.


MOTHERS EDUCATION
Frequency Percent age

Primary school 8 6,7


High School 62 51,7
Higher Technical 18 15,0
education
University graduate 30 25,0
Postgraduate 2 1,7
Total 120 100,0

Table 6. Distribution of reports by educational institution.


EDUCATIONAL ESTABLISHMENT
Frequency Percent age

UNIVERSI 115 95,8


TY
TECHNOL 5 4,2
OGICAL
INSTITUT
E
Total 120 100,0

Table 7. Distribution of reports by place of residence.


Place of residence
Frequency Percentage

Athens - Thessaloniki 66 55,0


Urban center 22 18,3
Small town 22 18,3
Rural area 10 8,3
Total 120 100,0

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118

Table 8. Distribution of reports by faculty.


Faculty
Frequency Percentage

Early childhood 87 72,5


Primary 33 27,5
Education
Total 120 100,0

Table 9. Distribution of reports by years of study.


Years of Study
Frequency Percentage

2 nd 4 3,3
3o rd 21 17,5
4o rd and senior 95 79,2
Total 120 100,0

Table 10. Distribution of reports by political ideology.


Ideology
Frequency Percentage

Extreme right 2 1,7


Conservative 14 11,7
Centre 36 30,0
Left 18 15,0
Extreme Left 8 6,7
No answer 42 35,0
Total 120 100,0

Research Results
The analysis of the responses of future kindergarten teachers resulted to
the following tables.

Table 2. Presentation of research results by question

No QUESTION Mean S.D.


1 Our national holidays help us realize how important 3.8667 .78786
the struggles of our ancestors were.
2 National holidays cultivate historical awareness. 3.7333 .95031
3 On national holidays we celebrate the end of wars. 2.7750 1.17725
4 National holidays help pupils realize the debt to their
3.2000 1.19944
homeland.
5 National holidays highlight eternal values. 3.6667 1.18345
6 National holidays teach us past achievements. 3.7167 .91838
7 National holidays promote cooperativeness of pupils. 3.4250 1.00136
8 Only our ancestors made history. 1.9250 1.39725

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119

9 National holidays contribute to shaping the pupil's


2.8250 1.06639
personality.
10 Our national holidays remind us the course of our
3.8167 .82994
nation.
11 National holidays contribute to the consistency of the
3.4333 .99354
Greek nation.
12 National holidays help pupils learn about the history
3.9500 .88735
of their homeland.
13 National holidays highlight Greek virtues. 3.0667 1.04305
14 The participation of pupils in school celebrations is
2.4917 1.20221
obligatory.
15 National holidays emphasize the relationship of
3.0667 1.03496
Greeks with Orthodoxy.
16 National holidays preserve the cultural heritage of
3.6667 .91057
our race.
17 National holidays help pupils become responsible
2.3250 1.01387
citizens.
18 The parade is the highlight of the national holiday. 2.9667 1.14447
19 Heroes are models for imitation by children 3.1500 1.00962
20 National holidays strengthen the national morale. 3.6333 1.00363
21 We ought to teach history objectively. 4.5583 .64555
22 National holidays strengthen patriotism. 3.6500 .93170
23 Our national holidays remind us the glorious past. 3.7000 .95794
24 National holidays teach the important events of
3.7500 .89113
Greek history.
25 National holidays promote certain values among
3.4000 .82401
pupils.
26 National holidays "build" national identities. 3.2500 .94602
27 The national holidays are a tribute to their heroes.
4.0250 .79349
28 National holidays help us avoid the mistakes of the
2.4000 1.01584
past.
29 National holidays contribute to the socialization of
2.9250 .96286
pupils.
30 Parades generate sentiments of patriotism. 3.6667 .89192
31 On national holidays the pupils learn to respect their
3.3167 .96130
heroes.
32 Parades are outdated. 2.7333 1.19335
33 The national holidays are a necessary evil. 2.0000 1.08465
34 National holidays are an opportunity for vacation. 2.4500 1.13648
35 The festive decoration of national celebrations is
2.9000 1.03225
outdated.
36 National celebrations are an integral part of school
3.5667 1.05904
life.
37 The parades are simple demonstrations of pupil
2.2083 1.22231
skills.
38 National holidays contribute to the preservation of
3.8833 1.07049
historical memory.

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120

39 National holidays contribute to identity formation. 3.0833 1.02558


40 National holidays serve political expediencies. 2.6667 1.01529
41 The parades are performed simply out of habit 2.9083 1.08462
42 National holidays teach history. 3.5333 1.01197
43 National holidays raise pupils' morale. 2.7333 .98504
44 The parades are performed so that parents take pride
3.0000 1.00419
of their children.
45 National holidays anniversary speeches are outdated. 3.1333 .95207
46 The participation of pupils in the parade is
2.5250 1.30907
mandatory.
47 National celebrations contribute to the political
2.5917 .86477
education of pupils.
48 National celebrations are entertaining. 2.6000 .99071
49 National celebrations are an opportunity for social
3.1500 .85651
activities.
50 The celebration of national holidays at school should
1.9333 1.14300
be abolished.
51 The festive atmosphere on national holidays is
3.6000 .86384
symbolic.
52 Parades should be abolished. 1.9917 1.21265
53 It is the teacher's duty to deliver the festive speech of
2.6500 .85651
the day.
54 The Polytechnic anniversary is a national holiday. 3.4333 .94142
55 Anniversary speeches reproduce ideology. 3.2833 .91838
56 Nowadays teachers no longer write anniversary
3.3250 .90899
speeches.
57 National celebrations are repeated every year without
3.7667 .92340
differentiation.
58 National celebrations contribute to the national
3.4000 .91118
education of pupils.
59 Anniversary speeches are based on stereotype
3.0333 .95207
national perceptions.
60 Anniversary speeches should be abolished. 2.6667 .89192

Table 3. Distribution of sample responses depending on the degree of agreement


1= Strongly disagree, 2=disagree, 3=neither agree nor disagree, 4=agree, 5= I agree
completely

N QUESTION 1 2 3 4 5
1 Our national holidays help us realize how important 1.7 3.3 18.3 60.0 16.7
the struggles of our ancestors were.
2 National holidays cultivate historical awareness. 1.7 11.7 16.7 51.7 18.3
3 On national holidays we celebrate the end of wars. 14.2 30.0 30.0 15.8 10.0
4 National holidays help pupils realize the debt to their 9.2 24.2 15.8 39.2 11.7
homeland.
5 National holidays highlight eternal values. 10.0 3.3 21.7 40.0 25.0
6 National holidays teach us past achievements. 1.7 10.0 20.0 51.7 16.7
7 National holidays promote cooperativeness of pupils. 3.3 13.3 35.0 34.2 14.2

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121

8 Only our ancestors made history. 60.8 15.8 3.3 10.0 10.0
9 National holidays contribute to shaping the pupil's 12.5 24.2 36.7 21.7 5.0
personality.
10 Our national holidays remind us the course of our 0 9.2 17.5 55.8 17.5
nation.
11 National holidays contribute to the consistency of the 3.3 15.0 28.3 41.7 11.7
Greek nation.
12 National holidays help pupils learn about the history of 1.7 6.7 11.7 55.0 25.0
their homeland.
13 National holidays highlight Greek virtues. 5.0 25.8 36.7 22.5 10.0
14 The participation of pupils in school celebrations is 23.3 33.3 20.8 15.8 6.7
obligatory.
15 National holidays emphasize the relationship of Greeks 6.7 23.3 33.3 30.0 6.7
with Orthodoxy.
16 National holidays preserve the cultural heritage of our 1.7 8.3 28.3 45.0 16.7
race.
17 National holidays help pupils become responsible 15.8 55.8 12.5 11.7 4.2
citizens.
18 The parade is the highlight of the national holiday. 8.3 30.0 30.0 20.0 11.7
19 Heroes are models for imitation by children 8.3 10.8 46.7 25.8 8.3
20 National holidays strengthen the national morale. 3.3 10.0 25.0 43.3 18.3
21 We ought to teach history objectively. .8 0 3.3 34.2 61.7
22 National holidays strengthen patriotism. 3.3 5.0 31.7 43.3 16.7
23 Our national holidays remind us the glorious past. 1.7 11.7 20.0 48.3 18.3
24 National holidays teach the important events of Greek 1.7 6.7 25.0 48.3 18.3
history.
25 National holidays promote certain values among 5.0 3.3 41.7 46.7 3.3
pupils.
26 National holidays "build" national identities. 5.0 13.3 40.0 35.0 6.7
27 The national holidays are a tribute to their heroes. 0 3.3 20.0 47.5 29.2

28 National holidays help us avoid the mistakes of the 14.2 50.0 24.2 5.0 6.7
past.
29 National holidays contribute to the socialization of 7.5 25.0 37.5 27.5 2.5
pupils.
30 Parades generate sentiments of patriotism. 3.3 4.2 29.2 49.2 14.2
31 On national holidays the pupils learn to respect their 5.0 11.7 38.3 36.7 8.3
heroes.
32 Parades are outdated. 22.5 15.0 34.2 23.3 5.0
33 The national holidays are a necessary evil. 41.7 30.0 18.3 6.7 3.3
34 National holidays are an opportunity for vacation. 26.7 25.0 26.7 20.0 1.7
35 The festive decoration of national celebrations is 10.0 23.3 38.3 23.3 5.0
outdated.
36 National celebrations are an integral part of school life. 8.3 5.0 21.7 51.7 13.3
37 The parades are simple demonstrations of pupil skills. 36.7 30.0 14.2 14.2 5.0
38 National holidays contribute to the preservation of 6.7 5.0 8.3 53.3 26.7
historical memory.
39 National holidays contribute to identity formation. 7.5 21.7 30.0 36.7 4.2

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122

40 National holidays serve political expediencies. 12.5 32.5 34.2 17.5 3.3
41 The parades are performed simply out of habit 15.0 15.0 37.5 29.2 3.3
42 National holidays teach history. 3.3 15.0 20.0 48.3 13.3
43 National holidays raise pupils' morale. 10.8 28.3 41.7 15.0 4.2
44 The parades are performed so that parents take pride 7.5 22.5 37.5 27.5 5.0
of their children.
45 National holidays anniversary speeches are outdated. 5.0 18.3 40.8 30.0 5.8
46 The participation of pupils in the parade is mandatory. 20.0 45.8 10.0 10.0 14.2
47 National celebrations contribute to the political 10.8 33.3 41.7 14.2 0
education of pupils.
48 National celebrations are entertaining. 16.7 26.7 36.7 20.0 0
49 National celebrations are an opportunity for social 4.2 17.5 37.5 40.8 0
activities.
50 The celebration of national holidays at school should be 48.3 26.7 11.7 10.0 3.3
abolished.
51 The festive atmosphere on national holidays is 0 10.0 35.0 40.0 15.0
symbolic.
52 Parades should be abolished. 47.5 25.8 12.5 8.3 5.8
53 It is the teacher's duty to deliver the festive speech of 8. 3 33.3 45.0 11.7 1.7
the day.
54 The Polytechnic anniversary is a national holiday. 1.7 18.3 23.3 48.3 8.3
55 Anniversary speeches reproduce ideology. 5.0 13.3 33.3 45.0 3.3
56 Nowadays teachers no longer write anniversary 1.7 15.0 42.5 30.8 10.0
speeches.
57 National celebrations are repeated every year without 3.3 6.7 16.7 56.7 16.7
differentiation.
58 National celebrations contribute to the national 3.3 12.5 31.7 45.8 6.7
education of pupils.
59 Anniversary speeches are based on stereotype national 6.7 18.3 45.0 25.0 5.0
perceptions.
60 Anniversary speeches should be abolished. 10.0 28.3 50.0 8.3 3.3

A particularly high degree of agreement is noted in the average value (4.5583) of


the statement "we should teach history objectively", which proves that the
largest percentage of students who answered consider that it is essential to teach
history objectively. A remarkable 95.9% agrees with the specific statement,
while only a 0.8% disagrees. Also the average value (4.0250) of statement
"National holidays are a tribute to heroes" is significant as it is found that the
majority of surveyed students consider national holidays as a means of pay
tribute to heroes. A significant 76.7% agree with this statement, while only 3.3%
disagree.
Also, the answers of students to statements
1,5,6,10,11,12,13,15,22,23,24,25,28,42 and 51 present the significant role of school
celebrations and their contribution to the promotion of knowledge of local
history and to the teaching of the significant events of Greek history and the
achievements of the past. Through their answers in statements
3,14,33,34,35,36,48,50,54 and 57

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123

the content of national holidays is shown and the view that they are an integral
part of school life and that they themselves seem to wish the continuation of
their celebration in schools is derived.
In addition, the answers of students to statements 7,9,17,21,29,40,43,47,49 and
58 reveal that
even if they do not appear entirely confident on the contribution of national
celebrations to promote socialization, political education and the formation of
pupils' personality, most of them seem to consider that national celebrations
contribute to national education of pupils and constitute an opportunity for
social.
Via the answers to statements 45,53,55,56,59 and 60, students support the
reproduction of ideology through anniversary speeches, while in statements
18,30,32,37,41,44,46 and 52 their answers show that anniversary speeches cause
feelings of patriotism and that they should be continued.
With statements 2,4,8,16,19,20,26,27,31,38 and 39 students argue through their
answers that national holidays contribute to the preservation of historical
memory and cultural heritage of our race and to the formation and reproduction
of national identity cultivating historical awareness, boosting the national
morale and helping pupils realize the debt to their homeland.

Correlations results
In order to draw conclusions eight independent variables, which constitute a
number of factors from demographic data, were used in this research. These
variables are: "Gender", "Father's Occupation", "Mother's Occupation", "Father's
education", "Mother's Education," "Faculty", "Place of residence", "Ideology".
Regarding the independent variable of "Gender" significant correlations
were observed, of which male undergraduate students appear to be more
positive about the role of national celebrations, as 80% of them believe that
national celebrations promote eternal values (F = 5.040, df = 1, P <0.05) and 50%
believe that national celebrations bring out the virtues of Greek (F = 5.341, df = 1,
P <0.05). The corresponding percentages for females were 62% and 29%.
Also on the views that national celebrations remind us of the glorious past (F =
5.496, df = 1, P <0.05) and that they are an integral part of school life (F = 5.174,
df = 1, P <0.05), 85% and 75% of male students respectively agree and 63% of
female students agree with both. Furthermore, 75% of women surveyed oppose
the view that national celebrations help pupils become responsible citizens (F =
8.185, df = 1, P <0.05), while only 55% of men disagree. Also 90% of men and
72% of women disagree that celebration of national holidays at school must be
abolished (F=3.523, df=1, P<0.05).
Undergraduate students, whose fathers' occupation is merchant (62.5%),
free-lance professional/technician (40.9%), free-lance professional/scientist
(40%) and private sector employee (51.7%), seem to oppose the view that
national celebrations contribute to the socialization of pupils (F=3.201 , df=6 ,
P<0.05), while 50% of students, whose fathers' occupation is worker do not
believe that national celebrations contribute to shaping the pupil's (F=2.932, df=6
, P<0.05) and 51.7% of students, whose fathers are private sector employees
disagree with the statement that national celebrations "build" national identities
(F=2.512, df=6 , P<0.05). It is remarkable that all undergraduate students (100%),
whose fathers' occupation is free-lance professional/scientist oppose the view

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124

that parades are simple demonstrations of pupil skills (F=3.957, df=6 , P<0.05)
and all students (100%) whose fathers' occupation is free-lance
professional/technician disagree with the view that parades should be abolished
(F=2.469, df=6 , P<0.05). Moreover, 50% of students whose fathers' occupation is
merchant and worker do not believe that anniversary speeches reproduce
ideology (F=4.402, df=6 , P<0.05).
Moreover, regarding the variable of mothers occupation, it is indicative
that 84.3% of undergraduate students whose mothers occupation is private
sector employee and 81.3% of undergraduate students whose mothers
occupation is housewife believe that national holidays cultivate historical
awareness (F=2.240 , df=7 , P<0.05) and 85% of students whose mothers
occupation is public servant have the view that national holidays help pupils
learn the history of their homeland (F=2.251 , df=7 , P<0.05). It is remarkable that
81.8% of undergraduate students whose mothers occupation is worker and 75%
of undergraduate students whose mothers occupation is freelance
professional/scientist believe the parades are outdated (F=3.130 , df=7 , P<0.05),
while 75% of undergraduate students whose mothers occupation is merchant
disagree with the view that national holidays are an opportunity for vacation
(F=2.177 , df=7 , P<0.05) and 100% of undergraduate students whose mothers
occupation is freelance professional/technician disagree with the view the
national holidays serve political expediencies
(F=2.429, df=7 , P<0.05).
Concerning the fathers education, it is observed that undergraduate
students whose fathers graduated primary school and higher technical
education are more receptive to the contribution of national holidays towards
pupils. In particular, 62.6% and 65.7% respectively, believe that national
celebrations promote cooperativeness of pupils (F=2.640, df=4, P<0.05) and
68.8% and
65.6% respectively accepts the statement that national celebrations contribute to
the national education of pupils (F=4.396, df=4, P<0.05). Additionally, the
supportive role of national celebrations on the acquaintance of pupils with the
history of their homeland (F=5.425, df=4, P<0.05) is accepted by large
percentages of students regardless of their fathers education, expect for those
whose fathers are university graduates, of which only 50% agree. The same
applies to the contribution of national celebrations to the political education of
pupils (F=5.913, df=4, P<0.05), on which only 5% of them agree.
It is also found that students whose fathers graduated from primary (75%),
secondary (65.9%), higher technical (75.1%) and postgraduate (100%) education
consider national celebrations an integral part of school life (F = 8.277, df = 4, P
<0.05), as opposed to those whose fathers are university graduates where only
30% agreed and only 40% of them consider it necessary to repeal the celebration
of national holidays at school (F = 6.378, df = 4, P <0.05).
Undergraduate students whose mothers graduated from secondary
education (75.8%), higher technical education (83.3%) and universities (56.7%)
support the view that national celebrations teach the important events of Greek
history (F = 5.769, df = 4, P <0.05), while those whose mothers graduated from
primary education (62.5% ) express a neutral attitude, and those whose mothers
have acquired postgraduate degree (100%) also show a neutral attitude to the

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125

view that national celebrations teach history (F = 5.312, df = 4, P <0.05) and


disagree on the role of national celebrations in the preservation of historical
memory (F=8.456, df=4 , P<0.05). Moreover, it seems that students with mothers
higher technical education graduates (67.8%) claim that national festivals
promote certain values among pupils (F = 7.228, df = 4, P <0.05) in contrast to
those whose mothers are postgraduate education graduates (100%) who
disagree with this view.
Regarding the independent variable of the educational institution, 75.7% of
undergraduate university students and 100% of higher technical institutions
consider that the national celebrations contribute to the awareness of the
significance of the struggles of ancestors (F = 4.659, df =1, P <0.05) and 79.1%
and 100% respectively, consider that national celebrations help students learn
the history of their homeland (F=4.946, df=1, P<0.05).
According to the place of residence of undergraduate students 77.3% of those
who live in a small town believe that national celebrations teach past
achievements (F = 3,087, df = 3, P <0.05) and 81% of undergraduate students
residing in Athens-Thessaloniki believe that national celebrations remind of the
nation's course (F = 3.250, df = 3, P <0,05). Also, 72.7% of students who live in an
urban center does not consider national holidays as a vacation opportunity (F =
5.334, df = 3, P <0.05) while 45% of students who live in a small town have a
neutral stance.
Regarding the independent variable, the ideology, 100% of undergraduate
students falling ideologically in the extreme right, and 78.6% of students who
are placed ideologically in the right disagree with the view that the institution of
parades is obsolete (F = 4.478, df = 5, P <0.05), while 62.5% of students who
belong to the extreme left is neutral. Also, 92.9% of students who are placed
ideologically in the right are of the view that national celebrations preserve the
cultural heritage of our race (F = 4.657, df = 5, P <0.05) while the same view
expresses only 25% of those who fall ideologically in the extreme left.
Also, 100% of students falling in the extreme right believe that only the
ancestors made history (F = 4.187, df = 5, P <0.05) as opposed to 100% of
students belonging to the extreme left who disagrees with this view. Also, 85.8%
of undergraduate students belonging ideologically in the right believes that
national celebrations help pupils realize the debt to their homeland (F = 2.436, df
= 5, P <0.05) and 66.7% that national celebrations remind of the nation's course
(F = 4.320, df = 5, P <0.05)..

Discussion
The purpose of this research is to investigate the perceptions of future primary
school teachers on the celebration of national holidays in the multicultural
school. More specifically, it examines the views of prospective teachers on issues
related to the formation of a national identity in the context of the class. The
research aims to study the values expressed by prospective teachers in order to
investigate the problem of integrating children belonging to minority groups. In
order to capture the attitudes of prospective teachers towards the celebration of
national holidays in the multicultural school, a questionnaire was used as a
research tool, which contained eight questions of demographic data and 60
closed type, tiered scale questions, in which students had to indicate the degree
of agreement with each question. The questionnaire was divided into five

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126

thematic groups: "The role and content of school celebrations", "The anniversary
speeches", "The reproduction of national identity", "The national and political
education" and "The institution of parades".
According to the research results in the first thematic group, which
referred to the role and content of school celebrations, it was revealed that the
perceptions of students display a positive attitude towards the celebration of
national holidays at school. From studying their answers on the role and content
of school celebrations, it is found that national holidays should continue to be
celebrated at school (48.3%), as they are of symbolic character (40%) and
contribute to the awareness of the importance of ancestors' struggles (60%).
According to the views of the students the didactic content of national
celebrations is depicted, which teach pupils the achievements of the past (51.7%),
reminding them of the glorious past (48.3%), while according to 46.7% student
national celebrations also promote specific values. Also, they teach the important
events of Greek history (48.3%), helping pupils learn about the history of their
homeland (55%) and hence constitute an integral part of school life (51.7%).
However, some changes could be made with regard to the festive atmosphere of
national celebrations as they are repeated every year without changes (56.7%)
and to pupils' participation in school celebrations, which should not be
mandatory (33.3 %). The question of how the historical events worthy of a
celebration on national holidays are selected and which historical knowledge
they promote emerges strongly. Research revealed that in these anniversary
events, the historical continuity and uninterrupted course of the nation from
ancient to modern times is stressed emphatically, while pupils, through national
celebrations, understand history as a sequence of past events leading to the
present (Golia, 2006). At the same time, school national celebrations principally
constitute an endless list of feats of heroes and great personalities (Mariolis,
2005).
In the second thematic group of anniversary speeches, it turned out that
a large percentage of students (50%) has a neutral view on whether anniversary
speeches on national celebrations should be abolished. 40.8% does express any
degree of agreement on whether anniversary speeches are outdated, 45% does
not express any degree of agreement on whether it is the teacher's duty to
deliver the festive speech of the day, and on whether anniversary speeches are
based on stereotyped national perceptions, while according to the same
percentage of students (45%), anniversary speeches reproduce ideology. Bonidis
(2004) however, points out that anniversary speeches texts in national
celebrations "naturalize" national ideology converting it to common sense.
The third thematic group relates to the reproduction of national identity.
According to the results obtained from the replies of future teachers, the
contribution of national celebrations to the reproduction of national identity is
noted. Some students express a neutral opinion on statements that national
celebrations "build" national identities (40%), which shows that they do not have
a clear understanding on this issue or that they do not believe they have such a
decisive role in building national identity. A 46.7% agree with the statement that
heroes honored on national celebrations are a model of imitation for children
and a 38.3% agrees that on national celebrations pupils learn to respect heroes.
In fact, it appears from the answers that national celebrations cultivate historical

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127

awareness (51.7%), help pupils become aware of the debt to their homeland
(39.2%), reinforce national morale (43.3%), contribute to the preservation of
historical memory (53.3%) and in the shaping of identity (36.7%). Researchers
who have dealt with the shaping the national identity of young pupils in
preschool age, despite their minor disagreements, point out that racial and
national identity begins to develop at preschool age (Katz, 1987, Ramsey, 1987)
and stress that in this age there is no issue of national identity formation. They
introduce and adopt the term "ethnic attitudes" and stress that young children
follow a development course that leads to the formation of ethnic identity in an
older age. Ethnic attitudes refer to the organized predisposition of children to
develop a positive or negative attitude to people belonging to different ethnic
groups (Aboud, 1988).
Also with respect to the fourth thematic group, the national and political
education of pupils through the national celebrations at school, the students
seem to have a neutral and negative, to some degree, stance towards political
education provided by the celebration of national holidays, while they appear
more positive on national education. Students neither disagree nor agree with
the views that national celebrations promote cooperativeness of pupils (35%)
and that national celebrations raise pupils' morale (41.7%), contribute to their
socialization (37.5%), contribute in personality formation (36.7%) and in their
political education (41.7%). They, however, disagree with the view that national
celebrations help students become responsible citizens (55.8%). Contrary to
Fragoudaki & Dragona (1997) and Golia (2006), which claim that apart from the
sense of unity, the participants are trained to become suitable citizens through
the celebrations. After all, the ordinary citizens are considered by the state
apparatus, as persons needing education, shaping and training. Hence, national
celebrations are part of the civil training policy of a state and aim to the national
and political education of citizens and pupils (45.8%) and are an opportunity for
social activities (40.8%).
Finally, regarding the results obtained from the last thematic group,
which referred to the institution of parades, the students' stance towards the
performance of parades seems to be quite positive and a significant percentage
disagrees with the view that parades should be abolished (47.5%) and does not
consider them as simple demonstrations of student skills (36.7%) and agrees that
they cause sentiments of patriotism (49.2%). On the other hand however, a
significant percentage of respondents agrees that parades could not be
considered the culmination of national celebrations (30%) and believes that the
participation of pupils the parade could be optional (45.8%). Therefore, it is
clear, that through parades on national holidays, a reminder of historical facts is
attempted and the main aim is to strengthen the national morale and national
pride. This is reinforced via the use of symbols, which are carriers of values and
ideas. On national celebrations, the effort for regeneration of the particular
historical period combined with the use of national symbols such as the flag and
other materials used during the celebration, attempts to strengthen the national
identity and unity (Golia, 2006).
The results of this research depict that students are influenced to a
significant extent by the current management of national holidays and national
ideology, with certain however, obvious deviation tendencies from this, an

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128

element which is partly justified by the influence of their university studies, but
also by their limited connection with the reality of the Greek school.

References

In Greek
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"others". In Anna Fragkiadaki & Thalia Dragona (Eds.), "What is our homeland?"
Ethnocentrism in Education (pp 27-45). Athens: Alexandria.
Avdela, . (1997b). Time, history and national identity in Greek school. In Anna
Fragkiadaki & Thalia Dragona (Eds.), "What is our homeland?" Ethnocentrism in
Education (pp 49-71). Athens: Alexandria
Avdela. . (1998). History and School. Athens: Nissos.
Avdela, . (2001). We and the others in history class. Educational Community, 59, 23-29.
Asdrachas, S. (1995). Historic visualizations. thens:Themelio.
Golia, P. (2006). National and political education in the Greek Primary School: the role of school
celebrations. PhD Thesis, University of Western Macedonia.
Kokkinos, G. (2002). istory in school: From ideological function to the creation of
historical thinking. Historicals, 36, 165-200.
ulouri, C. (1995). Myths and symbols of a national holiday. motini: Democritus
University.
remmidas, V. (2004). The national Holiday in school. Introduction in the meeting of
10.17.2004 organized by the Pedagogical Group of Intervention of Clusters
movements on "History and school. II World War, Fascism, Nationalism and
Resistance."
ariolis D. (2005). The "Angel of History" in front of the blackboard. Brief comment on
the events of the Pedagogical Group on History and School. Cracks in Class, 17,
29-30.
ousiadou, . (2014). National Holidays and Intercultural Education in multicultural
kindergarten: a case study. Published PhD thesis, Aristotle University of
Thessaloniki, Faculty of Education, Department of Early Childhood Education,
Thessaloniki.
Birbili, M., Kamberi, . (2007). Celebrations in the modern kindergarten: Source of
pleasure or anxiety? Minutes of the conference "The Primary Education and the
Challenges of Our Time" University of Ioannina School of Education.

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Bonidis, . (2004) Aspects of ethnocentrism in school life of Greek education: The


national anniversaries of October 28 and March 25, Contemporary Education, 134,
27-42.
Bonidis, . (2008). Identity and otherness in the National Day of March 25th.
Proceedings of the conference on: national identity and otherness: multiple
identities in the postmodern era. Retrieved from
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Pimenidou ., akana D. (2012). National Holidays in kindergarten. History and
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Education and Training. Theoretical and Educational Approaches, Athens: Pedio.
Fragoudaki, ., Dragona, T. (1997). (Eds.). "What is our homeland?" Ethnocentrism in
Education. Athens: Alexandria
Freire, P. (1977). Political action for the conquest of freedom. Athens: Kastaniotis.
Halari. . (2005). The national holiday of October 28 in kindergarten, Cracks in Class, 17,
33-35.

In English
Aboud, F., E. (1988). Children and Prejudice. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Becker, H., Lentz, C. (2013). The politics and aesthetics of commemoration: national days
in southern Africa, Anthropology Southern Africa, 36:1-2, 1-10.
Cummins, J. (2001). HER Classic. Empowering Minority Students: A framework for
Intervention. Harvard Educational Review, 71(4), 649-655.
Day, C. (1999). Developing Teachers: The challenges of Lifelong Learning. Falmer Press.
Dimitriadou, C. (2004). Teaching history in Balkan Countries. The Relativisation of the
Historical Truths. In Terzis (Eds.). Intercultural Education in the Balkan
Countries, Thessaloniki.
Firth, Raymond. (1973). Symbols. Public and Private. London: George Allen and Unwin.
LTD.
Golia, P. (2007). Interpretations of national celebrations at Greek primary schools: a
proposal for semiotic analysis, Applied Semiotics, 8 (19).
Golia, P., Kyridis, A., Anastasiadou, S. & Vamvakidou, I. (2007). National Anniversaries
in Greece: Teachers Attitudes Towards the Role of National Celebrations in
Greek Schools. International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities and
Nations, 3.
Katz P.M. (1987). Developmental and Social Processes in Ethnic Attitudes and Self
Identification, Phinney J.S. & Rotheram M.J. (eds) Childrens Ethic socialization.
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Lentz, C. (2013). Celebrating independence jubilees and the millennium: national days in
Africa. Nations and Nationalism, 19(2), 208-216.
Lomsky-Feder, E. (2011). Competing models of nationalism: an analysis of memorial
ceremonies in schools. Nations and Nationalism, 17(3), 581603.
Palaiologou, N. (2004). Intercultural education and practice in Greece: needs for bilingual
intercultural programmes. Intercultural Education, 15(3), 317-329.
Pine, G.,J., Hillard A., G. III. (1990). Rx for Racism: Imperatives for Americas Schools. PHI
DELTA KAPPAN. April, 593-600.
Ramsey, P. (1987). Young childrens thinking about ethnic differences. In Phinney J &
Rotheram (Eds.). Childrens ethnic socialization: Pluralism and development,
Newbury Park ,CA:Sage Publications.
Safran, W. (2008). Language, ethnicity and religion:a complex and persistent linkage.
Nations and Nationalism 14(1), 71190.
Stigler, J.W., Hiebert, J. (1998). Teaching is a cultural activity. American Educator, 22(4), 4-
11.
Unlu, U.C. (2007) Celebrating and remembering the Festival of September 9: Ritual,
History and Memory. M.A. Bogazici University. Retrieved from
http://www.belgeler.com/blg/13ma/celebrating-and-remembering-the-
festival-ofseptember-9-ritual-history-and-memory-9-eylul-u-kutlamak-ve-
hatirlamak-toren-tarihve-bellek

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99

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 99-110, December 2015

Explorations in Online Learning using Adobe


Connect
Deirdre Englehart
University of Central Florida
Orlando, FL

Abstract. This preliminary research was focused on pre-service, early


childhood educators that took part in online class meetings using the
Adobe Connect video conferencing platform. Student feedback was
collected related to synchronous class meetings. Adobe Connect was
used in two different ways to connect students who attended two
distant campus locations. One format included using Adobe Connect to
join students in classrooms at two locations. The second format included
using the same platform that allowed students to log in to an online
class meeting from any location. The initial feedback indicates that many
students had positive responses to the online class meetings especially
related to convenience, but some students did not feel the interactions
during the classroom to classroom meetings supported strong
connections with each other and the instructor.

Keywords: pre-service teachers; video conferencing; online class


meetings; early childhood education; Adobe Connect

Introduction

As a faculty member of the Early Childhood Education program at a regional


campus for a large state university, there are numerous challenges to consider
related to the successful implementation and continuation of the degree. The
expectation for all programs is to maintain and expand degree offerings through
increased enrollment. The Early Childhood program was not encouraged to
offer totally online course offerings due to the conflict with pedagogy and best
practices for teaching undergraduate students in this field. With little ability to
increase enrollment or offer totally online programs, the focus became how to
use technology to connect two small regional programs. The technology
available allowed researchers the ability to test the potential of innovative and
distinctive learning formats. Research from the New Media Consortium (2009)
emphasizes that technological advances has increased our ability to provide
unique learning formats and has allowed new learning opportunities. Web-

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100

based learning which included the delivery of some content online through
Webcourses has been an integral part of our program offerings, but class
meetings were still considered an essential aspect of the learning in the program.
This initial research is an evaluation of using Adobe Connect to join two
separate campuses for class meetings as well as to provide online class meetings
where students could attend online from anywhere.

Literature Review

Online Learning
Challenges for education institutions outlined by the New Media Consortium
(2009) include the fact that students are different from 20 or 30 years ago and
that educators need to support different and unique ways of teaching and
learning. "Institutions need to adapt to current student needs and identify new
learning models that are engaging to younger generations" (New Media
Consortium, p. 6). Educational institutions are currently involved in many
avenues of course delivery.

Motamedi (2001) describes distance education as the delivery of course


instruction in formats where teachers and learners are in different places and
potentially complete work at different times. One of the first forms of distance
learning took place via correspondence courses. Online learning is now broadly
described as using various electronic methods of teaching, providing
professional development or other educational program. The popularity of
online learning is apparent and one that has become more visible in higher
education. Fletcher, Tobias and Wisher (2007) use the term Advanced
Distributed Learning which objectives include making learning available
anytime, anywhere. Zhen, Garthwait and Pratt (2008) speak of online course
management applications which relate to teaching and learning in the online
environment. It "includes the use of formal and informal course management
systems to organize and support student learning online with dynamic and
flexible communication and interactions" (p. 2). From previous research,
Motamedi (2001) cited one of the most explains that the most common delivery
method in distance education are print based delivery which is supplemented
with video or audiotape. Using online learning formats is an avenue of helping
students learn content. This is one reason why Web conferencing software is
growing in popularity in the field of higher education (Reushle & Loch, 2008).
One of the features of web-based conferencing is the asynchronous or time
delayed interactions. Research has shown that instruction through 'distance
education' can be effective but the "methodologies and technologies must be
appropriate to the instructional tasks" (Motamedi, 2001, p. 386).

Advances in technology have created the ability to connect in various ways with
students in the online format. Gedera (2014) found that "students experiences of
learning with the virtual classroom were associated with the affordances and
limitations of this technology" (p. 97). Although technology has made great
advances, classrooms and teachers need to have access to a high level of

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101

technology in order to meet the needs of students and to connect. The level of
the technology can be a factor in student learning and preference.

An additional consideration is relationship building and students connections


that typically occur in face to face classroom settings. In a review of research,
Falloon (2011) indicates that learners who are involved in online and distance
learning can feel isolated and disconnected. This can further lead to lower
performance levels. Kaufmann and Frisby (2013) expresses concern about the
lack of interpersonal contact in online classes. Finding ways to help students to
build relationships and connect with others is vital. Including community
building components should be considered in online formats. Along the same
lines as relationships is the issue of interactions. The overall research is not clear
on the most effective methods to support interactions in the online format.
Falloon (2011) indicated that students view the online classroom as a totally new
environment. This includes new ways to interact as well as new rules and
procedures to learn. Time and experience in the new format was suggested to
help learners.

The Use of Video Conferencing

Motamedi (2001) describes the ability to connect anywhere in the world through
technology for people at work and in school settings. Web conferencing and
video conferencing are becoming increasingly popular to support teaching and
learning at higher education institutions (Reushle & Loch, 2008, Motamedi,
2001). Video conferencing is described as back and forth communication across
distances that can include video, audio and possible data transmission. Video
conferencing can be delivered to various locations including homes, office and
schools. Park and Bonk (2007) indicate that advances in technology have
impacted using video conferencing more feasible in synchronous learning
formats. Motamedi (2001) further explains that methodologies used in video
conferencing should be appropriate to the instructional goals outlined and that
learners should be at the center of the process. He outlines some factors for
"successful use of videoconferencing including the number of students at each
site, instructor's teaching style, degree of interactivity used, motivation of
students, and positive attitude of participants and preparation of the
instructor"(p. 390).

Methodology

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of Adobe Connect as a class
meeting platform. Specifically,

What are students perceptions of instruction in the Classroom to


Classroom format for class meetings?
What are student perceptions of instruction in the online class meetings?

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102

Survey methodology was used to assess important considerations for using


video conferencing as a course delivery format for class meetings. The
participants in this research were Early Childhood Education undergraduate
students taking courses in the ECE program in a large university in the
southeast. Students were enrolled in courses at two regional campus locations
for the university. Approximately 40 students were invited to participate in this
research by completing an anonymous survey linked in two early childhood
courses over two different semesters (Fall, Spring). The questionnaire was linked
to an email sent to all students in the participating courses. Students would
follow a link provided to a secure website where they took the survey.

In the Fall term, 16 students took courses that integrated the use of online class
meetings. Nine students completed the survey (n=9), all student participants
were female with an age range of 22-46 years old. Two students work full time
and 7 students work part time while attending classes in the Early Childhood
program. This group of students drove from 25-60 miles to attend classes at the
regional campus during the semester.

In the Spring term, 27 students took courses that integrated the use of Adobe
Connect in two different formats. Adobe Connect was used to facilitate
classroom to classroom meetings across two campuses and Adobe Connect was
used to conduct online class meetings where students could attend from home.
Seven students completed the survey (n=7). All participants were female with
an age range of 21-28 years old. Three students worked full time, three students
worked part time and one student did not answer. This group of students drove
5-90 miles to attend classes at the regional campus during the semester.

Adobe Connect Platform

During this initial research, early childhood education students attended classes
with the use of Adobe Connect. This system was not specifically designed for
classroom use, but included video, audio, chat, and survey tools. Powerpoint
presentations could be uploaded prior to the class meetings and the instructor
had the ability to bring up documents on the local computer. Also, videos could
be linked or downloaded into the system. Each student was given the web
address to log in when class meetings were held. Also, once inside the Adobe
Connect system, students could be divided into smaller groups and enter a
breakout room for collaborative activities.

The project included the use of Adobe Connect to facilitate online class meetings.
The class meetings took two separate formats: classroom to classroom and
online class meetings from home. The classroom to classroom meetings used
Adobe Connect to facilitate the connection between two separate campus
locations and classrooms for class meetings (see Picture 1 & 2). The online class
meetings from home allowed students to interact and construct their
understandings together in their own home (see Picture 3). The use of video and
audio were prominent between the classroom to classroom meetings. For the
online class meetings, students could see the instructor, but students did not use
the video features so they could see each other. These unique formats allowed

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103

students to connect on a new level of learning and supports an engaging


platform for a new generation of learners. The New Media consortium (2009)
emphasized the need for universities to consider how technology can be used to
connect and collaborate with learners of the future.

Picture 1: Classroom to Classroom meeting using Adobe Connect

Picture 2: Classroom to Classroom Adobe Connect meeting

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104

Picture 3: Online Class

Results

The survey asked various questions about the format of class meetings and how
the meetings helped to facilitate their learning in order to answer the two
questions guiding this research.
What are students perceptions of instruction in the Classroom to
Classroom format for class meetings?
What are student perceptions of instruction in the online class meetings?

Overall Course Preferences

Students from both groups were asked for their preference in how courses were
offered. Choices were fully online, partially online with 3 or 4 face to face
meetings, partially online with online meetings and face to face. The majority of
students preferred online meetings. See Figure 1.

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105

preference

10

8
Frequency

0
fully online partially online 3 meetings partially online - online meetings
preference

Figure 1: Overall Course Preferences

Interactions in the Course

Students in group 1 (Fall) only participated in online class meetings from home.
They were asked to determine if the interactions with the teacher were better,
worse or similar to face to face interactions in the classroom. The results showed
that most students had neutral feelings about the interactions with the teacher
indicating they were similar to face to face interactions. Related to interactions
with other students, 62.5% indicted the interactions were similar with 25% of
students saying they were better and 12.5% of students indicating interactions
were worse than in a regular classroom. The last area that was related to overall
ability to conduct the class meeting online are 75% of students felt the meeting
was similar with 12.5% indicating it was better online and 12.5% indicating it
was much worse. See Figure 2.

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106

overall

4
Frequency

0
better neutral much worse
overall

Figure 2: Interactions in the Course

Students in group 2 (Spring) did not distinguish the classroom to classroom


interactions using Adobe Connect with the Online class meetings using the
Adobe Connect in the survey. The results from them indicate overall negative
feelings related to the use of the Adobe system. For interactions with the teacher
only 16.7% of students indicated the interactions were similar, 33.3% indicated
the interactions were worse and 50% indicate they were much worse. The next
area addressed the interactions with other students; 14.3% found the interactions
similar, 42.9% found the interactions worse and 42.9% found them to be much
worse. The last area was the overall ability to conduct the class meetings online
with 16.7% feelings the meetings were worse and 83.3% indicating they were
much worse. See Figure 3.

overall2

4
Frequency

0
worse much worse

overall2

Figure 3: Online Meetings

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107

Students in group 2 (Spring) were also invited to provide comments along with
their ratings. One questions they addressed was, "How did the online meeting
compare to the face to face (between campus meetings)? Did you feel more connected in
one format over the other? (Short Answer)" The following comments help to clarify
the feelings related to the use of Adobe Connect during class to class meetings
and online meetings from home.

o I think on-line was just as good as sitting in the class.

o I prefer the online meetings. It is more convenient with a


working schedule and I felt just as connected.

o I think I felt more connected in the online class as we could write


to you if we had questions. I did not feel connected in the face to
face classes as we were in two different places.

o I liked the face to face meetings better. Only because I am not


very good with technology and had home distractions as well.

The comments from students indicated that 65% of them preferred the online
meetings from home, 26% preferred the face to face meetings while 9% were still
undecided.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Adobe Connect

Further analysis of student comment indicated the following advantages and


disadvantages for the Classroom to Classroom meetings using Adobe Connect.
(See Table 1) and the advantages and disadvantages for the Online class
meetings from home using Adobe Connect. (See Table 2).

Table 1 - Perceived Advantages and Disadvantages for Class to Class Meetings

Advantages Disadvantages

saves time and money technical problems


connect with students from less connected to instructor if
other campuses you are on the opposite
classroom
downtime during activities

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108

Table 2 - Perceived Advantages and Disadvantages for ONLINE Meetings

Advantages Disadvantages

work from home/easier to technical problems


attend less hands-on
group work more efficient no time for note-taking
saves time and money difficult typing to share ideas
connect with students from
other campuses

Discussion

"Teacher educators continually strive for college classroom teaching techniques


that are effective and dynamic" (Wursta, Brown-DuPaul and Segatti, 2004). The
use of Adobe Connect for conducting online class meetings is one technique that
provides a unique format for course delivery. Although there are some obstacles
to overcome related to Adobe Connect from this initial research, the online class
meeting format seemed to be the most popular for students. The students felt
that they did learn in this format and it was comparable to face to face class
meetings. "A successful online learning environment will not just happen. It
needs to be built, managed, and nurtured." (Reushle, 2006, p. 5). This statement
emphasizes the need to examine how the online learning environment can
support students in their learning and in this instance, how obstacles suggested
by students can be overcome to move forward with this technology. The
techniques that can make online learning feasible for students should be
examined. Gedera (2014) used technology that allowed students to easily
communicate through audio and video and found that these features were
supportive in the virtual classroom.

One interesting finding from the survey and added comments was that students
generally felt more connected in the online meetings than in the classroom to
classroom meetings. Reushle (2006) emphasized the learning community in her
research stating, "The online environment supports learning as a community
activity. Dialogue or discourse (learners to learners; learners to facilitators) is
vital to sustaining the learning community and maintaining a sense of
connected, human presence" (p. 3). Falloon (2011) emphasized that students may
have difficulties transitioning to an virtual learning environment in relation to
interactions and communication. The physical, visual presence of the instructor
was also noted by Motamedi (2001) as a benefit in online video conferencing. In
the classroom to classroom interactions, when students were not in the host
classroom, they indicated they did not feel as connected and able to interact with
the instructor. When students attended the class meetings online, they had a

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109

closer view of the instructor and seemed to feel more connected that way.
Further explorations related to this topic will be considered in future classroom
to classroom interactions using Adobe Connect to find out how to bridge the gap
that students felt in order to connect more readily with the instructor. Other
benefits or advantages named by Motamedi (2001) that were emphasized by
students in this research were that the online meetings provided access to
students who were farther away from campus locations. This helped to reduce
their travel time and money for gas and still allowed for an interactive learning
experience.

Technology was named a disadvantage of using Adobe Connect in both formats:


classroom to classroom and during online class meetings from home. Gedera
(2014) indicated that although students found the virtual classroom a positive
experience, there was concern from students about unexpected technical
difficulties. In this research the classroom-to-classroom meetings had technology
problems because of the lack of experience in the IT staff with the new
technology, lack of funding for needed equipment, identified and corrected
network problems, and problems with existing equipment. Also, that
classroom-to-classroom meetings may not be the preferred mode of delivery
with the Adobe Connect platform. Motamedi (2001) described technology as an
issue for video conferencing and included the following areas of concern:
network breakdowns, inferior audio/video signals and complicated
audio/video equipment which can cause delays. Further investigations into why
students at home had technological difficulty should also investigated. It may be
worthwhile to ascertain the minimum computer/hardware requirements that
support the use of Adobe Connect.

Study Limitations and Conclusion

This study is limited by the number of students who participated and responded
to the surveys. It is also limited in the amount of actual class meetings that were
held in the classroom to classroom format and the online format. Further
limitations would include the instructor's learning curve related to the use of the
Adobe Connect system and her ability to implement instructional practices
aligned with typical classroom practices. Falloon (2011) emphasized the need for
more research to identify best practices for online and virtual classrooms.
Although there are some positive indications about this format, more research
should be conducted.

These unique teaching formats supported by the use of Adobe Connect have the
potential to allow students to connect on a new level of learning. They support
an engaging platform for a new generation of learners. The New Media
consortium (2009) emphasized the need for universities to consider how
technology can be used to connect and collaborate with learners of the future.
Park and Bonk (2007) conclude that "Instructors need to provide students with
effective learning approaches for time-pressed live learning and encourage

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110

students to share, experiment and reflect on new strategies" (p. 260). Falloon
(2011) also emphasizes the need for instructors to embed learning structures for
students to help them transition to this type of learning. Further research on the
use of Adobe Connect and other video conferencing technologies would be
appropriate to continue to learn about its effectiveness as a tool for education
students and to allow students to share their experiences of learning in this
synchronous environment. Additionally, it is recommended that the instructors
continue to learn about Adobe Connect and its ability to facilitate online class
meetings including how to address concerns voiced by students related to the
classroom to classroom meetings.

References

Falloon, G. (2011). Exploring the virtual classroom: What students need to know (and
teachers should consider), MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7(4),
439-451.

Fletcher, J.D., Tobias, S., & Wisher, R. A. (2007). Learning anytime, anywhere:
Advanced distributed learning and the changing face of education,
Educational Researcher, 36(2), 96-102.
Gedera, D. S. P. (2014). Students' experiences of learning in a virtual classroom.
International Journal of Education and Development using Information and
Communication Technology. 10(4), 93-101.
Kaufmann, R. & Frisby, B. N. (2013). Let's connect: Using adobe connect to foster group
collaboratin in the online classroom, Communication Teacher. 27(4), 230-234.
Motamedi, V. (2001). A critical look at the use of videoconferencing in United States
distance education, Education, 122(2) 386-394.

Park, Y. J. & Bonk, C. J. (2007). Synchronous learning experiences:


Distance and residential learners perspectives in a blended graduate course.
Journal of Interactive Online Learning. 6(3), 245-264.

Reushle, S. E. (2006). A framework for designing higher education e-learning


environments. E-Learn 2006 World Conference on E-Learning in Corporate,
Government, Healthcare, & Higher Education, 13-17 Oct., Hawaii: Honolulu.
Retrieved March 14, 2008, from http://eprints.usq.edu.au/1226
Reushle, S. & Loch, B. (2008). Conducting a trial of web conferencing software: Why,
how, and perceptions from the coalface, Turkish Online Journal of Distance
Education, 9(3), 19-28.

The New Media Consortium & EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2009). The Horizon
Report, 2009 edition. Retrieved May 12, 2009 from
http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2009-Horizon-Report.pdf

Wursta, M. Brown-DuPaul, J. & Segatti, L. (2004). Teacher education: Linking theory to


practice through digital technology, Community College Journal of Research and
Practice, 28, 787-794.

Zhen, Y., Garthwait, A. & Pratt, P. (2008). Factors affecting faculty members
decision to teach or not to teach online in higher education, Online Journal
of Distance Learning Administration (XI) III, 1-21.

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151

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 151-162, December 2015

When and Why EFL Teachers Use L1?

Yuhong Lu and Heather Fehring


RMIT University
Melbourne, Australia

Abstract. The study examined how, in what situations and why teachers
used students L1 in EFL classes. EFL students and teachers from two
universities in Mainland China were involved in this study as the
participants. The study employed a mixed methods research design,
both qualitative and quantitative data were collected. The data provide
evidence that EFL teachers believed in the importance of incorporating
L1 in EFL teaching because of the insufficient class time for EFL teaching
and learning in university classes. The EFL teachers believed that their
low competence in mastering the English language hindered their EFL
teaching abilities, and the university students had limited English
language experiences because of the textbook-driven teaching content of
EFL classes. The data provide important results related to the
implementation of change practices for the teaching of EFL.

Keywords: L1 use, University and EFL, attitudes towards L1 use,


Chinese EFL learners

Introduction
The demand for the teaching and learning of English as a Foreign Language
(EFL) or English as a Second Language (ESL) has risen dramatically in the Asian
regions of the world in the last 50 years. The EFL and ESL goal has become to
increase communication capabilities involving both oral fluency and
grammatical competence. The development of communicative competence in
English has become the overall aim (Strobelberger, 2012) and the advancement
of communicative proficiency in English has been encouraged in the Asian
regions (Damnet & Borland, 2007; Lawn & Lawn, 2015). Knowledge related to
the pedagogy of how, when and to whom to teach English has become a new
driver in education.

EFL is defined as English that is taught in a country where English is not the first
language (L1), whereas English as a Second Language (ESL) encompasses
English that is taught in countries where English is L1 of the culture but not L1
of the students. The teaching objective of EFL courses in the context of this study
was: to develop students ability to use English in a well-rounded way,
especially in listening and speaking, so that in their future studies and careers as
well as social interactions they will be able to communicate effectively

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152

(Department of Higher Education of Ministry of Education of P.R.China, 2007, p.


1).

In this study, theories about EFL and English as a Second Language teaching,
were examined to explore how, when and why EFL teachers resort to using
students L1. The importance of understanding L1 usage in EFL teaching leads
to important curriculum innovations.
Background literature
Exclusive use of the target language, i.e. a language being learned as second or
foreign language (Cohen, 1998), as a pedagogic principle dominated foreign
language or second language classrooms for about a century. More recently,
whether or not teachers should use the students L1 in foreign language
classrooms has become a controversial issue. Turnbull (2000) advocates the total
elimination of students L1 in the foreign language teaching processes. However,
total exclusion of L1 is rarely achieved in daily classroom teaching practices.
Code-switching refers to the act of alternating between two languages in either
spoken or written expressions (Auer, 1999).

Macaro (2001) suggested some reasons why the first language was used by
teachers in foreign or second language classrooms. These reasons are listed as
follows:
The L1 was used mostly for procedural instructions for complex
activities, relationship building, control and management, teaching
grammar explicitly, and providing brief L1 equivalents or vice versa;
Learner ability (or level of competence) was a major factor in how much
L1 was used;
Time pressures (e.g., exams) were a major factor in how much L1 was
used. (p. 535).

Some researchers believe that EFL students English proficiency levels are
related to the amount of L1 used by teachers in classrooms (Cheng, 2013; Liu,
2010; Tang, 2002): students low English proficiency levels were given as one
major reason why teachers used L1 in EFL classrooms (Cheng, 2013; Liu, 2010;
Song, 2009).

Polio and Duff (1994) suggest that teachers should minimize L1 usage and use
the target language as much as possible. Other researchers (Cook, 2001; Macaro,
2001) believe that using the students L1 has some positive values in foreign
language classrooms. L1 usage was found to be positive for EFL teaching and
learning when teachers were explaining grammar, translating new vocabulary,
teaching abstruse concepts and building rapport with students (Cheng, 2013;
Liu, 2010; Tang, 2002).

However, knowledge about the amount of L1 usage by teachers has varied


greatly between studies. Duff and Polio (1990) found that the amount of L1
usage was high and they suggested that teachers should try to maximize the
target language input. In contrast, De La Campa and Nassaji (2009), Macaro
(2001), and Rolin-Ianziti and Brownlie (2002) all found that only a small amount

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153

of L1 usage occurred in classrooms, and they believed that a limited amount of


L1 input would not impede target language learning.

Polio and Duff (1994) identified eight contexts in which teachers switched to L1.
Rolin-Ianziti and Brownlie (2002) later modified Polio and Duffs (1994)
classification and produced three categories of L1 use: translation, metalinguistic
and communicative. De La Campa and Nassaji (2009) developed a 14-category
classification of L1 usage that was based upon a modified version of Rolin-
Ianziti and Brownlies (2002) categories.

The study
The data presented in this paper were a part of a larger study of EFL teachers
code-switching from English to students L1. The study was conducted in two
universities in Mainland China with the participation of 22 EFL teachers (10
from University A and 12 from University B) and 417 students (184 from
University A and 233 from University B). Both quantitative and qualitative data
were obtained through the following data collection techniques: non-participant
observations, questionnaires, and semi-structured interviews. This paper focuses
on the data collected from eight class audio-recording sessions and four
teachers interviews to address the following research questions:
1. What is the L1 amount used by EFL teachers?
2. When do teachers use L1 in EFL classrooms?
3. Why do teachers resort to using L1 in EFL classes?

Participants
The study was conducted at two multi-disciplinary universities in Mainland
China (called University A and University B in this study). Mandarin, the official
language in Mainland China, was L1; and English was the foreign language for
all of the student and teacher participants. Non-English major EFL courses are
designed for Year One and Year Two non-English major students. These courses
are intended to develop students English skills in reading, writing, speaking,
listening and translating.
There were 147 EFL teachers at University A and 50 EFL teachers at University B
at the time of this study. 22 teachers involved in this study and four of them
were prepared to be observed and audio-recorded teaching their EFL classes.
The intensive nature of audio-recording and transcribing EFL classes limited the
amount of data that could be collected in a short time

Data collection of Class audio-recording sessions and teacher


interviews
The four teachers participated in class audio-recording sessions. The class sizes
ranged from 18 to 42 students. Eight classes of about 40 minutes each, delivered
by these four teachers, were audio-recorded using a high quality digital
recorder. The principal researcher was a non-participant observer in these
sessions and therefore was not involved in any teaching activities so as not to
interfere with any class interactions, or put any undue pressure on the teachers
or students. Before each audio-recording the teachers and students were
informed about the purpose of the class audio-recording sessions.

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154

The four teachers also agreed to be interviewed. A qualitative case study


approach (Stake, 1995; Yin, 2003) was used to collect text data through
individual semi-structured interviews (Galletta, 2013; Minichiello, Aroni,
Timewell, & Alexander, 1995) with the four EFL teachers. All interviews were
recorded using the same high digital recorder that had been used for the class
audio-recording sessions. All four of the interviews were transcribed verbatim,
transforming teacher participants words into a written text for referral
throughout the study (Seidman, 1991).

Data analysis
Class audio-recording sessions for quantitative analysis
Class audio-recording sessions were first transcribed and analysed
quantitatively to calculate the actual amount of EFL teachers L1 usage by
applying the 15-second sampling technique from Duff and Polios (1990) study.
Based upon the previous research (Duff & Polio, 1990), five categories of
teachers utterances were created and are shown in Table 1.

Table 1 Teachers utterance categories


Utterance
Explanation Example
category
E Completely in the target I think its time for us to begin our
language (English). class
Em In the target language (English) We can also use an infinitive
with one word or a phrase in L1 structure after enough, <bu ding
(Mandarin). shi>.
E-M Approximately, an equal <ta wen zhe ge> Edward <yao bang
mixture of the target language zhu de shi shen me>Ask for a job.
(English) and L1 (Mandarin). <yin wei zhe ge> Edward <ta shi yi ge>
business man<suo yi> Lenny asks
for a job. What is Edwards reaction?
M Completely in L1 (Mandarin). <ni jiu shuo, dui wo lai shuo, wo xi huan
zhu zai xiang xia>.
Me In L1 (Mandarin) with one word <shi qian mian di er ce, shin a ge> Book
or phrase in the target language Two <li mian de, bus hi wo men zhe yi
(English). ce de>.

Class audio-recording sessions for qualitative analysis


In the second phase of the study, the eight audio-recordings of classes were
analysed qualitatively to investigate when the EFL teachers used L1. Based on
the coding schemes of Rolin-Ianziti and Brownlie (2002) and De La Campa and
Nassaji (2009), a coding scheme was created for this study with 12 contexts in
which EFL teachers used L1. These contexts were coded as:
Translation EFL teachers switched from English to L1 to give the
translated version of their English articulation
Grammar EFL teachers used L1 to explain English grammar to students
Culture EFL teachers used L1 to introduce the culture of English-speaking
countries
Objective EFL teachers provided students with objectives of teaching
activities

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155

Instruction EFL teachers used L1 to give instructions


Encouragement EFL teachers used L1 to encourage students to respond in
English
Evaluation EFL teachers used L1 to evaluate students answers or practice
in English
Responses to students questions EFL teachers used L1 to respond to
students questions raised in L1
Comprehension checks EFL teachers used L1 to check if students
understood the teaching content
Good rapport EFL teachers used L1 to build up a good rapport with
students
Administration EFL teachers announced administrative items in L1, such
as exam plans
Other Other usage contexts

Teachers interviews for qualitative analysis


Data from the four teachers semi-structured interviews were analysed to
identify why EFL teachers resorted to using L1 in non-English major EFL classes.
The Data Analysis in Qualitative Research procedure (Creswell, 2009, p. 185)
was applied. Data gathered from the four teachers interviews were first
organised for qualitative analysis. After gaining a general sense of the
information, the coding process was applied to create categories or themes for
analysis. By using the most popular approach, a narrative passage, to convey
the findings of the analysis (Creswell, 2009, p. 189), the researchers found the
connections between categories or themes which were the main result of this
study. Finally the researchers interpreted the data and compared the findings in
this study with the findings from previous studies.

Results
What is L1 amount used by EFL teachers?
The data obtained from the eight class audio-recordings demonstrated that the
four EFL teachers L1 usage varied widely from 0.8 per cent to 74.8 per cent of
utterances. The mean amount of L1 usage by the four EFL teachers was 40.7 per
cent. In four of the eight class audio-recordings, the EFL teacher used L1 for
more than 50 per cent of utterances. Only one teacher (Teacher D) used a small
amount of L1 in her teaching: 11 per cent and 0.8 per cent for the two class
audio-recording sessions. A higher amount of students L1 usage by EFL
teachers was found in this study compared to some previous studies (De La
Campa & Nassaji, 2009; Macaro, 2001; Rolin-Ianziti & Brownlie, 2002; Song,
2009). Table 2 shows the results of the percent of English and L1 utterances by
the four EFL teachers by class.

Table 2 Percent of utterance categories of the four EFL teachers by class


Teacher Class E Em E-M M Me L1 English
% % % % % % %

Teacher A A1 13.6 18.8 20.5 44.9 2.3 57.4 42.6


Teacher A A2 2.8 11.7 21.4 8.3 55.9 74.8 25.2

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156

Teacher B B1 6.0 13.5 22.6 2.3 55.6 69.2 30.8


Teacher B B2 24.3 14.0 21.3 3.7 36.8 51.1 48.9

Teacher C C1 50.3 17.5 14.1 0.7 17.5 25.2 74.8


Teacher C C2 34.3 22.1 14.3 5.7 23.6 36.4 63.6

Teacher D D1 79.1 6.7 6.7 1.9 5.7 11.0 89.0


Teacher D D2 96.9 2.3 0.0 0.0 0.8 0.8 99.2
Mean
40.7 59.3

Categories E and Em were both considered as English utterances; Categories M


and Me were both considered as L1 utterances; Category E-M was considered
half English and half L1.

For example, L1 amount of Teacher A in Class A1 is:


M(44.9%)+Me(2.3%)+1/2E-M(1/2*20.5%)=57.4%.

The great divergence in L1 usage in non-English major EFL classes is consistent


with some previous studies. Kim and Elders (2005) research showed five out
seven teachers used L1 more than 30% of the time and two of them used L1
more than 60% of the time. Duff and Polio (1990) also reported a wide difference
of teachers L1 usage amount ranging from 0% to 90%.

However, this wide range of L1 usage amount in foreign language classes was
not found in other studies. In Macaros (2001) study, an average of 4.8% of L1
usage amount was found; and the range was from 0 to 15.2%. Rolin-Ianziti and
Brownlie (2002) reported that teachers L1 usage amount were 0%, 4.32%, 12.75%
and 18.15%. De La Campa and Nassaji (2009) found the overall usage of L1
(English) by the two German teachers was 11.3% (9.3% for the experienced
teacher and 13.2% for the novice teacher). In Songs (2009) study conducted in
the context of tertiary education in Mainland China, four EFL teachers L1 usage
amount were 10.5%, 20.3%, 21.5% and 32.2%. The significance of all these results
is that EFL teachers use L1 more frequently with non-English major students,
indicating that there is a perceived need for this supportive teaching practice.

When do teachers use L1 in EFL classrooms?


From the qualitative analysis of the audio-recordings, the four EFL teachers used
L1 most frequently in the context of translation, which represented 53.6 per cent
of all usage. Instruction was the second most common L1 usage context (20.5 per
cent) followed by other L1 usage contexts (11.6 per cent) and encouraging
students (6.1 per cent). The four EFL teachers did not use L1 in some identified
usage contexts. Table 3 shows the details of frequencies of all L1 usage contexts.

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157

Table 3 Raw data of frequencies of all L1 usage contexts


Percentage (%)
L1 usage Contexts All Teacher Teacher Teacher Teacher
A B C D
Translation 53.6 30.9 69.8 64.2 37.5
Grammar 0.1 0.0 0.0 1.5 0.0
Culture 0.5 1.3 0.0 0.5 0.0
Objective 1.9 1.7 3.9 0.0 0.0
Instruction 20.5 41.6 19.4 3.0 0.0
Encouragement 6.1 7.7 6.2 4.5 4.7
Comprehension checks 2.9 7.3 0.4 1.5 1.6
Good Rapport 0.7 1.3 0.0 1.0 0.0
Administration 1.2 0.0 0.0 4.5 0.0
Other 11.6 8.2 0.4 15.9 56.3

Total 100 100 100 100 100

Similar to the findings from the studies of Rolin-Ianziti and Brownlie (2002) and
De La Campa and Nassaji (2009), translation was found to be the most frequent
L1 usage context in this study. Among the sub-categories of translation, the four
EFL teachers translated different content (words, phrases and sentences). The
instruction usage context was divided into five sub-categories: procedural
instruction, word instruction, phrase instruction, sentence instruction and text
instruction. Procedural instruction means that the EFL teachers used L1 to give
instructions, and is similar to L1 usage context of explaining tasks and activities
to students in Cooks (2001) study. Word instruction, phrase instruction and
sentence instruction are the usage contexts in which EFL teachers used L1 to
provide extended or related information to facilitate students understanding.
These three L1 usage contexts are similar to L1usage context of facilitating
students understanding by quoting others words found in the study of Liu
(2010). Other L1 usage contexts included using L1 to call students names, to ask
for help from students, to tell some conjunctive words and to give personal
comment about the teaching contents.

Metalinguistic uses were the second most frequent L1 usage context in Rolin-
Ianziti and Brownlies (2002) study. De La Campa and Nassaji (2009) suggested a
similar L1 usage context in which L1 utterances are used to contrast second
language forms or cultural concepts with L1 forms or cultural concepts. In this
study, L1is Mandarin, which belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family, while
the target language is English, which is a Germanic language. Due to the
linguistic distance between L1 and English, the metalinguistic uses of L1usage
context did not occur.

In this study, encouraging students to speak English was a very common L1


usage context. However, this context has not been reported in previous studies
(De La Campa & Nassaji, 2009; Liu, 2010; Polio & Duff, 1994; Rolin-Ianziti &
Brownlie, 2002; Tang, 2002). EFL teachers frequent L1 usage for encouraging
students to speak English can be explained by the learning and studying style in

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158

East Asian countries: students are used to more listening and less speaking in
classrooms (Liu & Littlewood, 1997). Chen and Goh (2011) suggested that
students lack of participation in classrooms is one of the main reasons for the
difficulties that EFL teachers encounter in teaching oral English in the context of
higher education. The results indicate that there is a need to make a cultural shift
in the teaching and learning practices in EFL classes. Increasing the use of
engaging participation strategies will help facilitate a decrease in the need for L1
usage.

Why do teachers resort to using L1 in EFL classes?


From the teachers interviews, it was found that limited EFL classroom time,
students English proficiency levels, EFL teachers own English competence and
non-engaging content contributed to EFL teachers L1 usage in classrooms. EFL
teachers were faced with a dilemma: they had a strong belief that they should
use as much English as possible to ensure sufficient English input to their
students, but in reality, they felt that they had no choice but to resort to using L1
in their teaching to maximize their effective use of the limited EFL classroom
time.

Macaro (2001) has suggested that time pressure is one of the major determinants
of how much teachers use L1 in classrooms. Tang (2002) has also suggested that
using L1 is less time-consuming than using English exclusively in EFL
classrooms. In this study, the four EFL teachers who were interviewed
repeatedly mentioned the very limited EFL classroom time they had which thus
affected the practice time available. They thought that incorporating L1 in EFL
classrooms was essential because it was more efficient and time saving. For
example, three of the four EFL teachers interviewed agreed that using L1 to
announce administrative items could save valuable class time. However, what is
required is a more effective process of dealing with administrative matters
rather than using EFL class time.

Students English proficiency levels were an important influence on EFL


teachers resorting to using L1 in their classrooms. Teacher D stated that the ratio
of English and L1 use could be changed because students English proficiency
levels determined the amount of L1 used by EFL teachers. EFL teachers used
different proportions of L1 in different proficiency level in EFL classrooms. This
accounts for the wide range in the proportion of EFL teachers L1 usage in the
EFL class audio-recordings. This finding is consistent with results of previous
studies in which student language proficiency levels have been shown to be a
major factor in teachers language choices (Cheng, 2013; De La Campa & Nassaji,
2009; Liu, 2010; Macaro, 2001; Song, 2009; Tang, 2002).

The EFL teachers English proficiency was related to EFL teachers language
choice in university classrooms. This result is consistent with findings in
previous studies: Cheng (2013) and Liu (2010) both found teachers English
proficiency to be the second most important determinant of EFL teachers
language choice. In addition, as Chen and Goh (2011) have argued, many EFL
teachers are not confident because they are not native English speakers. All the

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159

EFL teachers interviewed in this study were not confident enough to accomplish
all of their teaching tasks exclusively in English. When these teachers were not
familiar with some of the content, they could not find the exact words or
expressions in English and they often resorted to using L1. The data indicates
that EFL teachers proficiency in English needs to be made a priority by the
teaching institutions in order to increase the students levels of EFL proficiency.

In this study, the teaching content was also related to EFL teachers L1 usage in
classrooms. The teaching content in non-English major EFL classes in this study
includes explaining the text and completing exercises in the textbook. As Pan
and Block (2011) have pointed out, the current EFL teaching and learning in
tertiary education in Mainland China is exam-centred. The accumulation of
English knowledge, especially the command of English grammar, is still the
focus of the exams, while authentic English language practice is not given due
attention. It appeared that the EFL teachers were not satisfied with the current
EFL course design, which is still exam-centred and teacher-centred. In addition,
the limited EFL classroom time for EFL does not allow students to have much
oral practice in classrooms. Developing English fluency is one of the key
objectives in 21st century EFL and ESL classes. This requires constant oral
interaction and engagement. The results of this study highlight the need for the
exploration of multimodal teaching content especially in non-English major EFL
classes.

Conclusion
Analysis of the class audio-recordings data showed a great divergence of EFL
teachers L1 usage amount. In comparison with previous studies, a higher
amount of students L1 usage by EFL teachers was found in this study. The EFL
teachers used L1 most frequently for translation and instruction.

The four EFL teachers agreed that EFL teachers usage of L1 in classrooms was
helpful for teaching and learning processes. EFL teachers held the pedagogical
belief that they should limit their L1 usage to ensure sufficient English input, but
they resorted to using L1 in their EFL teaching to cover the curriculum content
efficiently within the university time constraints.

The situation was further complicated by the students English proficiency


levels. These were important in determining the amount of L1 used in EFL
classrooms. The less competent the students were in English, the more L1 the
EFL teachers used.
The teachers own English competence was another important determinant of
EFL teachers L1 usage amount in non-English major EFL classes. Some teachers
were not confident with their own English capabilities and resorted to using L1
to make sure that the students understood the tasks.

There are a number of recommendations that can be drawn from this study
related to improving EFL teaching and learning practices.

1. Using L1 in EFL classrooms in a university context involving adult

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160

learners is necessary and beneficial in some circumstances. However,


finding the most effective balance of teaching strategies involves not only
commitment by EFL teachers, but also, by university administrators to
provide institute infrastructure and resources to enhance new EFL
teaching practices.

2. Over-use of L1 in EFL classroom teaching is not beneficial for long-term


improvement of university students EFL speaking, listening, reading,
writing, knowledge and usage. Exploring a range of alternate teaching
and learning strategies that maximize efficient multimodal delivery
strategies still needs further research.

3. The balance required between the use of L1 that facilitates EFL university
students acquisition of EFL skills and the overuse of L1 that inhibits
learning needs to be recognized. Factors that contribute to university
students EFL success are shown to be the initial English proficiency
levels of both students and teachers. Therefore, university teaching staff
need to maximize opportunities to increase the students access to
additional high quality English programmes. In addition, university
staff also need access to high quality professional development
programmes that will increase their own English language proficiency
levels.

4. Universities can make innovative attempts to switch EFL classes from


teacher-centred learning to student-centred learning by providing EFL
students with more interactive conversational time in the classroom.
Such innovations can be accomplished by providing high tech facilities
within teaching classroom that maximize student participation and
minimize instruction involving teachers mono-dialogues.

5. Universities can create more opportunities for EFL students to practice


English outside class, especially learning and practising English in
authentic language environments. Providing access to English social
clubs and overseas English short courses through internet participation
are invaluable experiences for students.

6. The data from this and other studies clearly points to the need for
universities to develop internal EFL professional development courses as
part of the work requirement of EFL teachers. Increasing the English
proficiency of EFL teachers is imperative to improving the quality of EFL
courses delivered. Increasing staff English proficiency will have multiple
benefits. It will increase staff confidence which will in turn increase the
quality of the courses delivered which will in turn facilitate the reduction
of L1 usage in EFL classes.

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161

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131

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 131-150, December 2015

Exploring the Opportunities for Integrating


New Digital Technologies in Tanzanias
Higher Education Classrooms
Filipo Lubua
Ohio University
fl554711@ohio.edu
Athens, OH, USA

Abstract. The growth of information and communication technology


(ICT) have influenced the method of delivering content in higher
learning institutions world wide. As many Sub-Sahara African
countries, however, Tanzania still struggles with the use of ICT in
teaching and learning due to the technological challenges, such as the
lack of power/energy (Bitew, 2008; Masters, 2004). To better understand
the utilization of ICT in Tanzania, this study applies qualitative
techniques to explore the opportunities of integrating new digital
technologies by teachers and students. Both students and instructors in
Tanzanian higher learning institutions were interviewed, and the data
were analyzed using open coding techniques in MAXQDA 11. Four
themes were generated: (1) Common and utilized digital tools, (2)
technologies integrated in learning and teaching, (3) reasons
learners/instructors use some digital tools in learning, and (4)
recommended digital tools for learning and teaching. In all, the present
study provides useful suggestions for ICT integration in Tanzanian
classrooms and Africa at large.

Keywords: Digital technologies; Emerging technologies; Teaching and


Learning; Tanzania; Higher learning.

Introduction
Studies have indicated that a paradigm shift has been experienced in the
academic practices in the past few years, particularly within the last decade
(Siemens & Titternberger, 2009). This paradigm shift has been caused by the
growth of information and communication technology (ICT), especially the use
of Internet. In this paradigm shift, technology has changed the traditional
teaching and learning in higher education, including the methods of course
delivering, assessment, and other classroom activities.

Due to rapid technological innovations, learners are digitally connected, and


have become hyperkinetic, adventurous, impatient, and highly collaborative
(Oblinger, 2004). These learners prefer learning and teaching to be funny,
enjoyable, self-guided, and motivating, as well as the learning resources to be

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easily accessible and less expensive (Siemens & Titternberger, 2009). To adapt
with the situation, instructors in the higher learning institutions have been left
with no option but to embrace blossoming new technologies, and they have
used these technologies for content creation, delivery, assessment, and other
pedagogical activities.

Whether such tech-academic change has been adequately experienced in the


third world countries or not is still a matter that calls for detailed research
(Donner, 2008; Thakrar, Zinn & Wolfenden, 2009). The limited existing literature
has indicated that most third-world countries, such as most parts of Sub-Saharan
Africa, have limited access to computers and related technologies due to
poverty, lack of good communication networks, lack of power, language
barriers, technical illiteracy, prejudices, and lack of government support (Bitew,
2008; Masters, 2005; Thakrar et al, 2009; Tedre, Ngumbuke & Kemppainen,
2010).

Little has been done to investigate technology integration in Tanzania higher


learning institutions, and most educationists, technology experts and other
stakeholders are arguably appearing not to focus their attention on this issue
(Hennessy et al, 2010). Therefore, the purpose of this qualitative study is to
explore opportunities of integrating new digital technologies by teachers and
students in Tanzanias higher learning institutions. In this study, new digital
technologies mean all the current digital innovations, software and open source,
web 2.0 tools, social networks and media, computers, and all mobile devices that
people use for information sharing and communication (see Mugane, 1997;
Agbatogun, 2013; Siemens & Tittenberger, 2009).

Three research questions will be answered in the study:

1. What are the new digital technologies that have been integrated in
Tanzanian higher institutions teaching and learning?
2. Why do learners and instructors use the digital technologies they use?
3. What are the new digital technologies that learners recommend to be
integrated in day-to-day pedagogical activities by their instructors?

The present study seeks to contribute to the body of knowledge by exploring the
un-grabbed opportunity in using technology in higher learning classrooms
content delivery and sharing. This study is critical to Tanzanias higher learning
instructions and pedagogical practices. It shows the kind of new technologies
that have been integrated in Tanzanias higher education by learners and
instructors, and it suggests other digital tools that could effectively be
integrated, considering the existing technological advancement in the country.

Literature Review
Technology and Learning
Collins & Halverson (2009) described that learning how to learn and learning
how to obtain useful academic resources are the most important goals of
education in the current education paradigm. This describes the existing

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learning environment in which learning has to be self managed and self directed
(Trilling & Fadel, 2009). As Trilling and Fadel (2009) claimed, learning in the 21st
does not end in getting what textbooks write, but it goes further to learning how
to easily learn the content, while also mastering a broad collection of essential
learning skills, innovation skills, technology skills, career skills, and other skills
that one needs for work and life (see also Jukes, McCain & Crockett, 2010).

Explaining the new learning environment, Siemens and Titternberger (2009)


asserted that since learners can easily afford the internet and connectivity, the
information cycle in higher education has changed from creation to validation.
Siemens and Titternberger (2009) added that the organization, sequencing, and
structuring of information is no longer under control of institutions,
organizations, instructors or experts, but has largely fallen under the control of
individual learners. As a result, learning has been like opening a door, not
filling a container (p.3). They further described the internet has increased a
number of online participants, who have expertise in co-creation and re-creation
of new learning content by utilizing the content formerly created by others.

In support of Siemens and Titternbergers (2009) idea above, Johnson et al.,


(2013) stressed on the fact many people use mobile learning (i.e. learning that
takes place via wireless devices like mobile phones, personal digital assistants
(PDAs), and/or laptop computers) for acquiring information and
understanding. According to the Horizon Report of 2013, most people own and
carry around a variety of mobile devices (Johnson et al., 2013), and they use
these devices to access information and learning materials from any location
convenient to them. Mobile learning, which is mentioned as the latest method of
content delivery (see Peters, 2009), is characterized by the adequacy, timely, and
learners directedness, and this meets the demands of the 21st Century learner
(Berking, Haag, Archibald & Birtwhistle, 2012).

General ICT Status in Tanzania


The development in information and communication technology (ICT) in
Tanzania has a long history. Although, as in most Sub-Sahara African countries,
Tanzania faces such challenges as lack of good communication networks, higher
illiteracy level, extreme poverty, lack of viable government support, and
probably the worst one, lack of power/energy (Thakrar et al., 2009; Tedre et al.,
2010), in the past two decades Tanzania has experienced a noticeable
advancement in the use of ICT in different spheres (Kafyulilo, 2011). New
technological advancements have helped millions of Tanzanians to overcome
the some of technological challenges which were identified by Thakrar et al.
(2009) and Tedre et al. (2010), including lack of communication networks,
poverty and language barriers.

Chinas technology industry, for instance, has made smartphones, tablets and
other forms of little-energy mobile devices available, at prices affordable to all
the people, and to the young generation in particular (Custer, 2012). Most
youths, who form the highest age group among tech consumers, use and own
some form of computer and/or mobile device. To make things even better,

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telephone service providers have made the GSM Internet available on the hands
of these millions mobile device users (Hesselmark & Engvall, (2005). Because of
the considerable mobile device accessibility, most youths, to date, spend a
considerable amount of their daily time switching from one device to another,
performing multi-tasks ranging from playing music, watching YouTube videos,
playing games, web browsing, instant messaging (IM), and social networking
(Sambira, 2013).

The Use of Technology in Tanzanias Education


The use of technology in Tanzanias education system may be looked at from
two different, yet related, angles. The first angle focuses on integration of
technology as a subject in the curriculum of different educational levels in the
country. To keep up with the changing world, as far as globalization is
concerned, the country had no choice but to find a way in which it would
produce school graduates with the ability to use technology in different
domains, in order to be able to meet the expanding worlds employment needs
and competition (Hare, 2007; Hennessy et al., 2010; Kajuna, 2009). Officially, the
process to introduce technology (ICT) as a subject in Tanzanias curriculum
started in 1997, when the first official syllabus for school computer studies was
introduced in Tanzanias secondary education (MoEVT, 2007; Hennessy et al.,
2010).

To date, computer studies as a subject in secondary education faces a lot of


challenges, and it is not taught in most secondary schools due to diverse reasons
(MoCT, 2003; Ottevanger, Van den Akker & de Feiter, 2007; Hare, 2007). Most
schools in rural areas have no electricity, and most schools in general have no
equipment such as computers, which are necessary equipment required for this
subject (MoEVT, 2007). Due to these factors, computer studies have continued to
be a day-dream to many secondary school students and stakeholders.

The second angle in which one can examine the use of technology in Tanzanias
education system is based on the integration of digital technology in day-to-day
pedagogical activities like classroom instructions, evaluation and feedback, in
teaching other subjects, and searching for online resources. After 1997s
introduction of computer syllabus in secondary education, several other
technological based programs were developed to enhance the use of digital
technology in Tanzanias education, but studies have shown that majority of
schools are not integrating digital technology. Hare (2007) and Vesisenaho (2007)
asserted that the use of digital technology has only been observed in a few urban
private secondary schools. Similarly, Ottevanger et al (2007) explained that even
in those few private schools, digital technologies are mostly used for
administration purposes only and students do not have access to them.
Generally, in most of the schools and education programs, teachers and students
are not yet officially using technology as a tool for enhancing teaching and
learning in their subjects (Hare, 2007).

In recent years, there has been several privately sponsored projects which
finance and advocate the use of digital technologies in Tanzania. BridgeIt

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initiatives, for instance, is a project which is financed by the United States


Agency for International Development (USAID) to facilitate e-learning in the
country (Kasumuni, 2011). In this project, which is locally known as Elimu kwa
Teknolojia (Education through Technology) teachers in about 17 regions and
about 150 schools used Nokia N95 mobile phone to download short videos (up
to 7 minutes), which eventually are shared with students by using TV screens
mounted in students classrooms (Ali, 2011).

Digital Technologies in Tanzanias Higher Learning Institutions


There is no enough evidence that higher learning institutions in Tanzania are
adequately committed to the development in the use of technology (Kafyulilo,
2011). Even among the largest universities in the country, technology integration
is still zero or inadequate. Kajuna (2009) found that technology integration at the
University of Dar es Salaam, the countrys oldest and one of the Africas
prominent universities, was at the lowest level. He suggested that, for a
successful integration of technology at the University of Dar es Salaam, there
was a need to prioritize and emphasize on periodic basic technology trainings
for faculty, creation and implementation of technology plans that will involve
the teaching staff, creation of the technology committee whose main
responsibility will be overseeing technology use on campus, and fostering
partnership with the community, NGOs and different technology stakeholders
to maximize funds for obtaining technological services and equipment.

Another case study done at Iringa University College of Tumaini University,


provided a number of anecdotes regarding the use of technology in higher
learning institutions in Tanzania (see Tedre et al., 2010). In their report, Tedre et
al. (2010) described that, although there are lot of project accomplishments
which are reported in academic conferences, to funding agencies, and in
journals, it seems that some of the stories are overtly exaggerated. They explain
that lack of enough equipment for students and staff, network problems, lack of
knowledgeable system administrators, and lack of staff training still pose
challenges and threat to the integration of technology in Tanzanias higher
learning institutions.

Kafyulilo (2011) also asserted that, although shortage of technological tools, lack
of tech-know-how among teachers and students, and lack of power contribute to
the inadequate use of technology in Tanzania, the main challenge for technology
integration in Tanzania is an apparent lack of commitment by the government,
schools and teachers. Although the government has been preaching its
commitment to the use of technology as a means of achieving the Vision 2025
(Kajuna, 2009), corruption and lack of sufficient monetary support to execute
different technological plans and projects have contributed to an indisputable
failure.

Method
This study employs qualitative research techniques which rely solely on the
collection of non-numerical data such as words and pictures (Cresswell, 2013;
Johnson & Christensen, 2012). Generally, this study is explorative in nature, as it

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studies the phenomenon in a natural setting, by investigating perspectives and


views of a group of people on the integration of technology in Tanzanias higher
learning institutions.

Research Site, Population, and Participants


The research site for this study was Tanzania, a country located in East Africa.
The population involved in this study included higher learning institution
professors/lecturers, students and other educational stakeholders. Due to time
limit, this study managed to recruit six participants, who are three students (two
females and one male) and three teachers (two male and one female) from three
public higher learning institutions in Tanzania. These participants have ranging
knowledge and experience in the use of digital technology for different purposes
like in learning and teaching, accessing and sharing information
(communication), socialization and entertainment.

Sampling Strategies
After the approval from the universitys Institutional Review Board (IRB) was
obtained, multiple sampling strategies were employed to recruit a suitable
sample for this study. The first sampling strategy employed was the criterion
(purposive) sampling strategy in which the researcher specified the target
population and then identified a few individuals who were suitable to the study
(Johnson & Christensen, 2012). The characteristics that were considered in this
research were being a higher learning instructor, and being at least a sophomore
(second year undergraduate student). Freshmen were not considered for this
study because their short duration at the university could have not given them a
full understanding of higher education teaching and learning, based on just a
few classes they have taken since they were admitted.

The second sampling strategy employed in this study was convenience


sampling, in which the researcher included the people who were available and
willing to participate in the study (Johnson & Christensen, 2012). The researcher
used his three acquaintances, who are lecturers at the University of Dar es
Salaam, Mzumbe University, and Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA).

The third sampling strategy used in this study was the snowball sampling, in
which the researcher used formerly recruited participants to identify one or
more additional people, who meet the stated characteristics and may be
available to participate in the study (Johnson & Christensen, 2012). The
researcher used the three lecturers he recruited to recruit the three students who
participated in this study.

Data Collection
Because the main goal for this study is to come up with detailed data, the
researcher planned to use different data collection techniques, in order to
accommodate/access diverse participants. Telephone and online (both
synchronous and asynchronous) interviews, were conducted between the
researcher and participants. After the recruitment process, participants were

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given two options telephone interviews and online interviews and each one
of them chose the best option that worked for them. Face to face interviews were
not included in the options because of the distance that existed between the
researchers location (USA) and participants location (Tanzania). Asynchronous
online interviews were only used for follow-up questions that emerged after
telephone and synchronous interviews. The researcher wanted to take
advantage of the emerging design in order to capture some new ideas as they
emerged during the interview (Creswell, 2013).

Basically, interview questions were drafted in both English and Kiswahili, the
Tanzanias national language. The researcher believed that even though
participants could speak English, they could not have the vocabulary capacity or
the same knowledge of nuance compared to a person who speaks English as
their first language. Participants could communicate their ideas in details when
they used the language that was native to them. The researcher, however, left
this on participants own decision, and some preferred the use of Kiswahili
while others opted for both English and Kiswahili.

Interview questions were constructed to collect the information from


participants on their experience with the use of (new) digital technology in their
daily life and in the academic settings. Telephone interviews lasted between 30
and 45 minutes, depending on probes that emerged based on individual
participants responses. Online interviews used between 2 and 4 hours,
depending on the probes and participants typing speed. The following are some
of the interview questions that were used for both students and lecturers:

What devices (such as desktop, laptop, tablets, smartphone, etc.) that you
use for information, communication and entertainment?
What do you use those devices for?
What are the social medias that you have accounts with, and what do
you use them for?
How do you think the use of computers, mobile devices, and social
networks for educational/learning purposes have helped or can facilitate
your learning/teaching?

Participants were also asked category-specific questions. Students were asked


about the technological devices and social networks that their
lecturers/professors have used or are using for teaching and instructions. They
were also solicited which technological devices and online tools/social media
that they would use in their instructions for classroom and out-of-classroom
activities, if they were lecturers (See Appendix A for the students Interview
Protocol). Lecturers, on the other hand, were also asked about the social medias
that they are familiar with and how they think they could be used for
instructions. They were also asked to give their perspective on how they think
the use of computers, mobile devices, and social networks for
educational/learning purposes have helped or can facilitate their teaching (See
Appendix A for the teachers Interview Protocol). All telephone Interviews were
audio-recorded for easy transcription and coding process.

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Data Analysis
Data analysis in this study employed the open coding, by using MAXQDA
software, in which all transcripts were read several times to identify and
understand ideas and concepts which emerged during the interview. The
identified codes and themes in all transcripts were marked and tabulated in
similar categories, to identify common themes across participants. At this stage,
some participants were re-contacted to provide more information on things that
seemed to be more interesting to the researcher, in order to make use of the
emerging design.

Validation Strategies
For data validation and verification, this study employed member checking and
reflexivity strategies. For member checking, the researchers interpretation of the
data was shared with the participants to see their agreement or disagreement
(see Cresswell, 2013). For reflexivity, the researcher utilized his knowledge of the
study area. He was born, raised and educated in the research site, and this gave
him sufficient ability to reflect on some of the emerged themes. The researcher
also has a certificate in Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), and he is
currently pursuing a PhD in instructional technology. All these guided him to
put his analysis and interpretation of the data in a professional and acceptable
ways in this field of study.

Results

After careful examination and analysis of the data, different themes, subthemes
and codes were developed to answer the research questions. The following are
the themes and subthemes that were obtained from the data collected from the
six participants:

Common and Utilized Digital Tools


Results showed that not only the participants were familiar with a number of
digital tools useful for instructions, but also they owned one or more devices
and used them for different purposes.

Familiarity. The data shows that participants had similar familiarity with the
new digital technologies, but they had diverse experience in the technologies
that they use and own. All participants know some common digital devices like
desktop computers, laptops, tablets (ipads), and smartphones. When I asked
them about the social network they know, Facebook was instantly mentioned,
and followed by WhatsApp, Viber and twitter. They were also familiar with
Skype, Instagram, Tango, blogs and Google+, although some of those social
networks came up when participants were responding to my follow up
questions.

Ownership. All the participants owned laptops, and all the instructors and two
of the students had smartphones. None of them (both instructors and students)
possessed a tablet, or any other form of personal digital assistance (PDA) apart
from laptops and smartphones. I was so interested in knowing why they did not

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own devices that are seemingly common among technology users in todays
Tanzania. Based on the information they provided, some students and faculty
still cannot afford smartphones and tablets. One instructor says just a few
students do possess smartphones... Smartphones are too expensive to be bought
by our students. If even some of instructors have not managed to buy one, what
about students? Contrarily, the other two instructors say that most students in
their classes have smartphones. One of them says majority, may be 90 to 95
percent of students, have smartphones. Supporting these two instructors, all
student participants agreed that most of students have devices such as laptops
and smartphones, while just a few have tablets.

Social networks. All participants in this study have accounts with varied
number of social networks, and they spend different amount of time on these
social networks depending on the number and kind of people with whom they
are connected. One student, apparently the one who did not own a smartphone,
says yes, I have an account with Facebook, but I rarely use it. The other two
students said that they use Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp to make connections
with friends, and they spend quite a considerable amount of time on WhatsApp
and Facebook, since they are connected to GSM networks for most of the time.

All the teachers have have accounts with several social networks including
Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Skype. One of the instructor says, I do not
use Skype frequently. I just log in when I want to talk with a friend. But I use
Facebook and WhatsApp everyday because I am always logged in, and every
time a friend sends a message or a comment, I get a notification.

Technologies Integrated in Learning and Instructions.


Answering the question about the kind of technologies they used frequently,
participants mentioned that, it might be hard to tell which devices they
preferred because it depended on the tasks they wanted to perform with those
devices. The following were the major tasks that they performed using different
kinds of devices/technologies.

Laptops and mobile devices. Student participants mentioned they frequently


used laptops for typing their assignments and searching for online resources,
while they use smartphones mainly for socialization and rarely for academic
purposes (e.g. collaboration). One of the students says that I use my laptop
when I type my assignments because I do not want to take my assignments to
stationaries (places where they can pay for their assignments to be typed and
printed). It is hard to type my assignments using the mobile phone I have since
it does not have Microsoft Word and a big keyboard, so I use my laptop.
Another student participant rarely used her laptop for socializing or for things
other than academic. She says I have a smartphone that I can carry around and
connect with people any time, anywhere, and I think that is why I dont need to
use my laptop for that. When I asked her if any of the socializations she did
with her smartphone was academic, she says well, I am not sure. Yeah, I just
use Facebook and WhatsApp to ask my classmates about some assignments that
I did not understand well.

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Teachers, on the other hand, use their laptops to prepare their lesson notes and
PowerPoint presentations. One of the teachers says, that is the best way I can
use my laptop. This task cannot be done by other devices like smartphones or
iPads.

Online learning. Results showed that there are some initiatives to establish
online learning (eLearning) support in higher learning campuses. There are
eLearning units/centers whose responsibility is to provide technological
assistance to teachers and students in order to facilitate learning and instruction.
These eLearning centers, however, have not been fully established, and their
work still remain to fixing projector and microphone problems in lecture
theaters. One of the instructors says, although our university has eLearning
program, it has not yet been strong to be used effectively. This is due to the lack
of facilities like computer labs, slow internet at the college, and ineffectiveness of
the system (eLearning) itself.

Computer Labs. Both universities represented in this study have computer labs.
These labs, however, are very small and are not relatively enough for all the
students. Due to that, these labs are privileged to and are made available for
teachers only, and teachers/students who are teaching/taking courses related to
IT or computer science. One of the instructor says, We have a computer lab
with about 100 computers, but only teachers who are teaching ICT courses have
access to them.

TVs and Video/Audio Recorders. One of the instructors mentions that,


although there are lots of challenges, they sometimes use other open-source
software and equipment. He mentions that they sometimes use the TV, audio
recorders, and video streaming equipment. He says, We use TVs, and
sometimes when we teach communication skills with the component of listening
and speaking. We ask them (students) to record, and identify differences in
speech. Sometimes we use videos in which students watch and try to
understand what is said in videos, for practicing listening.

Social networks. Although results showed most students have smartphones and
accounts with several social networks, teachers did not make adequate use of
social media and networks in learning and instructions. Instructors frequently
used social networks like Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, Viber and Blogs in
different capacities for different purposes, but none of these social networks was
used as a primary tool for learning and teaching. Instructors showed their
skepticism in using social networks for learning. Their main concern was the
usability of these tools and other concerns such as network privacy and security.
One of the instructor says these social networks contribute into the failure of
many students in their academic studies because they spend all the time
charting, downloading music, etc. Even the way these social networks have been
designed, it like basically for social interaction, and not for learning? Another
instructor says I dont even want my students to know that I am on Facebook.
You have no idea; these students can put you in trouble if you connect with
them on Facebook.

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Students, on the other hand, used some of these social networks for academic-
related communications. One of the students says, my teachers have never used
any of those (social networks) for teaching. But I use them to communicate with
my fellow students if I miss a class. Another students says I just use Facebook
and WhatsApp to ask my classmates about some assignments that I did not
understand well. One of the instructors believed that students do not use social
media for educational purposes. According to her, they use the social media for
just communicating with friends and relatives, but not for studies. She says,
one time I was listening to BBC Swahili in which three students were asked for
what purpose do they use social networks. None of them responded to use for
studies.

Video conferencing. Results also showed instructors do not use video


conferencing tools like Skype, Google Hangouts and Adobe Connect for
teaching. One of the instructors says I could probably use them, but I think the
Internet would not allow. Another instructor says, you want me to use Skype
for teaching, how many students would have equipment with cameras? One of
the instructor, however, mentions that he uses Skype for video conferencing
with other faculty, and for providing individualized assistance and feedback to
students, when they have questions and other concerns, and only when they
show that they can have access to that. He did not, however, mention to use it in
classroom setting.

Reasons for Using Digital Technologies for Learning/Teaching


Participants had varied responses on why learners and instructors use digital
technologies for learning/teaching. The following were the reasons emerged.

Searching for resources. Participants believe that students and instructors use
laptops only, and not other devices, for searching online resources. He says that
although some students do not possess laptops, they use cyber cafes, or they
borrow laptops from their friends, when they want to search for online
materials. He says what I know is that when a student wants to search for
materials from internet, he/she uses computer from internet cafes or computer
labs, and sometimes sharing their colleagues' laptops.

Students agreed that they use laptops and desktop computers for online
resources. They say that they can easily get what they want to study, and they
can get materials which go beyond what teachers present in classrooms. One of
the students says, I like searching for materials online. It is very easy to get
books and articles online, and that helps me to understand better what my
teacher taught me. Another students says, libraries do not have the assigned
books. I do not know how it would be if we did not have the Internet.

Connection and collaboration. Although social networks for connection and


socialization may be considered a non-academic, results show that some
students used them for communicating for academic matters. However, it seems
that students preferred the traditional face-to-face as their collaborative method.
They did not use any video conferencing tools for discussion because they use

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Vimbweta (stabs used by students to hang out with friends and for group
discussion). He says most of the times we have group discussions on
Vimbweta.

Creation and presentation. Instructors used laptops and desktop computers for
creating and presenting the materials in classrooms. While they also used the
internet for searching for resources that they share with their students, they also
used the same for creating slides and lecture notes that they use in classroom
presentations and handouts.

Recommended digital technologies


Students and instructors did not have a lot of tools to recommend. This could be
due to the fact that they were not well-informed of the fact that technology can
work so powerfully in teaching and learning. They did not have a background in
curriculum design or educational technology and that may have hindered them
from seeing potentialities of technology in instruction. The following are their
recommendations:

Web 2.0. Participants advocated for more use of web tools for searching online
resources. They showed that search engines such as Google can be well utilized,
and students could be showed how to use them effectively to get the most of it.
One of the teachers suggests that this is important because most of the
academic materials are found from strong internet engines like Google where
someone can download a book/article etc..

Projectors and PowerPoints. Participants suggested that instructors need to


make use of the available projectors for PowerPoint presentations. Students, in
particular, indicated that, although projectors are easily available in lecture
theaters, just a few instructors use them. He says I think our instructors should
make use of the available projectors. It seems that some of them do not even
know how to prepare a PowerPoint presentation for their lessons.

YouTube. Results show that students suggest the use of online videos. One of
the students mentions that YouTube videos, if integrated, would be useful in
learning. She says I think YouTube videos could help us understand a lot of
things. There are good instructional videos that can be used in classroom.
Commenting about this, one of the teachers agreed with that suggestion, but his
concern is the internet that will be sufficient to stream those videos: Yes, I
agree. But as a teacher, where would I get the internet to download those
videos?

Social Networks. One of the students advocated for integration of social


networks in instructions. This student recommended integration of as much
social networks as available. He mentions in particular Facebook, WhatsApp,
Skype, and bolgs (web 2). The student says, I think I spend a lot of time on
Facebook and WhatsApp; if our teachers would find a way to give us
assignments to do in these social networks, I would use them for that purpose.
One of the teachers complied with the students idea. The teacher thought that

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he could even make some devices and social media a requirement for his class,
but he is scared about some of students from poor families, and who cannot
afford the devices. He thought that the best he can do is just trying to encourage
them to buy the devices and use them for their own leaning purposes.

Discussion

Although the use of digital technologies is evident among instructors and


students, results show that their integration in learning and instructions is still
minimal. Instructor participants did not provide information that shows
adequate use of the available technologies. The only technologies that both
instructors and students make use of are laptops, the internet, and projectors.
They use their laptops to search for online resources, and preparing their
PowerPoint slides, ready for presentation by using projectors. Participants in
this study have unknowingly already integrated these digital technologies in
their studies/teachings, and that they have seen how technological integration
facilitates learning. The fact that teachers have used Skype for giving feedback to
students, still explains how they utilize the idea described in Siemens &
Titternberger, (2009) that emphasizes on giving learners immediate and timely
feedback.

Another important thing is that, the fact that most students use laptops (and
smartphones) for downloading online resources provides an opportunity for
instructors to assign them with online activities, games and other pedagogical
activities that would help them to understand the content even better. As one of
the students suggested, he would like to see his instructors assigning him some
instructional activities that could be accomplished by using the tools he already
has.

Another open opportunity would be utilizing free online sharing tools such as
Google Drive, Box, Dropbox, Sky Drive, OneDrive etc. and share them with
other students. The abundance of self-directed search for online resources could
be utilized by asking students to upload the materials in shared online folders or
resource wikis. This would make students to become co-creator/co-author of the
learning materials. Instructors could also assign their learners to create online
portfolios of resources they get online and share them with the whole class in
order to facilitate collaboration among students.

Social network groups, like WhatsApp and Facebook groups can be created for
particular classes and encourage all students to join and share different
resources. These social medias make a nice tool for sharing information,
exchanging ideas, debating issues and sharing videos, pictures and other
mediated resources for each students to utilize. A lot of free YouTube videos,
which would be useful in different learning contexts, can be shared on these
social networks, and that would help students to come to class well prepared
and aware of the previous lessons. Teachers could also use these tools to
disseminate information and announcements related to their courses and
programs.

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144

As indicated in Hare, 2007 and Kafyulilo, 2007, participants in this study also
complained their learning institutions lacked enough technological equipment
for all the faculty and students. As participants said, there are no enough
computers in computer labs, and because of that the priority is given to students
who are studying ICT-related subjects. It is high time that the Tanzanian
government saw the importance of investing in the future of its people. Vision
2025 will not be realized, if the government will not be willing to practically
fund the learning environment of its higher learning institutions.

The data also showed that, lack of tech-know-how among teachers and students,
and lack of power are still the main challenges that hinder technology
integration in Tanzanias higher learning classrooms. It seems that instructors
still have a limited understanding of the kinds and ways of using different
digital technologies for teaching and learning. Participants, for instance, are well
aware of the digital devices and social networks which are used for other
purposes like sharing information, entertainment, and socialization, but they
have a limited knowledge of how these tools could be used for instructional
purposes. It seems there are few, if not none, technological trainings, workshops
and seminars for instructors. As Kajuna (2009) Teacher training and workshops
may well help to remedy the situation, and teachers may learn how to provide
their students with technology-based instructions, which would help them to
enjoy learning.

Conclusion
Although a lot of challenges still persist in Tanzanias use of technology due to
factors like lack of power and lack of adequate equipment, opportunities for
integrating new digital technologies in higher learning institutions still exist. The
existing opportunities for integrating new digital technologies such as mobile
devices and social networks are not adequately utilized. If properly utilized,
digital technologies could make the Tanzanian higher learning enjoyable and
highly fruitful. Although the government has not invested enough in
educational technology by financing purchase of sufficient technological
equipment, teachers and students could still utilize the existing technological
setting to a better level. There are many students with smartphones, laptops and
other devices, and it will be a waste of naturally occurring opportunities if
rigorous actions will not be taken to harness them.

This study, however, faces a number of limitations, the main one being the
number of participants recruited and interviewed. This study interviewed six
participants, from three universities only. Also the study uses convenience
sampling, which may not be a good sampling strategy, for validation reasons.
The researcher recommends a detailed study that will incorporate a larger
sample size, and probably utilize descriptive data to show the extent to which
technology has been integrated. Nevertheless, the information obtained from
this study provides a worthy sharing information which can help higher
education educators and students to rethink their pedagogical craftiness.

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145

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Appendix A
Interview Protocol for Students
Use of Technology in Learning/Instructions

Name of Interviewee: ....

Place/Platform of the Interview: .

Time:

Introductory Protocol

Thank you for your agreeing to participate in this research. Just for your
information, I would like to audio record our conversations today, in order to
facilitate note-taking and clear usage of your opinions, and only myself will have
access to the audio recordings, which will be destroyed immediately after
transcription. For the information that you will share with me via emails and
chats, I will be the only one with access to them. This interview is absolutely
voluntary, and before we start our interview, you will be asked to make sure
that you signed the consent form I sent you and emailed them to me, to give
your consent to the interview.

I have planned this interview to last no longer than 45 minutes. During this time,
I have several questions that I would like to ask, and in case time runs short, it
may be necessary to interrupt you in order to push ahead and complete this in
time. Do I have your permission to proceed?

Introduction of the Research Purpose

You have been selected to speak with me today because you have been
identified as someone who has a great deal to share about teaching, learning,
and the use of technology in our country. My research project as a whole focuses
on the improvement of teaching and learning activity, with particular interest in
understanding the importance of new technologies and how they could be
integrated in our day-to-day instructions to facilitate learning. My study does
not aim to evaluate your knowledge in using technology in instructions, but
rather what would be your opinions on the use of new technologies.

Interviewee Background

To start our interview, lets know each other a little better. What is your current
field of study, and how long have you been in that field?

1. Now, lets talk about technological devices that you use. What devices
(such as desktop, laptop, tablets, smartphone, etc.) that you use for
information, communication and entertainment? (5 minutes)
Probes:

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148

What devices do you personally have (desktop computer,


laptop, smartphone, tablet/iPad etc.)?
What are your favorite ones?
2. Thanks for that information. So what do you use those devices for? (6
Minutes)
Probes:
Do you use any of them for educational/learning
purposes?
Why do you like using them for learning purposes?
3. A lot of people have accounts with different social media such as
Facebook, Twitter, Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Tango etc. for different
purposes. What are the social medias that you have accounts with, and
what do you use them for? (7 Minutes)
Probes:
Which one do you use more frequently and why?
How do you use them for educational/learning purposes?
4. Thank you so much! Now, how do you think the use of computers,
mobile devices, and social networks for educational/learning purposes
have helped or can facilitate your learning? (7 minutes)
5. A lot of professors/lecturers use technological devices and social
networks to facilitate their instructions, and to help students to
understand the contents well. What are the technological devices and
social networks that your lecturers/professors have used or use for
teaching and instructions? Would you give one or two examples of how
they use the technology and how the use of technology helped with your
learning? (10 Minutes)
Probes:
Did you understand better when they used technology
than when they did not use? Why?
What kind of technology use in teaching was effective to
your learning?
What devices/technologies do you think have not been
used considerably?
6. Were you a teacher/professor, what technological devices and online
tools/social media that you would use in your instructions for classroom
and out-of-classroom activities? (5 Minutes)

Thank you for your participation!

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149

Appendix B
Interview Protocol for Instructors
Use of Technology in Learning/Instructions

Name of Interviewee: ....

Place/Platform of the Interview: .

Time:

Introductory Protocol

Thank you for your agreeing to participate in this research. Just for your
information, I would like to audio record our conversations today, in order to
facilitate note-taking and clear usage of your opinions, and only myself will have
access to the audio recordings, which will be destroyed immediately after
transcription. For the information that you will share with me via emails and
chats, I will be the only one with access to them. This interview is absolutely
voluntary, and before we start our interview, you will be asked to make sure
that you signed the consent form I sent you and emailed them to me, to give
your consent to the interview.

I have planned this interview to last no longer than 45 minutes. During this time,
I have several questions that I would like to ask, and in case time runs short, it
may be necessary to interrupt you in order to push ahead and complete this in
time. Do I have your permission to proceed?

Introduction of the Research Purpose

You have been selected to speak with me today because you have been
identified as someone who has a great deal to share about teaching, learning,
and the use of technology in our country. My research project as a whole focuses
on the improvement of teaching and learning activity, with particular interest in
understanding the importance of new technologies and how they could be
integrated in our day-to-day instructions to facilitate learning/teaching. My
study does not aim to evaluate your knowledge in using technology in
instructions, but rather what would be your opinions on the use of new
technologies.

Interviewee Background

To start our interview, lets know each other a little better. What is your current
department, and how long have you been in that department?

7. Now, lets talk about technological devices that you use. What devices
(such as desktop, laptop, tablets, smartphone, etc.) that you use for
information, communication and entertainment? (7 minutes)
Probes:

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150

What devices do you personally have (desktop computer,


laptop, smartphone, tablet/iPad etc.)?
What are your favorite ones?
8. Thanks for that information. So what technological devices that your
department/college has, which teachers can use for teaching and
instructions? (10 Minutes)
Probes:
Is there any computer labs that you and your students can
use for instructional purposes?
Do you use them in your instructions?
9. A lot of people have accounts with different social media such as
Facebook, Twitter, Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, Tango etc. for different
purposes. What are the social medias that you are familiar with? Do you
think they could be used for instructions? (7 Minutes)
Probes:
How could they be used?
Have you ever used any of them, and how have you used
them?

10. Thank you so much! Now, how do you think the use of computers,
mobile devices, and social networks for educational/learning purposes
have helped or can facilitate your teaching? (7 minutes)

11. A lot of students use technological devices and social networks to


facilitate their learning, and to search for more information about the
contents that professors teach them. What are the technological devices
and social networks that your think your students use?(10 Minutes)
Probes:
Do you encourage them to use those technological
resources?
What technologies do you think they have not used
considerately?

Thank you for your participation!

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163

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 163-172, December 2015

A Brief Review of Researches on the Use of


Graphing Calculator in Mathematics
Classrooms*

Jung-Chih Chen and Yung-Ling Lai


National Chiayi University
Chiayi, Taiwan

Abstract The main purpose of this study is to know about the graphing
calculator used for learning mathematics. Many studies have attempted
to find the effect of graphing calculator availability in mathematics
classroom. Also, many educators have explored the role of graphing
calculators. Based on reviews, most researches about the use of graphing
calculators in the mathematics classrooms indicate that graphing
calculators have had positive effect on the learning of mathematics at
any grade levels. However, several reports still revealed that using
graphing calculators had no significant or negative effects on learning of
mathematics (Averbeck, 2001; Fox, 1998; Norris, 1995; Upshaw, 1994).
This paper may provide many readers a snapshot to capture the use of
graphing calculators based on research studies.

Keywords: Graphing Calculator, NCTM, CAS, Mathematics Classroom,


Mathematics Learning.

Introduction

In 2000, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) published the


Principles and Standards for School Mathematics, a set of recommendations for
mathematics curricula for Grade K-12. This book states: Technology is essential
in teaching and learning mathematics, it influences the mathematics that is
taught and enhances students learning (p. 24). Also, the Curriculum and
Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics document (NCTM, 1989) states that
The K-4 curriculum should make appropriate and ongoing use of calculators
and computers (p. 19). Thus, technology use in the classroom should be
____________________________________________________________
*This study was partly supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) in
Taiwan. (Grant number: MOST 103-2511-S-415-003). Yet the opinions expressed here are
only those of the authors.
**We are grateful for the helpful comments provided by several anonymous reviewers
on earlier drafts of this article.

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164

emphasized. Meanwhile, all levels of mathematics teachers should think about


its impact and advantages to students learning in the classroom.

In the spring of 2015, the researcher conducted a project to explore the


implementation of mathematics content standards in high school in Taiwan,
surveys were mailed to mathematics teachers. Of the 480 surveys, about 171
were returned. One item teachers were asked about software they used in
Mathematics class. From the analyses in Figure 1 below, we found that most
teachers only used MS Excel, clearly technology use was limited.

90

80

70

60

50

40

30

20

10
Figure 1: Responses to What kind of software did you use in mathematics class?

In the past, students usually only use paper and pencil in the mathematics
classroom. But today most people agree that technology can engage students
interest in the learning process of mathematics. For instance, the reality is that
calculator is able to perform operations and execute algebraic symbolic
manipulations quickly and accurately; calculator use allows students and
teachers more time to develop mathematical understanding, reasoning and other
high level of applications. The fact is that appropriate use of technology
associated with appropriate pedagogy will lead students to think and reason
more mathematically.
This review focuses on the use of graphing calculators. As you may know,
since the mid-1980s, there has been growing interest and attention in graphing
calculators potential to facilitate and enhance the teaching and learning of
mathematics in school. From algebra I to pre-calculus, most studies designed
have compared test scores between two groups; one called experiment group in
which students received instruction with graphing calculators , and the other
called control group received instruction without a graphing calculator. The
final results of studies mostly suggest that the use of graphing calculators in
teaching and learning is quite helpful to students cognitive understanding,
visualization, and achievement in mathematics classrooms. (Graham & Thomas,
2000; Johnson, 1997; Karadeniz, 2015; Kastberg &Leatham, 2005; Paschal, 1995 ;
Wareham, 2016).

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165

Academic Research
In this section, I have reviewed many researches related to the use of graphing
calculators, especially focusing on some academic dissertations. Although about
fifty dissertations have been carefully reviewed, because of the limitation of
space, here I briefly discuss some significant exemplars as follows:
1. Blozy (2002) conducted his study to analyze performance on calculus
questions by students using computer algebra system (CAS) and non-CAS
groups respectively. In addition, students were given two calculus tests, but
students were only allowed to use graphing calculator on the first test.
Further, Blozy used both quantitative and qualitative methods to analyze the
collected data.
Fifty-six advanced Placement high school calculus students participated in the
study. CAS group included thirty students and non-CAS group included
twenty-six students. All students were given two calculus tests, but students
were only allowed to use graphing calculator on the first test.
Indeed, Blozy found that the CAS students performed better on some
individual questions while non-CAS students performed better on the other
individual questions. Overall, the results did show that CAS students and non-
CAS students approach and answer questions differently. Specifically, the CAS
students consistently used graphical and numerical representations to solve
problems and seemed to perform better on questions requiring this type of
representation. Likewise, non-CAS students consistently used algebraic
approaches to solve problems and seemed to perform better on questions
requiring these types of representations. This study concluded that it was not the
type of question that was significant to performance, but the type of
representation (That is; depending on its graphical, numerical, or algebraic type)
that students used to solve the question that was significant to performance.
2. Averbeck (2001) investigated college students learning of the function
concept and the role of the graphing calculator in a college algebra course.
He also examined the difference between students with high symbolic
manipulation skills and students algebraic skills and academic majors (math
& science, business, and liberal arts), twenty five students were involved in
this study, and they were divided into six categories.
To collect data on students understanding of functions, students are given a
pretest and posttest. Some test questions consist of three problem situations
given in the numerical, graphical, and symbolic representations. To collect data
about the role of the graphing calculator, Averbeck (2001) conducted daily
classroom observations. Further, formal and informal interviews with students
and instructor were conducted to verify students responses and classroom
observations.
The results indicate that students had difficulties with univalent
requirement in three areas: (a) order of domain and range, (b) preference for
simple algorithms, and (c) the restriction that functions were one-to-one.
Students with high symbolic manipulation skills were more flexible working
between representations of functions. Also, half of the students with low
symbolic manipulation skills perceived a single function given in different
representations as separate entities. Again, students might interpret that
exponential functions possessed a bounded domain because they did not

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166

explore the behavior of graph.


Averbeck also mentioned that the graphing calculator played a role in all
phases of the solution process as follows:
(1) The initial phase: Students used graphing calculators to develop a
symbolic approach.
(2) The solution-execution phase: Students used graphing calculators to
avoid careless errors.
(3) The solution-monitoring phase: Students used graphing calculators to
check answers.
3. Allison(2000) investigated the challenge of the graphing calculator used in
high school students thinking while solving problems. The students were
presented with many different tasks to solve including both contextual, non-
routine problems and non-contextual, exploratory problems. With pertinent
data presented in symbolic, tabular, and textual representations. Students
interviews reflected their perspective on the importance of the use of the
graphing calculators when problem solving.
The results reveal that the graphing calculator gives an impetus to a students
mathematical problem solving. All of the students agreed that the graphing
calculator promoted speed and accuracy to their problem solving process.
Frequently, students attempt to use graphical approaches to solve problems, and
their thinking ways about tasks are also influenced.
Quite often, students might use the graphing calculator functions that had
been demonstrated in their mathematics classroom. For instance; they used the
regression functions to find symbolic models in problems with tabular data
and in explorations with graphical data. Also they might use trial-and-error
methods to explore the possible relationships between functions and their
corresponding graphs.
4. Milou (1999) designed a survey of classroom usage involving the graphing
calculator. In this study, he focused on 146 secondary mathematics teachers
who used the graphing calculator in their teaching. In particular, main
attention is to examine algebra teachers teaching; their understanding about
the graphing calculators, and to see any changes about their instructional
practices.
Most teachers agreed or strongly agreed that Graphing calculators allow for
algebra classes to cover additional material. In addition, all teachers were asked
to tell in which potential topics were appropriately explored. The following
three topics were written by a lot of teachers:
(1) Statistics associated with data analysis, curve or best fit, quartiles, and so
on.
(2) Some problems using complex applications involving in everyday life or
business, something like that.
(3) Mathematical problem solving.
Likewise, teachers were asked about what topics should be ignored or should be
weakened; their answers mostly include
(1) Factoring
(2) Student produced graphing
(3) Rational expressions
In addition, about 72% of the teachers answered agree or strongly to the

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167

question: Students should first solve algebraically and support graphically.


But, when they were asked if students should solve graphically only when
algebraic methods are unworkable, 59% answered disagree or strongly
disagree.
Other important results include (i) Most algebra teachers thought that the
graphing calculator played a motivational tool, (ii) Teachers of algebra II used
the graphing calculators more often than teachers of algebra I, (iii) Algebra
teachers are not confident of how to use the graphing calculators in their
teaching.
Milou also concludes that at present the use of the graphing calculator is
not coincident to many algebra teachers. He points out the fact, although many
high school teachers and algebra II teachers widely accepted the graphing
calculator, yet there is still much controversy by middle school teachers and
algebra I teachers, they express concerns about whether this technology is really
appropriate in their mathematics classrooms.
Interestingly enough, two questions shown in this study are listed as
follows: (Milou, 1999)

Q1: Do you Use Graphing Calculators in Your Classroom?

Current Teaching Assignment Response(Yes) Response(No)


Algebra 37 45(teachers)
Algebra 21 2(teachers)
Both Algebra I & Algebra II 19 3(teachers)
Neither Algebra I nor Algebra II 11 8(teachers)

Q2: Should Graphing Calculators Be Permitted to Be Used on All Tests?

Response Frequency Percent


Strongly agree 21 14.6
Agree 31 21.5
Neither agree nor disagree 20 13.9
Disagree 52 36.1
Strongly disagree 20 13.9

5. Fox (1998) studied the relations of a graphing calculator used in an active


learning environment on intermediate algebra students achievement and
attitude. This quasi-experimental study involved six classes of community
college intermediate algebra students (totally 166 persons) during six weeks.
Students in the experimental group used TI-82 in class and on tests. While
students in the control group still used their scientific calculators. Both groups
were taught in active learning environments. Students were given pretest, three
achievement tests and a post-attitude survey.
The results indicated that no significant differences due to treatment were
found between the groups on achievements or attitude toward mathematics.
However, when compared to intermediate algebra classes not involved in this
study, 15% more students in the studys active learning classes completed the
course successfully.

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168

Fox also drew the following important conclusions in his studies:


(1) Active learning could positively impact learning.
(2) The use of graphing calculators encouraged active learning and could
help students make connections between different representations.
(3) Remedial students might not be accustomed to using calculators for
studying mathematics and should be tested on the basic use of the
graphing calculator before being tested for achievement.
(4) Teachers might struggle to incorporate the use of graphing calculators.
(5) The determination of technologys appropriate use should allow for the
diversity of remedial students needs and past experiences.

Highlights From Various Research


According to the research articles, some important findings about the use of
graphing calculators could be succinctly summarized as follows:
(1) The most critical personal factors affecting teachers decisions were
professional development, beliefs, mathematical and pedagogical knowledge,
and familiarity with graphing calculators. Note that teaching experience,
education background, and personal use of the calculator did not play an
important role in teachers decision-making process (Szombathelyi, 2001)
(2) The graphing calculator was usually used as an exploring tool to solve
problems related to limit and derivative. When a multiple representational
approach was used, it was very likely to involve of algebraic and graphical
representations (Girard, 2002).
(3) Technology integration with the graphing calculator requires changes in
teacher attitudes, course content, instructional methodology, and teacher
preparation. Teachers with limited knowledge and preparation using
graphing calculator usually exhibited a lack of confidence that affected their
attitude and their effectiveness in using the graphing calculator in their
classrooms (Bynum, 2002).
(4) CAS students and non-CAS students approach and answer questions
differently. The CAS students consistently used graphic and numerical
representations to solve problems (Blozy, 2002).
(5) Students used graphing calculators to develop a symbolic approach, to avoid
careless errors, and to check answers (Averbeck, 20001).
(6) The graphing calculators often can help students visualize the derivative and
hence make connections with the other kind of representations (Serhan, 2000).
(7) The results revealed that the graphing calculator served as impetus for
students mathematical problem solving. Graphing calculator could promote
speed and accuracy to their problem solving process. (Allison, 2000).
(8) The graphing calculators could enhance students graph interpretation
abilities. Students abilities to interpret contextual graphs of functions both
locally and globally improved. Students exhibited very well developed
understanding of the relationship between slope and the rate of change of
one variable (Pullano, 2000).
(9) The graphing calculator proved to be useful tool for achieving an
improvement in student understanding of variable. Some concerns include
the lack of confidence and the lack of resources (Graham & Thomas, 2000).

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(10) Some algebra teachers are not confident of how to use the graphing
calculator in their instruction. For example: Do concepts and procedures still
need to be mastered first? Also, teachers agreed that the graphing calculator
should be used to support analytical algebra findings, but they disagreed
that the graphing calculator should only be used when algebraic methods
were difficult. Teachers in the study believed that algebra I students were too
dependent on the graphing calculator and were thus unable to handle basic
algebraic manipulations (Milou, 1999).
(11) The graphing calculator could make the work easier and sooner, it did
enhance a students visualization about Algebra II concepts. But, some
students with low performance did have more difficulty in operating the
graphing calculators (Drottar, 1998).
(12) The cognitive benefits about graphing calculator use were still controversial
by some algebra teachers. Most algebra teachers thought that graphing
calculator was useful tool for promoting motivation in mathematics
classrooms (Milou, 1998).
(13) Some results suggested that the graphing calculator (i) could facilitate the
learning of functions and the spatial visualization skills; (ii) could promote
mathematical investigation and exploration; and (iii) could reform in
emphasis of teaching and learning from algebraic skill to graphical
investigation, and exploring the relationship between graphical, algebraic
and geometric representations ( Penglase & Arnold, 1996).
(14) Teachers in high school used graphing calculators to provide graphs and
make generalizations about transformations of the quadratic function in
mathematics classroom. (Simmt, 1997).
(15) Currence (1993) found that some teachers have changed the ways they
taught mathematics because of the use of the graphing calculator in their
classrooms.

Concluding Remarks
In summary, most studies conclude that using graphing calculator has its value
in the mathematics classroom. At least, available research indicates that some
benefits are obvious and straightforward, such as (1) It will provide students
visualization (Karadeniz, 2015) through graphical and numerical approaches to
solve problems, (2) It will reduce the time spent on calculations and
manipulations as well, (3) It will illustrate some mathematical concepts which
lead to a higher level of thinking and understanding, and (4) Results of an in-
depth study reveal the positive relationships between calculator use and
mathematics achievement (Kastberg &Leatham, 2005 ; Wareham, 2016). However,
here we emphasize the importance of teachers appropriate use in teaching.
Teachers should look through the textbooks in advance to find topics where a
graphing calculator could be used. Basically those topics should meet content
goals and learning objectives of the students.
Further, some people may wonder if the graphing calculators have the
possibility to reform mathematics education, such as the ways in teaching or the
content focuses. In order for more significant changes to come through, here we
provide some suggestions as follows:

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170

(1) Students , especially in high schools, should have access to graphing


calculators to perform calculations and to support problem solving activities
in mathematics classroom.
(2) The school and district should support and guide teachers in the
appropriate use of the graphing calculators. Professional development can
provide in service workshops, peer tutoring, and new faculty expertise.
(3) Since the graphing calculator becomes more popular by classroom teachers,
so the curriculum needs to be reviewed and aligned, especially for some
areas that can be de-emphasized because of the inclusion of the graphing
calculators. On the other hand, in some topics, teachers can better have the
opportunity to learn when and how to use the graphing calculator
appropriately in their mathematics classrooms.
(4) All publishers of textbooks, including all authors of assessments, evaluation,
and mathematics instruments, should realize that the graphing calculator
applications certainly affect the mathematics curriculum.
(5) Those people who are responsible for the selection of curriculum materials
should remain cognizant of how the technology eventually affects the
curriculum.
(6) Whether or not students are allowed to use the graphing calculators in their
tests, we believe, is also an incentive factor to determine its prevalence in the
mathematics classroom.
Finally, the researchers expect that mathematics teachers in high school can
understand the benefits to integrate graphing calculators in their classrooms.
Indeed, teachers can determine when and how to use it in class (Karadeniz,
2015). More than all, technology use should be considered in new curriculum
documents such as mathematics content standards or guidelines.

References

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learning of algebraic concepts. Dissertation Abstracts international. 55(12A), 3774.
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of graphing calculators. (University of Virginia, 2000). Dissertation Abstracts
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Simmt, E. (1997). Graphing Calculators in High School Mathematics. Journal of Computers
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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 14, No. 2, pp. 173-191, December 2015

What Do College Students Really Want When it


Comes to Their Instructors Use of Information
and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in
Their Teaching?

Catherine S. Fichten,1,2,3,4 Laura King,2,5 Mary Jorgensen,2,6


Mai Nhu Nguyen,2 Jillian Budd,2,3 Alice Havel,1,2 Jennison Asuncion,1 Rhonda
Amsel,3 Odette Raymond,2 Tiiu Poldma7
1Dawson College, 2Adaptech Research Network, 3McGill University, 4Jewish

General Hospital, 5Cgep Andr-Laurendeau, 6CRISPESH, 7Universit de Montral


Montreal, Canada

Abstract. In fall 2014 we surveyed 311 students who had been enrolled
at least one semester in two Canadian junior/community colleges. We
inquired about their views, experiences, and recommendations about
ICTs used in their college by their instructors in face-to-face classes in
various programs of study. Results show that students consistently
preferred that their instructors use ICTs in their teaching, including
lectures as well as individual and group work in class. Students in all
programs liked most forms of commonly used ICTs used by faculty in
their teaching (e.g., PowerPoint, videos, CMS features). However, they
disliked digital textbooks, online courses, collaborative work online,
discussion forums, blogs, chat rooms, instant messaging, and all forms
of communication using social networking when used by faculty (e.g.,
Facebook). Students views about what ICT-related experiences worked
especially well and poorly for them are presented, along with their
recommendations about what colleges and instructors need to change.

Keywords: information and communication technology; ICT; college;


students; professors

Introduction. Use of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in


postsecondary education has become ubiquitous, and college students and
instructors have jumped enthusiastically into the fray (e.g., Cassidy & Scapin,
2013). ICTs used by faculty in their teaching embrace a very large variety of tools
including course/learning management systems (CMS/LMS e.g., Moodle),
social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter), email, presentation software (e.g.,
PowerPoint, Prezi), cloud and web based applications (e.g., Google Drive), as
well as tablet and SmartPhone apps. Technology champions have encouraged
their colleges to invest in interactive whiteboards (e.g., SmartBoard), social
experiments such as the flipped or active learning classrooms (Galway, et al.,
2015; Lasry, Dugdale, & Charles, 2014; Rockich-Winston, et al., 2015), as well as

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in seminars on the use of ICTs by instructors (e.g., APOP, undated; ProfWeb,


undated).

Global questions such as, Does more extensive use of ICTs by instructors ensure
better learning? and Is teaching using ICTs seen as more or less effective by
students and instructors? have been shown to be overly simplistic (Abrami et
al., 2006; Bell & Federman, 2013; NMC Horizon Report, 2013). Furthermore,
results of investigations using more sophisticated questions regarding specific
forms of ICTs used by faculty and students are inconsistent (Charles, Lasry, &
Whittaker, 2013; Raby, Karsenti, Meunier, & Villeneuve, 2011; Venkatesh, et al.,
in press; Roy & Poellhuber, 2012). Such inconsistency is to be expected given that
technology-centric approaches do not meaningfully incorporate the critical
determinants of ICT effectiveness: teaching context (cf. Barrette (2009). Thus, it is
an urgent priority to evaluate which types of ICTs work well to support student
achievement and engagement, for which students, under what circumstances.

For research to translate into high quality instruction, it is vital that faculty have
good guidance on how and when to use various types of ICTs to maximize
effectiveness and encourage student motivation and engagement. Yet,
randomized controlled trials of teaching using ICTs have serious methodological
limitations (Bowen, Chingos, Lack, & Nygren, 2012) and existing studies provide
conflicting results. Our investigation takes a different approach as our goal was
not merely to explore the opinions of students about what they like. Instead, we
examined the perceived effective use of ICTs in diverse teaching contexts by
taking full advantage of the abundance of technologically supported
instructional activities that take place in the colleges.

The goal of this descriptive and comparative study was to advance the current
state of knowledge by integrating teaching context. To do so, we sought to:

1. Identify which ICT-related practices of college instructors in traditional


face-to-face teaching are seen as effective
by male and female college students
who are enrolled in three types of programs: the arts, the social
sciences, and the sciences
when these are used in lecture and group work in face-to-face classes.
2. Understand which ICT-related teaching practices of instructors are seen
by students as exceptionally good and exceptionally poor practices, and
3. Note students suggestions about what can be improved.

Method. The research protocol was approved by Dawson Colleges Research


Ethics Board (REB). First, we administered a brief demographic questionnaire to
1384 students enrolled in 56 compulsory courses in two large Montreal area
public junior/community colleges. These colleges award a diploma/associates
degree either in two-year pre-university streams of study (this is required before
students can enroll in three-year university bachelors programs) or 3-year
career/technical programs which qualify graduates for employment (e.g.,
nursing, chemical technology). This questionnaire was administered to obtain

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175

contact information of students over 18 who had completed at least one semester
of college studies and who indicated a willingness to participate in future
studies. Of the 437 students whom we contacted by email, 311 (71%) completed a
20 minute online questionnaire, in English or French, about their college ICT-
related experiences.

Participants. Three-hundred and eleven students (126 male, 183 female, 2 did
not indicate) participated. They attended an English (n=150) or a French
language (n=161) large public college in Montreal. Students were enrolled in
pre-university or career/technical programs in (a) creative and applied arts
(n=55; includes disciplines such as literature, fine arts), (b) social science and
business (n=157; includes psychology, business administration), and (c) science,
engineering, medical technologies (n=96; includes nursing, chemistry). Three did
not indicate their program. Mean age was 20.50 (range = 18-44). There were no
significant differences between students from English and French language
colleges on age or field of study. Therefore, data from these students are
combined in subsequent analyses. Although there were no significant
differences gender differences either, we analyzed data separately for males and
females because of the preconceived notions about gender differences.

Procedure. Between October and December of 2014 students who indicated that
we may contact them were directed to a web page which included a description
of the study and a consent form which mentioned the $20 honorarium offered.
The continue button brought students to the online survey. To allow for test-
retest reliability calculations, 138 participants completed the questionnaire twice,
a mean of 3.38 weeks apart.

Measures. We primarily used measures already validated in English and French.


Measures not already validated in both languages were translated in accordance
with established practice (i.e., translation and back-translation - cf. Vallerand,
1989) and validated (i.e., test-retest reliability, validation through comparison of
English and French versions) (cf. Nguyen, Fichten, & Budd, 2011). Test-retest
reliabilities show significant Pearson correlations with coefficients hovering
around .500.

Demographic questions. These included gender, age, field of studies, and number
of semesters of college education completed. We used these questions in both
English and French in several of our previous investigations.

ICT-related questions (these are available in Adaptech Research Network, 2015).


This online questionnaire had 10 sections.

Overall assessment of instructors use of ICTs based on students


experiences with all of their college instructors. This question used a 6
point scale with 1=terrible and 6=excellent.

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Four sets of questions used 6-point Likert scaling (1=strongly disagree, 6 =


strongly agree); these were modified from several sources (dApollonia, 2013;
Fichten, et al., 2013, Raby, Karsenti, Meunier, & Villeneuve, 2011; Roy &
Poellhuber, 2012; Venkatesh, et al., in press):

Students expertise using ICTs (1 item)


How well students liked courses and course components with and
without ICTs (with ICTs = 4 items and without ICTs = 4 items) overall,
in lectures, in individual work in class, and in group work in class
How well students liked a variety of ICT tools used by instructors (4
items: digital textbooks, online resources, online courses, and
online group work).
How instructors used ICTs in their courses (2 items)

Two sections dealt with an extensive listing (37 items) of ICT tools which college
instructors may have used in their courses. These were developed in a series of
meetings with team members and partner representatives:

What forms of ICTs were used by the students instructor(s)


(checklist) (e.g., Moodle, PowerPoint, Facebook)
Whether or not different forms of ICTs worked well for students
(Yes/No); this involved determination of whether items checked
by the student worked well for them.

To obtain students preferences and suggestions, we asked three open-ended


questions. These were evaluated in accordance with a coding manual (King, et
al., 2015) by a team of trained coders. Students were asked to list up to three
examples of instances where ICTs used by their instructors provided:

Especially pleasing ICT-related experiences (i.e., ICT used in a way


that worked well for them)
Especially annoying ICT-related experiences (i.e., ICT used in a way
that did not work well for them)

We also asked students to provide up to three

Suggestions for improvement in the use of ICTs by their instructors


(coding manual available in King, Jorgensen, Havel,
Vitouchanskaia, and Lussier, 2015).

Results

Gender and field of study. First we examined the numbers of male and female
students in the three fields of study: arts, social sciences, and physical sciences.
The results indicate a significant difference, X2(2,306)= 8.91, p = .012: close to 50%
of both males and females were enrolled in the social sciences. However, females
were more likely than males to be enrolled in the arts (21%), and males in the
physical sciences (40%).

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To ascertain the role of the language, field of study, and gender we carried out a
3-way multivariate analysis of variance (2 gender x 2 language, x 3 field of
study) on all sixteen ICT-related 6-point rating scale items. Results indicate only
a significant main effect of gender, F(16,157)=2.03, p=.015, and no significant
interactions. Therefore, in subsequent analyses only gender was examined.

ICTs and Gender

Overall assessment of instructors use of ICTs. There was no significant gender


difference on this item. The mean score was 4.13 out of 6 (SD =. 75), with 62% of
students indicating that their instructors were good, and 26% indicating that
their instructors were very good or excellent users of ICTs.

Students own expertise. An independent t-test shows that males felt significantly
more knowledgeable in the use of ICTs than did females, t(307)=2.48, p = .014.
However, the effect size was small, with d = .28.

How well students liked courses and course components with and without ICTs used by
their instructors. A series of 2 x 2 analysis of variance (ANOVA) comparisons
were made (2 gender x 2 with/without ICT). Means and test results in Table 1
show that, in all cases (i.e., using ICTs in general, in lectures, in individual, and
in group work in class), students significantly preferred the use of technology.
For example, 93% of students indicated they liked courses which used ICTs. No
significant gender main effects were found. Only one interaction was significant,
suggesting that males were relatively more likely to prefer individual work with
technology in class than females, and relatively less disposed to liking individual
work in class without technology; however, this had a very low effect size.

How well students liked a variety of ICT tools used by faculty. Figure 1 shows that,
with the exception of liking courses with online resources, means on these items
(i.e., online group work, digital textbooks, and online courses) were generally
low, with two items (digital textbooks and online courses) having ratings around
3 on 6-point scales. Test results show that males compared to females are more
disposed to like courses that are entirely online (even though the two colleges
sampled offer very few such courses), t(241) = 2.96, p = .003, as well as courses
which use only digital textbooks, t(241) = 2.95, p = .003, d = .39.

How instructors used ICTs in their courses. Thirty-two percent of students


disagreed with the statement that instructors showed them how to use ICTs
needed in their courses and over 49% of students disagreed with the statement
that instructors allowed them to use their personal technologies in class. The
means show that males were more likely than females to indicate that their
instructors allowed them to use their own ICTs in class, t(299)=2.54, p=.012,
d=.30.

ICTs used and perceived effectiveness. Table 2 shows that most forms of ICTs used
by instructors work well for students. Notable exceptions (i.e., 1/3 or more of
students indicated that this did not work well for them) include: digital

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textbooks; online tools (e.g., blogs); collaborative work online; online


communication tools, including discussion forums, chat rooms, and instant
messaging; and all forms of social networking when used by faculty to
communicate (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn).

Table 1. Liking courses with and without ICT use by intructors

Partial
Mean SD F test Eta
Squared
Use of ICT
Instructor does not use Female 2.93 1.61 ICT F(1,294)=287.15, p <.001 .494
Male 2.88 1.55 Gender F(1,294)=.56, p = .456 .002
Instructor does use Female 5.07 0.87 Interaction F(1,294)=.04, p = .840 .000
Male 4.98 1.04
Lecture format
No ICT Female 2.84 1.61 ICT F(1,300)=332.67, p <.001 .526
Male 2.95 1.63 Gender F(1,300)=2.10, p = .148 .007
With ICT Female 5.41 0.89 Interaction F(1,300)=3.68, p = .056 .012
Male 5.02 1.19
Individual work in class
No ICT Female 3.64 1.73 ICT F(1,295)=110.85, p <.001 .273
Male 3.13 1.77 Gender F(1,295)=.75, p = .387 .003
With ICT Female 4.71 1.38 Interaction F(1,295)=8.47, p =.004 .028
Male 5.02 1.04
Group work in class
No ICT Female 3.60 1.70 ICT F(1,280)=55.88, p <.001 .166
Male 3.52 1.63 Gender F(1,280)=.064, p =.801 .000
With ICT Female 4.47 1.47 Interaction F(1,280)=.76, p = .384 .000
Male 4.62 1.26

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On the other hand, several forms of infrequently used ICTs (i.e., if fewer than
2/3 of students indicated their instructor used this) were identified by students
as working well (i.e., by over 2/3 of students). As Table 2 shows, these include
online materials such as attendance records and tests/quizzes; a variety of
different ICT tools used in class (i.e., grammar tools and checkers, language
learning software, simulations / virtual experiments, mind mapping, and web
conferencing); hardware such as interactive whiteboards and clickers; several
online tools (wikis, portfolios and podcasts), as well as virtual office hours.

Table 2 shows that the top forms of ICTs that over 90% of students indicated
were being used by their instructors and that worked well for them include:
online grades, course outlines, assignments and course notes; presentation
software used in class; and hardware such as multimedia projectors, computers
used for teaching, and computer labs. In addition, 95% of students indicated that
online submission of assignment worked well for them, and 89% of instructors
used this.

0
Courses which use Courses which use Courses which use Courses which are
online resources group work online only digital entirely online
textbooks

Figure 1. How well students liked ICTs used by faculty in different contexts:
mean scores, higher scores indicate greater liking.

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Table 2. Rank order for ICT frequency and ICTs that worked well for students

Rank order Technology ICT used *** Worked well**


Online materials
1 Grades available online 298 (98%) 294 (99%)
2 Course outline availabe online 296 (98%) 277 (96%)
3 Assignments available online 297 (96%) 286 (97%)
4 Course notes available online 271 (90%) 262 (97%)
5 Weblinks available online 251 (81%) 216 (87%)
6 Calendar available online 217 (70%) 188 (87%)
7 Tutorials / practice exercises available online 212 (69%) 176 (84%)
8 Attendance record available online 191 (62%) 169 (90%)
9 Tests / quizzes available online 181 (59%) 156 (89%)
E-learning used in class
1 Presentation software 298 (96%) 293 (98%)
2 Grammar tools and checkers 167 (54%) 148 (90%)
3 Language learning software 106 (35%) 90 (87%)
4 Simulations / virtual experiments 94 (31%) 83 (89%)
5 Mind mapping 52 (17%) 37 (73%)
6 Web conferencing 26 (8%) 18 (69%)
Hardware used
1 Multimedia projector 293 (95%) 280 (96%)
2 Computer to teach 284 (92%) 255 (91%)
3 Computer lab 279 (91%) 251 (90%)
4 Smart Board* 95 (63%) 73 (78%)
5 Digital textbooks available online 82 (27%) 52 (64%)
6 Clickers 78 (25%) 57 (73%)
Online tools
1 Online submission of assignments 273 (89%) 255 (95%)
2 Videos 208 (68%) 174 (84%)
3 Style guides 200 (64%) 35 (18%)
4 Blogs 94 (30%) 57 (61%)
5 Collaborative work online 79 (25%) 49 (62%)
6 Wiki sites 73 (24%) 54 (76%)
7 Portfolios 56 (18%) 48 (86%)
8 Podcasts 28 (9%) 20 (71%)
Communication tools
1 E-mail 261 (85%) 225 (87%)
2 Discussion forum 111 (36%) 58 (53%)
3 Virtual office hours 93 (30%) 79 (86%)
4 Chat room 66 (21%) 39 (59%)
5 Instant messaging 28 (9%) 5 (46%)
Social networking
1 Facebook 45 (15%) 25 (56%)
2 Twitter 17 (6%) 9 (56%)
3 LinkedIn 11 (4%) 7 (64%)
Note. Ranking is done by percentage of students who said that the ICT was used.
*Smart Board percentages are based only on the English language college
**Bolded and italicized items: working well endorsed by fewer than 2/3 of students
***Bolded and italicized items: e-learning reportedly working well but used relatively infrequently

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Table 3. Top 5 especially pleasing and annoying open-ended responses in rank order

Especially pleasing Especially annoying

1. Presentation software: PowerPoint 1. Presentation software: PowerPoint


(e.g., to guide the class; during lectures helps keep track of (e.g., moving quickly through slides without adequate time
what is being said; helps with note taking; helps understand spent on each topic; notes on the PowerPoint vague; too
the material cluttered)

2. Videos 2. Instructors' knowledge and use of technology
(e.g., helps understanding; audio visual media helps to (e.g., instructors spend more time trying to operate the
explain the subject of their class technologies than teaching; posting links that do not work;
uploading files that wont open

3. CMS course notes posted online 3. Online communication


(e.g., PowerPoint presentations posted online can be (e.g., not responding to emails; office hours via Skype are
viewed later; this eliminating the need to take notes; these useless - I prefer seeing my instructor in person; online
be used to study for exams; helps when students miss a chat rooms are a hassle; too many different means of
class communication (Facebook; email; twitter) takers lots of
time to figure out where to find messages; doing group
work in an online discussion forum is difficult as no real
time response from peers

4. CMS: Features (due dates; calendar; on-line practice/exercises) 4. CMS: Features (due dates; calendar; on-line practice/exercises)
(e.g., practice questions and quizzes available online; (e.g., materials uploaded late; having to look at multiple
calendaring feature allows keeping track of assignment due CMS (including instructors own web sites) causes
dates; instructors office hours; course changes and confusion; documents not posted online; wrong date of
announcements are available; convenience of having all exam or quiz listed on the calendar
documents posted online
5. CMS grades posted online 5. Performance of technology at school
(e.g., seeing my grades lets me know how much more I (e.g., when technologies don't work this interferes with the
should be focusing on specific classes; gives students a class: there are no sounds from the video; the video won't
better idea of their current standing in the course; instant load; some are running very slowly; portions of the CMS
feedback don't work

Students Experiences with ICTs Used by Faculty

Positive and negative experiences with ICTs. Table 3 presents the top 5 open-ended
favorable and unfavorable responses. These show that two common uses of
ICTs, presentation software such as PowerPoint, and CMS/LMS features such as
due dates, calendaring, and on-line practice/exercises, were used in ways that
could work either well or poorly for students. Other favorable topics include
videos, and posting course notes and grades online on the CMS/LMS. On the
negative side, students did not appreciate their instructors knowledge and use
of ICTs or the performance of technologies at their college. In addition, they had
a variety of complaints related to online communication with faculty and peers.
These include: not responding to students emails in a timely manner, not
responding in a beneficial way / posting on discussion forums when the student
prefers that something remain personal, hard to send large assignments on the
CMS/LMS email tool, too many different means for communication (e.g.,
Facebook, CMS/LMS, Twitter, e-mail) resulting in students not knowing where
to find responses from their instructor, too many e-mails from instructors (e.g.,
four per day), having to use Skype on weekends, virtual office hours with no
face-to-face office hours.

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Suggestions for improvement. Table 4 shows the top 10 ICT-related suggestions,


along with examples, in rank order of frequency. These are detailed in a
subsequent section.

Table 4. Top 10 suggestions


1. Use and availability of technology at school
(e.g., more power outlets in class / in the library; more printers around school; better access to computer
labs to work on assignments; more accessible areas for Wi-Fi for phones and tablets)
2. Instructors' knowledge and use of technology
(e.g., make sure that all instructors have a basic understanding of how a projector works; classes should
not revolve around technologies; a small 101 course for teachers who are not used to using a computer
given by the college's tech support; technology should be an aid to teaching rather than replacing my
instructor)
3. Presentation software: PowerPoint
(e.g., More in class PowerPoint lectures; PowerPoint presentations that highlight key terms; interesting
visual components like photos rather than just text; clearer PowerPoints; less busy; no need to use
PowerPoint if slides are useless; avoid presentations were the instructor simply reads the PowerPoint)

4. Performance of technology at school
(e.g., Better quality projectors; often problems with Wi Fi; computers in computer labs require
improvement; problems with the "online classroom"; Adobe Connect did not work well; speakers did not
work; the webcam was frozen; computers are very slow in labs and classrooms; better software leases;
replace computers with faster ones)
5. CMS: Features (due dates; calendar; on-line practice/exercises)
(e.g., put up online course announcements (for example notification of a project submission date
approaching or exam dates); upload practice exams/questions/quizzes; upload practice quizzes that
provide full explanation; practice quizzes/exercises that will tell us right away that we have a mistake and
what that mistake was; use a single CMS platform by all instructors; create a calendar online; put a digital
version of all documents online; post everything done in class online)
6. Allowing use of personal technology in class
(e.g., allow students the option of using their personal technologies for note taking; smartphones can
permit students to look up definitions or verify information to better contribute to the class and to improve
their comprehension; allow phones to record lectures to look back on; allow personal devices to take
7. Online communication
(e.g., use group chats where classmates can talk to each other/instructors at specific times; online office
hours; online chats in real time with other students at specific times; do not use social media- not all
students use this; allow emails with small questions rather than going to office hours)
8. CMS course notes posted online
(e.g., Post PowerPoint class notes on the CMS; post notes in advance of the class)
9. Videos
(e.g., use short videos; use videos like YouTube that are easy to access; provide more videos as
illustrations; show portions of videos not the entire long thing)
10. Interactive white board: SmartBoard
(e.g., provide more substantial course notes in SmartBoard rooms rather than just exercises and
examples; more SmartBoards installed in classrooms; use SmartBoards for group exercises)

Discussion. At the outset, we must note that our data are based on students
reported experiences and perceptions, and not on grades or other objective
measures of academic outcome. It is for future research to explore the impact of
these on learning and performance. Of course, students may not know what is
best for them in supporting their learning. That being said, while our findings
cannot show that use of suggestions made by students will increase learning
outcomes, these can provide an indication about what ICT-related practices

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183

college instructors use and which of these students like and dislike in various
teaching contexts. Students views do provide an indication of what they find
engaging and motivating, and what ICT-related teaching practices they feel need
improvement.

Gender, field of study and evaluations of own, instructors and the schools
technology

Gender and field of study. There were no significant differences among students
enrolled in English and French language colleges or among those enrolled in
arts, sciences, and the social sciences. There were few significant differences on
gender although all of these suggested that males liked technology more than
females. For example, males rated themselves as more knowledgeable about
ICTs and were more likely to prefer individual work in class with technology
than females. They were also more tolerant of online courses and of digital
textbooks. Thus, in attempts to engage male students, we recommend the use of
ICTs in both course work and by instructors in their teaching.

Others have shown that field of study is related to preference for technology,
with students in the arts preferring more limited technology than those in the
physical sciences, and students in social sciences being in the middle (Kvavik,
2015). In our investigation the absence of differences among students in different
fields may have been due to the fact that while almost half of both male and
female students were enrolled in the social sciences, females were more likely to
be enrolled in art and males in physical science related programs. The finding
that instructors of male students were more likely to allow students to use their
own ICTs in class than instructors of females may have been related to the larger
proportion of males in science and engineering related programs. It is possible
that these disciplines require students to work on their personal devices, given
the shortage of computer labs in the colleges.

How well students liked courses and course components with and without ICTs. In a
series of analyses on how well students liked courses and course components
such as lectures, individual and group work in class, consistent with Kvaviks
(2015) findings, our results clearly show that both males and females strongly
and consistently preferred the use of ICTs in all contexts. That students like
teaching with technologies has been shown in several recent industry sponsored
studies as well (e.g., Belardi, 2015; Schaffhauser, 2015b). These results suggest
that the use of ICTs by faculty is desirable.

How well students liked a variety of ICT tools used by faculty. While students liked
courses with online resources, they were ambivalent toward online group work,
and disliked the use of digital textbooks. They also disliked online courses, even
though few of them experienced this. Digital textbooks can serve as the main
text for a class, be it traditional or online. There are many advantages of digital
over paper textbooks, including cost and convenience, since many are
searchable, accessible to students with certain disabilities, and functional on
multiple portable devices. However, there are important problems related to
usability, including eye strain, multiple platforms, navigation tools, the need for

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184

an online connection, and programmed expiration (many digital books expire


and become unavailable after a pre-defined period of time) (Mann, 2013). Once
students have experience with digital textbooks, however, they are more likely
to use them in the future (Dennis, 2011; Weisberg, 2011). Thus, for now, we
suggest that faculty offer students the option to use digital or print texts.

How instructors use ICTs in their courses. Overall, half of the respondents indicated
that their instructors did not allow them to use their personal ICTs in class.
Perhaps more important, 1/3 of students indicated that their instructors did not
show them how to use ICTs needed in their courses. This is an important finding
and suggests that instructors should not assume that all their students are tech-
savvy and know how to use needed technologies. As several scholars and
investigators have noted, it is important not to make assumptions about the level
of ICT literacy of digital native college students (Burton, et al., 2015; Kvavik,
2015; Schaffhauser, 2015).

ICTs used and perceived effectiveness

Forms of ICTs used and how well these work for students. Table 3 presents an
extensive listing of the frequency of different forms of ICTs used by college
instructors along with the percentage of students who indicated that this form of
ICT worked well for them. Overall, the results show that the most popular forms
of ICTs worked well for students.

The top technologies (i.e., used frequently by faculty that students indicated
worked well for them) are: online grades, course outlines, assignments and
course notes; online submission of assignments; presentation software used in
class; hardware such as multimedia projectors; computers used for teaching; and
the availability of computer labs. These are frequently used by faculty and are
seen as effective by students.

On the other hand, there are several forms of ICTs that many students indicated
work well, but which were relatively infrequently used by instructors: online
attendance records, online tests and quizzes, and a variety of different forms of
ICTs used in class, including grammar tools and checkers, language learning
software, simulations and virtual experiments, mind mapping software, and
web conferencing. Among online tools, wikis, portfolios and podcasts were
relatively infrequently used along with virtual office hours for communication.
The same was true of SmartBoards and clickers. These are ICTs that could be
used more frequently by instructors.

It was encouraging to find that forms of ICTs which did not work well for
students were used relatively infrequently. These include: digital textbooks,
online style guides, blogs, collaborative work online, as well as a variety of
online communication tools (i.e., discussion forums, chat rooms, and instant
messaging), and all forms of social networking used by instructors to
communicate with students (i.e., Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn). A propos of
this latter finding, it appears that students do not wish instructors to use their
social spaces.

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Positive and negative experiences with ICTs. Table 4 presents students top five
open-ended positive and negative responses. These show that two common uses
of ICTs, presentation software such as PowerPoint, and CMS/LMS features such
as due dates, the calendar, and on-line practice, were used in ways that could
work either well or poorly for students, depending on the circumstances. For
example, while students found that PowerPoint presentations guided the class,
provided help with note taking and freed students from continually having to
write, it was problematic when instructors moved thought slides too quickly and
when slides were too cluttered and difficult to see. Data in Table 4 can be used to
see students examples of effective and ineffective uses of these technologies.

Students generally found that short videos helped them understand course
content. They also liked having grades posted online, as this gave them an idea
about their standing in the course and provided information about which
courses needed extra attention. Students also liked having course notes and
PowerPoints posted online because these helped them recall lecture content,
facilitated studying as well as dealing with missed classes.

Students were especially displeased when their instructor tried to use ICTs but
did not know how or were careless in its use. For example, students were
unhappy when their instructors wasted class time trying to figure out how to
make the technology work. Additionally, students were frustrated when their
instructors posted links that did not work and files that would not open. We
suggest that colleges provide instruction on the use of ICTs for their faculty.

Suggestions for improvement

Instructors use of ICTs. Overall, college instructors received the equivalent of a


C+ on their use of technology. Therefore it was not surprising that many of the
students suggestions for improvement relate to what changes instructors can
make. We recommend that colleges offer courses and workshop for instructors
and provide both time and incentives for attendance.

For example, students wanted some of their instructors to be more tech-savvy,


while others wanted instructors to use ICTs as a teaching tool rather than have
technology be the focus. They also wanted their instructors to use videos to
illustrate concepts, but they wanted only short videos or selected portions of
longer ones. Students liked their instructors to use interactive whiteboards, such
as SmartBoards, but they also wanted course notes in addition to SmartBoard
exercises and examples. Moreover, students wanted their instructors to show
them how to use technologies needed for the course.

CMS/LMS. Students complained about having to use to use multiple CMS/LMS;


this caused confusion and difficulties about needing to learn various from of
CMS/LMS, about the lack of integration of course calendars and various forms
of online communication.

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When it comes to instructors use of CMS/LMS we suggest that each instructor


use the various features of their CMS/LMS and that colleges centralize around a
single powerful, customizable CMS/LMS which is supported by a high level
education technology professional.

Students wanted all instructors at their school to use the same platform because
they found the use of individual web pages and different CMS/LMS confusing
and burdensome. They asked that class materials, including handouts,
assignments, course outlines, etc. be posted online, for instructors to use the
online calendar highlighting exam and assignment due dates, as well as to post
practice tests/quizzes which provide feedback.

Online communication. We suggest that instructors specify their availability and


their response time for email or other forms of online communication and that
they stay away from the use of social media to communicate with their students.

For example, students did not like not like communicating with their instructors
through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. They did want to be able to
email their instructors with short questions and they expected their instructors
to respond to such emails promptly. Students also wanted synchronous chats
and virtual office hours to be able to communicate with classmates and
instructors at specific times in addition to not instead of - regular office hours.

Use of personal technologies in class. Students called for their instructors to allow
them to use personal technologies such as laptops, tablets and smartphones in
class. Such technologies can, of course, be used for non-academic activities such
as browsing Facebook, web surfing, etc. Whether to allow students to use their
own technologies or not is contentious (Fischma, 2009), and studies have shown
that multitasking in class results in poorer learning (Dietz & Henrich, 2014) both
for the multitasker as well as for those who can see the multitaskers screen
(Sana, et al., 2013). Yet students, in general, embrace the practice (Kay &
Lauricella, 2014) and, in our sample only one of the 311 students indicated that
allowing personal technology in class worked poorly for them. On the academic
side, students needed these devices to take lecture notes, look up definitions,
and verify information before raising their hand in class. They also wanted to be
allowed to record lectures.

We suggest that instructors allow the use of personal technologies in class with a
few caveats. Specifically, we would like to see instructors inform their students
about poorer learning and grades of those multitasking. We also suggest that
instructors designate specific areas of the classroom for those using their own
technologies this will prevent others from being distracted by what is going on
students screens.

PowerPoint. The use of PowerPoint was virtually ubiquitous and students had a
variety of things to say about what they wanted. We suggest that faculty use
PowerPoint in their courses and that they post these before the class. We also
suggest that colleges provide instruction on the effective use of PowerPoint (e.g.,

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no more than seven words per line and seven lines per slide, avoid flashy
elements that do not add information, insert alternative text on images and
graphs, discuss the points rather than merely reading these).

Students wanted PowerPoint and other course notes to be available online,


preferably before the class. In regard to in-class presentations, they asked for
presentations with interesting visual components - not merely text. They also
wanted presentations that were not busy and which highlighted key terms.
Students also expected instructors to not merely read the points on a
presentation, but to discuss these.

School equipment. Colleges need to pay more attention to the digital equipment
available to their students. This means up-to-date equipment in labs, more work
stations in labs, better Wi-Fi connectivity and more AC power outlets.

Students wanted ICTs to work better in their colleges. For example, they
requested higher quality projectors, faster computers in computer labs, and
generally better tech functionality (e.g., speakers that work, webcams that do not
freeze, more site licenses). Students also wanted greater access to computer labs
to work on assignments, more AC power outlets so they could charge their
personal devices, and better Wi-Fi functionality.

Limitations and future research. Our findings are based on volunteer


students views and perceptions from only two colleges. In future, the views of
larger samples of students enrolled in different disciplines should be studied. In
addition, the effects of different uses of technology in diverse contexts on
learning and performance should be evaluated.

Students recommendations and take-homes for colleges and


instructors. Many of the recommendations that follow are a direct response to
the students suggestions for improvement discussed earlier. Therefore, these
suggestions are not merely what we feel instructors should do. These reflect
what students say they really want.

Advice for instructors. Do use technology in your teaching. However, if you are
not sure about how to do something, ask a colleague or sign up for a workshop
or webinar. Make sure that equipment and software works before each class. If
the equipment does not work, dont spend time trying to fix it instead continue
with the class. Make certain that PowerPoint presentations are clear and
uncluttered. A good guideline to apply is seven words across and seven lines for
each slide. Do use videos but keep these short. If you use an interactive
whiteboard, such as a SmartBoard, do not forget to incorporate conventional
techniques, such as PowerPoints of course notes.

Dont assume that all your students know how to use course related ICTs such
as Excel, online portfolios, and Google Drive. Show them how to do this.

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188

As many students do not appreciate these, reassess your use of online style
guides, blogs, online collaborative work, as well as a variety of online
communication tools (i.e., discussion forums, chat rooms, and instant
messaging). Students indicate that they are not yet comfortable with these forms
of communication. If you prefer to use a digital textbook, make sure there are
adequate paper versions available as well.

Post all material online and use the various features of you CMS/LMS such as
online calendaring, gradebooks, and attendance records as well as online
practice tests and quizzes (which provide the correct answers). Check to make
sure that posted hyperlinks work and that files open. Post your course
notes/PowerPoints online. If you are concerned about intellectual property, you
can address this by using the free, easy-to-use Creative Commons license to
copyright your materials <https://creativecommons.org/about>.

Avoid using social media such as Facebook and Twitter for


communication with your students. Instead, respond to emails and set up
virtual office hours/synchronized group chats (in addition to regular
face-to-face office hours).

Students want to use their own ICTs in class, even though the literature clearly
shows that doing so interferes with learning. You may want to inform students
about the negative impact of multitasking on learning and designate a specific
area of the classroom for students who want to use their own technology so that
its use does not interfere with others learning.

We agree that Wi-Fi dead zones and power outlets are the responsibility of the
college. But to speed things up and improve education for your students you
may want to work in collaboration with the IT department and query your
students about the college Wi-Fi dead spots. You can then report a collection of
these to your IT department. As for addressing the issue of inadequate power
outlets, we suggest that a low cost alternative is installing a power bar in
classrooms. If the college is unable to provide these, consider that maybe you, as
the instructor, can!

Advice for colleges. Address ways by which you can more readily find and fix
Wi-Fi dead zones. Maybe you can enlist the help of faculty with this, since they
have ongoing contact with students. Think about using power bars (obviously in
a manner that takes safety into account) to deal with the problem of inadequate
power outlets in classrooms and the library. Take leadership to have the college
centralize around a single CMS/LMS and provide webinars and workshops to
help faculty with its use. Whenever budgets allow, upgrade equipment that is
obsolete, develop a system that makes it easy for students and faculty to report
problem with hardware and software, and provide the best possible access to
computer labs so students can work on assignments.

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189

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Acknowledgements.

We are grateful to the funder, the Fonds de recherche du Qubec Socit et culture
(FRQSC), to our research assistants Alexandre Chauvin, Gabrielle Lesage, Alex Lussier,
Evelyne Marcil, and Cristina Vitouchanskaia, and to our stakeholder and partner
representatives: Marie Jean Carrire, Tali Heiman, Thomas Henderson, Isabelle
Laplante, Catherine Loiselle, Courtney MacDonald, Ryan Moon, Sverine Parent, Nicole
Perreault, Hlne Prat, Rafael Scapin, Laura Schaffer, and James Sparks.

2015 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.