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International Journal
Learning, Teaching
Educational Research
p-ISSN: 1694-2493
e-ISSN: 1694-2116

Vol.15 No.5
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VOLUME 15 NUMBER 5 April 2016

Table of Contents
Promoting Geoscience STEM Interest in Native American Students: GIS, Geovisualization, and
Reconceptualizing Spatial Thinking Skills .......................................................................................................................... 1
Donna M. Delparte, R. Thomas Richardson, Karla Bradley Eitel, Sammy Matsaw Jr. and Teresa Cohn

Using Coh-Metrix to Analyze Chinese ESL Learners Writing ....................................................................................... 16

Weiwei Xu and Ming Liu

The Factors Affecting the Adaptation of Junior High School Students with Severe Disabilities to Inclusive or
Segregated Educational Settings ........................................................................................................................................ 27
Li Ju Chen

Supporting to Learn Calculus Through E-test with Feedback and Self-regulation .................................................... 43
Yung-Ling Lai and Jung-Chih Chen

Authentic Instructional Materials and the Communicative Language Teaching Approach of German as Foreign
Language in Uganda ............................................................................................................................................................ 61
Christopher B. Mugimu and Samuel Sekiziyivu

An Evaluation of the New School Administrator Assignment System Applied in Recent Years in Turkey ............ 75

Antecedents of Newly Qualified Teachers Turnover Intentions: Evidence from Sweden ...................................... 103
Dijana Tiplic, Eli Lejonberg and Eyvind Elstad

Multiple Intelligences in the Omani EFL context: How Well Aligned are Textbooks to Students Intelligence
Profiles? ............................................................................................................................................................................... 128
Fawzia Al Seyabi and Hind AZaabi

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research

Vol. 15, No. 5, pp. 1-15, April 2016

Promoting Geoscience STEM Interest in Native

American Students: GIS, Geovisualization, and
Reconceptualizing Spatial Thinking Skills

Donna M. Delparte and R. Thomas Richardson

Idaho State University
Pocatello, Idaho, USA

Karla Bradley Eitel, Sammy Matsaw Jr. and Teresa Cohn

University of Idaho
Moscow, Idaho, USA

Abstract. Recent innovations in Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

and geovisualization tools offer new opportunities to promoting interest
in geoscience and STEM careers with Native American Students. The
place-based educational model is particularly suited to geoscience
education and can appeal to Native American students connection to
local places. Yet the geoscience discipline is heavily imbued with
Western Science conceptions of places, spaces, and physical processes
that are not in congruence with the interconnected worldview of
Indigenous Science. This review of the literature on geoscience
education offers three recommendations to promote geoscience and
STEM interest among Native American youth. The practice of science is
a field that has only been recently contested by the Indigenous Science
worldview. This cognitive dissonance between Native American
students who have a deep attachment to their local environment can be
at odds with the objective perspective of Western science. The place-
based educational model aligns with Indigenous Science and prior
research has shown that it promotes STEM and geoscience in Native
American students. Since GIS and geovisualization tools are well-suited
to place based education and promote spatial thinking skills, which
have been identified as crucial to geoscience and STEM success, this
review provides several examples of research and education projects
using these technologies. Yet our understanding of spatial thinking is
based on Western Sciences conceptions of space as an abstract quality.
We contend that like other areas of science which are increasingly more
open to Indigenous Science practices, spatial thinking research needs to
do likewise by developing an analytical framework that accommodates
Native American ideas on space and place. We draw on recent research
to frame an argument for advancing research on creating an interwoven,

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hybrid conception of spatial thinking that can accommodate both

Western and Indigenous Science perspectives.

Keywords: Geoscience education; Native American students;

geovisualization; place-based education; spatial thinking.

1. Introduction: Defining the Issue

This review of the literature on promoting STEM (Science, Technology,

Engineering, and Mathematics) geoscience interest among Native American students has
three objectives. The first is to propose connections between the practices of Indigenous
Science and place-based learning. We begin with a discussion of Indigenous Science and
its emphasis on place as distinct from the Western Science tradition, which may dissuade
some Native American students from pursuing STEM education. Similarities between
Indigenous Science perspectives and place-based educational practices are then
compared to establish a common ground for identifying several programs that have
successfully integrated these two approaches to engage students in geoscience learning.
The second objective is to extend this connection by describing several recent
innovations in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and geographic visualization that
apply to developing spatial thinking skills an important element of STEM competency
in geoscience education and careers. These technologies are readily adaptable to place-
based learning and can enable all students to understand their local spaces in new ways
by developing their spatial thinking skills. Yet the literature on fostering STEM interest
among Native American students is sparse in terms of connecting spatial thinking
strategies to geoscience programs. Hence, our final objective is to propose means to
redefine space and place that are compatible with both the Indigenous Science and
Western Science. We capitalize upon the geographic construct of respatialization to
frame a proposal for further research and debate between the cognitive science,
geoscience, and Indigenous science.

2. Western and Indigenous Science: Issues of Space and Place

Native Americans have a rich and deep attachment to locale, especially within
their traditional homelands; it is the source of their cultural traditions and knowledge
(Cajete, 1994; 2000). Culture and history thus influence their conceptions of natural
events, where humanity is part of the natural world (Cajete, 2000; Semken, 2005).
Embedded within Native culture across North America, a strong sense of place is
evident; space is both culturally constructed and highly localized (Cajete, 1994, 2000;
Doering & Veletsianos, 2008; Semken, 2005). Therefore, spatial awareness (rather than
spatial thinking, per se) is of particular, embodied importance to many Native
Americans. This is a tradition that is dichotomous with the norms of Western Sciences
idea of space as an abstract set of Cartesian coordinates whereby the human and natural
environments are separated. Spatial thinking, as seen by Western Science, may be
perceived as reductionist in comparison to a more holistic sense of space and place
within Native American cultural traditions. This dichotomy between Western and
Native American perspectives on space has been expressed through hegemonic Western
cartographic practices (Harvey, 1984: Palmer, 2012); maps are used to categorize space in
non-Native terms. It is not surprising that studies have documented that American
Indian students, like other ethnic or racial minorities, are underrepresented in
geoscience education (Riggs & Semken, 2001; Semken, 2005) and STEM education in
general (Babco, 2003; Wang, 2013).

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A growing body of research promotes Indigenous Science as a culturally

responsive alternative to Western Science (Cajete, 1999; Castagno & Brayboy, 2008;
Snively & Corsiglia, 2001).Western Science represents a divergent, even oppositional,
view of space and place while Indigenous Science navigates space both synchronously
and without division (Cajete, 1999). Some perceive the emergence of Indigenous Science
(Cajete, 1999; Snively & Corsiglia, 2001) as a reaction to the hegemonic power and
authority of Euro American culture. Researchers have identified some form of cultural
discontinuity as a root cause (Semken, 2005, p. 150), which may disempower Native
American students from pursuing STEM education and careers; they must separate the
cultures of their daily lives within the culture of Western Science (Aikenhead, 1998).
Although it is important to acknowledge that Indigenous Science represents an
array of relationships and experiences, there is no singular conception of Indigenous
Science (Castagno & Brayboy, 2008). Nevertheless, some generalizations may be made. It
includes multiple way of knowing that are based on interaction with the local
environment (Cajete, 2009). Thus, Indigenous Science generally supports holism rather
than reductionism (Cajete 2000) and subjectivity over objectivity (Cajete, 1999); the
intertwining of physical and spiritual aspects of the universe (Castagno and Brayboy,
2008); and a person relationship between people and their environment (Deloria, 2003).
Reconciling the divergent analytical lenses of Western and Indigenous Science
may allow culture, knowledge, and place to be more interconnected, thereby promoting
more STEM engagement among Native American students. Our proposition is more
limited in scope. We will focus on how the similarities between place-based education
and Indigenous Science are articulated to boost STEM interest in geoscience learning. We
will then examine how innovations in spatial thinking, as enabled by new geoscience
visualization tools, can be used to foster STEM interest in Native American students.
Emerging from this discussion, suggestions to re-conceptualize the underlying processes
of spatial thinking in geoscience education will be proposed for future research and

3. Place-Based Learning and Indigenous Science

Place-based education, like Indigenous Science, utilizes a holistic,

engaged approach to understanding processes and relationships. Sobel (2004)
defined place-based education as

the process of using the local community and environment as a starting

point to teach concepts in language arts, mathematics, social studies,
science, and other subjects across the curriculum. Emphasizing hands-
on, real-world learning experiences, this approach to education
increases academic achievement, helps students develop stronger ties to
the community, enhances students appreciation for the natural world,
and creates a heightened commitment to serving as active, contributing
citizens. Community vitality and environmental quality are improved
through active engagement of local citizens, community organizations,
and environmental resources (p. 7).

A central characteristic and distinguishing feature of place-based education is to

break down artificial constructs and barriers such as distinctions between school,
community, nature, and humanity. Geoscience education contributes to place-based
education (Apple, Lemus & Semken, 2014). Semken (2005) identified five characteristics
of place-based geoscience education: (1) content focusses on the geological
characteristics of particular locales from an Earth systems perspective; (2) recognize and
validate that places have varied meanings for different groups; (3) hands-on, authentic

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research occurs in the locale and is taught by and shared with those who live there; (4)
research efforts and results respect environmental and cultural sustainability; and (5)
teaching goals are to build a shared attachment to a place amongst students, instructors,
and researchers and can have the indirect benefit of promoting STEM engagement. A
recent study examining a place-based instructional model to teach geoscience in an
urban environment reported an increase in student science interest (DeFelice, Adams,
Branco, & Pieroni, 2013). Likewise, positive results with respect to place-attachment have
been reported with respect to indigenous-oriented geology courses (Semken & Freeman,
2008; Johnson, Sievert, Durglo, Finley, Adams & Hoffman, 2014), which may play a
factor in Native American students STEM interest.
Many theorists perceive strong relationships between Indigenous Science
and place-based education (Apple et al., 2014; Semken, 2005; Semken &
Freeman, 2008; Semken, Neakrase, Dial, & Baker, 2009; Zalles, Collins,
Montgomery, Colonesese & Updegrave, 2005). Place-based education is
advocated as a way to improve engagement and retention of students,
particularly members of indigenous or historically inhabited communities (e.g.,
American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Mexican American) who
possess rich culturally-rooted senses of the places studied (Semken & Freeman,
2008, p. 1044). The place-based education model represents a critical
reinterpretation of Western education. Place-based learning is holistic, situated,
and opposed to globalization because of its emphasis on environmental and
socio-cultural sustainability. The constructivist learning modalities used in
place-based education include experiential learning, problem-based teaching
approaches, interdisciplinary focus on content delivery, peer teaching,
recognition of students unique abilities, and environmental awareness and
appreciation. Place-based education is a particularly useful educational
philosophy for engaging with Native American students because of its focus on
sense of place, community engagement, and holistic learning that uses creative
expression, as well as scientific observation, in studies of place. Rather than
basing itself in a cultural framework, however, place-based education uses local
environments and communities to teach an integrated curriculum (Sobel, 2004),
so it may lack the linguistic and cultural elements of many Native American-
specific traditional knowledge programs.
Place-based education in many Native communities is realized through formal
contexts via indigenous language immersion schools, such as the Aha Punana Leo
programs in Hawaii; Cuts Wood School of the Blackfeet Nation; Waadookodaading, the
Ojibwe Language Immersion Charter School; and the Nikaitchuat Ilisagviat immersion
school of the Qukiktagrukmiut people. In these language immersion programs, the
language does not make sense unless the place you inhabit becomes a part of you and
you a part of it. Because of this, it makes sense that place-based educations formal and
informal learning contexts agree with indigenous ways of thinking and communicating.
Other programs sponsored through school districts, such as the North Vancouver School
Districts Aboriginal Education Program, also provide opportunities for Native and non-
native students to learn Coast Salish traditions and practices within a place-based
learning milieu. Since place-based and Indigenous Science practices share numerous
attributes, the following sections will discuss their common strategies to promote STEM

4. Indigenous Science, Place-Based Education, and STEM

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Place-based education has been linked to STEM interest. A meta-analysis of the

efficacy of place-based teaching in 40 U.S. schools found evidence for increased scientific
knowledge, reading, writing math and social studies scores, compared to traditional
science course teaching methods using standardized test scores (Lieberman & Hoody,
1998). There is a growing body of evidence connecting place-based geoscience education
and Indigenous Science that promotes STEM engagement (Adetunji, Ba, Ghebreab,
Joseph, Mayer, & Levine, 2012; Morgan & Semken, 1997; Semken, 2005; Semken &
Freeman, 2008; Semken, Freeman, Watts, Neakrase, Dial, & Baker, 2009). This review
will focus on several examples of geoscience courses which promote spatial thinking and
Locally-driven, place-based educational programs may offer a viable option for
Native American students that is more culturally-sensitive. Geoscience courses, with
their emphasis on place and space, can be relevant to Native American students and
thus serve as a gateway to further STEM interest. Collaborative efforts to encourage
Native American students to enter geoscience careers have been advanced through the
Indigenous Earth Sciences Project and the Sharing the Land Program and, like similar
place-based educational initiatives, have increased the number of Native American
geoscientists who can apply their expertise in local communities (Riggs, Robbins, &
Danner, 2007). There are numerous studies of place-based geoscience instructional
programs reporting an increase in student science interest: the Geosciences Awareness
Program (Adetunji et al., 2012) and a study of geoscience learning in urban parks ;
(DeFelice, Adams, Branco, & Pieroni, 2013) are two recent examples. Zalles et al. (2005)
implemented a project to foster STEM interest in a fluvial geomorphology course for
high school and undergraduate students (noteworthy here because a large number of
Native Americans participated in the study). Although the results of the high school
course were inconclusive, increases in STEM interest and attachment to place were
statistically significant in the undergraduate course based on a Science Motivation
Questionnaire (SMQ) and Place Attachment Inventory (PAI). Similarly, the PAI and the
Place Meaning Survey (PMS) indicated a statistically significant increase in identification
and attachment to place in a pre- and post-survey of undergraduate students in an
indigenous knowledge geoscience course at the University of Arizona (Semken &
Freeman, 2008). Similar instruments by Shamai (1991), Kaltenborn (1998), and Williams
and Vaske (2003) were used in a variety of studies to also measure place
There are two studies most pertinent to the argument we will propose to
redefine spatial thinking. Ts naalkaah, an Indigenous Physical Geology course offered
at Arizona State University conceptualizes environmental change as interactions
between the Earth (Nohosdzn) and Sky (Yhdilhil) and are interweaved in the stories
of Navajo tribes living within the area of study (Morgan & Semken, 1997; Semken, 2005).
Western Science terms were given Navajo labels to develop a sense of place imbued with
personal meaning. Their resulting Earth systems framework represents a hybrid of
Indigenous and Western Science knowledge. Likewise, Palmer (2012) explored the use of
the Kiowa language for spatial labels and concepts represented in an indigital
geographic information network (iGIN), a synthesis of indigenous and scientific spatial
knowledge (p. 81). Both Semken and Palmer recognized the importance of language as
a carrier of cultural meaning regarding spatial terms and concepts that have traditionally
been co-opted by Western cognitive spatial science practices. For example, Palmer noted
a lack of research on incorporating Indigenous languages into GIS analysis. We propose
extending the Semken and Palmers lines of research by advocating for a holistic way of
thinking spatially by recapturing the language of space and placean issue that will be
addressed in the final section of this review.
In spite of these examples, many place-based educational programs are located
outside of Native communities and, therefore, inaccessible to many Native students

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(Semken, 2005). Complicating this is a shortage of mentors and science role models,
inadequate teaching facilities, under-trained teachers (Syed, Goza, Chemers &
Zurbriggen, 2012), as well as an absence of earth science courses beyond the middle-
school level in many states, perhaps another factor that reflects low completion rates of
STEM degrees in tribal colleges (Babco, 2003). Furthermore, traditional science curricula
and textbooks tend to present a linear, mechanistic, and process-driven view of
environmental systems, which runs contrary to the Native American understanding of
the non-linear, cyclical understanding of environmental interactions (Semken, .
Adolescents who experience STEM-related discrimination or stereotyping within the
structural power and knowledge relations inherent to public education may question
their own abilities or compatibility with STEM study and therefore may be reluctant to
explore or pursue these areas (Grossman & Porche, 2013). Yet recent advances in
managing and viewing geoscience data can offer new ideas on teaching and learning
that have the potential to engage students and teachers from western and non-western
pedagogies in new ways.

5. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Geovisualization as

Tools to Promote STEM Interest

Two specific geoscience technologies are offered as potential means to

promote STEM interest in Native American students through place-based
instruction: geoscience education using GIS and geovisualization tools to
promote spatial thinking. These two examples empower learners to explore
their own localities while developing scientific thinking and skills that will
benefit them in further STEM education and careers. Although these strategies
may have broad appeal to other student populations, testing their educational
effectiveness in rural Native American communities must entail a collaborative
partnership between educators, researchers, and tribal members. A number of
past and current research initiatives will be highlighted as examples of these
technologies in action.

5.1. Geoscience education and GIS as spatial learning tools.

Geospatial learning increases higher order cognitive thinking and

engages students to use geospatial data to construct their own interpretation of
places and spaces, which is consistent with both experiential and constructivist
educational theory (Doering & Veletsianos, 2007). The ability to think in spatial
terms is considered to be a key skill that is universal and useful in a wide
variety of academic discipline and everyday problem-solving situations (Lee &
Bednarz, 2009, p. 183). The National Academy of Sciences (Downs & DeSouza,
2006), in their study Support for Thinking Spatially: The Incorporation of Geographic
Information Science Across the K-12 Curriculum, regarded spatial thinking to be on
par with mathematical and verbal thinking skills. Since spatial literacy is a
newly recognized area of knowledge, it is an avenue worthy of additional
evidence-based research (Bednarz, 2004; Schulz, Kerski & Patterson, 2008) and
using it to understand locales makes it a natural fit for place-based educational
GIS is a useful tool for visualizing the interrelationships of spatial attributes.
Studies on the use of GIS as an educational platform in public schools have
demonstrated its potential to increase spatial thinking (Doering & Veletsianos, 2007; Lee

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& Bednarz, 2009), as well as positive attitudes to science and technology (Baker & White,
2003). Studies on the use of GIS applications such as Google Earth and ArcGIS Explorer
(Doering & Veletsianos, 2008; Lee & Bednarz, 2009) and Virtual Globe (Schultz, Kerski &
Patterson, 2008) provide examples of successful, evidence-driven applications of existing
GIS tools for teaching both at the K-12 and college levels. GIS applications are, by their
very nature, embedded with web functionality, and are also suitable for advancing
spatial thinking and geographic knowledge in e-learning environments (Lynch, Bednarz,
Boxall, Chalmers, France & Kesby, 2008).
The Western Consortium for Water Analysis, Visualization and Exploration
program (WC-WAVE) sponsors the Undergraduate Visualization & Modeling Network
Program (UVMN), a training forum for undergraduate students and supporting faculty
at regional colleges in Idaho, Nevada, and New Mexico. Native American geoscience
students are included in this program and have an opportunity to work collaboratively
on GIS-enabled place-based studies and use novel techniques for visualization and data
exploration (National Science Foundation award # IA-1301346).

5.2. New frontiers: geovisualization.

Geovisualization takes geographic data, usually from a GIS database,

and converts it into interactive and predictive three dimensional models that
enables spatial relationships to be viewed in innovative ways (Kinzel, 2009;
Kraak, 2003; MacEachren & Kraak, 1997; 2001). Geovisualizations are
constructed from highly-detailed spatial models. For example, a digital
elevation model (DEM) can be used as a template over which spatial data
(Google Earth or other remotely-sensed or field collected GPS data) is layered.
Geovisualizations need not be restricted to maps, however. Photos and
video, for example, can be integrated with spatial data in a geovisualization. 360
gigapans allow for the creation of virtual tours based on digitally stitched set of
photos that facilitate explorations into sites of interest. This panoramic image of
a landscape can contain links to information associated with parts of the image.
Links can display text information, hyperlinks, other maps, video, or reorient the
viewer to a new location. An example of a gigapan virtual tour was created for
the Portneuf River to facilitate re-visioning by the city of Pocatello through the
Managing Idahos Landscape through Ecosystem Services (MILES) project. It
can be viewed at the following address:
http://miles.isu.edu/Greenway/Greenway.html. Another example from the
MILES project is a 3-D future urban redevelopment along the Portneuf River
channel using ESRIs City Engine This may be viewed online at
http://miles.isu.edu/visualizations.shtml3-D. In this example, objects from
mapped data can be associated with rules and attributes and map layers can be
toggled to visualize patterns and associations between spatial data. The
visualization scenarios for city planning are integrated into Unity 3D and
provide an immersive environment on a virtual reality headset (Delparte,
Johnson & Tracy, in prep).
Other technologies can also be used to enhance digital maps. For
example, photographs from inexpensive digital cameras can be stitched together
using Structure from Motion (SfM) technology to create 3-D models (Bolles,
Baker, Marimont, 1987; Koenderink & Van Doorn, 1991). Sketchfab software
allows for online storage of images. Microsofts Kinect sensor can also create 3D
scans and are being used to catalogue native artifacts for remote online viewing

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(Youngs & Delparte, in prep). Interactive and predictive 3D models can be

created to identify spatial relationships in large geographic datasets. This
technology has built predictive 3-D maps of a Native Hawaiian cultural
landscape for environmental monitoring and preservation of Hawaiis Lake
Waiau (Delparte, Belt, Nishioka, Turner, Richardson & Ericksen, 2014) and coral
reef fisheries in the Northwest Hawaiian islands (Burns, Delparte, Gates &
Takabayashi, 2015).
Geovisualization platforms coupled to current research on GIS, mobile
computing, and pedagogy have the potential to increase student engagement
and learning. Cost need not be a significant obstacle to using these technologies.
Everyday tools (such as cameras, tablets, and cell phones) can be used to capture
scientific data and much of the image processing software is freely available
online (i.e. 123D Catch is a freeware photo stitching tool that can transform a
series of photographs into 3D models).
Recent studies have demonstrated the educational benefits of using
geovisualization tools to teach spatial thinking skills (Hauptman & Cohen, 2011;
Lee & Bednarz, 2009; Kinzel, 2009; Schultz et al., 2008, Titus & Horsman, 1996),
yet additional research on the linkages between visual and spatial thinking and
how they can be promoted through geovisualization is needed (Kinzel, 2009;
Montello, 2009; Vogler, Ahamer, & Jekel, 2010). The authors are collecting
evidence-based research to examine the specific learning benefits and measures
of cognitive load associated with the use of geovisualization technologies
(Richardson, in prep). An example is an upcoming study comparing learning
performance and cognitive load of two dimensional, three dimensional, and
tactile feedback geovisualization maps. The goal is to select the most appropriate
interface for teaching spatial thinking using maps and to offer suggestions for
designing instructional programs that promote spatial cognitive processing in
Geospatial technologies have real-world relevance for jobs that are
meaningful to Native students and can thus enhance STEM interest. For
example, natural resource professionals working for the Shoshone-Bannock
Tribes in southeast Idaho use ArcGIS Collector on iPads to sample biological
data in the field. Many tribes hire GIS professionals to advise and inform natural
resource management departments. Therefore, geospatial tools may encourage
students to build skills that eventually allow them to find a career within their
tribal community, using tools that convey a multiplicity of perceptions in
symbols of place (Cajete, 1999), a theme that will be explored in the next
Semken (2005) criticized geoscience for instruction that emphasizes global
syntheses over exploration and in-depth understanding of places that have prior
meaning for Indigenous students, and may even depict such places in culturally-
inappropriate ways (p. 149). We do not deny that geoscience has and can promulgate
Western Science thinking to the detriment of other perspectives. In the final section, we
propose an alternative approach that respects a dualistic understanding of space and
place through geovisualization.

6. Expanding Our Understanding of Spatial Thinking to Incorporate

Multiple Perspectives

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Recent research on what constitutes a definition for and characteristics of

spatial thinking, from a Western perspective, are rooted in the cognitive
sciences. Spatial thinking refers to the cognitive aspects of (1) visualizing and
recalling spatial information such as shape, dimension, relative location, or
perspective and (2) mentally representing and manipulating objects that are
either in a two dimensional or three dimensional format (Downs & DeSouza,
2006; Velez, Silver & Tremaine, 2005). Some researchers consider spatial thinking
as distinct from other more generic terms as kinesthetic ability or spatial
awareness (Fleishman & Rich, 1963).
There has been a substantial body of research in the realm of spatial thinking as
an important, yet overlooked area of skill and knowledge in K-12 American education
(Downs & DeSouza, 2006). Numerous studies have further examined spatial thinking
and its relationship to Native American learning preferences (Apple et al., 2014; Cajete,
1994, 2000; Bednarz, 2004; Pewewardy, 2002; Semken, 2005). These characteristics
include a strong social emphasis, holistic learning, creative expression, respect for
cultural traditions, and use of story-telling as an effective medium for delivering
knowledge (Pewewardy, 2002). Cajete (1999) recommended less emphasis on verbal
learning, preferring kinesthetic, spatial, and visual learning activities and understanding
processes from examples, which then lead to abstract concept formation.
Recent studies have been devoted to categorizing the components of
spatial thinking (Bednarz & Lee, 2011; Gersmehl & Gersmehl, 2006). A taxonomy
of spatial thinking skills have been proposed: defining a location; describing
conditions; tracing spatial connections, making spatial comparison; inferring a
spatial aura; delimiting a region; fitting a place into a spatial hierarchy; graphing
a spatial transition; identifying a spatial analog; discerning spatial patterns;
assessing a spatial association; designing and using a spatial model; and
mapping spatial exceptions (Gersmehl & Gersmehl, 2006). From a
geographic/cartographic perspective, and couched in the language of Western
Science, these characteristics labels are reasonable, particularly when using GIS
analysis techniques. Yet, can this conceptualizing of space reconcile with
Indigenous Science understandings? Although Western and Indigenous Science
may share some of these spatial thinking characteristics, the idea of a taxonomic
hierarchy of spatial thinking we regard as counter to the holistic sense of space
and place that is held by many Native Americans. We suggest that geoscientists
collaborate with Indigenous scientists to define spatial thinking in terms that are
context-sensitive. This approach might range from using local languages to re-
label the elements of Gersmehls taxonomy to de-constructing the notion of a
spatial hierarchy and replacing it with other context-specific definitions. These
could be derived from oral histories associated with particular locales, as was
the case in Semkens report (2005) on an Indigenous Physical Geology course
and Palmers (2012) use of iGIN for creating a Kiowa GIS database. The notion of
a holistic sense of space must encapsulate a diversity of meanings to recognize
the degrees to which individuals find attachment to specific places (Semken &
Freeman, 2008). The boundaries of an area, the names given to geographic
features, and how they are interrelated and given value are among a myriad of
factors to consider when trying to define how individuals and groups may think
spatially about a particular locale. Palmers (2012) hybrid iGIN model blending
Indigenous and Western spatial knowledge can offer a way forward. To build on
this proposition, we offer the broader concept of spatial awareness as a descriptor

2016 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


that may better suit the more nuanced, holistic understandings of space and how
it is linked to an individualized sense of place Although we acknowledge there
are likely to be potential dissimilarities between spatial thinking and spatial
awareness, we are cognizant of the risk of conflating these two concepts and
how that may be construed as deterministic; the Western view of spatial
thinking over-riding Indigenous Sciences sense of spatial awareness. We re-
purpose the concept of respatialization, defined as the transformation of spatially
referenced data from their original geographic representation to an alternative
geographic framework (Goodchild & Janelle, 2010, p. 7) to characterize a
process where Native Americans frame their own, unique understanding of
what it means to think spatially in a fashion that is grounded in their local
context and language. This proposition is informed by the efforts of qualitative
geographers to challenge Geographys positivist tradition (Harvey, 1984; Louis,
2007; Palmer, 2012; Pavlovksya, 2006).
Explicating the differences between these two perspectives and seeking
common ground is an important task for cognitive spatial researchers,
geoscientists and Indigenous Science practitioners and we recommend it as a
topic of further research. Nevertheless, common ground exists to build
consensus regarding what it means to think spatially. Western Science and
Native Science ontologies can be co-mingled, according to Cajete (1999), as
evidenced by a gradual recognition of indigenous knowledge by mainstream
science (Couzin, 2007; Semken & Freeman, 2008). Respect for indigenous ways
of knowing and a solid base of science knowledge and pedagogy should be
complementary (Semken & Freeman, 2008). Of the studies discussed in this
review, we regard Palmers (2012) iGIN model as an exemplar for future
research into how spatial knowledge can be conceptualized and labelled. It
argues for a nuanced hybridization of Western and Indigenous terminologies to
describe spaces and places and supports its claims with a description of an
indigenous-centric travel narrative map integrated into a conventional GIS.

7. Conclusion: Recommendations for Future Research

To foster and nurture STEM interest in Native American students, there

are a variety of approaches from geoscience research and practice that educators
may draw upon. GIS and geovisualization tools in place-based educational
program can not only promote interest in STEM education, they can be
congruent with Indigenous education practices, provided that both views of
what it means to think spatially are presented. As a final caveat, implementing
any STEM-focused, place-based educational program within rural Native
communities must be conducted with the express permission and contribution
of tribal members and governing bodies as equal partners in feasibility studies,
research, or implementation.
An awareness of the linkages between Indigenous Science and place-
based education allow these two practices to advance an alternative meaning of
space and place which is more localized. The important issue is how to reconcile
two competing scientific paradigms. We propose that spatial learning, as
exemplified by new technologies and research efforts in GIS and
geovisualization, offers innovative ways of examining and understanding what

2016 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


it means to think spatially in locations that have relevance to students

communities and daily lives. By utilizing the concept of respatialization the
terminology for spatial thinking espoused by Western Science, may be reclaimed
by Indigenous scientists. They can adopt names of places and geophysical
processes that have been passed down through oral traditions shaped by the
interaction of locale and cultural-linguistic traditions. If Native American
students contribute to this process by using GIS and geovisualization tools to
critically examine and catalogue their locales from a hybridized Western-
Indigenous Science spatial perspective, we believe that it can increase geoscience
and STEM interest. We also recommend that geoscientists, spatial-cognitive
scientists, and Indigenous scientists collaborate on research that recognizes the
variety of possible meanings and labels associated with thinking spatially.

Acknowledgements. This publication was made possible by the National

Science Foundation Idaho EPSCoR Program under award number IIA-1301792.

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research

Vol. 15, No. 5, pp. 16-26, April 2016

Using Coh-Metrix to Analyze Chinese ESL

Learners Writing

Weiwei Xu
College of International Studies,
Southwest University,
Chongqing, China

Ming Liu
School of Computer and Information Science,
Southwest University,
Chongqing, China

Abstract. Scoring essays is costly, laborious and time-consuming.

Automated scoring of essays is a promising approach to face this
challenge. Coh-Metrix is a computer tool that reports on cohesion,
sentence complexity, lexical sophistication and other descriptive
features at sentence- and paragraph-level. It has been widely used to
analyze native English speakers essay writing. However, few studies
have used Coh-Metrix to analyze essays written by English as a Second
Language (ESL) students. In this study, we analyzed the correlation
between several Coh-Metrix features combined with a set of newly
proposed features and the quality of essays, written by Chinese
university students, both English and non-English majors. This study
shows that each group of students tends to write essays that have their
own signature features. The quality of essays written by English majors
highly correlate to the importance of introduction, conclusion and
cohesion at the sentence level, while the quality of essays written by
chemistry majors are highly related to mechanics errors, sentence
complexity and cohesion at the paragraph level.

Keywords: ESL essay writing, Textual feature analysis, Automatic Essay

Scoring, Computer in education

Important constructs, central to ESL writing and proposed by several
researchers, are grammatical and spelling errors. Cohesion is also important,
although it is a much more difficult aspect of writing to account for due to its
deeper nature (Rus & Niraula, 2012). This study focuses on grammatical and
spelling errors and cohesion which are directly observed through the explicit
presence or absence of specific tokens. Errors may be caused by inappropriate
transfer of first language patterns and/or incomplete knowledge of the target

2016 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


language, in this case, English. Researchers (Q. Liang, 2004; Liu, 2008) have
pointed out that Chinese college students, especially those with low proficiency
in English, often make errors at the surface level, such as spelling and
grammatical errors (e. g. run-on sentences); errors at high level, such as using
Chinglish (ungrammatical English expressions used in Chinese context, having
deprecating connotation); and low cohesion or incorrect use of connectives. Even
for students with high proficiency, like English majors, writing high quality
essays with high cohesion, well-established introduction and conclusion,
remains a challenge. Thus, a marking tool, specifically developed to analyze ESL
learners errors, is very much needed. It should be noted that errors are
categorized as word-level (spelling errors) and sentence-level (grammatical
errors) and, as mentioned above, are consequences of incomplete knowledge of
the target language or of the transfer difficulty due to major dissimilarities
between the foreign language and students native language. On the other hand,
cohesion is a discourse-level aspect of writing and lack of cohesion in an essay
may reflect lack of composition training and practice. This distinction is
important to make, because one can argue that the only net advantage of native
speakers of English over ESL speakers is their knowledge of English vocabulary
and grammar. Discourse-level aspects, on the other hand, are governed by
general cross-language principles of cohesion and coherence, and are equally
impacting for both native and EFL speakers. As is shown in this study, English
majors who presumably have mastered the mechanics of the language
(vocabulary and grammar) struggle mainly with the compositional aspect,
which is in contrast with non-English majors who struggle with both the
mechanics and composition aspect of essay writing.
Researches in computer-based essay scoring, referred to as Automatic Essay
Scoring (AES), have been going on for more than 40 years. The first known AES
system, called Project Essay Grader (Page, 2003) based on a regression model,
was developed by Ellis Page in 1966. With the advancement of Natural
Language Processing (NLP) and Information Retrieval (IR) techniques, four
more advanced AES systems were developed during the late 1990s (M. Shermis
& Burstein, 2003). In recent years, different approaches to AES were proposed
(McNamara, Crossley, Roscoe, Allen, & Dai, 2015; Mark D. Shermis, 2014). AES
systems in China is still at an early stage (Ge & Chen, 2007; Han, 2009; Li, 2009;
M. Liang & Wen, 2007; M. Liang, 2011). Most of researchers focus on the reviews
of existing AES systems and their potential applications to Chinese ESL context
(Ge & Chen, 2007; Han, 2009; M. Liang & Wen, 2007). Few researchers (Li, 2009;
M. Liang, 2011) have attempted to develop AES systems in Chinese ESL context
by using latent semantic analysis technique (Landauer, Foltz, & Laham, 1998).
This paper aims to explore what textual features are good predictors for writing
quality and investigate its implication for developing AES system in Chinese
ESL context. Textual features such as syntactic patterns, cohesions and
connectives were extracted by using the computational tool Coh-Metrix
(Graesser, McNamara, Louwerse, & Cai, 2004). Coh-Metrix is used to analyze
essays written by Chinese ESL students, and this study analyzed the correlations
between features and the quality of essays written by both English and non-
English majors.

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Coh-Metrix is a computational tool that provides over 100 indices of cohesion,
syntactical complexity, connectives and other descriptive information about
content (Graesser et al., 2004). Due to space restriction, only a summary of Coh-
Metrixs key features is presented here. The current public version available is
Coh-Metrix 3.0, which can retrieve 108 scores of textual features. More
information can be found on the website
http://cohmetrix.Memphisedu/cohmetrixpr/index.html. A wide-range
overview is provided in (Graesser et al., 2004):
Descriptive Indices: It includes the number of paragraphs, sentences, words,
syllables in words, etc.
Cohesion: It is a key aspect for understanding the discourse structure of a
language and how connectives used in a text have an impact on cohesion
(Kintsch & van Dijk, 1978).
Sentence Complexity: It indicates human graders evaluations of the quality of the
Lexical Sophistication: It refers to the writers use of advanced vocabulary and
word choice to express his or her thought.

New Features
This study proposes and extracts 8 new features that are not available in Coh-
Metrix. These features refer to characteristics of ESL learners writing styles and
reflect on the importance of the introduction section, conclusion section and
mechanics in errors including spelling and grammatical errors. Students often
make the mistake of jumping straight to answering the essay question in the first
paragraph without following a background statement, essay statement or
outline statement. In addition, students rush to finish up in conclusion. The
conclusion section should restate the author's stance with respect to the essay
question, make a brief summary of evidences and finish with some sort of
judgment about the topic. Moreover, spelling and grammatical errors are always
good indicators of essay quality.
Number of Words in Introduction: the total number of words in the first paragraph
considered as introduction.
Number of Words in Conclusion: the total number of words in the last paragraph
considered as conclusion.
Introduction Portion: the ratios of number of words in introduction to the total
number of words in the essay.
Conclusion Portion: the ratios of number of words in the conclusion to the total
number of words in the essay.
Spelling Errors: the number of spelling errors. This study employs an open source
spelling error checker called Language Tool (http://www.languagetool.org/),
which is a part of the Open Office suite.
Grammatical Errors: the number of sentences with grammatical errors. This study
uses the Link Grammar Parser (Lafferty, Sleator, & Temperley, 1992) to check
the grammar of a sentence, which is also widely used in ESL context.
Percentage of Spelling Errors: the ratios of the number of spelling errors to the total
number of words in the essay.

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Percentage of Grammatical Errors: the ratios of the number of sentences with

grammatical errors to the total number of sentences in the essay.

Essays were collected from 90 freshmen at one of Chinas key universities.
Among them, 41 students were English majors at the College of International
Studies, while 49 students were chemistry majors at the School of Chemistry.
English majors are considered to have the higher English proficiency. For the
English majors, their average score in English as a testing subject in the National
Higher Education Entrance Examination (also called Gaokao) was 131.30, and
the standard deviation was 7.37. For the chemistry majors, their average score
was 110, and the standard deviation was 10.14. Three experienced English
teachers at the College of International Studies at the university volunteered to
rate the quality of essays. All of them have at least five years of experience in
teaching a composition course for both English and non-English majors.
Task and Instruments
The writing task was timed and considered as an assignment in English class.
Students were required to finish it within 30 minutes. The writing task was to
write a persuasive essay following the standard of college English essay writing
set by the Ministry of Education in China.
The essays were rated by the three experienced English teachers mentioned
above. They evaluated students essays based on the standardized rubric
commonly used to grade college English essay tests on the scale of 1 to 100. They
first evaluated 18 essays. If the correlations between the teachers did not exceed
r=.50 on each item, the evaluation process were rechecked until correlation was
greater an equal to 0.5. After they reached a moderate agreement, each teacher
then evaluated the 72 essays that comprised the whole sample used in this
It was found out that their inter-rater reliability was high with r=.756, r=.745,
r=.607, respectively, p<.001. The scoring rubric included organization (e. g. clear
organization of subtopics), content (e. g. clearly expressing ideas, text coherence,
interesting and balanced introduction and conclusion) and mechanics (e. g.
errors in punctuation and grammar).
These essays were chosen because the types they represented better reflected the
conditions under which students usually completed prompt-based essays, such
as CET or TEM. In addition, these two student groups can be representatives of
most of the university students including English majors and non-English
majors. Hence, the results of the selected features and algorithms are more likely
to be accurate in the context of Chinese ESL writing. Indeed, the English majors
essays exhibit more discourse-level issues, while the non-English majors essays
exhibit both basic-level issues (spelling- and grammar-level) and discourse-level
issues. This is the case due to English majors more knowledge about the basics
of the target language, English.

Results and Discussion

Descriptive statistics for the English majors and chemistry majors as well as the
hybrid group (the combination of both essays) are reported in TABLE I.

2016 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.




English Chemistry
Features F(1,71) Hybrid
Majors Majors

Raters Essay
70.45(9.95) 73.30(7.64) 1.362 72.10(8.72)

Number of Words 274(46.28) 136.47(4.00) 203.95* 194.65(76.56)

Number of
17.23(3.87) 9.30(0.52) 72.23* 12.65(5.14)

Number of
4.41(0.79) 3.03(1.03) 27.12* 3.62(1.16)

Number of Syllables
1.41(0.06) 1.61(0.10) 73.03* 1.53(1.31)
per word

Number of Spelling
Errors per 2.9(1.94) 3(2.91) 8.77* 2.94(2.37)
Document of Words

Number of
Grammar Errors per
4.23(2.28) 6(2.23) 6.05* 4.98(2.40)
Document of

The average scores of the English majors and chemistry majors essays were not
significantly different. The English majors and chemistry majors essays were
significantly different when number of words, sentences, paragraphs and
syllables per word are involved. It indicates that the essays written by the
English-major students contain more words, sentences and paragraphs, but less
complicated words (less syllables), compared with the essays written by the
chemistry majors. In addition, the English majors made less grammatical and
spelling errors than the chemistry majors did.
Key Features for English Majors Essays
Top six features were selected by using the same feature selection method used
above, but this time applied on the training set (21 essays) written by the English
majors. The linear regression yielded a significant model, F(6,14)=10.982,
p<0.001, r=.944, r2=.892. Table II shows the six features that correlate with the
essay scores. The conclusion portion was positively related to essay quality. But,
the feature of the introduction portion was negatively related to the scores. It
indicates the importance of the summarization of arguments in the final section
of essays, as found in previous study (Freeman & Freeman, 1998). Cohesion as
measured by content word overlap and Wordnet overlap were positively related
to essay quality, which was similar to the results reported in a previous study
(SA Crossley & McNamara, 2010). However, the argument overlap was

2016 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


negatively correlated to essay quality. Argument overlap occurred when there

were matching personal pronouns between sentences. It is observed that
unskillful writers like to use a persons experience as an example to support the
arguments in an illogical way. These essays contain many pronouns such as
he and his. The following text segment is extracted from one poor quality
essay from the dataset. Although this example essay has high argument overlap,
it lacks logic between the following two adjacent sentences: My friend Bob, he
often helped his parents do household jobs and got reward when he was young.
So up to now, he always the best person I think, his experience makes him learn
how to independent.



Feature Type R P

Introduction Portion New feature -.635 <.050

Conclusion Portion New feature .576 <.050

Argument Overlap Cohesion -.551 <.050

Content Word Overlap Cohesion .521 <.050

Temporal Connectives Cohesion -.803 <.001

WordNet Overlap between

Cohesion .714 <.050

Temporal Connectives was negatively related to essay quality, because some

poor-skilled writers incorrectly used some temporal connectives, such as
when, since and as. As expected, English majors essays showed issues
at the discourse level such as temporal connectives and argument overlap which
negatively correlated with the quality of the essays.
Regression Model Performance in the English Major Group
In order to validate the regression model consisting of six features, the model in
these test sets (11 essays) were evaluated. It yielded r=.784, r2=.615. Therefore,
this result demonstrates that the combination of six features account for 61.5% of
the variance in the test set.
Categorical scores, including distinction (80-100), credit (70-79), pass (60-
69) and fail (0-59), are also one of the common credit systems used at Chinas
universities, such as Southwest University (University, 2007). These categorical
scores are also used in many writing tests (Lawrence M. Rudner & Liang, 2002).
The scores derived from the test set were used to assess categorical accuracy of
the regression scores, compared with the human-graded scores. The regression
model produced categorical matches for 7 of the 11 essays (64 % accuracy). The

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reported, weighted Cohens kappa for the categorical matches was 0.516,
demonstrating a moderate agreement. A confusion matrix for this analysis is
provided in TABLE III.



Actual Human Scores

System Predicted
Distinction Credit Pass Fail

Distinction 2 0 0 0

Credit 0 2 0 0

Pass 0 1 1 1

Fail 0 1 1 2

Key Features for the Chemistry Majors Essays

The top seven features were selected by using the same feature selection
algorithm as before, but this time applied on the training set (27 essays) written
by the students majoring in chemistry. The linear regression yielded a significant
model, F(7,19)=3.186, P <0.05, r=.709, r2=.503. TABLE IV presents the
correlations between these features and scores. Among these features, it is
observed that results are similar to those reported in other studies (Scott a.
Crossley & McNamara, 2011; McNamara, Crossley, & Roscoe, 2013; Mcnamara,
Crossley, & Mccarthy, 2010). Essay quality is positively related with essay length
(number of words) and cohesion (semantic similarity between adjacent
paragraphs). As expected, the new features Percentage of Spelling Errors and
Percentage of Grammatical Errors were negatively related to the essay quality.
Surprisingly, the syntactic complexity (incidence score of verbal phrases) was
negatively related to essay quality, which was different to the results found in
the previous study (Mcnamara et al., 2010). This may be one characteristic of
ESL writers, since they are more likely to make grammatical mistakes if they try
to write complex sentences. Another cohesion feature, Standard Deviation of the
Semantic Similarity between Sentences, showed negative correlations with essay
quality. It indicates that the semantic inconsistency between sentences was
negatively correlated to essay quality. Unlike studies in the past, there is a
negative correlation between Logical Connectivity and essay scores. It is found
out that many essays with poor marks had many and as a logical connective.
It was used almost always for connecting two nouns or adjectives, such as more
and more popular, and China and the West. As expected, the non-English
majors show more problems at basic-levels of writing, such as spelling and
grammatical errors.

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Feature Type R P
Number of Words Descriptive .676 <.050

Percentage of Spelling Errors New Feature -.486 <.050

Percentage of Grammatical
New Feature -.460 <.050

Logical Connectivity Cohesion -.450 <.050

Standard Deviation of the

Semantic Similarity between Cohesion -.531 <.050

Semantic Similarity between

Cohesion +.528 <.050
Adjacent Paragraphs

Incidence Score of Verbal Syntactic

-.641 <.050
Phrases Pattern

Regression Model Performance in the Chemistry Major Group

In order to validate the regression model consisting of seven features, this model
in the test set (13 essays) written by the chemistry majors was evaluated. It
yielded r=.569. The scores derived from the test set were used to assess the
categorical accuracy of the regression scores, compared with the human-graded
scores. The regression model produced categorical matches for 8 of the 13 essays
(54 % accuracy). The reported, weighted Cohens kappa for the categorical
matches was 0.404, demonstrating a moderate agreement. A confusion matrix
for this analysis is provided in TABLE V.
System Actual Human Scores
Distinction Credit Pass Fail
Distinction 2 0 0 0
Credit 0 2 0 0
Pass 0 1 1 1
Fail 0 1 1 2
This matrix reflects a decrease in the categorical agreement using the model
tested in the dataset of the chemistry majors essays. The predicted scores tend to
be in the credit category since 8 of the 13 essays have been predicted in the
credit category. This level of performance is partially due to the frequent
credit scores and small variations of actual human scores (SD: 7.64), which
renders the prediction task more difficult.

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Conclusion and Future work

This study has used a set of Coh-Metrix indices combined with a set of newly
proposed features to analyze ESL essays written by the English majors and non-
English majors at a university in China. It showed the predictive values of
several features extracted using Coh-Metrix; some of the newly proposed
features significantly correlated to essay quality as well. These features include
cohesion at the sentence- and paragraph-level, introduction and conclusion
portion, syntactical complexity and surface errors. The results indicate the
usefulness of Coh-Metrix and the newly proposed new features. Interestingly,
different features are more significant for different groups of essays. The English
majors emphasize cohesion between sentences, writing a good summarization,
whereas the non-English majors focus on making less surface errors, such as
spelling and grammatical errors, and cohesion between adjacent paragraphs.
This study has some limitations. For example, the sample size is not big enough,
since 72 essays and two groups of ESL writers were analyzed. However, these
essays were written by university students in a real scenario and the data
analysis process was sound. In the future, improving the performance of the
prediction model will be the focus. At the present, most of the studies use a
linear regression model for essay score prediction. Non-linear regression
models, such as SVM Regression (Shevade, Keerthi, Bhattacharyya, & Murthy,
1999) and other machine learning techniques (Hongbo Chen, Ben He, Tiejian
Luo, 2012; Larkey, 1998) will be investigated. Moreover, more ESL essays
written by university students from different disciplines will be collected and

This article was supported by Chongqing Social Science Planning Fund Program
[2014BS123], Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities
[XDJK2014A002], [XDJK2014C141] and [SWU114005] in China.

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research

Vol. 15, No. 5, pp. 27-42, April 2016

The Factors Affecting the Adaptation of Junior

High School Students with Severe Disabilities to
Inclusive or Segregated Educational Settings

Li Ju Chen
Chang Gung University, Taiwan

Abstract. The aim of this research is to explore the factors of

the adaptation of junior high school students with severe
disabilities (SD) to inclusive or segregated school
environments. The study was based on survey data gathered
from 868 students with SD who were studying in junior high
schools of Taiwan. The research found that: (1) Language,
cognitive, and visual abilities are key factors for succeeding
in an inclusive education setting; (2) Language skills are
correlated with successful adaptation for students with SD;
(3) Children with certain types of disabilities are diagnosed
later than children with other disabilities and therefore
receive intervention later; (4) The relationships among
intervention timing, language skills, and school adaptation
for children with SD vary by disability types . There are
implications for improving interventions for SD based on
these research findings.

Keywords: early intervention, inclusive school, intervention

timing, language skills, students with severe disabilities

The National Center for Educational Statistics reported that fifty
percentage of students with disabilities spent more than eighty
percentage of their time in the general education system (Madden,
2012; Michael & Trezek, 2006). Educators believe social ski lls are
crucial to effectively integrate students with disabilities into the
general education system. It showed that children with disabilities
who study in typical life circle have developed more positive social
behaviors than the children studying in more segregated contexts
(Alquraini & Gut, 2012; Koegel, Koegel, Frea, & Fredeen, 2001).
Moreover, inclusive education allows students with disabilities to
interact with typical students, which prevents students from being
labeled. In past decades, many coun tries, including the United States
and Taiwan, enacted some regulations to ensure that students with

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disabilities are included in typical education system (Alquraini &

Gut, 2012; Special Education Act of Taiwan, 2009).
The exterior placement of students with disabilities into general
classrooms does not mean a meaningful inclusion (Brown,
Ouellette-Kuntz, Lysaght, & Burge, 2011). Educational adaptation
thus is an important clue for evaluating whether the education
system is proper for the children or not. It is suggested to develop a
way to assess a childs adaption in school.
Some researches argued that inclusive education should be
insisted only when the children could achieve positive academic
(Oliver, 2008; Rous, Hallam, McCormick, & Cox, 2010). If a child
cannot adapt well to a mainstream environment, transferring to a
more segregated learning setting might be a more appropriate
placement for the student to have improved academic experience.
The disability of a child should be considered to lead him into certain
activities (World Health Organization, 2001). If an education system
can afford the students an environment to take part in more school
activities than another environment, then the first one is more
appropriate for the student than the second . The student is perceived
as having a milder disability in the first one than in the second
setting. Koegel et al. (2001) and Huang (2003) studied the effect of
school adaptation on students interactions with their classmates and
teachers and on participating in activities. It is claimed that these
themes are important supports by the schools when the students
study in inclusive schools (Kurth et al., 2015). Based on the literature
review, this research evaluate students overall school adaptation by
their academic progress, activity participation, and social
Intervention Timing and School Adaptation . This study
explored the factors that promoted a students adaptation to school
in an inclusive or segregated education system. It is thought that
early intervention facilitates the children with disabilities adapt to
inclusive school (Low & Lee, 2011). Many studies have demonstrated
that intensive preschool intervention brings various benefits,
including academic, social, and economic issues, and enables the
children adapt to inclusive education setting (Zucker, 2010).
Intervention during childrens infancy and preschool stages has
produced aggressive results and promote the childrens educability
(Rogow, 2005). Neuman (2007) concluded that inter ventions are more
effective the earlier they are made. Several studies have indicated
that identification and intervention in time can avoid development
problems and promote developmental outcomes (Aron & Loprest,
2012; Puig, 2010; Renshaw et al., 2009; Sh onkoff & Meisels, 2002).
Other studies have tried to identify the ideal intervention timing that
will maximize children adapting and learning well in an inclusive
education setting (Akshoomoff, Stahmer, Corsello, & Mahrer, 2013;
Stahmer, Carter, Baker, & M iwa, 2003). In accordance with previous

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researches, the present research will explore the relationship

between intervention timing and subsequent school adaptation.
Language Skills and School Adaptation . Akshoomoff et al.
(2013) indicated that a child with a disabilitys school adaptation
relates to communication skills. The child needs communicat ion to
interact with others or participate in activities . An example is that
hallway greetings enable children to interact and initiate
conversations with other persons. These greetings require oral
language delivered (Rossetti, 2011). Language communication is
important in mainstream setting for conveying a variety of messages;
therefore, children should have ongoing opportunities to improve
language skills (Low & Lee, 2011; Puig, 2010; Rogow, 2005). The
1960s Head Start Program emphasized improv ing childrens
language ability to prevent them from learning failure in future
schooling. It is believed that students adapt better when they have
better language skill s.
Intervention Timing and Language Skills . Interacting and
developing relationships with others in various contexts contribute
to a childs language skills; childrens brain and their innate capacity
to develop language skills are stimulated by the persons interacting
with them (Puig, 2010). Many hospitals have established
intervention programs to provide additional stimulation and
organized activities for children with disabilities (Zucker, 2010).
Studies have shown that intervention timing and the acquis ition of
language skills are related. Research in Norway, for instance, found
that eight-year-old children with disabilities who were involved
early intervention had better language ability than those who were
not involved. Akshoomoff et al. (2013) found t hat the children who
received early intervention obtained better scores in the
communication subscale of the Vineland Adaptive Behavior Scale.
According to the reviewed literature, the relationships among
early interventions, language skills, and school ad aptation are
significant. Therefore, this research will also explore how
intervention timing, language skills and school adaptation are
related with one another among the students with disabilities.
Children with Disabilities in Different Types and Levels .
Many studies have claimed that intervention effectiveness,
intervention timing, language skills, and school adaptation vary
greatly with disability level and type. Neuman (2007) indicated that
interventions for children with mild disabilit ies are generally more
effective in intervention than for children with severer disabilit ies.
For example, the abilities required of students with mild visual
impairments (VI) to adapt to inclusive schools may be different from
those required of students with severe VI. Livneh and Wilson (2003)
found that life adaptation was impacted by disability level.
Statistical analyses examining all disability levels simultaneously
might lead to incorrect conclusions, the analyses of intervention
issues should be performed for various disability level individually.

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Alquraini and Gut (2012) noted that greater part of studies have
focused on students with mild disabilities and advocated that more
topics be conducted with the students with severe disabilities (SD).
Some researches claimed to explore the critical components to
include the students with severe disabilities into typical educational
settings (Brock, Biggs, Carter, Cattey, & Raley, 2016; Kurth, Lyon, &
Shogren, 2015). The present study focuses on students with SD.
Inclusion setting afforded conditions for the students with SD to
develop relationships and social abilities by contacting with their
typical classmates (Alquraini & Gut, 2012). It is advocated to find the
practice factors supporting the students with SD to effective ly study
in inclusive education setting (Brock, Biggs, Carter, Cattey, & Raley,
2016; Kurth, Lyon, & Shogren, 2015).
Children with disabilities in different types go through different
difficulties to school and social adaptation. Children with severe
cognitive impairment are worse at language of reception and
expression (Alberta Education, 2009). Most of them also have
difficulty learning words and speaking, and their language is
typically with spatial terms (Gabel, Cohen, Kotel, & Pearson, 2013).
Children with severe autism (AU) are not interested in
communicating; consequently, they lack the abilities needed to
effectively initiate, maintain, and end a reciprocal interaction. This
limits their opportunities to mentally build the word for social
behaviour (Low & Lee, 2011). Their language learning and
intervention outcomes therefore tend to be different from those of
children with other disabilities. On the children with a severe
physical disability (PD), their mobility is restricted and they have
restricted in participating in activities (Florian et al., 2006).
Moreover, students with different disability severities in different
education systems do not use the same abilities in their school
adaptation. It is obvious that the abilities required in an inclus ive
setting may be different from those required in segregated
environments because the two education systems have different
conditions and resource types. Therefore, the present study will
examine the relationships among intervention timing, language
skills, and school adaptation individually for each disability type
and education setting.
For the students with SD studying in inclusive school, it needs
ensuring them access positive social relationship and learning
opportunities (Carter et al., 2015). The purposes of this study are to
attempt, based on the research findings, to improve curren t early
intervention policies and allow the most students with SD to study
and adapt well in an inclusive environment. It also seeks to facilitate
the adaptation factors if the student with SD is placed in a segregated
environment. Here are some questions this research intends to
answer: (1) Do the students with SD adapt well in inclusive
education settings or segregated settings? What factors made the
children with SD be placed in an inclusive or a segregated education

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system? (2) How the relationship among intervention timing,

language skills, and school adaptation differs among the students
with different disability type? (3) How the relationship among
intervention timing, language skills, and school adaptation differs
between the students in inclusive a nd segregated educational

Research Design. There are three latent variables used for
analysis in this study: intervention timing, language skills, and
school adaptation. These variables were derived from survey data
collected from the parents of Taiwanese junior high school students
with SD. These data were retrieved from the database of the Special
Needs Education Longitudinal Study of Taiwan (SNELS). In
accordance with previous studies, a number of observed variables in
the survey data w hich were reviewed and revised by 12 special
specialist were considered to define the three latent variables. Next,
the three latent variables were quantified by Confirmatory Factor
Analysis (CFA). The CFA model contains the three latent variables,
and each latent variable is factored by observed variables. The
following explains what each latent variable measures and the
observed variables identified via CFA in them (see Table 1).
1. Intervention timing. It refers to the time a child starts to receive
treatment to improve his/her development. This intervention must be
afforded by professionals, who are be either special educators,
therapists, or medical professionals. The observed variables of
quantifying intervention timing were the earliest age of the child
involved the intervention, the earliest age of the childs disability was
identified, the earliest age of the child receiving a disability diagnose,
and the earliest age of the child involved special education. The first
two variables were chosen using the CFA to quantify the intervention
timing latent variable. The unit of the variables was age.
2. Language skills. They refer to the oral communicating skills in
expression and reception exhibited. The observed variables in
quantifying this latent variable included parents evaluations of their
kids language expression ability compared with peers, their kids
language comprehension ability compared with peers, their kids
verbal expression being understood by strangers compared with peers,
and their kids willingness to initiate language with others compared to
peers. The first three variables were determined by CFA to quantify the
latent variable. The score of the three observed variables distributed
from 1 to 4, where 1 indicated that the students language skills were as
good as his/her schoolmates, 2 indicated inadequate language skills, 3
indicated poor language skills, and 4 indicated that the student cannot
communicate with others at all.
3. School adaptation. In this study, school adaptation was represented by
the childrens social and academic performance in school. The observed
variables for quantifying school adaptation included parental

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satisfaction with their childrens interactions with teachers, interactions

with classmates, participation in activities, academic performance, and
the parents overall satisfaction with their kids school experience. The
CFA indicated that all five variables quantified the latent variable. The
score of the observed variables distributed from 1 to 4, where 1
indicated very satisfied, 2 satisfied, 3 unsatisfied, and 4 very
In CFA, the fitting observed variables are preserved in the model, and the
loading factor of each observed variable was determined to quantify the latent
variables (see Table 1). After the three latent variables were obtained, ANOVA
and correlation analyses were conducted to identify which factors influence
the choice of an inclusive or segregated school environment and how
intervention timing, language skills, and school adaptation related with one

Table 1
Factor score weights from a CFA of intervention timing, language
skills, and school adaptation
Latent Variables Observed Variables Factor Score Weights
Intervention Timing Identification age 0.441
Intervention age 0.303
Language Skills Verbal expression 0.351
Language comprehension 0.475
Understood by strangers 0.307
School Adaptation Interaction with teachers 0.156
Interaction with peers 0.151
Activity participation 0.084
Academic performance 0.088
Overall education 0.197

Subjects. The subjects in SNELS were chosen with random from the
Taiwanese children with disabilities and age of 19 years or younger. The
survey data included the participants family background, demographic
information, medical histories, education, after-school activities, and responses
to several survey questions. The SNELS database was established in 2007 and
developed 20 survey waves from 2007 through 2012.
The data used in this study were collected in 2009 survey conducted
among the parents of 3180 junior high school students with disabilities.
Because the present study focused on students with SD, 866 subjects with SD
were included in the study. Among the 866 subjects, 519 subjects were male
and 347 were female. The subjects disability type profile is shown in Table 2.
Research Instrument. The SNELS data used in this research were obtained
from surveys conducted from 2008 to 2009. The SNELS team manage the
survey process, which includes questionnaire development, subjects sampling,
survey administration, survey data verification, and report the primal data in
their data bank. SNELS group is a survey organization supported by the

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Ministry of Science and Technology of Taiwan. It comprises of 27 experts of

special educators, sociologists, survey experts, statisticians, and data analysts

Results and Discussions

Intervention Timing, Language Skills, and School Adaptation of
Students in Inclusive or Segregated Settings. Table 2 shows that 39.8% (345)
of the students with SD studied in inclusive schools or classrooms, and
60.2% (521) studied in segregated schools or classrooms. Post-hoc tests
revealed that children with severe sensory and physical disabilities were
more likely to study in inclusive environments than in segregated ones.
However, children with cognitive disabilities, including AU and mental
retardation (MR), tended to study in a segregated environment. What
factors made the children with SD be placed in an inclusive or a
segregated environment? Table 2 indicates that, with the exception of
children with VI (F=0.00, p>.05), the language skills of the children
studying in an inclusive environment were better than those of the
children in a segregated environment. The ANOVA data displayed in
Table 3 indicate that, with the exception of students with VI, the students
from each disability type in an inclusive environment had significantly
better language skills than those in a segregated one. However, the
differences in intervention timing and school adaptation between the
students in inclusive and segregated environments were insignificant
with the exception of students with VI (F=9.60, p<.001).
Considering that most of the students in segregated environments
had significantly worse language skills than those in inclusive
environments, it is interesting to note that the skills of the students with
VI in segregated environments were not significantly worse than those in
inclusive environments (see Table 2). This phenomenon can likely be
explained by their school adaptation. Table 3 shows that the students
with VI in segregated setting adapted themselves to school significantly
better than those who were in an inclusive environment. Students with
VI in an inclusive environment cannot receive visual feedback when
communicating with others and they cannot receive as much visual input
during instruction in inclusive classrooms as their classmates do. In
contrast, the students with VI in segregated environments have easily
access to alternative visual equipment or teaching materials, such as
voice basketball and Braille books. These supports helped VI students
adapt themselves better and learn more in segregated setting than the
students with VI in inclusive school environments. Therefore, the
students with VI did not benefit from their good language skill in
adaptation to school.
Table 2 also shows that 66.9% (n=111) of the students with a hearing
impairment (HI) studied in an inclusive environment, while only 33.1%
(n=32) studied in a segregated environment. The language skills of HI
students in an inclusive environment (1.97) were worse than most of the
students with other disability types in an inclusive environment.
However, the language skills of the HI students in an inclusive setting

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were still significantly better than those of the HI students in segregated

environments. This implies that the HI students do not need good
language skills as much as other SD students do to adapt well to an
inclusive school environment. There are two explanations for this
phenomenon. First, students with HI have normal visual ability.
Therefore, although their language skills may not have been as good as
those of their typical peers, having some oral language skills allows them
to communicate with their peers or teachers by reading their body
language and facial expressions. Second, these students have good
mobility, which allows them to interact with their peers and teachers
well and to participate in campus activities more frequently.
Among the students with SD in an inclusive environment, the students
with AU had the worst language skills scores (Table 2). Although students
with AU share common deficits in socialization and communication (Low &
Lee, 2011), Table 2 shows that when in an inclusive environment, they adapt to
school better than any of the other groups. This implies that they utilize
abilities other than language skills to effectively adapt themselves to school.
However, because the number of students with severe AU in an inclusive
environment was small, further research is needed to confirm this conclusion.
Table 2 shows that most of the students with AU (91.5%) and MR (93.0%)
study in a segregated environment. Gabel et al. (2013) indicated children with
MR had significant difficulty in learning words and speaking. Children with
AU had difficulties in producing functional speech (Low & Lee, 2011). These
imply that cognitive ability is another key factor to be considered when
choosing an inclusive environment.
In summary, the data in Tables 2 and 3 imply the following three
conclusions: (1) Language skills, visual ability, and cognitive ability were
the three key abilities for students with SD studying in inclusive
education settings. If one of these three abilities was insufficient, the
student would eventually transfer to a segregated environment for
adaptation. (2) The intervention timing varies with respect to disability
type. However, for each disability type (except the MR and health
impairments (HeI) groups, which had few subjects to run an ANOVA),
the children in inclusive and segregated environments scored similarly
in intervention timing. The results showed that earlier intervention did
not help the students with SD succeed in an inclusive environment.
However, it does not mean that we should deny the contribution of early
intervention in the students life. Further research is needed to clarify
this result. (3) The students in both the inclusive and segregated groups
achieved similar scores on school adaptation. It implies that in Taiwan,
the system of special education placement used to assign children with
SD to inclusive or segregated environments is appropriate.

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Table 2
Numbers and means of intervention timing, language skills, and
school adaptation by disability types and educational setting

Disability type VI HI PD HeI MR AU MD OD a 2
Inc b N
31 111 65 66 3 6 44 19 345 334.02***
(%) 55.4 66.9 66.3 97.1 7.0 8.5 13.1 65.5 39.8
Seg (N) 25 N 55 33 2 40 65 291 10 521
(%) 44.6% 33.1 33.7 2.9 93.0 91.5 86.9 34.5 60.2
Inter- Inc (M) 1.36 1.53 1.39 0.72 0.82 2.36 1.01 0.72 1.22
n Seg (M) 0.95 1.50 1.04 NA 1.24 2.06 1.19 1.03 1.29
Lang- Inc (M) 1.08 1.97 0.99 0.93 2.43 2.51 1.68 1.12 1.44
Seg (M) 1.08 2.87 2.38 3.27 3.10 4.00 3.57 3.29 3.31
Adapt Inc (M) 2.08 1.86 1.90 1.93 2.25 1.60 2.00 1.91 1.92
ation Seg (M) 1.61 1.95 2.08 2.58 1.98 2.10 2.01 1.70 1.99
a OD indicates other disabilities
b Inc: inclusive educational setting; Seg: segregate educational setting

Table 3
ANOVA of intervention timing, language skills, and school
adaptation by educational setting and disability type
Interv- F 1.50 0.04 2.40 / 1.86 / / 1.69
ention Post /
Lang- F 0.00 26.51*** 38.31*** / 62.83*** / / 39.45***
uage Post Seg>Inca Seg>Inc Seg>Inc / Seg>Inc Seg>Inc
Adap- F 9.60** 0.98 1.64 / 0 / / 1.45
tation Post Inc>Seg
**p<.01. ***p<.001
/ indicates that one of the compared groups sample size is less than 10 and
inappropriate for ANOVA
a Seg: the children were placed in segregate educational setting; Inc: in

inclusive educational setting

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Correlations Among the Three Latent Variables. How do the

students with each disability type utilize their language skills to adapt to
school? Are intervention timing, language skills, and school adaptation
related with one another? Table 4 shows the correlations among the three
latent variables by disability type and educational setting.
Language Skills and School Adaptation. As shown in Table 4, a high
correlation (r=0.44; p<.05) between language skills and school adaptation
was found for VI children in a segregated environment but not for those
in an inclusive environment. This finding implies that although VI
students in an inclusive environment may have good language skills,
they do not rely on their language skills for school adaptation as much as
VI students in a segregated environment do. This phenomenon is
understandable because in general, language skills are an important
element in communicating with others in a mainstream environment.
However, for a student with severe VI in a mainstream environment,
good language skills may not provide an advantage in school adaptation
because good communication requires not only good language skills but
also an ability to receive visual clues. However, good language skills
may help students with severe VI adapt well in a segregated
environment. In a segregated environment, all peers of a student with VI
have the same disability and are taught by teachers who are specialized
in handling VI students needs; therefore, visual clues are not a critical
factor for communication in segregated environments, and language
skills become the only common tool that VI students use to communicate.
Therefore, better language skills can result in better communication and
better school adaptation.
Table 4 also displays that the language skills and school adaptation of
students with PD in both inclusive and segregated environments are highly
correlated. It is inferred that this phenomenon is caused in part by these
students insufficient mobility, which limits their opportunities to take part in
school activities and increases the physical distance with their classmates
(Florian et al., 2006). Therefore, when students with PD interact with others or
participate in school activities, they rely heavily on their verbal abilities to
compensate for their poor mobility.
This study also found that, in an inclusive environment, the language skills
of the students with severe HI correlated with their level of school adaptation.
The hearing impairment of students with HI directly influenced their language
skills. Due to the nature of the disability, a child with severe HI typically
engages in limited interactions with others (Brehm, 2010). Table 2 shows that
the average language skills score of HI students in inclusive settings was 1.97,
but the average score of HI students in segregated schools was 2.87. Students
with HI who are in a segregated environment rely on skills other than
conventional verbal skills, such as sign language, when communicating with
their peers and teachers. Thus, the students with HI in segregated schools do
not enhance their adaptation using oral language skills as their counterparts in
inclusive schools do.
Table 2 also shows that, for students with multiple disabilities (MD) in a
segregated environment, language skills correlated with school adaptation.

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Because each student in the MD group had a unique combination of

disabilities, this study did not explore the correlation between their language
skills and school adaptation.
The analyses failed to find a correlation between the language skills and
school adaptation for AU and MR in segregated setting. Table 2 shows that
these students language skills were poor (3.10 and 4.00 respectively). This
result suggests that although language skills are related to school adaptation,
if the language skills did not reach a certain cutoff, language skills alone could
not facilitate school adaptation. Lastly, the language skills of the HeI did not
correlate with school adaptation in an inclusive environment. Students with
severe HeI are usually too weak to participate in school activities, and their
school adaptation score is generally low. However, their language skills score
( 0.93) was the best among all the students with SD in inclusive setting.
Because their language skills are good, their poor school adaptation may be
attributed to their limited mobility. Overall, their language skills did not seem
to correlate with their school adaptation based on the Pearson correlation
Intervention Timing and Language Skills. For the students with
non-language-related disabilities, intervention timing should not correlate
with language skills because their interventions did not include language
programs. For a student with language-related disabilities, the students
language skills depend on the severity of the students disability and on how
much and how early the student received intervention. However, students
who received an intervention earlier usually had severer disabilities. Therefore,
there was a negative correlation (r=-.36, p<.05, see Table 4) between
intervention timing and language skills in the AU group in the segregated
environment. These results suggest that intervention timing alone does not
explain school adaptation.
Table 4 shows that the VI group in the inclusive environment was the
only group whose language skills correlated positively and highly with their
intervention timing (r=.67, p<.01). The high correlation between intervention
timing and language skills in this group can be understood by observing how
toddlers acquire language. When a toddler acquires a language, he/she relies
on visual feedback in addition to auditory input. Toddlers with VI may have
to learn to rely on other senses to compensate for their lack of visual feedback
during language acquisition. When a child with VI receives an intervention,
the therapist gives most of his/her instructions to the child verbally, which
requires the child to engage in language production oftener and earlier. In
addition, through intervention, the child can learn how to use his/her other
senses and other strategies to compensate for the visual impairment. This may
explain why language skills were highly correlated with intervention timing in
this group.

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Table 4
Correlation among the three latent variables versus disability type
in inclusive setting and in segregate setting.
Inclusive Segregate
type L-A I-L I-A L-A I-L I-A
VD .12 .67** .16 .44* .16 .13
HI .26** -.07 -.18 -.01 -.24 -.29
PD .41** -.18 -.04 .43** -.05 -.18
HD .13 -.09 -.29* / / /
MR / / / .14 .13 -.1
AU / / / .07 -.36* -.14
MD -.13 .13 -.04 .31** .03 -.01
OD .30 -.06 .11 -.14 .48 .15
Total .09* .16** -.13* .26** .06 -.02
*p<.05 **p<.01 ***p<.001
/ indicates the sample count is less than 10, and not appropriate to
perform Pearson correlation anal ysis.

However, no such correlation was found among the students with VI in a

segregated environment. Both VI groups had good language skills (1.08). The
average intervention time for the inclusive group and segregated groups was
1.36 and 0.95 years of ages respectively. These results imply that the level of
visual impairment among the segregated students was severer than among the
students in the inclusive schools, and their disabilities were therefore
identified and received intervention earlier. Figure 1 plots the average
language skills by average intervention timing for all the students with VI. As
this figure illustrates, if the children received intervention before they were 2
years old, the correlation between intervention timing and language skills was
weak. However, if they received intervention later, between the ages of 2 and 4,
the intervention timing was highly correlated with language skills. This may
explain the absence of such a correlation in the segregated VI group, most of
whom (24 out of 25) received their intervention before 1.5 years of age.

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language skill

0 1 2 3 4 5 6
Intervention Timing (age)

Figure 1: The correlation between intervention timing and

language skills for students with VI

Typically, the severer disabilities receive earlier intervention, and for some
disabilities, the severity of the impairment negatively impacts students
language skills and school adaptation. However, it appears that intervention
timing affects language development if the intervention begins before 2 years
of age. Overall, this study identified three factors that influence the choice of
education system (inclusive or segregated) for junior high school students
with SD: Early intervention did not make a student more likely to be in an
inclusive education system or adapt well to it if the early intervention could
not improve the childrens language skills, visual ability, or cognitive ability.
The study found that, except for the students with VI, the current education
placement system in Taiwan is appropriate. Because school adaptation is
determined by multiple factors, including language skills, visual ability, and
cognitive ability, unless the intervention targets these factors directly,
intervention timing does not correlate with school adaptation.

The findings suggest that language skills are critical for the school
adaptation of children with SD, especially for those with certain types of
disabilities. Even for non-language-related disabilities, early interventions
should also include a language development program to help the children
develop sufficient language skills. In these programs, childrens language
skills should be regularly examined and tracked to facilitate timely and
appropriate training.
Our findings also suggest that it may be more advantageous to begin
language development intervention before children are 2 years old. Therefore,
a more aggressive identification system is needed to identify children with

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disabilities, especially those with HI and AU, whose intervention timing is

typically later than other types. As the students with VI, although studying in
an inclusive environment generally benefits students with SD, children with
severe VI did not appear to significantly benefit from studying in an inclusive
environment. It is suggested that more support should be afforded for the
students with severe VI in inclusive education setting or they should be
considered for placing in a more segregated educational setting. For the
students with mild or moderate VI, further research is needed to explain for
their situation.
The language skills of the students with VI did not facilitate their inclusive
school adaptation. However, it is worthwhile to distinguish school adaptation
from societal and workplace adaptation. In certain environments outside of
school, communication does not require visual feedback as in education
setting, and language skills would thus be a more important factor in this
groups successful adaptation. Language are the important skills that VI
children use to communicate. Advocates must stress the need for promoting in
these students abilities.
Due to the nature of disabilities and education systems, the majority
students with MR and AU study in segregated education settings, and most of
the students with HeI studied in inclusive environments. Because in our
dataset, the numbers of students with severe AU and MR in inclusive
environments and HeI in segregated environments were small, future research
should target these disability types more specifically to better explore the
factors of these students school adaptation. In addition, future researches are
suggested to record the intensity and duration of participants interventions
(SNELS database does not have these data). Further data could then be
analyzed to get the knowledge of how interventions can affect a childs
language skills and cognitive abilities. Additional efforts are suggested to
refine strategies to increase the replicability and sustainability of this
Finally, this study explored the relationship between intervention timing,
language skills, and school adaptation among children with SD. Future
research could replicate the present study among students with mild or
moderate disabilities or among typically developing students to further
examine the relationship between school adaptation and language skills. By
comparing the relationships, it can be learned more about the underlying
mechanisms of school adaptation. Another suggestion is to conduct researches
of societal and workplace adaptation among individuals who have graduated
from school and entered into society. A follow-up study to our research could
trace the same subjects after they graduate and enter society and the workforce
to find the differences in the quality of their academic, societal, and workplace

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Correspondence : Li Ju Chen, Associate Professor of Graduate Institute of

Early Intervention, Chang Gung University, 259 Wenhua 1st Road,
Kwei-shan, Tao-Yuan 33302, Taiwan.
Acknowledgments: The researcher would like to express sincere thanks to the
Ministry of Science and Technology, Taiwan for funding this research. The
researcher especially would like to express appreciation to the database of the
Special Needs Education Longitudinal Study of Taiwan (SNELS) by
supporting the database analysis .

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research

Vol. 15, No. 5, pp. 43-60, April 2016

Supporting to Learn Calculus Through E-test

with Feedback and Self-regulation

Yung-Ling Lai and Jung-Chih Chen*

National Chiayi University
Chiayi, Taiwan

Abstract. This study is designed to support students in learning calculus.

Many freshmen are often struggling in calculus. The reasons are many
and complex; largely because the students backgrounds are insufficient
and partly because students are not involved in class, passively listening
to the lectures by the traditional teaching methods. Thus, student's
learning motivation is often low, and lacking of self-regulation to
monitor self-learning goals. Here we intend to arouse the interest of
students by technological aids, to inspire their willingness and attitude
in active learning, and to train students on effective learning methods.
We not only provide video materials on the campus E-teaching platform
for reviews, and set up discussion forums for communication, but also
offer E-test for each unit volume with feedback (see appendix) to
examine students understanding quickly. In general, several types of
data including selected interviews are carefully collected and analyzed.
Results in this study indicate that most students express their positive
responses about these contexts to support their learning in calculus.

Keywords: E-test; Learning motivation; Scaffolding; Self-regulation

In this era of educational reforms, all teachers are searching for ways to improve
learning environments and instructional approaches. For example, in recent
years, flipped classroom has widely challenged attention in the world, students
are usually expected to watch video at home then do the exercises in the
classroom and discuss the unsolved problem with classmates and teachers.
Basically teacher facilitates the learning environment and provides scaffolding in
cases of discussion and interaction. Under this situation, students may feel that
such learning process is more funny than boring, and they certainly should have
interest and motivation to achieve in these processes (Cleary & Chen, 2009).

*The corresponding author. ** This study was supported in part by the Ministry
of Science and Technology (MOST) in Taiwan (Grant number: MOST
103-2511-S-415-008). However, any opinions reflected here are solely those of the
authors. ***We are grateful for the valuable comments provided by the reviewers.

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In the technological world, the National Council of Teachers of

Mathematics (NCTM) in the United States pointed out The curriculum should
make appropriate and ongoing use of calculators and computers (NCTM,
1989) and Technology is essential in teaching and learning mathematics; it
influences the mathematics that is taught and enhances students learning
(NCTM, 2000). This means integrating technology in teaching and learning
processes is current trend (Chen & Lai, 2015; Karadeniz, 2015; Girard, 2002;
Porzio, 1995 ). Likewise, there is no question to extend that technology can
support learning and teaching in calculus (Ben-Zvi, 2000). This study is
designed for freshmen to learn calculus effectively.
Calculus is an extensive course of general mathematics. Many professional
courses in high educational level need calculus as prerequisite or tool to
develop further, particularly those courses provided in the college of science or
engineering. Since calculus has rigorous and consistent content structures,
hence learners should learn it step by step by understanding, otherwise,
learners may be off the track and get lost soon. Therefore, when students learn
calculus, they need to know some better ways or strategies to make progress on
their goals, and teachers can advise students in these cases.
Teaching calculus engaging is really a tough endeavor, and there are no
easy ways. In order to make this paper to be brief and focused, more attention
is placed upon the achievement involving E-test with feedback. Note that,
instead of complexity, E-test items mostly focus on big ideas in each topic and
limited computation. In the whole semester, we provide eight E-tests. Besides,
formal midterm and final tests generally include high level paper-and-pencil
problems such as sketching graph or basic proof.
We provide appropriate learning environments with video materials and
guidance, we inspire students to observe and think independently.
Additionally, discussion forums and teaching assistant are lent to the learning
processes of exploration, problem solving and team cooperation. Certainly,
self-regulatory processes also play an important role of achievement among
students (Bandura, 1986). Hopefully students can understand and apply the
basic knowledge, skills, and various methods in calculus to solve problems.

Literature and Methods

Self-regulation refers to the ability to develop, implement, and flexibly
maintain planned behavior in order to achieve ones goals. It is essential to the
learning process (Jarvela & Jarvenoja, 2011; Zimmerman, 2008).
Based on teaching experience in calculus, we fully understand that
students prior knowledge and motivation may facilitate the development of
self-regulation in classroom contexts. Also, research has shown that students
who are able to regulate their learning in the face of the difficulties perform
better than students who lack of self-regulation (Pintrich, 2000). Hence,
teachers need to know influential factors and strategies to promote
self-regulated learning and motivation. For instance, we tell students to see the
importance in learning calculus step by step, encourage students to set
attainable goals such as studying calculus together for a couple of classmates,
and ask students to keep a record of the amount of time they spent on calculus
every week.

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For each unit about calculus, we provide video materials on the campus
Moodle E-teaching platform for students reviews at any time, and set up
discussion forums for communication. Moreover, we offer E-test for each unit
volume with feedback (see appendix) to examine students understanding
quickly. Basically, E-test is usually open on Friday and Saturday, and students
can take test at any place and any time. However, students are only given one
hour to take each test, and each item is randomly presented during the test.
For convenient consideration, samples are selected from the computer
science department. There are more than fifty freshmen to participate this
study for one semester in calculus (II), and they are divided into two groups;
Exp group and Control group; depending on the even or odd of their student
identification numbers. At the beginning, please note that students in Control
group have a bit higher (2 points in average) than students in Exp group
regarding their background in calculus (I).
All problems in each E-test are multiple choices, please see samples in
appendix. When students in Exp group provide incorrect answer in the first try,
then Hint feedback will present immediately. At this moment, students can
think about again, and they can provide next answer in the second try, and the
like. When students in Control group provide incorrect answer in the first try,
then there is no Hint feedback, but they can provide next answer in the
second try based on their knowledge. On the other hand, no matter when
students can employ the discussion forums to seek help or clarify their
concepts. Actually, many critical data can be collected from the Moodle
E-teaching platform, including their spent time in each test. Besides
quantitative data, researchers also collect and analyze the interviews data from
several samples.

Procedures for E-test on line :

E-test ( Exp Group)

Ans. Display
Next p. Correct


Test Ends

Display scores/keys

(a) Flow chart for experiment group

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E-testCon Group

Ans. Display

Next p. Correct


Test Ends

Display scores/keys

(b) Flow chart for control group

Findings and Discussions

In the whole semester, students are provided eight E-tests, each test
contains 10 problems. Note that the correct ratio in the following table is
calculated from the (total/10) divided by the number of students who take this
E-test. For example: {(197/10) / (29-4) }=78.80%. In addition, the corresponding
pie chart indicates the spent time students take this test.

The first E-test

Exp group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio
Total 29 Correct at first time 25 23 21 20 23 23 23 18 3 18 197 78.80%
Absent 4 Correct at second time 0 2 4 5 2 1 1 1 11 5 32 12.80%
Third and above 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 6 11 2 21 8.40%

Figure 1Outcomes of the 1st in Exp group

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Control group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio

Total 29 Correct at first time 26 24 24 22 26 25 25 19 4 22 217 80.37%
Absent 2 Correct at second time 1 1 3 3 1 2 1 4 8 1 25 9.26%
Third and above 0 2 0 2 0 0 1 4 15 4 28 10.37%

Figure 2Outcomes of the 1st in Control group

(1) This is the first E-test on line, students try to understand some operating
(2) At the first try, students in Control group perform a bit better.
(3) At the second try, students in Exp group perform slightly better.
(4) Research indicates that feedback(or hint) can assist students in improving
their achievement (Nitko & Brookhart, 2010). Also, it can promote students
motivation (Wigfield, Kauda, & Cambria, 2011) and self-regulation.

The second E-test

Exp group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio
Total 29 Correct at first time 12 12 10 23 17 19 20 14 16 9 152 54.29%
Absent 1 Correct at second time 6 4 7 4 6 5 4 4 3 11 54 19.29%
Third and above 10 12 11 1 5 4 4 10 9 8 74 26.43%

Figure 3Outcomes of the 2nd in Exp group

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Control group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio

Total 29 Correct at first time 17 13 13 21 20 22 17 12 16 15 166 61.48%
Absent 2 Correct at second time 7 8 4 1 2 2 8 5 6 6 49 18.15%
Third and above 3 6 10 5 5 3 2 10 5 6 55 20.37%

Figure 4Outcomes of the 2nd in Control group

(1) Students in Control group obviously perform better than students in Exp
group do at the first try.
(2) However, at the second try, the outcomes between two groups look very
(3) It looks evident that students in Exp group generally spend longer time to
take this test.

The third E-test

Exp group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio
Total 29 Correct at first time 24 10 21 19 22 20 20 24 21 20 201 71.79%
Absent 1 Correct at second time 3 10 3 7 2 4 6 2 6 5 48 17.14%
Third and above 1 8 4 2 4 4 2 2 1 3 31 11.07%

Figure 5Outcomes of the 3rd in Exp group

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Control group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio

Total 29 Correct at first time 29 10 23 20 25 22 22 22 23 20 216 74.48%
Absent 0 Correct at second time 0 12 3 6 2 5 4 4 3 3 42 14.48%
Third and above 0 7 3 3 2 2 3 3 3 6 32 11.03%

Figure 6Outcomes of the 3rd in Control group

(1) At the second try, students in Exp group perform slightly better than
students in Control group do.
(2) In case we consider the outcomes of the first try and the second try together,
two groups almost make no differences.

The fourth E-test :

Exp group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio
Total 29 Correct at first time 19 19 16 18 21 24 20 20 21 14 192 76.80%
Absent 4 Correct at second time 1 3 7 1 1 1 4 3 2 5 28 11.20%
Third and above 5 3 2 6 3 0 1 2 2 6 30 12.00%

Figure 7Outcomes of the 4th in Exp group

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Control group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio

Total 29 Correct at first time 15 22 16 17 21 21 20 19 21 14 186 74.40%
Absent 4 Correct at second time 7 1 6 3 2 2 1 3 3 4 32 12.80%
Third and above 3 2 3 5 2 2 4 3 1 7 32 12.80%

Figure 8Outcomes of the 4th in Control group

(1) At the first try, students in Exp group perform a bit better than the students
in Control group do.
(2) No big differences between two groups exist at the second try.

The fifth E-test :

Exp group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio
Total 29 Correct at first time 20 18 16 16 17 13 14 6 11 13 144 60.00%
Absent 5 Correct at second time 3 3 3 2 2 6 0 11 6 7 43 17.92%
Third and above 1 3 5 6 5 5 10 7 7 4 53 22.08%

Figure 9Outcomes of the 5th in Exp group

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Control group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio

Total 29 Correct at first time 18 20 17 13 13 15 10 14 11 15 146 60.83%
Absent 5 Correct at second time 4 2 4 7 4 4 4 5 7 3 44 18.33%
Third and above 2 2 3 4 7 5 10 5 6 6 50 20.83%

Figure 10Outcomes of the 5th in Control group

(1) There is no big difference between two groups.
(2) It seems evident that students in both groups generally spend longer time
to take this test.

The sixth E-test :

Exp group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio
Total 29 Correct at first time 20 18 10 18 21 16 11 8 21 20 163 65.20%
Absent 4 Correct at second time 3 1 9 3 3 2 8 7 1 3 40 16.00%
Third and above 2 6 6 4 1 7 6 10 3 2 47 18.80%

Figure 11Outcomes of the 6th in Exp group

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Control group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio

Total 29 Correct at first time 16 22 16 22 16 22 8 13 20 16 171 58.97%
Absent 0 Correct at second time 8 2 8 4 9 2 6 6 3 9 57 19.66%
Third and above 5 5 5 3 4 5 15 10 6 4 62 21.38%

Figure 12Outcomes of the 6th in Control group

(1) At the first try, students in the Exp group perform a bit better than the
students in the Control group do.
(2) At the second try, students in the Control group perform a bit better than
the students in the Exp group do.
(3) Obviously, students in Control group generally spend longer time to take
this test.

The seventh E-test :

Exp group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio
Total 29 Correct at first time 24 16 22 18 17 18 15 18 21 26 195 72.49%
Absent 2 Correct at second time 2 3 2 5 5 4 4 4 4 1 34 12.64%
Third and above 1 8 3 4 5 5 7 5 2 0 40 14.87%

Figure 13Outcomes of the 7th in Exp group

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Control group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio

Total 29 Correct at first time 24 17 16 16 16 21 18 18 21 22 189 70.00%
Absent 2 Correct at second time 2 5 3 7 8 3 2 6 2 3 41 15.19%
Third and above 1 5 8 4 3 3 7 3 4 2 40 14.81%

Figure 14Outcomes of the 7th in Control group

(1) At the first try, students in Exp group perform a bit better than students in
Control group do. Conversely at the second try.
(2) Generally, outcomes between two groups look very close.

The eighth E-test :

Exp group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio
Total 29 Correct at first time 22 21 22 13 19 19 5 3 - - 124 84.35%
Absent 6 Correct at second time 1 2 1 5 4 1 00 - - 14 9.52%
Third and above 0 0 0 5 0 3 01 - - 9 6.12%

Figure 15Outcomes of the 8th in Exp group

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Control group Question No. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 total Correct ratio

Total 29 Correct at first time 24 22 18 13 17 15 1 3 - - 113 71.97%
Absent 5 Correct at second time 0 1 4 5 3 4 00 - - 17 10.83%
Third and above 0 1 2 6 4 5 90 - - 27 17.20%

Figure 16Outcomes of the 8th in Control group

(1) This E-test only contains eight items because each has more computation
(2) Students in experimental group perform clearly better than students in
control group do.
(3) Close examination on the performances of Exp group indicates that they
really make progress in E-test.

Note that this study basically covers the content of calculus (II). We know that
the road to learn calculus is not always straight and smooth, and successful
learning usually requires appropriate pressure and self-regulation, as well as
stamina and patience. We believe that It is sometimes tough, but learners stick
with it necessarily. Based on analyses of collected data, we did find that most
students agreed these approaches to help their learning. Comparing with
calculus (I) last semester, the results from interviews indicated that students
were less anxious about calculus (II) in midterm or final comprehensive tests. In
general, more students in experiment group have a higher self-learning
motivation, a high percentage of students rated this course as more than
interesting and dynamic organization, and more students use video materials
for reviews after class. Indeed, almost all students perform calculus (II) better
than calculus (I).
Although students in control group perform E-test a bit better than the students
in experimental group do in several times. However, students in experimental
group increase 11.5% from midterm to final comprehensive test, and students in
control group only increase 7.9%. Much more, among 6 (in the experimental
group) of 7 students (in the whole class) overwhelmingly increase their scores
(more than 20 points) from midterm to final comprehensive test. Thus, our
approaches obviously arouse the interest of students.

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Appendix: (E-test 4)
ln 4
1. Evaluate the definite integral. ln 2
e x dx =?
(A) 6
(E) No answer
Hint: (A)(B)(C)(E): Note the derivative: D(e x ) e x and recall the identity:
e ln X X .
e5 x 1
2. Differentiate the function f ( x ) ln 2 x .
e 1
2e 2 x 1
5e 2 x 1
5e5 x 2e 2 x
(B) 5 x 2x
e 1 e 1
5e5 x 2e 2 x
(C) 5 x 2x
e 1 e 1
e2 x 1
(D) 5 x
e 1
e5 x e2 x
(E) 5 x 2x
e 1 e 1
Hint: (A)(C)(D)(E): Use the property ln( ) ln A ln B first, then differentiate
both sides..
3. Find the indefinite integral. 65 x dx = ?
1 5x
(A) 6 C
ln 6
1 5x
(B) 6 C
ln 6 5 x
(C) 6 C
1 5x
(D) 6 C
5ln 6
(E) 5(ln6)65 x C
Hint: (A)(B)(C)(E): Recall D(65 x ) ?
4. Find an equation of the tangent line to the graph of y log2 x at the point
(32,5) .
(A) y 5 ( x 32)
ln 2

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(B) y 5 ( x 32)
2ln 32
(C) y 5 ( x 32)
32ln 2
(D) y 5 ( x 32)
ln 2
(E) y 5 ( x 32)
Hint: (A)(B)(D)(E): Recall D(log 2 x) ? Note that slope of tangent line is
5. Write the following expression in algebraic form. sin arccos(2 x) = ?
(A). 1 4x 2
(B). 1 2x 2
(C). 1 2x 2
(D). 1 4x 2
(E). 1 2x 2
Hint: (B)(C)(D)(E) : Recall that if arccos( 2 x), then cos 2 x
6. Find the integral 4 dt = ?
t 81
(A) arctan 9t 2dt C
1 t2
(B) arctan dt C
18 9
(C) arctan dt C
(D) arctan81t 2dt C
(E) arctan dt C
Hint: (A)(C)(D)(E): Recall a 2
7. Find the area of the shaded region for the function y .
4 x2


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Hint: (A)(C)(D)(E) : Recall a2 u2

8. Find the indefinite integral. sinh(6 3x)dx =?

(A) sech(6 3x ) C
(B) sech(6 3x ) C
(C) cosh(6 3x ) C
(D) cosh(6 3x ) C
(E) cosh(6 3x ) C
Hint: (A)(B)(C)(E) : Recall D[sinh U ] ? D[coshU ] ?
9. Find the derivative of the function y cosh 1 (5x)
(A) y
1 25 x 2
(B) y
25x 2 1
(C) y
25 x 2 1
(D) y
25 x 2 1
(E) y
1 25 x 2
Hint: (A)(B)(D)(E): Note how to differentiate inverse hyperbolic functions,
D[cosh 1 u] ?
7 e7 x
10. Evaluate the definite integral. dx = ?
(A) e7 7
e7 7
2( e7 7
e7 )
(C) 3

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e7 7
2(e7 7
e7 )

Hint: (A)(B)(C)(D): Evaluate the definite integral of an exponential function

using substitution. Note that D[eu ] ?

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research

Vol. 15, No. 5, pp. 61-74, April 2016

Authentic Instructional Materials and the

Communicative Language Teaching Approach of
German as Foreign Language in Uganda

Christopher B. Mugimu
Makerere University, Department of Foundations and Curriculum Studies,
Kampala, Uganda

Samuel Sekiziyivu
Makerere University, Department of Humanities and Language Education,
Kampala, Uganda

Abstract. The communicative language teaching (CLT) approach has in

recent years gained popularity in promoting communication
competences in everyday situations. The CLT approach emphasizes the
use of authentic materials in the teaching and learning of languages.
However, in developing context such as Uganda, the requirements of
the CLT approach may not be easily achievable due to scarcity of
suitable authentic instructional materials. This study was intended to
establish the availability and suitability of authentic instructional
materials used in the implementation of CLT approach for German
language in Uganda. Data was collected using a cross-sectional case
study, which was carried out in selected secondary schools. Results
from questionnaires, interviews and observations, showed that most of
the existing instructional materials were not suitable for CLT. It was
therefore recommended that teachers become more creative in
improvising locally available instructional materials in order to promote
the teaching of German in everyday life, and that teacher training
institutions should lay more emphasis on preparing teacher trainees of
German in CLT approach.

Keywords: Authentic instructional materials; Communicative Language

Teaching; German language; Uganda

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The communicative language teaching (CLT) approach has in recent years
gained popularity because of its strength in enabling learners acquire the
language skills needed in real-life situations. Communicative language
Teaching (CLT) is based on the concept of communicative competence by which
learners of a language are expected to possess the ability to understand a foreign
language and be able to use that language for purposes of effective
communication (Sekiziyivu & Mugimu, 2015). However, in order for learners to
learn to use a language in real-life situations, the classroom learning
environment has to be organized in such a way that it closely reflects, as much
as possible, the real-life situation outside the classroom. This can be achieved by
utilization of authentic instructional materials.

Different scholars understand authentic materials differently. For instance,

Tomlinson (2012, p. 163) asserts that an authentic text is one that is produced in
order to communicate rather to teach. And an authentic task is one which
involves the learners in communication in order to achieve an outcome, rather
than practice the language. As such, authentic instructional materials are such
materials which may not have been specifically designed for classroom use, but
for use in real-life situations. In the case of CLT, such materials are obtained
from the real life environment, and brought into the classroom without
necessarily making any modifications. They may include, among others,
newspapers, restaurant menus, recipes, maps, reports, and instructional
manuals (Sekiziyivu & Mugimu, 2015). In addition to the use of authentic
instructional materials, the teacher in a CLT classroom has to design tasks and
activities that also reflect the actual use of language in real-life situations. For
instance, such tasks that may involve learners into exchange of ideas through
interaction, like group work, and pair work, are desirable in CLT. Thus,
authentic instructional materials boost the teaching strategies and promote
learners active language production.

What makes instructional materials authentic?

Different scholars have endeavoured to explain what makes instructional

materials authentic (Harmer, 1991; Jordan, 1997; Morrow, 1977; D. Nunan, 1989;
D. Nunan, 1991 ; Taylor, 1994). These scholars contend that authentic
instructional materials are resources that closely reflect real life situation in any
given context. A critical analysis of their work reveals that the availability and
use of authentic instructional materials in classrooms is not something that
needs to be taken for granted. It takes creativity of the teacher to select and use
suitable authentic instructional materials for specific class activities that can
enhance meaningful language outcomes (Sekiziyivu & Mugimu, 2015). This is so
because authentic instructional materials by their nature may not be readily
available for classroom use and the teacher has to move an extra mile in his/her

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lesson preparations in order to have relevant authentic instructional materials

brought from the real-life language community to the classroom. However, in
case the teacher cannot obtain the actual authentic instructional materials into
the classroom, an effort to imitate real-life situations could be the preferred
option that could offer an added advantage. As cited by Jian (2005, p. 29);

In order to achieve authenticity, listening materials should be

based on real situations, in which readers dont merely read out
materials, they also act out the dialogues with rich intonations
and tones. To imitate the authentic communicative situations,
some background sounds can be added, since in real-life we
cannot avoid disturbances or noise. And all materials are spoken
with natural speed and accent, which will help learners
understand conversations in real communication that will not be
slowed down on purpose.

According to (Jian, 2005), texts meant for classroom language teaching should in
effect not be moderated to fit the different levels of language learning, but they
should be used in their natural form. This, however, creates a challenge in the
case of beginning German language learners in Uganda, who will find the
comprehension of such texts very difficult.

Similarly, Marcella (1998, p. 7) gives the following characteristics of authentic

instructional materials for a communicative classroom:

The materials are learner-centred and carter for the needs and
interests of the student.
The texts place greater emphasis on the social function of the
communication than on grammatical correctness. In other words, the
language activities in the texts lead to free communication.
The texts provide practice with natural and meaningful
The texts enhance real life language practice.
The texts allow for a great deal of learners interaction, for example
group work and pair work, role plays, problem solving tasks.
The texts are usually accompanied by tapes for listening.

Marcellas study further reveals the complexity of developing and using

authentic instructional materials in the classroom. This is so because bringing
the real life scenarios of German language use into the Ugandan classroom
setting may not be easily accessible. For instance, in Uganda, it is quite unlikely
to get German speakers using the language in real life situations for a teacher to
capture. According to Sekiziyivu and Mugimu (2015, p. 43), it is a widely
accepted fact by the teachers of German in Uganda that most of their learners are
unable to engage in meaningful real life communications and interaction. To
compound this challenge even further, background sounds and images may not
be so easy to imitate. This implies that the learner will be disadvantaged in such
situations that cannot easily be captured. Nevertheless, the use of authentic

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instructional materials in classroom to promote communicative ability is

extremely vital.

In this connection, research evidence further echoes the significance of using

authentic instructional materials in a language classroom. For instance, Azri and
Al-Rashidi (2014, pp. 250-251) contend that

Using inappropriate teaching materials makes learners face

difficulties in learning a foreign language. Learners need to be
motivated to succeed in learning any language. Therefore,
teaching materials must be motivating and raise learners interest.
If teaching materials are not interesting and motivating, learners
will learn nothing. In order to help learners learn better a lot of
research has suggested using authentic materials.

It is therefore of uttermost importance that authentic instructional materials are

used both for language teaching and testing, especially if the purpose of
language learning is to acquire the skills for communication in the real-life
situations. Research on the use of authentic instructional materials, however, has
revealed contradicting data on its availability and use in real classrooms. For
example, Menking (2001, p. 23) found that 82% of the instructors indicated that
they used authentic instructional materials when appropriate. This on the face
value appears a very significant level of the use of authentic instructional
materials. We, however, have to note that this finding would have been more
reliable, if the researcher had triangulated it with other sources of data collection
like observation and possibly interviews instead of simply using a survey

On the other hand, Liao (2011, p. 14) notes that because authentic instructional
materials are designed for native speakers, they may be too difficult to many
foreign language learners with lower proficiency. He suggests the use of
simpler authentic instructional materials and realia. This suggestion however
falls short of the fact that in a country like Uganda where the German language
being introduced is not commonly used, as such, getting even the simpler
instructional materials may be very difficult if not impossible for the teacher.
Therefore, teacher training institutions have a duty to prepare the teachers.
According to Oguz and Bahar (2008, p. 333) the use of authentic materials in
foreign language teacher training programs is useful both for developing the
prospective teachers foreign language skills and developing knowledge related
to teaching profession adapting to real learning environments.

Furthermore, teachers need to be oriented with the key characteristics of

authentic instructional materials. Marcella (1998, p. 7) emphasizes the following
characteristics of authentic instructional materials for CLT:

The instructional materials used take into account the needs and interests
of the learners.
The language activities in the texts lead to free communication.
The texts provide practice with natural and meaningful communication.
The texts use authentic instructional materials.

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The texts call for a great deal of student interaction i.e. group work, pair
work, role play and problem solving tasks.
The texts are accompanied by tapes for listening which include authentic
language use.

We find Marcellas characteristics for authentic instructional materials viable for

consideration when evaluating the authenticity of instructional materials in a
developing context. Therefore, these characteristics were used as a benchmark in
the development of the tools/instruments of this study. Figure 1 presents our
conceptual framework which describes the relationships between the key
concepts in the study.

Figure 1 illustrates the relationship between authentic instructional materials,

communicative teaching approach and the communicative competences. We
conceptualise that availability and use of suitable authentic instructional
materials will enhance/support CLT approach leading to the acquisition of
viable communicative language competences. And it is our assumption that
learners who have gained appropriate communicative language competences
could subsequently be able to use these language competences appropriately in
real life situations. In that case, such people who are capable of using
appropriate German language in real life situations could be used to generate
authentic instructional materials to boost German language teaching.
Furthermore, Littlewood (2014, p. 355) contends that teachers can draw on
CLT ideas and techniques to design classroom practices that are real and
meaningful to their learners and help learners towards fulfilling their real
communicative needs.

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The need to use authentic instructional materials to represent real-life situations

in the teaching of languages is preferable, but also remains to be challenging
particularly in the case of teaching a rare language, such as German in Uganda,
where authentic instructional materials and facilities may not be available. This
challenge is not an isolated one as it is the case in other countries (Ahmad & Rao,
2013; Raissi & Nor, 2013). On this basis, we investigate the availability and
suitability of authentic instructional materials used for the teaching of German,
as a foreign language in secondary schools in Uganda.

The purpose of the study was to establish the availability and suitability of
authentic instructional materials being used to promote the learning of German
in secondary schools through the CLT approach.


The study used a descriptive case study design in order to fully understand the
availability and suitability of authentic instructional material utilized in the
teaching of German. Both qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection
and analysis were used. The study scope covered all the ten secondary schools
offering German in Uganda. Questionnaires: A questionnaire probing for
teachers understanding of authentic instructional materials with particular
emphasis on their availability and suitability, relevance in meeting the needs
and interests of learners, and appropriateness towards enhancing meaningful
communication was utilised. Observation check list: an observation checklist
was used to find out (1) the types of instructional materials available, and (2)
their relevance to the characteristics of authentic instructional materials
necessary for CLT in secondary schools. Video recording; video recording was
carried out during the process of going around the schools to observe the
availability and suitability of authentic instruction materials. Interviews:
interviews for eight teachers were conducted to probe for their knowledge of
availability and suitability of authentic instructional materials for teaching
German language in their schools. The interviews were audio recorded and

Data Analysis
Qualitative data obtained through the use of open-ended questions and
interviews, was organised into themes and then summarised according to four
categories representing CLT based on Grounded Theory (Strauss & Corbin,
1990). Similarly, data obtained through the observations was video recorded and
then organised into themes that describe the characteristics of instructional
materials for CLT. The video recordings were carefully observed and interpreted
in conjunction with the observation checklist to identify details. On the other
hand, quantitative data obtained from questionnaires were analyzed using
statistical computer software (SPSS) to generate descriptive statistics such as
frequencies, and percentages. These parameters were used to determine the

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importance placed to each principle of CLT, and then presented using tables and
bar graphs.

This section presents salient findings from the study on the availability and
suitability of authentic instructional materials to support the communicative
teaching approach of German in Ugandan secondary schools.

Availability of authentic instructional materials for teaching German

This section presents findings on the availability of authentic instructional
materials for enhancing the German communicative competence of learners.
Instructional materials were classified into visual- and audio materials.

Table 1 gives the frequency distribution of the availability of visual materials as

reported by the teachers and verified by observation.

Table 1: Availability of visual materials

Type of visual Teachers responses Researchers observation
Frequency Percent Frequency Percent

Course books 17 100.0 8 100.0

Newspaper articles 8 47.1 4 50.0
Restaurant menus
Letters 2 11.8
Instructional 3 17.8
Traffic sign posts
Fiction 10 58.8 4 50.0
Poetry 10 58.8 2 25.0
Autobiographies 7 41.2
Notes 10 58.8
Summaries 7 41.2
Other 7 41.2

Findings in Table 1 show that course books were the major materials available in
all the schools under study (100%) followed by fiction and poetry (59%). Results
also revealed that other critical instructional materials for the CLT such as
restaurant menus, traffic sign posts, appeals, and petitions were unavailable in
all schools. This was an indication of lack of authentic visual instructional
materials that could actually aid the effective teaching and learning processes of
German with a meaningful communicative purpose. Table 2 gives the results on
the availability of audio materials as reported by the teachers.

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Table 2: Availability of audio materials

Type of Audio Teachers responses

materials Agreement Disagreement
No. of Percent No. of Percent
responses responses
Tapes 13 77 4 23
Radio 17 100 0 0
Any other 7 42 10 58

The findings in table 2 clearly revealed that the most common source of audio
texts in the schools was the radio followed by tapes. As illustrated in Table 2,
there was a general agreement between the report given by teachers and the
observation of the researcher that radio was the major audio resource used in the
classrooms readily available in most of the schools. Observations also revealed
that there were a few newly acquired alternative audio materials (CD players)
available in the schools. As reflected in the following quotation: We have of late
acquired a CD player in the department. However, we lack CDs with lessons prepared
for listening comprehension. Therefore, the CD player is not optimally utilised.

It should be noted, however, that even in these cases, there was still lack of the
CDs required to carry out a lesson using the CLT approach. This is an indication
that most schools were not well equipped with the necessary audio instructional
materials for use in effective teaching of German language.

On the other hand, results from the teachers interview on availability and
suitability of authentic instructional materials show that the instructional
materials available in most of their schools were to a large extent not suitable for
supporting the CLT approach. For instance, one teacher commented that,
Materials used are got from old course books which were specifically adopted to fit
classroom use. There is lack of authentic instructional materials which would actually
portray a real-life-like situation. [TOG06]

This means that the instructional materials available do not necessarily represent
the current language use in Uganda and can therefore not be effectively used to
teach learners through the CLT approach.

Similar sentiments were also expressed by another teacher in the following

quotation: We normally use materials from old textbooks. We also have some old
posters from Germany which help to show the way of life of Germans. [TOG01]
Furthermore, another teacher noted that, The materials used at present were
designed to address learners at that level of German knowledge, however, the fact that
they are [old] they may not capture well the interests and needs of the present day
learner. [TOG08]

On the issue of learner-centeredness, findings showed that there was generally

lack of authentic instructional materials that could be used in such teaching
approaches where learners are organised in groups and are required to produce

2016 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


language of their own. As reflected in the following quotation by a teacher,

Materials used are not so much learner-centred because they do not involve the learners
in such activities that would require them to work in small groups or in pairs. [TOG05]
This was supplemented by another teacher who observed that, Language
activities in the texts cannot lead to free interactive communication, because they do not
aim at the learners ability to ably communicate in a free atmosphere. They can only be
used in the classroom setting and not outside the classroom.[TOG07] Thus, these
materials are not truly authentic because they are not reflecting the real life

In the same vein, teachers were of the view that, The available texts do not
encourage free interaction. Learners simply work out the exercises individually to come
up with the required responses. The teacher normally requires each individual learner to
read the texts and work out the answers in their exercise books.[TOG04] This means
that the available instructional materials are not designed to promote learners
communicative language use but are more suitable for teaching about the
language, including the rules of grammar as it is in traditional language teaching
approaches such as the grammar translations approach. In fact, a teacher
commented that, Most of the texts available mainly aimed at making learners practice
grammatical structures. Very little emphasis is put on teaching learners to communicate
in the German language, within particular situations.[TOG01]

The findings in this section have demonstrated that the instructional materials
available in the schools to a great extent were not authentic enough to promote
the CLT approach. This is consistent with Ngoc and Iwashita (2012, p. 29)
observation that even when teachers made an attempt to utilize the CLT
approaches they were only able to make surface changes to activities, practices
and materials.

Suitability of available instructional materials

The data presented in this section addresses suitability of the available
instructional materials to prepare learners to achieve the desired levels of
communicative competence in German. Teachers use of suitable instructional
materials was organized under four categories that represented the
characteristics of CLT materials namely: use of learner-centered instructional
materials, social function of communication versus grammatical correctness, use of
natural language, and promoting learners free interaction. The findings on these
categories are summarized in Table 3 showing the level of agreement on how
materials are used.

Table 3: Teachers responses on suitability of materials used

Items Agreement Disagreement
No. of Percent No. of Percent
responses responses
Use of student centered materials 31 91 3 9
Social function of communication 34 67 17 33
versus grammatical correctness
Use of natural language 67 79 18 21
Promoting learners interaction 28 82 6 18

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It is evident from Table 3 that teachers reported using instructional materials

that possess the required characteristics for the CLT approach. This is so because
their responses range from 67% to 91%. However, based on the researchers
observation, as shown in the Figure 2 below, revealed a smaller percentage of
each of the categories of characteristics of communicative language instructional
materials. For instance, it was observed that only 12% of the instructional
materials were learner-centered, 12% emphasized the social function of language
as opposed to grammatical correctness, 12% promoted learners interaction and
35% used natural language. This discrepancy between teachers response and
observation results implies that teachers may not be fully aware of the
characteristics of authentic instructional materials required to teach German
using the CLT approach--so as to assume that the instructional materials they
use could promote communicative language learning.







1 2 3 4

Figure 2: Percentage observation of the use of materials

1 = Use of learner-centered materials,

2 = Social function of communication versus grammatical correctness,
3 = Use of natural language, and
4 = Promote learners interaction

However, findings from the observation were somewhat in line with the
teachers view that it was difficult to claim that they were teaching using the
CLT approach, when the instructional materials available had not been designed
for that purpose. This was evidenced in such teachers responses as, Since the
instructional materials available are not suitable for use in the communicative teaching
approach, it is difficult to rearrange them for that purpose. We therefore use them the
way they are and end up having teacher-centered lessons with very limited learners
interaction. [TOG03]
The findings in this section have demonstrated that the available instructional
materials in the schools are not actually suitable for teaching the German
language through the CLT approach.

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This article presented findings of the study on availability and suitability of
authentic instructional materials to support the CLT approach in teaching
German language in Ugandan secondary schools. The findings of the study
have revealed that a variety of both visual and audio instructional materials for
teaching German are available in the schools. Course books were the major
materials available in most of the schools followed by fiction and poetry.
However, results also revealed that the key authentic instructional materials
such as restaurant menus, traffic sign posts, appeals, and petitions that are
critical in the CLT approach were not available in all schools. This was an
indication that instructional materials utilized in the teaching of German
language in secondary schools were not authentic enough as required for
effective teaching and learning of German within the concept of CLT approach.

Findings further revealed that instructional materials available in most of the

Ugandan secondary schools were outdated and did not carter for the current
needs and interests of the contemporary present day learner. This is reflected in
the quotations given by teachers that follow: Materials used are not so much
learner-centred . [TOG05] [and] may not capture well the interests and needs of
the present day learner. [TOG08] Therefore, teachers that would like to use learner-
centered approaches are challenged and consequently learners may be unlikely
to develop the necessary communicative competences as applicable in the real
life situations.

Furthermore, many of these instructional materials could not even permit free
interaction of learners as reflected in the following teachers response, The
available texts do not encourage free interaction. Learners simply work out the exercises
individually to come up with the required responses.[TOG04] Yet, free interaction of
learners is critical in enabling them construct their own knowledge thus, it
compromises the effective teaching and learning process of German through
the CLT approach.

Moreover, it was also not easy for the teachers to construct their own authentic
instructional materials from their local environment given that German is not a
widely spoken language in Uganda. Therefore, it is not surprising that even the
way the outdated materials were actually being used in classrooms did not
reflect the principles of the CLT approach.
As such, these findings are inconsistent with the argument of Omaggio (1986, p.
313) that relevance and authenticity of instructional materials was important to
motivate learners in acquiring communicative language skills. The fact that
authentic instructional materials are essential in CLT was further emphasized by
numerous scholars (Harmer, 1991; Jian, 2005; Jordan, 1997; Marcella, 1998;
Morrow, 1977; D. Nunan, 1989; Taylor, 1994). Nevertheless, in the Ugandan
context, much as it may be ideal to use authentic instructional materials, these
were not always readily available for use in secondary schools. The reason for
this is that German is not a language used by many in Uganda. As such, teachers
find it extremely difficult to capture appropriate and relevant authentic
instructional materials as the case may be in a German speaking country.

2016 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


However, given that German has been taught in Uganda for over forty years
there must be a modest number of German speaking individuals. An important
question is: how could such German speaking individuals be used as resource
for teachers to generate authentic instructional materials? Hence, there is need to
sensitize teachers of German about the importance of developing new
innovative styles to create authentic instructional materials from the local
environment. This approach should be in line with Weir (1990, p. 39) who notes
that, although full genuineness of text or authenticity of task is likely to be
unattainable in the second language reading texts that we develop, we still need
to select appropriate texts, to be read for realistic purposes, and we expect the
reader to extract an agreed level of meaning under specified performance
conditions. Although, it may be very difficult to find authentic instructional
materials that could be used to teach learners communicative competence
effectively. Teachers are challenged to exercise their creativity and improvisation
to make locally available instructional materials authentic and therefore suitable
for supporting the CLT approach and promoting acquisition of the German
language communicative competences.

Therefore, teachers are expected to generate authentic instructional materials for

their classrooms. Unfortunately, findings have revealed that teachers were
instead using isolated sentences to teach new grammatical structures. The
appropriate use of authentic instructional materials in classrooms, the way they
would be used in real-life were found to be lacking in almost all schools teaching
German in Uganda. This disadvantages the learners because they may not even
be able to do well in assessment and examinations. For instance, Kitao and
Kitao (1996) asserts that it is not possible to simulate real-life when the
instructional materials used to teach and test language are so far removed from
real-life situations. Consequently, the instructional materials which are got from
out dated course books do not in any way mirror the way language is being
used today.

Generally, the CLT approach is quite demanding in the Ugandan context. For
instance, communicative language exercises require that the classroom is large
enough and that it is well arranged to allow for free interaction of the learners.
As noted by Galloway (1993) the scene of a classroom during a communicative
exercise is active, with learners leaving their seats to complete a task. This was
not the case for most of the schools, classrooms were much smaller than
required to allow adequate free interaction of learners. It is evident from the
respondents views that even if teachers were willing to introduce CLT
approach, their effectiveness was still questionable. This is so because of the
amount of space available in Ugandan schools as compared to the number of
learners in each class. Organising learners into work groups to perform
communicative tasks such as dialogues, skits and games is such a difficult
undertaking, that teachers would rather do without it and use only such tasks
that do not require learners to move from their seats. Where the classroom
practices do not involve such practices that allow for free interaction among the
learners, then CLT approach is compromised. Teachers end up, therefore, by

2016 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


simply engaging learners in constructing simple sentences and knowledge of the

structure of the language other than emphasizing the ability to put such
knowledge to functional use.

It is evident that the availability and suitability of instructional materials is
extremely vital in supporting the appropriate teaching of German through the
CLT approach. However, results from the investigations show that the
instructional materials available for teaching German in Uganda do not conform
to the principles of communicative language teaching (CLT) approach. This
article therefore has identified the challenge of using the CLT approach in teaching and
learning of German in Ugandan schools due to the lack of authentic materials.
Consequently, the implementation of the CLT approach is undermined.

Therefore, the Ministry of Education Science, Technology and Sports in Uganda

should emphasize the need to use authentic instructional materials that indeed
reflect real-life situations. To do this, teachers of German are encouraged to
develop authentic instructional materials using the accumulated cohorts of
students who studied German within Uganda and the diaspora. By creating
opportunities for them to come together in social gathering that require them to
freely use the German language thus enabling teachers of German to capture
dialogues, presentations, discussions, and conversations (authentic materials)
that could possibly be used in schools. Similarly, teachers should be encouraged
to creatively modify and make use of the available instructional materials to
teach communicative use of the German language. Furthermore, the role of
teacher training institutions in preparing well equipped teachers of German in
CLT approach and the use of authentic instructional materials reflecting real life
situation is critical. However, it should be noted that language in the real life
situation, though used in a variety of forms, is normally used when the
interlocutors are free to move around and express themselves both by word of
mouth and by use of body language. Unfortunately, in Ugandan schools this is
difficult to be achieved in most of the classroom settings, but rather in social
gathering such as parties, meetings, etc. that could offer opportunities to enable
this kind of free interaction to happen. Therefore, further research is needed to
explore how to create fora that would bring together all German speakers in
Uganda together thus creating opportunities for free interaction to communicate
in the German language. Furthermore, given that in Uganda there are only ten
secondary schools offering German, there is need to expand this study to
neighbouring countries, where German is offered at a large scale.

Azri, R. H. A., & Al-Rashidi, M. H. (2014). The effect of using authentic materials in
teaching. Internationa Journal of Scientific & Technology Research, 3(10), 249-254.
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Harmer, J. (1991). The practice of English language teaching (New edition ed.). London:

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Jian, Z. (2005). Teaching English in a communicative classroom. Sino-Us English Teaching,

Jordan, R. R. (1997). English for academic purposes: a guide and resource for teachers.
Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
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speakers of other languages, New York.
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Morrow, K. E. (1977). Techniques of evaluation for a national syllabus. London: University of
Ngoc, K. M., & Iwashita, N. (2012). A comparision of learner's and teachers' attitudes
toward communicative language teaching at two universities in Vietnam.
University of Sydney Papers in TESOL, 7, 25-49.
Nunan, D. (1989). Communicative tasks and the language curriculum. TESOL
QUARTERLY, 25(2), 279-295.
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QUARTERLY, 25(2), 279-295.
Oguz, A., & Bahar, H. O. (2008). The importancce of using authentic materials in
prospective foreign language teacher training. Pakistan Journal of Social Sciences,
5(4), 328-336.
Omaggio, A. (1986). Teaching language in context, proficiency -oriented instruction. Boston:
Heinle & Heinle.
Raissi, R., & Nor, F. b. M. (2013). Teachers' perceptions and challenges regarding the
implementation of communicative language teaching (CLT) in Malasyian Secondary
Schools. Paper presented at the Global Summit on Education 2013, Kuala
Sekiziyivu, S., & Mugimu, C. B. (2015). Relationship between learners German language
communicative abilities and their prior performance in a National Ugandan
Certificate Examination. Journal of Language Teaching and Research, 6(1), 43-52.
Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (Eds.). (1990). Basics of Qualitative Research, Grounded Theory
procedures and techniques. London: Sage Publications.
Taylor, D. (1994). Inauthentic authenticity or authentive inauthenticity? Teaching
English as a foriegn language. TESL - EJ, 1(2), 1-12.
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2016 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research

Vol. 15, No. 5, pp. 75-102, April 2016

An Evaluation of the New School Administrator

Assignment System Applied in Recent Years in

Ankara University, Faculty of Educational Sciences
Ankara, Turkey

Abstract. As in a range of fields of the public life, an extensive

reconstruction process within the education field is ongoing in todays
Turkey and the changes made upon the educational administrator
appointment/assignment system constitute one of the major dimensions
of this process. Educational administrator appointment/assignment
system in Turkey is a field where new regulations have been prepared,
where numerous circulars have been issued and where extensive
changes have been made upon all along the time. However, the changes
made nowadays are on a level having an effect on all the school system
radically by means of their sizes and qualities. This study, in which the
new school administrator assignment system in Turkey is evaluated
based on the views of the school administrators and teachers in terms of
providing an objective evaluation, making a selection based on
competences, improving the effectiveness of the school system and
encouraging the school administrators and the teachers for professional
development, is a qualitative research based on a survey model. Semi-
structured interview and focus group interview techniques were used as
the qualitative research techniques in this study. Working group of this
study was consisted of teachers and school administrators who served at
the state primary schools, secondary schools and high schools in 2014-
2015 school year. Interviews were done with 34 people and a focus
group discussion with 12 people was carried out within the scope of the
study. As a result of the study, it was found out that the participants
who have already taken administrative roles consider the system
majorly positively while the other participants consider it clearly
negatively. Doubts and criticisms of the participants, who took on
administrative roles before the new assignment system but who were
eliminated during the revaluation stage and appointed as teachers,
towards the new system are more intense.
Keywords: School administrator; educational administrator
appointment/assignment system; objectivity; competence; effectiveness.

Almost all of the literature in educational administration mentions that
there has been great shift in the World caused by technological changes, which
has great impact on economy, social and political life. Also, this shift has had
massive effects on education as a social institution. Besides the historical and
social reasons, and the structure of the shift, it is obvious that education itself has
great changes over time. Schools are the base of education systems. In order for
school system to accomplish all its expected functions and aims, school
administrators and teachers should effectively fulfil their missions.
School administrators roles and responsibilities change over time as a
consequence of changes in the world. School administrators are now considered
to be more humanistic rather than being bureaucratic leaders and are perceived
as educational leader who can develop multitasking school systems (Lashway,
2003). In this context, it is very important to construct effective systems for
training, selecting and placement strategies for school administrators.
Nowadays, there has been enormous amount of changes occur in Turkish
educational system, and one of the important area of the reconstruction is
placement and replacement of educational and school administrators. The
policies of recruitment and/or placement of the administrators has been
changed many times in Turkish history. For example, it can be observed that
since 2003 there has been lots of new regulations regarding to school and
institution administrators; however, each regulation causes different legal
problems and some unjust treatment. Latest regulations in specific are resulted
with many trials which are against Ministry of National Education. Yet, Ministry
prefer to prepare another regulation in order to solve the problems caused by
the previous one.
According to the regulation number 29494 and date 06.10.2015, people
who can be assigned as an administrator, should be graduated from higher
education, work for public education (for Ministry of Education) at that time,
who has not been dismissed from his/her managing position as a result of a
judicial and governmental investigation in the last four years. Also, people to be
assigned as administrators are to have fulfilled, postponed or have been
exempted his/her compulsory services (item 5)
According to the same regulation, under special conditions, people who
are to be appointed as principals are to work previously as a vice principal, head
vice principal for at least two years, founding principal, vice principal and
teacher with managerial prerogative or head vice principal for at least three
years. Besides, working as departmental administrator or higher positions at the
ministry is also claimed (item 6). People to be assigned as head vice principal
and vice principal should at least meet one of the requirements which are to
have worked as principal, founding principal, head vice principal, vice principal
or teacher with managerial prerogative; to have worked as departmental
administrator or higher positions at the ministry; to have worked at the ministry
at least four years including candidateship (item 7).
Among the candidates who meet the requirements mentioned above,
people to be appointed for head vice principal and vice principal status are

2016 The author and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


selected according to the results of a written exam, people to be appointed for

principal status are selected by results of the assessment and oral exam (item 13).
People who have completed their 4-year mission as a principal or a vice
principal or who worked in these positions at the same foundation for eight
years and other candidates who fulfil the necessity for application can attend the
exam. Those who score at least 75 out of 100 will be successful. The exam results
will be valid for a year (item 14). People who have completed their 4-year
mission as a principal or a vice principal or who worked in these positions at the
same foundation for eight years will be assessed according to the form
(Appendix 1) attached to the regulations (item 19). People to be summoned for
interview will selected from the list starting with the highest score. Number of
the people to be summoned for interview has to be three times greater than the
necessary positions. Candidates will be evaluated according to the oral exam
subjects and their weights which are presented in the form attached to the
candidates regulations (Appendix 2) (item 20). All administrators will be
appointed for four years. They will not be allowed to work at the same place in
the same position for more than eight years (item 27).
The very first steps for this new school administrator appoint system was
taken with the number 652 The Legislative Decree on the Organization and
Duties of the Ministry of National Education in 2011. According to this
enactment, on the condition that school and foundation administrators are
successful both at the written and oral examination, governor of the province
will be responsible for their assignment. Their service time, performance and
competence will also be taken into account in this process. These changes were
placed in the regulation of administrator appointment and replacement at
February 28, 2013.
School and foundation administrators will be appointed by the governor
of the province based on the proposal of director of national education for four
years according to the Law on Making Changes on National Education
Fundamental Laws and Certain Laws and Secondary Laws, item 11, enactment
8, which was published in official gazette on March 14, 2014. Assignments in the
context of this sub-section will not create any employee personal rights,
assignment or promotion. Regulation which was prepared on June 10, 2014
based on the provision from laws made dramatic changes in school
administrator assignment. According to this, assignments of school
administrators will be conducted in every four years and both administrator
assignment and administrator replacements will be conducted with oral exams
and performance and evaluation forms instead of written and oral exams.
Those mentioned regulations were put into practice, significant numbers
of school administrators were assessed and assignments were made according to
the results of these assessments. School administrators who were considered
unsuccessful were transferred to the teaching positions. Yet, there has been
arguments regarding the application and the style of the application of this June
10, 2014 regulation. It was mentioned that competence, objectivity and fairness
were ignored in the assessments made via oral exams, performance and
evaluation forms. Furthermore, favouritism was the main criteria considered.
That is why this implication caused many problems in school systems.

2016 The author and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


There has been a large body of relevant literature in Turkey regarding

raising, selecting and appointment/replacement education administrators in
educational administration field. On taking a closer look at the subdimensions
of the issue, in some studies it is observed that, Can and elikten (2000), Balc
and nkr (2002) , Gnay (2004), Cemalolu (2005), Recepolu and Kln
(2014) and Altn and Vatanartran (2014) conducted research studies about
historical perspective of raising school administrators in Turkey; Turan and
iman (2000), Baaran (2004), Yolcu and Kavalclar (2005), Gmeli (2009),
Arkan (2007), Balc (2008), Vural (2009), Aaolu, Altnkurt, Ylmaz, and
Karakse (2012), Aslanargun (2012) and Demirta and zer (2014) conducted
studies regarding proficiency of school administrators; Yiit (2008), nder and
Ta (2010), Ta and nder (2010), Aslanargun (2011), Demir and Pnar (2013),
Gloullar (2013) and Doan, Demir and Pnar (2014) conducted studies
about assessment of regulation for appointment/replacement of school
administrators; imek (2004), iman and Turan (2004), Thody (2007), Aslan
(2009), Balyer and Gndz (2011), Sng (2012) and Akn (2012) studied
different examples all over the World; Gmeli, (2001, 2006), Pont, Nusche and
Moorman (2008), Leadership in education. (2011) and Aslan and Karip (2014)
conducted studies on leadership and school leadership; Elma, ener and iftli
(2011), zdemir and Yaman (2011), Tonbul and Sarolu (2012), Nartgn,
Bayraktar and Akkulak (2012) and Ylmaz, Altnkurt, Karakse and Erol (2012)
conducted studies related to rotation of school administrators.
It is considered to be inevitable to study this never ending reconstruction
process from different views. The problem of this research is to investigate how
the school administrator appointment/assignment policy which for the time
being has a dynamic characteristic affects the school systems.

The main purpose of this study is to analyse and assess the existing
school administrator assignment system based on the opinions of teachers and
school administrators. Questions to be answered in this context as follows:
*How is the new administrator assignment system, in terms of
-providing an objective evaluation
-selection based on competence
-improving the effectiveness of school system and
-encouraging teachers and administrators for professional development.
*According to the dimension mentioned in the first question, what kind
of a school administrator appointment system should be implemented?

In this section, research model, study group, data collection tools, data collection
process and data analysis methods utilized in this study are elaborated.

2016 The author and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


Research Model
This study is a qualitative research designed with a survey model.
Survey model is a research approach which aims to describe a past or present
situation as it was/is (Karasar, 2009). On the other hand, qualitative research is a
research paradigm which uses data collection tools such as observation,
interview and document analysis and wherein the qualitative aspects of events
and phenomena are aimed to be revealed realistically and holistically in their
natural contexts (Yldrm and imek, 2011).
In this study, semi-structured interviews and focus group interviews
were used as qualitative data gathering techniques. Interview is a research
technique based on asking direct questions and claiming answers. The most
well-known form of interview is face to face conversation with either a single
person or a group. In addition to face to face format, interviews can also be
conducted via mailing, phone conversation or question form that can be filled by
the subjects themselves (Punch, 2005). In this study, in order to access more
participants, the question forms that are to be filled by the participants
themselves were preferred.
Interviews can be classified according to their objectives, the number of
participants, strictness of rules and to the subjects to be interviewed. Due to the
strictness of the rules, they can be categorized as fully-structured, semi-
structured and unstructured interviews (Karasar- 2009). In this study, semi-
structured interview form was used. In other words, when and where needed
interviews were accompanied by sub-questions and brief explanations that
guides and clarifies the participant responses.
In this study, focus group interview was another technique that was
utilized. The reason why focus group interview was also used besides semi-
structured interview form is that this technique makes it possible to gather
deeper and more detailed data regarding some special issues. Focus group
discussion -which is conducted about a predetermined and limited topic, in an
environment in which participants feel comfortable and by a researcher who is
an expert in his/her field and skilled at moderating the discussion- should be
carried out with groups composed of 6 to 12 people (there is a risk with greater
group of splitting sub-groups) whose awareness on the topic are high and who
are willing to discuss at periods that last 1 to 2 hours around four or five main
high-quality questions and if and when necessary by using also a number of
sub-questions (Anderson, 1990; Yldrm and imek, 2011 and Corrine, 2014).

Study Group
Study group of this research consists of teachers and school administrators
working at the public elementary schools, public secondary schools and public
high schools in Ankara during 2014-2015 academic year. Interviews and focus
group interviews were carried out with 34 and 12 people respectively. While
selecting the participants for both semi-structured interviews and focus group
interview, a sampling method which yields maximum participant diversity was

2016 The author and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


used. Table 1 presents the information about participants who replied the
interview request and filled the interview forms.

Table 1. Information about Teachers and School Administrators Replied and Filled
the Semi-Structured Interview Form

Variable Level n
Elementary School 9
Secondary School 12
High School 13
Total 34
Woman 14
Gender Man 20
Total 34
Teacher 21
Vice Principal 8
Professional Status
Principal 5
Total 34
1-5 Years 7
6-10 Years 10
11 Years and More 17
Total 34
Bachelors 19
Master without
Education Status Thesis
Master 7
Total 34

As shown in Table 1, 9 participants work at the elementary schools, 12 of

them work at secondary schools and 13 of them work at high schools. 14 of them
are women and 20 are men. According to status variable, there are 21 teachers, 8
vice principals and 5 principals. Due to seniority; 7 participants have been
working between 1-5 years; 10 of them 6 to 10 years and 17 participants have 11
or more years experience. 19 participants have bachelors degree, 8 of them
have master degree without thesis and 7 participants have master degree with
In order to gather more detailed and deeper data regarding the issue of
this paper, focus group interview was also conducted with 12 people. Table 2

2016 The author and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


presents the information about teachers and school administrators who attended
the focus group interviews.

Table 2. Information about Teachers and School Administrators Attended the Focus
Group Interviews

Variable Level n
Elementary School 4
Secondary School 3
High School 5
Total 12
Woman 4
Gender Man 8
Total 12
Teacher 8
Vice Principal 2
Professional Status
Principal 2
Total 12
1-5 years 1
6-10 years 2
11 years and more 9
Total 12
Bachelors 8
Master without
Education Status Thesis
Master 1
Total 12

As shown in Table 2, 4 participants work at the elementary schools, 3 of

them work at secondary schools and 5 of them work at high schools. 5 of them
are women and 7 are men. According to status variable, that there are 8 teachers,
2 vice principal and 2 principals. Due to seniority, 1 participant has been
working between 1-5 years; 2 of them 6 to 10 years and 9 participants have 11 or
more years experience. 8 participants have bachelors degree, 3 of them have
master degree without thesis and 1 participants has master degree with thesis.

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Data Collection Tools

In this study, two forms - an interview form composed of two sections
and a focus group discussion form - were developed by the researcher. Data
collection tools were developed in accordance with the changes brought about
by the June 10, 2014 dated regulations. Latter regulation which was revealed on
October 10, 2015 did not bring significant changes regarding the school
administrator assignment system. The change that might have an effect on this
study is the one in the latter regulation making the exams compulsory during
the vice principal assignment process.
While draft forms were being developed and finalized, literature on data
collection tools previously utilized in similar studies were reviewed; the
opinions of 4 academicians who are expert in the field were appealed and the
clarity and compatibility of the questions with the research objectives were
tested with a preliminary study carried out with 3 teachers, 1 vice principal and
a principal.
The very first sections of both data collection tools are to gather the
personal information while the second sections contain interview questions. In
this study, school administrator assignment system was evaluated via four
categories such as providing an objective evaluation, making a selection based
on competence, improving the effectiveness of school system and encouraging
teachers and school administrators for professional development. Four main
questions and a set of sub-questions were prepared for each category and one
question and a number of sub-/clarifying questions were also added to these in
order to be able to determine possible solutions/suggestions.

Data Collection and Analysis

Interview forms were delivered to the study group composed of the
selected school administrators and teachers and then collected by the researcher.
Focus group interview was conducted in a proper, clean and spacious classroom
at the Faculty of Educational Sciences of Ankara University. Two recording
devices were used to record the interview. Data gathered by the interview forms
and recorded & transcribed interviews were filed as word processing
documents. Finally, 41 pages of data gathered by the interview forms and 22
pages of focus group interview data were obtained. Both interview data and
focus group interview data were delivered to the participants who were
requested to confirm them. Next the collected, transcribed, filed and confirmed
data was sent to and processed by an experienced academician who -after the
analysis- was appealed for his opinions on the revealed patterns of themes and
sub-themes. Firstly, gathered data were analysed by using descriptive statistics;
secondly they were evaluated regarding the contexts in which they become
meaningful. During the data analysis, opinions related to each question were
grouped under themes, frequencies of salient themes were calculated and
relevant stereotype participant responses/expressions/answers were presented
and interpreted. Furthermore, in some occasions, they were also interpreted and
evaluated in relation to the participants personal information.

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In this section, data gathered for this study was analysed with descriptive
statistics, the themes were determined and the themes that emerged were
evaluated with the subjects that are relevant. While assessing the research data,
internal interpretations were partially presented. Internal and external
interpretations regarding findings were presented in Discussion, Conclusion and
Suggestion sections.

Findings from Data Regarding Semi-Constructed Interview

Firstly, participants were asked what they think of new school
administrator appoint system in terms of providing an opportunity to make an
objective assessment. When the answers were analysed as negative and positive
statements, it was seen that 30 participants considered the new system as
negative in terms of its providing an opportunity for objectiveness while 3
participants supported the process as being objective. Only one participant
answered with ambiguity. It was found out that participants' understanding of
objectivity relies on measurement and evaluation (n=23). In this context, use of
interviews which are used in new school administrator appoint system (n=16)
and directorate of national educations power over selection and the style of
commission selection (n=13) were mentioned to be problematic. Some common
opinions regarding this issue as follows:
Especially, directorate of national education has high score ratio at re-assessment
of administrators. It is clear that whoever the management wants will be selected. School
administrator has every right when it comes to appoint a school vice principal (VP-4).
It is now revealed that people who are with different views and perform in
different unions are expelled from management. There is no way they cannot transform
the schools as they wish (T-13).
I do not think that this new system provides an objective assessment. Things
were more or less the same before; but, competence has never been ignored this much.
Everything now shares the will that the government wants (T-9).
How does the commission which is responsible for the oral examination of
candidates who apply for the first time or for re-assignment get determined? How
objective can a person who are appointed by directorate of national education be? (T-7).
A male administrator (P-3) who has 16 years seniority and had been
working as a teacher before the new appoint system presents really remarkable
opinions: I do not consider this new system as objective. Individual fells not suited for
the position, cannot see his/her future and therefore cannot make plans. A women
participant (T-20) who has 15 years seniority on teaching and a master graduate
focuses on the favouritism and politicization in new school administrator
appoint system In order to make an objective assessment, one should intend to do
something in an objective and educational way. I do not think the intention here is

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educational. All they desire is to give positions to their people, people who support
Secondly, participants were asked whether the new school administrator appoint
system selects people depending on their competence or not. When the answers were
classified as negative and positive, it was seen that 2 participants support that
the system relies on competence when selecting administrators while 3
participants partially agree this opinion. One participant decided not to express
his/her opinion regarding this issue while one participant told that it solely
depended on luck. The rest of the participants (n=27) consider new school
administrator system not fair to select administrators based on competence.
Participants consider selection depending on competence from measurement
and evaluation process (n=18) and criteria (n=11). They frequently express their
critics (n=17) about politicization and favouritism.
Some common opinions regarding this issue as follows:
This new system is not competence based as it does not evaluate people according
to their seniority, level of education and exam results (T-27).
The only purpose of this new system is to give positions to their people (T-6).
As the criteria-in a very unofficial way- for the selection is people who support
the ideology that the government has and who are members of a union which is heavily
under influence of the government, favouritism as a selection criterion is not surprising
at all (T-13).
In fact, luck plays a huge part. If there happens a good conversation between you
and your assessors, then you can get high grades (P-2).
A male school administrator (P-5) who has 14 years seniority remarks that
Appointed administrators are unfairly judged, as competence is not well understood. It
is important to observe the success they have accomplished in the schools they worked
rather than their personal characteristics
Thirdly, participants were asked if the new system improves the efficacy
of the school. When the answers were analysed as negative and positive, most of
the participants (n=26) agreed that this new system will have/already has had
negative effects on efficacy of the school. Two participants clearly expressed that
this new system provides an opportunity to select active and hardworking
school administrators. Therefore, efficacy of the school will be improved.
Another participant defended that people who are to be selected as an
administrator should act in a harmony with directorate of national education of
state and province. With this way, efficacy of the school could be improved.
Some of the participants (n=5) demonstrated no clear opinion to be classified
regarding this issue.
Some typical prominent expressions related this question are given below:
Those who are appointed are generally governing forces own followers. Tension and a
chaotic atmosphere is arising at the school. There is no effectiveness as there is no
qualification (T-18).
Problems arise as the school administrators are selected according to specifically
fabricated criteria instead of qualification. Teachers fulfil their duties but school is not a

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place where you only fulfil your duties, things like human relations, organizational
climate have importance (T-19).
Difficulties will occur between the person and his/her colleagues inside the institution in
terms of justice and equality and this will have an effect on school, student and even on
the students parents (T-15).
More effort is needed to be made in order to provide the intended competencies in the
situation and performance assessment form. Thus, this reflects credit on the operation of
the school (V-2).
I think that that those who do not know how to handle the duties of the position and who
are brought to their position without deserving it (I think that the majority have these
characteristics) cannot display an effective administration.
School administrators establishing healthy relations with Province and District
National Education Directorate provides some advantages for the school. For example
needs of the school are met and this increases the productivity of the school (VP-4).
Having looked at the answers given to this question, clearly the attention
taking finding is that the participants who obtained an administrative position
as a consequence of the new assignment system generally tend to affirm the
characteristics of the system.
The participants were fourthly asked how they interpret the new school
administrator assignment system in terms of encouraging the school
administrators and the teachers to improve themselves. Considering the answers
to this question as positive and negative, the majority of the participants (n=26)
think that the new school administrator assignment system does not encourage
the school administrators and the teachers to improve themselves. While 4
participants stated the contrary, 4 of the participants did not provide a view that
can be categorized as positive or negative. Considering the answers given to this
question, the participants, along with the topics such as attaining in-service
educational means (n=9) and as post-graduate study (n=8), mostly developed
arguments to support their positive or negative views.
Some typical prominent expressions relating this question are given below:
The new system proposes a multi consideration. Gaining a good deal of competences and
doing the business adequately are required to become the principal again. Therefore you
make effort and improve yourself (V-2).
With regards to the administrators, the answer to the question of What should I do to
make them choose me? is given as if I become a member of x union, if I fulfil whatever I
told unconditionally and if I keep my good relations with the administrators and this
answer is sufficient. An administrator giving such an answer to this question is natural,
therefore he/she does not need to improve himself/herself. On the other hand, this
situation is not much different for the teacher (T-18).
The way for a teacher to become a principal goes through the interview and the result of
the interview depends on the interviewers initiative. He/she also does not need to
improve himself/herself to become a vice-principal. Someone who has good relations with
the principal or who knows some others who can pressure/command the district-province
National Education Directorates or those who moves through unions can become a vice
principal. These make teachers effort unnecessary to go further (T-14).

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Benefiting from in-service training brings points but it is not possible for everyone to
reach these trainings (VP-6).
Besides thinking that self-development could not be completely achieved with the
previous assignment system, I am of the opinion that the situation will become more
desperate with the new system (T-6).
In this respect, the answer of a male participant, who, before the new
system and currently has been officiating as a vice principal, who has 9 years of
teaching and 6 years of administrating seniority and who studied masters with
thesis, is such as to show the reality and summary of the situation: Why does
he/she need to improve himself/herself!
Lastly, the participants were asked how the school administrators
appointment/assignment system should be considering the measures of
objectivity, selection based on competencies, improving the effectiveness of the
school, and teachers and school administrators self-development, which were
brought into question towards the participants in the first four questions of the
interview form. The participants expressed that they found examination (n=24),
seniority (n=20), post-graduate study (n=12) and decision/selection of the school
constituents (n=5) important in terms of a selection based on objectivity and
competencies. According to the participants, concrete criteria must be set and
political/favouritist approaches must be avoided in the administrator
assignment (n=13). One of the necessities that the participants put emphasis on
either in the selection or the assignment of the school administrators is in-service
training (n=11). Participants also suggested that the administrator candidates
must be trained for a certain period of time by the experienced teachers (n=7)
and a kind of administration job training system must be implemented (n=6).
Lastly, some participants stated that the administrators must be monitored by
the school constituents, particularly the teachers (n=5), moreover it would be
good if the administrators could be unseated if needed (n=2).
Some typical prominent expressions relating this question are given below:
Examination must be held. In case an interview will be held, then the commissions must
be built up with individuals representing all the walks, such as union representatives
and academicians (T-21).
Competencies of the administrators must be objectively determined. This must be taken
out of the effect of the power (T-15).
I think the problem in the assignments can be solved by appointing those who deserve to
be appointed, by making an objective assessment (examination, seniority, educational
background). In my opinion, assignment with a fair assessment will increase the
effectiveness of the school as well as the motivations of the students (T-13).
Seniority must be given importance, experienced teachers must be given priority, and
deficiencies must be overcome with in-service trainings (V-1).
The view uttered by a male teacher (T-12), who has 16 years of seniority
within this context and who studied for master degree, is quite striking.
According to this participant: School administrator must be selected by teachers
commission, students and students parents among those who have certain competencies.
He must be able to be unseated by the same way if necessary. This will allow the

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subjectivation of the teachers and the students on the decisions to be taken that will have
impact on their lives by directly achieving the democracy at schools and it will allow the
relationship among the teacher, the student, the students parents and the administrators
to be established more healthily.

Findings Based on the Data Obtained Through Focus Group

The participants were first asked how they interpret the new school
administrator assignment system with regard to whether it provides
opportunity for an objective assessment or not. Considering the answers given
to this question as positive answers and negative answers, majority of the
participants considered the system as negative (n=8) while some others
indicated that the system had both positive and negative aspects (n=4).
In this regard, a male teacher having 11 years of seniority (T-1) claimed
the assessment as a conclusion of the assignment results to be unfair: If we have
a look at how the situation is now, the answer to this question automatically comes up by
itself. More than 90 % of the principals and the vice principals officiating within the
system are from Eitim Bir Sen. Another male teacher (T-5) who became a
principal before the new school administrator assignment system and who has
17 years of seniority, stated that there were other factors besides the unions:
Actually the situation is not wholly composed of unions or the initiative of the district
national education directorate. For example, in my school people were appointed by
means of very much high factors.
The participants indicated their doubts mainly on the interview while
considering the objectivity in terms of assessment and evaluation (n=9). For
example, according to a female teacher (T-8) with 11 years of seniority, verbal
examination is so irritating, while determining the related commissions distinctive point
indicated is that the person who is to be interviewed must not be a relative. Being
objective requires being standard but this standardization cannot be provided through
verbal interview. According to a male vice-principal (VP-1) having 13 years of
seniority, There is no other way to ensure objectivity but examination though there are
claims that there is something brewing in the examinations, too. According to a
female teacher with 12 years of seniority (T-7), who worked as a vice-principal
and who is currently officiating as a teacher, assessment criteria inhibit making
an objective assessment: You can already realize having looked at criteria through
which they evaluate us that there cannot be objectivity.
While a male teacher (T-2), who officiated as a principal and who has 18
years of seniority, expressed his experience while explaining his views on the
assignment process as the commission responsible for the assignment was consisted
of newly appointed branch directors and they gave points which were below 75 to many
people however, later on those who changed their unions among the ones getting lower
than 75 points were appointed as principals getting points over 90, a female teacher
(T-6) with 6 years of seniority expressed her doubt about the objectivity of the
system by saying parents are giving points to you over the parent-teacher association,
how and from where does the district director of national education and branch directors
know you, how do they evaluate your activity?.

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While a male director (V-2) with 16 years of seniority expressed his

opinion by uttering when there are activities, there are branch directors. They observe
and know the administrators, a male teacher (T-5), who officiated as a principal
before the new system and who has 17 years of seniority, disagreed with this
opinion: The evaluator branch director has just started to officiate in his position for
the last 1-2 months, he has never come to the school for even one day, he cannot even
know where the school is if you ask, he has no idea what is being done at school. The
assertion that District Director of National Education and branch directors
attend the activities and know the administrator seems more problematic for the
vice principals and especially the teachers who for the first time apply for being
appointed as a principal than for those applying for being re-appointed as the
principal. Because it does not seem possible to know these individuals by
attending the activities!
With regards to the course of the assignment process, the points a male
teacher (T-5) with 17 years of seniority, who served as a principal previously,
expressed while conveying the evaluation process are quite striking: Now you
have the 40 points which you got from the school. The points that were got from the head
of the parent-teacher association, two teacher selected by the teachers commission, the
teacher with the highest seniority and the one with the lowest seniority There are also
the points that were given by the district director and the branch directors at the district
national education. For example I got 40 from the school, they know me, they see what I
do and what I cannot, I got 24 out of 25 from the district director. And the points that I
got from the branch directors who were appointed to this position one or two months ago
is two in total. Therefore I was left below 75. I went to the court. I got a motion for stay
of execution. I was revaluated. This time the district director gave me a low point, too.
His personal expression towards me was: I could now give you the highest score this
time because I am afraid. My school was selected as the district-wide best school for
three consecutive years There were people insisting to me during the revaluation
process as: Resign from your union, you dont even need to register to our union, stay
without any union for 10-15 days, you may re-join your union later if you want. We
will have done your job. I did not resign and I was considered unsuccessful.
One of the points that the participants doubt about in terms of the
objectivity of the new assignment system is that the principals can determine
their vice principals (n=5). Regarding this regulation which was changed by the
by-law dated October 2015, a male teacher with 16 years of seniority (T-4)
expressed his opinion as The principals selection of his/her vice principal may create
cohesion with his team and may increase performance, however, this team may
discriminate the teachers who have different views and opinions at the school and this
may create tension and problems within the schools system. and a female teacher
with 8 years of seniority (T-3), for the same topic, stated that leaving the
initiative for the selection of the vice principal into the hands of only one person,
the principal, may damage the objectivity.
In order to address this topic within the course of the interview, the
principals were asked if they have any limitations on selecting the vice
principals. Technically, no other limitation was reported excepting the criteria
for being a vice principal in the corresponding regulation. However, according
to a male teacher having 17 years of seniority (T-5), who served as a principal
before the new assignment system, there are some limitations: Of course there

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are some limitations. You cannot select those whom the union does not approve as vice
principal even if you want to. District National Education Directorates send lists as
Those individuals can become a vice principal. A male principal having 15 years of
seniority (V-2) explained the fact that principals are granted with such an
opportunity as: Carrying the business together. In terms of coordination. It was also
brought to agenda in the seminars we attended. There were terrific conflicts between the
principals and the vice principals. Inspectors said they could not focus on our own
business anymore because of dealing with these. This system was brought based on this.
Another sub-dimension of the same topic is whether the principals have
the power to discharge the vice principals whom they selected by themselves, or
make them discharged from their positions. Because, how the things will
proceed will be an important problem if serious disagreements occur. Vice
principals will only be able to be discharged after an investigation as they are
appointed by the confirmation of the governorate. In short, in the vice principal
assignment system brought with the June 2014 regulations, there is technically
no limitations for the principals on selecting the vice principals, but they dont
have direct authorization to discharge the vice principals.
The participants, secondly, were asked how they evaluate the new school
administrator assignment system in terms of competence based selection and the
question was materialized as Does this evaluation system give onto gaining the
individuals, who have educational efficacy, whose human relations and
organizational skills are high and who distinguish with their leadership skills, to
the school system? Considering the answers to this question as positive
answers and negative answers, while the majority of the participants presented
their opinions on the system not providing a competence based selection (n=8),
some participants stated that the system partially provided competence based
selection (n=3) and 1 participant did not give any opinion that could be
categorized within this scope. Having looked at the answers to this question, the
participants addressed the competence based selection generally in terms of
assessment and evaluation process and criteria (n=10) and especially those who
had given negative expressions on the system often made criticisms relating
politicisation and favouritism (n=7).
In this regard, according to a female teacher (T-8) who has 11 years of
seniority, administrator assignment system is not a system for predicting the
competency. If you are searching for competency somewhere, you exhibit the
requirements of the competency normatively and you make job duty analysis.
According to a male teacher who has 18 years of seniority and who served as a
principal before (T-2) union belongingness of the individuals is rather
determinant, not their competences. According to a female teacher having 8
years of seniority (T-8) if your beard, clothes, lifestyle is in not a certain shape,
they do not appoint you. What a female teacher having 5 years of seniority
expressed is quite striking: A principal from my school was discharged after
the new evaluation system and a new principal was brought. One year passed
but I still cannot understand what the new principal is good at doing.
According to a male vice principal having 9 years of seniority (VP-1) who
finds the new system positive in terms of competence based selection, the
previous regulation did not involve the trainings the individuals participated,

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from this point the new system actually includes points relating the prediction of
the competences. Based on this point of view, the participants were reminded
that the court, in the regulation for the teacher career steps in the past, cancelled
the provision of the regulation relating with in-service training on the grounds
that everybody who wants should be able to reach the in-service training
opportunities, however it is not like that and they were asked how the points
obtained through the trainings received can be evaluated in this respect in the
assignment of the school administrator. The participants generally indicated
that reaching the trainings was not possible for everyone and they put
emphasize on the fact that this caused injustice.
The participants were thirdly asked how they assess the new school
administrator assignment system in terms of improving the effectiveness of the
school system. Considering the answers given to this question as positive
answers and negative answers, majority of the participants stated that the new
system has influenced/will influence the school system in a negative way (n=8),
and some other participants indicated that the system would improve the
effectiveness of the school system by encouraging the administrator candidates
and the administrators to improve themselves (n=3) and 1 participant did not
give a clear opinion.
Regarding the effectiveness of the school system, some thoughts were
asserted on that the new school administrator assignment system caused tension
and polarisation at the schools. Fr example, the statement of a male teacher who
has 18 years of seniority and who served as a principal before the new system
(T-2) is as follows: Currently, 4 teachers at my school have ended the term.
They have disagreements with the administrators. They are always absent due
to sickness. Similarly, a statement of a female teacher with 11 years of seniority
(T-8) is quite remarkable: We have similar situations, too. They are either on
leave, or sick or they have dispatch note. Uneasiness in the school system creates
such problems. In a similar way, according to a male vice principal having 9
years of seniority (VP-1): Tension and conflict is arising at the school system. It is
being hidden with them being on leave, or being absent due to sicknesses. Experiences
of a male teacher with 11 years of seniority, who stated that tension and
polarization arose after the new assignment system, is quite striking: I
encountered something recently. Vice principal came to the classroom to make an
announcement. And I realized that he was making the announcement of his trade union.
I objected. He did not insist on much. There are more politics and polarisation at school
compared to the past due to the system. People are treated according to their political
views. Educational competencies, training activities are being left aside. According to
a male teacher who has 17 years of seniority and who served as a principal
before the evaluation process (T-5), common purposes of the school is not coming to
the forefront due to the increasing polarisation and grouping. Teachers, now, are trying
to uncover each others mistakes. Lets say a mistake was made while carrying out a
formal duty. The opposite side is immediately choosing to write the minutes down and
punish this person. According to a female teacher who has 11 years of seniority
and who gives a striking explanation on the same topic (T-8), teachers lounge is
sometimes not used as a common room. People are gathering in different rooms. We call
them as parallel rooms. There sometimes can be 4-5 different rooms. Even the tea is
brewed separately.

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According to a male teacher who has 16 years of seniority and who

presents his opinion on the effectiveness: Teachers must trust and respect the
administrator for the effectiveness in the school system. If a teacher thinks that the
administrator is brought to that position through favour and backstage activities and
without deserving, he will not rely on the administrators directions. He will not believe
the administrator. Therefore the school system will not be effective. Similarly, a male
principal (V-2) having 16 years of seniority put an emphasis on another
dimension of the topic: I agree with this opinion. But from another point of view! An
unavoidable prejudice rises towards those selected and appointed. They condition
themselves, no matter what you do, you cannot create a coherent working environment.
A female teacher, who has 12 years of seniority and who officiates as a
teacher while she had served as a principal in the past (T-7), put another
dimension of the problem forward as follows: Experienced teachers now got back
to being a teacher though they were school administrators in the past. Majority of the
new teachers is not experienced. What will they do among these experienced teachers? It
is difficult for them to make others respect themselves. It is also difficult to establish
The participants were fourthly asked how they evaluate the new school
administrator assignment system in terms of encouraging the school
administrators and the teachers to improve themselves in the professional
context. Considering the answers to this question as positive answers and
negative answers, majority of the participants (n=8) are of the opinion that the
new school administrator assignment system does not encourage the school
administrators and the teachers to improve themselves. While 2 of the
participants asserted the contrary, 2 other participants stated that the system
partly encouraged the school administrators and the teachers. In this regard, like
addressed in the analysis of the data obtained through semi structured interview
form, the answers to the questions were mostly categorized as positive and
negative, besides topics such as reaching in-service training opportunities (n=6)
and post-graduate study (n=5) were also addressed.
Having looked at some answers to this question, according to a male
principal having 16 years of seniority (V-2) teachers and principals who have
doubts on being reappointed are participating the trainings unavoidably, the number of
those willing to study post-graduate is increasing and this increases the quality of the
teachers and the administrators. According to a male teacher having 16 years of
seniority (T-4) There is also the topic of self-development. Studying post-graduate is
the most common way. You can either do that in a short period of time by paying, even
from the distance, or you can do it giving your best. In this case, is the person really
developed? People can obtain numerous diplomas and certificates without gaining
administrative competencies. In fact there are many ways to obtain these in our
country. Similarly, the expression of a male teacher, who has 18 years of
seniority (T-2), in the same direction is as follows: I have a friend, who is a teacher
and administrator and who obtained 50 certificates in the last 10 years. By the way I
cannot participate the same trainings, this is another issue. Statement of a female
teacher having 5 years of seniority (T-6) is quite striking: My school was left
without principal for five months. Different forces competed and disagreements grew
bigger. Finally they sent someone. No point of talking about self-development! The one
lobbying better and making the bargain from above won.

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Similarly, on the topic of self-development through post-graduate study,

while a male vice principal having 13 years of seniority (VP-2) said to me it
encourages the individuals to study post-graduate, then makes them get more points, a
female teacher having 11 years of seniority made a different remark as follows:
To me it is not like that. This is my second license. I am not studying it for getting
points. I dont think that they would appoint me even if I registered in that union. I got
my first post-graduate diploma in 2006. What am I getting in return? Maximum 15
liras more in my salary. According to a female teacher who has a 12 years of
seniority and who serves as a teacher currently while having served as a vice
principal before the new assignment system (T-7): Thats right, people want to
study post-graduate to become a principal from the beginning or to continue serving as a
principal after revaluation, they want to attend the in-service trainings but whatever
they do, the system works other way.. Expressions of a female teacher having 8
years of seniority (T-3) are quite striking: In the current system, what can a person
who knows that he is appointed for four years and who is aware that anytime he can be
discharged do? In any case the superiors, province and district national education
directorates are taking decisions. Frankly, I were in that position, would I rather focus on
self-development or work with the authorities behind the scenes? Somehow or other I will
be competing in this league after a short time.
In the regard whether the new assignment system encourages
individuals to professionally improve themselves, there were some remarks
affirming or negating the system by placing the competition concept in the
centre. For example, while a male principal with 15 years of seniority (V-2)
asserted that the system brought competition and increased the motivation,
there were also many remarks made oppositely. For example, according to a
female teacher having 11 years of seniority (T-8), whenever there is a
competitive system, the principal will try to lobby instead of improving
They participants were lastly asked how a school administrator
appointment/assignment system must be in terms of objectivity, selection based
on competence, effectiveness of the school system and encouraging the teachers
and the school administrators to improve themselves professionally, which were
brought forward in the previous four questions of the interview form. The
participants, similarly with the analysis of the data obtained through the semi-
structured interview form, indicated that they found examination (n=11),
seniority (n=10) and post-graduate (n=7) important for an objective and
competence based selection. According to the participants, concrete criteria must
be determined (n=6), political/favouritism must be avoided (n=5) and in-service
trainings must be given importance in the assignment of the administrators.
Having looked at some expressions given by the participants on this
topic; according to a male principal with 16 years of seniority (V-2), examination
must be carried out but trainings relating school administration must be provided after.
Seniority must be effective; total years of working as a teacher must be 5 years or 7-8
years and another examination must be performed after the training. According to a
male vice principal with 13 years of seniority (VP-1), both written examination
and verbal interview must be carried out. According to a male teacher who has
18 years of seniority and who officiated as a principal before (T-2), Knowledge of
the person who is accepted to the verbal interview will already have been measured.

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Regulations, ceremonies If you are carrying out such a verbal interview but still
asking the regulations, then it does not mean anything. Psychological evaluations
regarding whether he can carry the duties of the position out or not can be made by
experts, by people from different disciplines. Or the person may be asked to solve a given
case study related with the school system.
After the approaches bringing examination into the forefront, when the
participants were asked Can school administration be degraded to efficacies that can
be predicted by one or more examinations? For example isnt the application process
needed to be considered, too? the participants were seen to refer to seniority factor.
According to a male principal with 15 years of seniority (V-1), not only teaching
experience must be required, but also the condition of having served as a vice
principal for a certain number of years must be established for being a
The number of the participants who think that the interview as an
evaluation method must be abandoned is not few (n=7). Having looked at the
remarks of these participants, it can be said that the matter of who, how, and
with what content will carry out the interview creates doubts. In this respect, the
expression of a female teacher having 11 years of seniority (T-8) is quite striking:
What will we do if they again ask the elephants in the interview? According to
a vice principal who considers the interview as a method of evaluation and who
has 9 years of seniority (VP-1), interview instructions must be set, interviews
must be recorded and they must be objective.
According to a female teacher who has 5 years of seniority and who
brings the post-graduate education to the foreground (T-6), Post-graduate
education must be effective but it must be quality! n-service training is a suggestion
that the participants often emphasize. In this regard, according to a male vice
principal with 13 years of seniority Administrators must be audited at the end
of each year and in-service trainings must be conducted according to the
determined needs.
In the interview, response to the remark of a male teacher with 11 years
of seniority in which he stated points such as base control, teachers and even
students participating the process, resigning school administrator on certain
conditions was given as reliance is needed.
During the interviews, one of the topics mentioned but not included in
the research questions was professionalising the school administration. In this
regard, according to a male principal having 16 years of seniority (V-2), school
administration must be taken out of the education class and the school administrators
must be considered within the directorate class. Within the progress of the
interview, the common answer given by the participants to the question asked
by the researcher, which was how would it be to consider the school administration
as a non-teachership based job?, was it would be bad. The participants generally
consider having experienced the school system as a teacher as an essential
requirement to become an administrator. In this regard, according to a male
teacher, who officiated as a principal and who has 18 years of seniority (T-2),
those who will be school administrators must definitely have experienced the
teachers lounge. The answers given to Must he become estranged against
teachership, must he take one of his feet out of teachership? were not clear.

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While one part of the participants found professionalization essential, others

found teachership and relations with the teachers essential. In this regard,
remarks of a teacher having 16 years of seniority (T-4) are quite attention
grabbing: We are experiencing a strange situation. Those who were within the
administrative staff before but have returned to become a teacher like us with
the new evaluation system are experiencing a very strange situation. They are
acting like as if they are in a disgraceful situation. They are trying to be
appointed to another school immediately. So, teachership field must not be
abandoned! It must be the main job on the basis.

Discussions, Conclusions and Suggestions

Nowadays, as in the all aspects of the public life, an extensive
reconstruction process also in the education field is ongoing in Turkey. In this
context, school administrator appointment/assignment system constitutes one
of the important dimensions of the changes within the school system. The
system, despite numerous administrator appointment/assignment system
regulations prepared so far since 2003 (9 regulations in the years of 2004, 2006,
2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014 and 2015) and the circulars issued, is
intensively discussed and criticised.
Based on the findings of this research, in which the new school
administrator assignment system is assessed based on the views of the teachers
and the school administrators over four dimensions, it was determined that the
participants who have already taken on administrative roles consider the system
majorly affirmatively and the other participants clearly consider the system
negatively. Doubts and criticisms of those who had taken on administrative
roles before the new system, but who were selected during the revaluation
process and appointed as teachers, against the system are more intense.
The first topic addressed within the scope of the study was whether the
system provided an objective evaluation or not. Objectivity is a term related
whether another factor besides the efficacy of the candidates for the job/position
is effective on the selection process. While some pretty general criteria, such as
having the educational background and serving as a teacher for 3 years
successfully, was established for being appointed as an administrator to the
educational institutions before 1990s in Turkey, some standards have been
started to be created afterwards (Aslanargun, 2011). As of 1999, for the first time
competitive examination was brought for the administrator appointments.
According to the regulation made, the candidates scoring 70 out of 100 or higher
in the administrator competitive examination were considered successful and
these candidates were given 5 years valid administration certificate and right to
apply for the administrator positions at schools having vacancies within the
permanent staff (Gnay, 2004). Afterwards, as emphasized above, several
regulations have been made, however an effective appointment/assignment
system could not have been reached.
It can be said on this regard that one of the main problems is the
arbitrariness of the administration. Aslanargun (2012a) thematically
examined 191 court decisions related with the criteria to be appointed as school

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administrators and cancellation reasons and concluded that thoughts and

applications on whether the Ministry of National Education and the judicial
organs abided by law could reflect somehow a power struggle. Due to the fact
that the State Council stopped the execution of the regulations prepared by the
Ministry of National Education and appointments that were made
retrospectively were cancelled, no appointments could be done principally and
many schools were administrated by representatives between the years 2004-
2010. Most especially, between the years 2008-2009, upon the cancellation of
educational administrators appointment regulations, the ministry made direct
appointments to the school and institution administrative positions based on the
authorization that it can appoint the state personnel by transfer to the positions
equal to their current one or higher regardless of the duty and title equality of
the institutions, which is enacted by the 71st and 76th Articles of the State
Personnel Law numbered 657. Among these appointments which were made
without any criteria, some of the ones being submitted to the court were
cancelled by the administrative courts. In this regard, the reasons put forth by
the court were terms and notions such as accordance with the law, requirements
of service, public welfare, equality, propriety, objectivity and authoritativeness.
However, the Ministry defended the appointments that she made by similar
reasons. (Aslanargun, 2012a, 354).
Regarding the new system, one of the points to be noted in terms of
objectivity is that the system is built on assignment rather than
appointment. While appointment provides an institutionally and legally
extended protection/assurance for the appointed person, the
protection/assurance provided by assignment is proportional. This means that
the initiative hold by the administration and the school administrator can be
resigned arbitrarily at the disposal of the authority. Therefore, this may take the
school system under the control of the politics.
According to the regulations dated October 2015, which is currently in
force, among the candidates meeting the general and private conditions those to
be appointed as head vice principals or vice principals shall be determined
according to the result of a written examination; and those to be appointed as
principals shall be evaluated through performance and situation assessment
form and the result of a written examination. Objectivity of the system is not
possible be mentioned due to a series of factors such as flexibility of the
evaluation criteria, authorities assigned to carrying out the evaluation, the way
of composing the commissions for the verbal examination and its proceeding.
Yolcu and Arslans (2015) work related with putting the verbal interview into
use in order to predict the administrators efficacies confirms this conclusion.
Besides, findings reached within the scope of this study confirm the claims that
system is being polarised.
In this regard, considering the results obtained by Doan, Demir and
Pnar (2014), the participants particularly put emphasises on the service duration
and experience in terms of the assignment of the school administrators, they
generally accepted and supported the written examinations objectivity, they
rejected the verbal interview as it could lead subjective evaluation and they
stated that governorates presence in the assignment system would not be fair.

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At one side of the doubts on the functions of the province governors, there is the
fact that the province governors may act with their political powers and on the
other side that they may not have the opportunity to know the candidates
Secondly addressed topic within the study was how the system would be
considered in terms of making competence based selections. This brings the
efficacies of the school administrators to the foreground. According to Baaran
(2004), efficacy in the administration is being knowledgeable and skilled in the
administrational notions and models, administration technology, human
relations, establishment and improvement of the organizational structure,
functions of the administration and administrational processes. This efficacy,
from the stage of identifying the knowledge and skills related to the
administration to the stage of applying the requirements of the administration,
may be on different levels
School administrators have responsibility areas such as educational
situation at school, physical conditions of the school, personnel affairs, student
affairs, works related to accounting and belongings and assessment and
evaluation (Taymaz, 2005). The mission of the school administration is to keep
the school up according to its purposes by using all the human and material
sources at the school efficiently. The principals success on this mission depends
on his view of school as a system of roles, and on adjusting his behaviours
according to the roles and the expectations of the teachers and the other
personnel in which he/she is always in contact with (Bursalolu, 2005).
An examination of the literature indicates that it has commonly been
emphasized that the topics of pre-service and post-service training for the school
administrators, their selection and appointment in line with leadership
efficacies according with the time must be searched for and some standards
must be established (Gmeli, 2006 ; Aslan ve Karip, 2014). In this regard, it
was stated that the administrators, as educational leaders, have many duties and
responsibilities such as having a vision, creating a positive learning and teaching
environment at school, giving importance to professional development,
improving interpersonal communication and collaboration to create a team
atmosphere in the school, establishing good relations with the environment of
the school, having strategic planning capacity, having the vision for being in the
highest position at the school and making the school a part of life-long learning
(Balc, 2002).
It can be said that the new administrator assignment system has serious
negative aspects in bringing profession members having the competencies
indicated above to the school administration. Hence, according to the findings
based on the data obtained within the scope of this study, the system generally
has serious problems in terms of assessment and evaluation process criteria and
is associated with polarisation and favouritism by the participants.
The topics of improving the effectiveness of the school system and
encouraging the school administrators and teachers to improve themselves in
the professional context, which were addressed within the scope of the study,
were found to be significantly coinciding especially during the stage of focus

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group discussion. Using the material and human sources in the most effective
and efficient way for the organisational targets resides in identifying the
functions of the administration (Taymaz, 2005). If a public institution is being
addressed and if the notion of public service given importance, the term on
which the functions of the administration is based must be effectiveness rather
than activity and efficiency. Because, while the activity and efficiency is
addressed as creating maximum quantity and quality with the minimum cost on
the basis of input-output relations, effectiveness is a term based on targets. The
aim in the public service is to achieve the public welfare.
According to the results obtained based on the findings of the study, the
relation between the new assignment system and the effectiveness of the school
system is considered as negative by the majority of the participants. While
forming their opinions, the participants generally support their opinions with
the thoughts that the selections are not made objectively or are not based on
competencies and they emphasize on the tension arising/may arise at the school
and the organisational climate being affected by this situation.
When addressing the new assignment system in terms of encouraging
the school administrators and the teachers improving themselves in the
professional context, factors such as in-service training, post-graduate study,
developing various projects and/or taking roles in the projects come to the
foreground. According to Bursalolu (2005), if the mission of the administration
is keeping the school up according to its purposes, the mission of school
administration is also keeping the school up with its purposes. In order for the
school administrators to fulfil their responsibilities and duties, they must know
the notions and processes regarding the school administration and must be able
to actualize them and they must have had academic education in this field.
Although the new assignment system technically seems to encourage the
candidates for self-development, its standards which are deemed as encouraging
are flexible and unclear, benefiting from the activities to which it is thought to be
encouraging is unequal and the consequences of benefiting from the activities
are uncertain.
Arbitrary procedures and flexible executions brought up by the school
administrator assignment system brings non-objectivity during the assignment
process and lobbying based on politisation during the post-processes into the
foreground. Therefore the system is not a motivator for the education servants
who want to pass the revaluation successfully or who becomes a candidate for
administrative roles to improve themselves in the professional context.
One of the topics coming to the fore within the scope of the study was the
professionalization of the school administration. According to Taymaz (2000),
one of the biggest barriers on front of the professionalization and
institutionalization of the administration in Turkish educational system is
confusing the missions and values of the teachership and the administration
with each other. Teacher-administrator type of profession emerged in Turkey.
Individuals are educated for being a teacher, but they are expected to carry on
both teachership and administration related efficacies and adopt these roles.
According to Bursalolu (1997), until the educational administration is cut free

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from being an additional duty to the teachership, the school system will not be
able to be made effective and efficient. School administrators must be educated
according to the administrational requirements and then employed.
The topic of professionalization of the school administration was
addressed as transferring from the educational statue to the administrative
statue as a permanent staff within the scope of the study. At one side of the
problem, there are the argumentations given above. On the other side, there is
gaining the required competencies for becoming an educational leader in the
school system and having experienced the teachers lobby. From another
perspective, when the administration is defined and designated as an area of
expertise based on the current assignment system, numerous problems may
occur considering the relativity and dynamism of the assignment. For example,
what will the situation of someone who previously was within the
administrative services staff but found unsuccessful during the administrator
reassignment process be? During the study, an ironic solution suggested by a
participant was taking these people into a pool.
Following suggestions can be made on the school administrator
appointment/assignment system through the conclusions based on the analysis
of the data obtained during the study:
Primarily, school administrators must not be assigned, but appointed.
School administrator appointment system must be cleaned of political
A general frame related to the efficacies of the school administrators and
concrete criteria having certain borders and edges related to this frame must be
The multi-evaluation approach must be adopted in the selection of the
In this respect, teachership seniority/experience for becoming a school
administrator, teachership experience/seniority as well as vice principal
experience/seniority for becoming a principal must be a condition in general
Examination and verbal interviews can be carried out for the selection of
the school administrators. Examination and interview topics must be formed by
the support of academic units and experts, examinations and interviews must be
oriented at predicting the administrators efficacies, and they must be conducted
far from chicanes. For this reason, it can be helpful if the Ministry receives
support from the corresponding units of the universities and includes the trade
unions in the process equally.
In order to increase the effectiveness of the school system, the school
administrator and the teachers must be encouraged to improve themselves. Post-
graduate studies and in-service trainings must be given importance in this
context and the educational opportunities must be accessible for all educational
servants who are interested and who have efficacies.

2016 The author and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


As a research suggestion, it will be beneficial to carry out new studies

aiming to resolve the relation between the school administrators and the school
system by gathering different procedural preferences together.

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research

Vol. 15, No. 5, pp. 103-127, April 2016

Antecedents of Newly Qualified Teachers

Turnover Intentions: Evidence from Sweden

Dijana Tiplic, Eli Lejonberg and Eyvind Elstad

University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

Abstract. The purpose of this study was to explore potential predictors

of newly qualified teachers turnover intentions. Based on a sample of
249 newly qualified Swedish teachers, structural equation modelling of
a cross-sectional survey was used to analyse data. The results indicated
three important predictors of turnover intentions amongst newly
qualified teachers. First, mutual trust is important amongst school
professionals. Second, it is necessary to encourage newly qualified
teachers emotional commitment to their profession and workplace to
diminish turnover intentions. Finally, perceived role conflict has a
significant effect on turnover intentions.

Keywords: newly qualified teachers, teacher attrition, Sweden, turnover



Employed teachers may engage in continual assessment of their schools and

their occupational status to determine whether their current job is the
appropriate choice for them (Darling-Hammond, 2010). If they find that their
employment is not competitive, they may decide to seek out a position at
another school or even leave the teaching profession entirely. Currently, several
countries are experiencing high rates of teacher shortages (Goldhaber, 2015;
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD], 2012).
Therefore, teacher attrition has become a major topic concerning educational
research and policy analysis in many countries (Ingersoll, Merrill & May, 2014).
The reason for this is obvious: Education is the cornerstone of society, and
teachers are considered the most important factor in determining the quality of
education (Aaronson et al., 2007; Goldhaber & Hansen, 2010; Rivkin, Hanushek,

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& Kain, 2005). Sweden is among the countries with expected teacher shortages
(Lrarfrbundet, 2015). Previous research on turnover intentions amongst newly
qualified teachers illustrated that organisational and contextual factors are
strong predictors of turnover intentions (Tiplic, Brandmo, & Elstad, 2015). In the
present study, we use a similar approach to explore the antecedents of turnover
intentions amongst newly qualified Swedish teachers. This study aims to
evaluate the statistical associations concerning the turnover intentions of this
Swedish teacher population and several organisational antecedents, specifically
self-efficacy, conflict of roles, a trusting relationship between school
professionals, affective commitment and organisational support.

The remainder of the paper is organised as follows: First, we describe the

Swedish context. We then posit 10 hypotheses related to the causes of turnover
intention amongst newly qualified teachers. Following this, we present our
methodological approach. Finally, we present and discuss our findings and their
implications for research and practice.

The Swedish Context

The OECD (2015) described Sweden as a school system in need of urgent

change (p. 11). Moreover, the Programme for International Student Assessment
(PISA) found that between 2003 and 2012, the mathematics scores of Swedish
students decreased the most of those from all participating nations, and Sweden
had the largest number of weak readers amongst the Nordic countries (OECD,
2013a). Furthermore, in the OECD Teaching and Learning International Survey
(TALIS) for 2013, Sweden had the largest percentage (62%) of respondents who
strongly disagreed with the claim that the teaching profession is well
recognised by society; only 5% agreed or strongly agreed (OECD, 2013b). In
addition to problems regarding the perception of teachers by society, in Sweden,
new teachers face additional challenges. It has been claimed that the Swedish
school is in a state of crisis (OECD, 2013a). The OECD (2015) declared that
Sweden had failed to improve its school system despite the series of reforms
carried out in recent years. A more ambitious national reform strategy is now
urgently needed to improve the quality and equity of education. The OECD
recommends that to accomplish this, Sweden should improve both the quality
and attractiveness of the teaching profession.

Sweden is also currently experiencing a shortage of teachers and pedagogues

(Statistics Sweden, 2012). According to new statistics from the National Agency
for Education, other institutions have found that there is a severe shortage of
qualified teachers at all levels. In addition, Statistics Sweden (2014) reported that
the Swedish educational system will lack roughly 65 000 teachers by 2025.

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However, this estimate is too low: The Swedish Public Service Broadcaster (2016)
reported on January 11th, 2016 that the increased migration to Sweden will
induce the need for 90 000 full-time teachers. Several goals have been proposed
in response to these challenges. The Swedish Ministry of Education has stated
that the teaching profession must be made more attractive (Ministry of
Education and Research, 2015). Rewards should be introduced to draw well-
educated people who are currently in other occupations towards teaching
(Dagens Nyheter, 2015). Furthermore, better integration between teacher
education and the actual work of teachers has been emphasised as a new policy
direction (Ministry of Education and Research, 2015).

Lindqvist, Nordnger and Carlsson (2014) highlighted the working environment

and working conditions as potential mitigators of teacher turnover. A report by
the University of Gothenburg showed that in Sweden, many newly qualified
teachers are not employed in the part of the school system that they prefer
(Corneskog & Lundkvist, 2006). As in other countries, the dropout rate of newly
qualified teachers in Sweden is becoming problematic, especially because the
need for qualified teachers will increase significantly in coming years as a large
number of instructors reach retirement (Lindgren, 2005; Statistics Sweden,
2014b). Based on the abovementioned factors, the Swedish education system
represents a relevant context for studying antecedents of turnover intentions
amongst newly qualified teachers.

Theoretical Framework

The term turnover intention denotes an attitude favouring leaving a present

profession or workplace (Tiplic et al., 2015). In this study, the phrase turnover
intentions of newly qualified teachers refers to such teachers who intend to
leave their jobs. Turnover intention is used as the dependent variable in this
study. To explore the organisational antecedents of turnover intention, several
theoretical perspectives are combined in a framework, as follows: 1) teacher
efficacy, 2) human resource management and 3) working conditions. The
components of this theoretical framework are explained in the following sections.

Teacher Efficacy

In prior research, investigators have linked teachers experiences with discipline

problems and instructional management to their intentions to leave their current
position or even the profession as a whole (Martin, Sass, & Schmitt, 2012;
Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2011). These researchers also demonstrated that job
satisfaction and teacher burnout are elements that tend to be closely linked to
thoughts about leaving, and these can be predicted through teacher self-efficacy

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(Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2010). Bandura (1977) introduced the concept of self-
efficacy beliefs as the individuals perception that he/she is able to attain a target
objective in a particular task. According to Bandura (1977), an individuals
confidence in his/her abilities is a powerful force affecting the motivation to act,
the amount of effort put into the task and the persistence of his/her coping
mechanisms when setbacks occur.

In Banduras (1977) proposal, four major factors have an influence on the self-
efficacy beliefs of newly qualified teachers. These are as follows: mastery
experiences, vicarious experiences, verbal persuasion and physiological arousal.
The most powerful of these factors is mastery experiences; for newly qualified
teachers, such experiences arise through teaching pupils in practice. If a newly
qualified teacher considers his/her teaching to be successful, self-efficacy is
enhanced; this increases the expectation that future endeavours are likely to be
successful. Greater self-efficacy amongst newly qualified teachers may inspire
them to put more effort into tasks, whereas failures will tend to decrease self-
efficacy beliefs, thereby leading to lower motivation (Guskey, 1988; Tschannen-
Moran, Hoy, & Hoy, 1998).

Studies on the self-efficacy of newly qualified teachers has suggested that

several factors contribute to teaching efficacy, including self-perceptions related
to instructional competence, emotional and pedagogical support from fellow
newly qualified teachers, personal characteristics and the teacher training
programme (Poulou, 2007; Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2007). Newly qualified
teachers may experience classroom management as problematic during their
first working years. The need for short-term survival can overshadow the
positive aspects of the teaching experience (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2010). The
difficulties involved in mastering novel educational strategies can overload the
capacity of newly qualified teachers to relate to their work (Leinhardt & Greeno,
1986; Leinhardt, Young, & Merriman, 1995). Based on this background, we posit
two hypotheses concerning teachers self-efficacy, as follows:

Hypothesis 1: Self-efficacy in relation to instruction is a negative predictor of

newly qualified teachers turnover intentions.

Hypothesis 2: Self-efficacy in relation to discipline is a negative predictor of the

turnover intentions of newly qualified teachers.

The teaching professions level of collaboration has increased over time.

Teachers perceptions of the efforts of the faculty, which have previously been
related to individual teacher efficacy (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2007), can in fact be
characterised as collective teacher efficacy (Goddard, Hoy, & Hoy, 2000). Teachers

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in Sweden are expected to carry out multiple tasks by collaborating as a team1.

For instance, teachers assigned the same subject or class must work together to a
certain level to plan and teach content, carry out assessments, give homework
and schedule studentparent conferences. Furthermore, teachers are expected to
meet the requirements when students have special educational plans. Because
developing a collective perspective to overcoming challenges may help newly
qualified teachers when they are struggling with a variety of teaching challenges
and issues, collective efficacy may be assumed to contribute to the confidence in
their capabilities that teachers develop (Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2007). Moreover, it
can be expected that collective teacher efficacy will contribute to the inclusion of
newly qualified teachers in the professional community. In addition, it has been
documented that collective teacher efficacy is negatively associated with newly
qualified teachers turnover intentions (Tiplic et al., 2015). Thus, the following
hypothesis can be proposed:

Hypothesis 3: Collective teacher efficacy is a negative predictor of newly

qualified teachers turnover intentions.

Human Resource Management

Traditionally, schools are seen as a special organisational case; teachers often

spend most of their time in their classrooms, without frequent contact with their
peers. Dan Lortie (1976) used the metaphor of an egg-crate structure to describe
the situation wherein teachers work in separate, isolated classrooms. Although
teachers collaboration is a growing phenomenon (Vangrieken, Dochy, Raes, &
Kyndt, 2015), the teacher is still often the only professional present in the
classroom. Teachers work in contexts that are different from other occupations
where colleagues engage in direct, immediate interaction. However, teachers
talk before and after their lessons, and school managers and teachers converse in
formal and informal arenas. Relational trust between school principals and
teachers is recognised as a key resource for school improvement (Bryk &
Schneider, 2002). Bryk and Schneider (2002) demonstrated that the level of trust
amongst school professionals affects students achievement. Social trust
influences the degree to which schools work for pupils and serve as an element
of social capital (Coleman, 1990).

Trust is a key resource in effort to improve the organisation, and collective

decision-making with broad teacher buy-in occurs more readily in schools with
strong relational trust (Bryk & Schneider, 2002, p. 122). Teachers are more likely
to continue working at a given school when they perceive that their principals
are providing adequate support (Ingersoll, 2001). We assume that vulnerability
and uncertainty are less problematic when newly qualified teachers develop


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strong relationships with other professionals at the same institution. Thus, this
study defines trust in schools as a two-dimensional construct comprising that
between teachers and that between teachers and the principal (Bryk & Schneider,
2002). These two elements have been found to ease relations amongst colleagues
in the school organisation; thus, they improve the relationships between school
employees by leading to job satisfaction (Bryk & Schneider, 2002). A lack of
relational trust may induce friction in the school machinery and foster an
intention to leave the profession amongst newly qualified teachers. Therefore,
we hypothesise that both teacherteacher trust and teacherprincipal trust
influence newly qualified teachers intentions to leave their jobs:

Hypothesis 4: Mutual trust amongst teachers is a negative predictor of turnover

intentions for newly qualified teachers.

Hypothesis 5: Mutual trust between teachers and principals negatively predicts

turnover intentions amongst newly qualified teachers.

In a school, the behavioural climate, organisational support and administrative

support can significantly affect a newly qualified teachers perception of mastery,
ultimately influencing occupational retention of that teacher (Aamodt & Havnes,
2008; Hong, 2012; Ingersoll, 2001; Kukla-Acevedo, 2009). Peer teachers who
assist newly qualified teachers in their first working year, as well as school
managers who facilitate professional collaboration, seem to exert an important
influence when it comes to determining the extent to which newly qualified
teachers perceive that they have mastered their teaching role (Caspersen &
Raaen, 2010; Smith & Ingersoll, 2004):

Hypothesis 6: Perceived support from the organisation is a negative predictor of

newly qualified teachers intentions to leave their jobs.

In teaching and learning, innovation can be important for newly qualified

teachers as they transition from student to teacher (Bakkenes, Vermunta, &
Wubbels, 2010; Ghaith & Yaghi, 1997). In previous research, it has been
demonstrated that teachers and students may perceive their schools as
innovative or non-innovative (Giles & Hargreaves, 2006). These views could
have significant implications for the job motivation, job autonomy and intention
to leave of newly qualified teachers. Thus, we have developed the following

Hypothesis 7: Support for innovation is a negative predictor of newly qualified

teachers turnover intentions.

Affective commitment to the school organisation has recently emerged as a

central concept in the study of teachers work attitudes and behaviours (Elias,
2009). The term affective commitment refers to a teachers emotional

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attachment to, identification with and involvement in the school where he/she
works. Affective commitment has attracted educational scholars because of its
consequences for teacher retention (Choi & Tang, 2011; Ingersoll et al., 1997;
Kelchtermans, 2005; Mayer, 2006; Smethem, 2007; Troman, 2008; Yu, Leithwood
& Jantzi, 2002). In a Norwegian study of teachers attitudes and behaviours,
mutual trust amongst professionals in schools and goal-oriented leadership were
clearly associated with teachers feelings of affective commitment
(Christophersen, Elstad, & Turmo, 2015). In terms of affective commitment, prior
research has determined that commitment also has a positive relationship with
job satisfaction amongst teachers (Culver, Wolfe, & Cross, 1990; Fresko, Kfir, &
Nasser, 1997; Meyer, Allen, & Smith, 1993) and negatively related to newly
qualified teachers turnover intentions (Tiplic et al., 2015). Low affective
commitment may result in an intention to leave teaching as a profession. Thus,
we have developed the following hypothesis:

Hypothesis 8: Affective commitment is a negative predictor of newly qualified

teachers turnover intentions.

Working Conditions

Starting from their first day at work, newly qualified teachers are expected to
behave professionally. There are difficult challenges that arise in the attempt to
provide instruction appropriate for individual students (Burke & Greenglass,
1993; Chan, 2002; Grace, 2012; Schwab & Iwanicki, 1982). Lack of clarity
concerning the roll of the teacher (Rizzo, House, & Lirtzman, 1970) affects newly
qualified teachers intention to leave (Tiplic et al., 2015). Teachers are expected to
manage contradictory expectations. There are several competing sources of
influence in terms of the teachers activities: On the one hand, students have a
right to co-determination in issues that pertain to them in their school life. On
the other, the teacher carries the responsibility for what the students learn in
school. Further, there is a mutually contradictory relationship between taking
account of pupils immediate desires and the desire for the school to limit the
learners free will and exert pressure to influence their actions. Good learning
demands academic commitment and effort on the part of the pupil, while the
student may prefer the teacher to produce inspiring teaching so that the pupils
can attain good results. In other words, a tension exists between pupils desire to
be led easily through a progression of demands resulting in the desired
qualification and the professional teachers emphasis on problem-solving tasks
requiring the pupils effort to attain a deep understanding of the subject.
Another example is that in the educational policy in several countries,
communication technology has not been directed as a support for the exercise of
the teacher's role. When teachers lose their desired control, a typical rational
response is to limit the use of technology (Elstad, 2006).

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Clear leadership induces role clarity (Christophersen et al., 2015), which may in
turn reduce a newly qualified teachers uncertainty. Reduced uncertainty may in
turn reduce turnover intention. Thus, we propose the following:

Hypothesis 9: Perceived role conflict is a positive predictor of newly qualified

teachers turnover intentions.

Hypothesis 10: Perceived role clarity is a negative predictor of newly qualified

teachers turnover intentions.



Data were collected through a digital survey questionnaire that was distributed
to 457 newly qualified Swedish teachers with up to 5 years of experience. A step-
wise process was used to select the sample. First, a request was distributed to
3687 Swedish institutions registered at the Swedish National Agency for
Education (Skolverket), including not only schools but also other educational
and non-governmental institutions. Out of these 3687 institutions, we received
feedback from schools principals who were interested in nominating newly
qualified teachers in their respective schools for further investigation. The school
types in this case involved primary, lower secondary and upper secondary
schools. Contact information for 457 newly qualified teachers was collected. A
questionnaire was then distributed to each nominated teacher, and 249
completed responses were returned, resulting in an overall response rate of 54%.


The questionnaire contained items that were adapted to match the context, as
follows: the Siegel Scale of Support for Innovation (Siegel & Kaemmerer, 1978);
an internationally validated instrument called the Norwegian Teacher Self-
Efficacy Scale (NTSES; Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2007); the Three-Component Model
of Organizational Commitment (Meyer et al., 1993); the TeacherTeacher Trust
and TeacherPrincipal Relations Survey (Bryk & Schneider, 2002); the Role
Questionnaire (Rizzo et al., 1970); the Survey of Perceived Organizational
Support (Eisenberger, Huntington, Hutchison, & Sowa, 1986); and a four-item
scale that measured turnover intentions, one of which was adapted from Kuvaas

The survey was developed based on measurements reported in previous

literature. Four to five single items were used to measure the concepts. The
internal consistency of each concept was satisfactory. Previously reported
instruments of turnover intention (Kuvaas, 2007) and affective commitment
(Meyer, Allen & Smith, 1993) were modified according to recommendations by

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Haladyna and Rodriguez (2013). The questionnaire was first developed in

Norwegian and used in a study of Norwegian beginning teachers (Tiplic et al.,
2015). It was later translated into Swedish.

The following measures were scored on a 6- or 7-point Likert scale:

1) Teacher self-efficacy for maintaining discipline in the classroom (SED;

sample item: How certain are you that you can maintain discipline in any
class or group of students?);
2) Teacher self-efficacy for instruction (SEI; e.g. To what extent are you
certain of your ability to provide instruction and good guidance to all
students, irrespective of their ability level?);
3) Collective efficacy (CE; e.g. Professionals at our school can help the most
challenging students to become engaged in school work);
4) Teacherprincipal trust (PT; e.g. The principal takes a personal interest in
teachers professional development of teachers);
5) Teacherteacher trust (TT; e.g. At our school, teachers in this school trust
each other);
6) Perceived organisational support (POS; e.g. The school genuinely cares
about my wellbeing);
7) Affective commitment (AC; e.g. In considering my school as an
organisation, I do not feel a strong sense of belonging [reversed]);
8) Innovation support (IS; e.g. Our school can be described as flexible and
engaging in continual adaptation to change);
9) Role conflict (RCo; e.g. The policies and guidelines at our school are
incompatible with my work);
10) Turnover intentions (TI; e.g. I am actively searching for a new job); and
11) Role clarity (RCl; e.g. I know what my responsibilities entail).

A four-item scale was used to measure turnover intentions; one of these items
was adapted from Kuvaas (2007). The following items were included: I am
actively searching for another job; As soon as I find another job, I will quit this
school; I am thinking seriously about changing my workplace; and I often
think about quitting my present job.


Based on the theoretical assumptions, we set up a parsimonious structural

model and then conducted a stepwise extension of this model to better
understand the antecedents of newly qualified teachers turnover intentions.
Going from a simple model (Model 1) towards more content in the models
explanatory adequacy (Model 2) can better equip the researcher to analyse and
interpret the complexity of statistical associations. In our research endeavour, we
started with the essential in explanatory mechanisms of turnover intentions (see

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Model 1). When fundamentals had been captured (perceptions of self-efficacy

and relational trust in Model 1), we included other possible independent
variables until all of them were tried and analysed. Based on an idea of this
stepwise exploration of the data, we extended the analysis by including more
independent variables in Model 2. Turnover intention was the dependent
variable in Models 1 and 2, but Model 2 included additional antecedent factors.
The selection of additional factors in Model 2 was based on the two following
criteria: a) theoretical reasons for including a factor (as hypothesised above); and
b) correlations between variables, as indicated in Table 1. Our stepwise
exploration resulted in excluding the relational trust variables from Model 2 due
to multicollinearity with other organisational variables. In particular, when we
included all variables in the analysis, none were significant due to high
multicollinearity between the relational trust variable and the remaining
organisational variables (see Table 1).

Table 1
Inter-correlations and reliability of the latent variables
Variable 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
1 Instructio
2 nal
Self-self- .53*
Teachers in **
.35* .35*
collective ** **
4 Trust .11 .008 .53*
5 Trust .23* .16* **
.41* .52*
between * ** **
6 Role
in the -.12 -.06 - - -
conflict .37* .38* .69*
7 Role
classroom .47* .37* .37* .19* .41* -
teachers ** ** **
8 clarity
Perceived **
.23* ** .014 **
.45* *.54* **
.86* .39*
- .47*
9 organisati
*.32* *.12* **
.67* **
.57* **
.59* .68*
- **
.31* .53*
onal **
1 n support
Affective **
.22* .22* **
.42* **
.51* **
.58* .46*
- **
.35* **
.56* .47*
support **
0 commitme
1 Turnover *
- *- **
- **
- **
- .46*
.50* **
- **
- **
- - -
1 nt intention
Cronbach .28* .80 .19*
.90 .41*
.83 .46*
.81 .53*
.81 .35*
.84 .52*
.89 .39*
.92 .62*
.94 .9
s alpha * * ** ** ** ** ** ** ** 4
* p < .05, ** p < .01, *** p < .001

We first determined the descriptive item statistics using the Statistical Package
for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The item scores were normally distributed in all
variables. The hypothesised model was tested using Mplus and the incorporated
latent variables. The structural model assessments considered the root mean
square error of approximation (RMSEA), the standardised root mean square
residual (SRMR), the p-value for the 2 statistic, the comparative fit index (CFI)

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and the Tucker-Lewis index (TLI). Standard criteria were used to determine a
good fit (p > .05, RMSEA < .06, SRMR < .08, CFI > .95, and TLI > .95; Brown, 2006;
Byrne, 2010; Hu & Bentler, 1999; Kline, 2005).


The results showed that the associations between the three teacher efficacy
measures and turnover intentions were not significant in either of the two
models. Therefore, hypotheses 1, 2 and 3 were not supported in the data.
However, the associations between the two relational trust measures and
turnover intentions were significant in Model 1. Therefore, hypotheses 4 and 5
were supported in the data.

Neither perceived organisational support nor innovation support had significant

associations with the turnover intentions in Model 2. Therefore, hypotheses 6
and 7 were not supported. In contrast, the results showed that the association
between affective commitment and turnover intentions was significant; therefore,
hypothesis 8 was supported in the data.

Finally, the results demonstrated that the associations between perceived role
conflict and turnover intentions were significant, thereby supporting hypothesis
9. However, the associations between perceived role clarity and turnover
intentions were not significant. Thus, hypothesis 10 was not supported in the

Table 2 shows both the hypothesised model and the results of the analysis.

Table 2: Hypotheses and results

Hypothesis Wording Result

Self-efficacy in relation to instruction The associations between these
is a negative predictor of newly variables in models 1 and 2 were
1 qualified teachers turnover not significant; therefore, the
intentions. hypothesis is not supported.

Self-efficacy in relation to discipline The associations between these

is a negative predictor of the variables in models 1 and 2 were
2 turnover intentions of newly not significant; therefore, the
qualified teachers.. hypothesis is not supported.

Collective teacher efficacy is a The associations between these

negative predictor of newly variables in models 1 and 2 were
3 qualified teachers turnover not significant; therefore, the
intentions. hypothesis is not supported.

Mutual trust amongst teachers is a The association (b(TTTI) = -.21)

4 negative predictor of turnover in model 1 was significant,
intentions for newly qualified supporting the hypothesis.

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Mutual trust between teachers and The association (b(PTTI) = -.36)

principals negatively predicts in model 1 was significant,
5 turnover intentions amongst newly supporting the hypothesis.
qualified teachers.

Perceived support from the The association between these

organisation is a negative predictor variables in model 2 was not
6 of newly qualified teachers significant; therefore, the
intentions to leave their jobs. hypothesis is not supported.

Support for innovation is a negative The association between these

predictor of newly qualified variables in model 2 was not
teachers turnover intentions. significant; therefore, the
hypothesis is not supported.
Affective commitment is a negative The association (b(ACTI) = -.44)
predictor of newly qualified in model 2 was significant,
teachers turnover intentions. supporting the hypothesis.

Perceived role conflict is a positive The association (b(RCoTI) = .22)

predictor of newly qualified in model 2 was significant,
teachers turnover intentions. supporting the hypothesis.

Perceived role clarity is a negative The association between these

predictor of newly qualified variables in model 2 was not
teachers turnover intentions. significant; therefore, the
hypothesis is not supported.

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Model 1.
Teacher self-efficacy, trust and collective teacher efficacy as predictors of the turnover
intentions of newly qualified teachers. Sef instruc = teacher self-efficacy for instruction,
sef discipl = teacher self-efficacy for maintaining discipline in classroom, collect efficacy
= collective teacher efficacy, teach trust = teacherteacher trust, princip trust = teacher
principal trust. Note: The figure displays standardised coefficients. All correlations
between independent variables above .10 were significant at the 5% level, while those
above .20 were significant at the 1% level. **p < .01, *** p < .001

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2016 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.



The findings showed that relational trust between teachers and teacher-principal
trust were negatively associated with newly qualified teachers turnover
intentions. This suggests that when newly qualified teachers develop trust in
their colleagues and principals, they become less likely to want to leave their
workplace or the profession as a whole. In schools, relational trust is a mutual,
multifaceted type of social exchange (Bryk & Schneider, 2002). Such an exchange
relation can be characterised by the elements of competence, respect, personal
regard for others and integrity; these features facilitate the accomplishment of
objectives at both the personal and organisational levels. The Swedish findings
support the importance of relational trust amongst colleagues, whereas the
Norwegian findings concern principalteacher trust (Tiplic et al., 2015).
Although the teacherprincipal relationship exhibits power asymmetry, both
parties are vulnerable. A teacher can undermine the schools goals, thereby
impeding the development of the organisation development. However,
principals also make many decisions that directly affect teachers. Thus, it is
crucial to establish respectful, professional relationships amongst employees and
between new employees and their principals.

In this study, another factor that was found to predict newly qualified teachers
turnover intentions was role conflict. This result supports previous research on
the topic (Tiplic et al., 2015) and suggests that ambiguities of newly qualified
teachers roles represent a significant challenge; this has significant ramifications
for their intentions to leave their profession or workplace. While previous
research has assessed the presumed effects of perceived role conflicts in schools
(Miles & Perreault, 1976), including diminished job satisfaction amongst teachers
(Skaalvik & Skaalvik, 2010), few have considered role conflict per se occurring in
school settings (some researchers have considered perceived role conflict
pertaining to school leaders, e.g. Eckman, 2004; Gross, Mason, & McEachern,
1958). An earlier study of Norwegian beginning teachers revealed significant
associations between role conflict and turnover intention (Tiplic et al., 2015). This
similar finding supports the importance of role conflict amongst newly qualified
teachers. These findings imply that the prevention of role conflict in schools may
also mitigate teacher turnover. In this regard, the inter-correlations between the
variables might widen the understanding of role conflict and how to limit it. The
results showed that collective efficacy, support and affective commitment were
negatively correlated with role conflict (r(CERCo) = -0.37 in Model 2,
(POSPCo) = -0.68 in Model 2, (ISPCo) = -0.46 in Model 2 and (ACRCo) = -
0.46 in Model 2). These results indicate that efforts to strengthen collective

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efficacy, support and affective commitment can indirectly contribute to the

prevention of newly qualified teachers turnover intention through reducing
perceived role conflict.

As another important predictor of job satisfaction (Culver et al., 1990; Meyer et

al., 1993), affective commitment predicted newly qualified teachers intentions to
leave the profession or workplace. This indicates that amongst newly qualified
teachers, their intentions to leave the school or the profession result from lack of
a sense of belonging to their school. This result emphasises the effect of affective
commitment on individuals intentions (Hong, 2010). It also indicates the
importance employeeschool relationships when it comes to ensuring newly
qualified teachers professional growth and commitment. This result has
implications for how schools should approach staff support, work climate and
human relations.

The hypothesis concerning the relationship between a demanding environment

related to classroom management and newly qualified teachers intentions to
leave their workplace or profession was not supported by the results. Moreover,
we did not find evidence to support the hypothesis on the relationship between
challenges related to the delivery of new teaching content and turnover
intentions. It may be that because newly qualified teachers know about such
challenges, they accept their lack of experience and do not anticipate immediate
success in everyday classroom tasks. Unlike previous research that uncovered
the significant association between collective efficacy and intentions to leave
ones profession or workplace (Tiplic et al. 2015), this link was not supported in
the present study. This topic is clearly an avenue for further research.

Our results did not support the hypothesis that newly qualified teachers
perception of organisational support in schools would reduce their intentions to
leave their profession or workplace. However, Goddard and OBrien (2003)
previously reported that a lack of staff support is an important predictor of
newly qualified teachers intentions to leave their workplace or profession in
Australia. Mentoring in a Swedish context has historically followed the classical
arrangement of supportive mentoring in which individual mentors work with
individual mentees. However, in 2011, a new law imposed a probationary
process for new teachers that included a process of mentoring as supervision
characterised by mentors assessing mentees (Kemmis, Heikkinen, Fransson,
Aspfors, & Edwards-Groves, 2014). In sum, in this mentoring practice, new
teachers competence is evaluated against established teaching standards. It
could be that this extensive mentorship in Sweden satisfies newly qualified
teachers need for support (Kemmis et al., 2014). To some extent, the presence of
supportive mentors could replace the requirement for general organisational

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We did not find confirmation of the hypothesis that support for innovation in
schools mitigates the turnover intentions of newly qualified teachers. The
correlation between support for innovation and teachers turnover intentions
was negative when the other predictors were controlled for; however, this
association did not reach statistical significance. It may be that newly qualified
teachers, unlike experienced teachers, are not necessarily striving to incorporate
new ideas into their everyday tasks in the classroom. Before they start to engage
in novel solutions in the classroom, newly qualified teachers may focus on
building their self-confidence by gaining greater familiarity with managing
challenging everyday tasks. Given that schools innovation support is a positive
characteristic, the level of innovation in the schools where newly qualified
teachers are working may have significant ramifications for their professional
development in future (Siegel & Kaemmerer, 1978).

Regarding the independent variables, it was interesting to see which were

correlated with the strongest negative predictors of turnover intention (teacher
principal trust, teacherteacher trust or affective commitment) to determine the
factors relevant to keeping newly qualified teachers in their jobs. All three of
these independent variables were strongly correlated with collective efficacy
(r(TTCE) = 0.52 in Model 1, (PTCE) = 0.39 in Model 1 and (ACCE) = 0.42
in Model 2). This result indicates that these variables overlap to some degree.
Trust is likely to be a precondition for perceived collective efficacy. It also seems
likely that those who are affectively committed to their work are more likely to
report collective efficacy.

In summary, this study showed that contextual and organisational factors had a
significant effect on intentions to leave their profession or workplace amongst
newly qualified teachers in Sweden, while perceptions of individual competence
did not. Similar patterns were found in the analysis of the sample of Norwegian
beginning teachers (Tiplic et al., 2015). These similarities are not surprising. The
countries are neighbours, and they share a common teacher ethos, educational
values and educational policies (Helgy & Homme, 2006). Furthermore, from
the 1960s onward, educational policies in Norway and Sweden have been
oriented to a similar comprehensive educational project (Arnesen & Lundahl,
2006; Telhaug, Medis, & Aasen, 2006), in which schools should be inclusive,
comprehensive, with no streaming and with easy passages between the levels
(Blossing, Imsen, & Moos, 2014, p. 1). It is expected that these similarities are
extended to the values and beliefs amongst Norwegian and Swedish teachers. In
addition to the perceived attitudes of employees, the relationships of newly
qualified teachers with their organisations and with significant school
professionals were the most significant predictors of intentions to leave the
workplace or profession.

2016 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


The results showed only partial support for previous research findings relating
to significant factors in confidence on the job and the wellbeing of teachers
(Tiplic et al., 2015). For example, in the analysis of the Norwegian material, we
found significant negatively associations between teachers collective efficacy
and their turnover intention. This pattern is not present in the Swedish material.
Further, in the Swedish data, we found significant negative associations between
teacherteacher trust and teachers turnover intentions. This pattern is not
present in the Norwegian material.


One important limitation of this study is related to the sample. We were

constrained by data access in this research due to the lack of any database on
newly qualified teachers in Sweden. Therefore, our sample consisted of newly
qualified teachers whose principals responded to our request for participants.
However, we have no reason to believe that our sample is biased, or even
further, that our results are misguiding, since we studied associations between
variables that are not sensitive to population representativeness issues.

Another limitation is that we did not have an opportunity to couple newly

qualified teachers self-reporting data to objective goals in their task
performance, such as value-added measures. In addition, we did not include
other factors, such as teacher wages and school policies, to assess external factors
that affect turnover intentions amongst newly qualified teachers.


This study contributes to the literature by showing that the quality of human
relations amongst school professionals makes a difference in how teachers
perceive attrition and retention. One of our main conclusions is that the quality
of the relationships between teachers, as well as between principals and newly
qualified teachers, is an important predictor of turnover intention for new
teachers. Good relationships between principals and teachers can contribute to
reducing the uncertainty and vulnerability of newly qualified teachers, which
can benefit the entire school. Another possibility is that mutual trust amongst
teachers supports the social norms that generate shared obligations, thereby
influencing teachers judgement related to the amount effort they should put
into their work. Assuming that the statistical correlations represent causality,
relational trust is crucial to collegiality in terms of school leaders desire to
enhance the retention of newly qualified teachers. We consider that the social
glue between colleagues influences their retention of their occupational beliefs
and wants. Teachers affective commitment to the school organisation is often

2016 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


described in the literature as influencing teacher behaviour (Firestone, 1996; Toh,

Ho, Riley, & Hoh, 2006; Watt & Richardson, 2008; Canrinus, Helms-Lorenz,
Beijaard, Buitink, & Hofman, 2012).

Affective commitment is important in sustaining the job motivation of newly

qualified teachers, as it serves to reinforce their perceptions of management and
collegiality. Affective episodes are also important in sustaining the job
satisfaction of newly qualified teachers.

Finally, we found that role conflict was positively associated with turnover
intention. Role conflict was also negatively correlated with the potential
moderators of turnover intention. These findings are relevant in terms of
practice, policymaking and teachers perceptions of nation-wide school politics.
Our study provides empirical grounds for minimising newly qualified teachers
experiences of role conflict. Policymakers can increase teachers perceived role
conflict by communicating contradictory expectations. The findings presented in
this study indicate that in official discussions about schools and teaching,
politicians and other relevant actors should acknowledge the difficult issues in
teachers work, including the perception of role conflict.


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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research

Vol. 15, No. 5, pp. 128-139, April 2016

Multiple Intelligences in the Omani EFL context:

How Well Aligned are Textbooks to Students
Intelligence Profiles?

Fawzia Al Seyabi
College of Education, Sultan Qaboos University,
Sultanate of Oman

Hind AZaabi
Ministry of Education,
Sultanate of Oman

Abstract. The present study aims at identifying the multiple

intelligences (MI) profiles of grade 12 female students in Oman in the
light of Gardners theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI). It also presents
an analysis of the MI profiles of the English textbooks used in grade 12
to determine the extent to which they align or misalign with the
students profiles. The study used two instruments: 1) an MI survey
addressed to 530 students in Muscat Governorate and 2) textbook
analysis of grade twelve English textbooks. The results of the study
pointed to the existence of misalignment between the sampled students
intelligence profiles in comparison with the textbooks dominant
intelligences. The study revealed that grade twelve female students
ranked the intrapersonal talent as their strongest intelligence with
84.4%, followed by the bodily-kinesthetic, and the visual-spatial
intelligences, whereas the textbooks were found to be heavily based on
the verbal-linguistic intelligence with a 100% presence followed by the
interpersonal, and the logical-mathematical intelligences. The study
urges that future revisions of the Omani EFL curriculum are done
through the lens of MI theory in order to improve the quality of
students learning experiences.

Keywords: Multiple Intelligences (MI); Textbook analysis; Post-basic

education; Oman


The theory of Multiple Intelligence (MI) initially evolved out of Gardners work
in cognitive psychology in the 1980s (Gardner, 1984). Gardner sought to
revolutionize and widen the meaning of intelligence. Instead of defining
intelligence in terms of the traditional scholastic concepts of mathematical and

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linguistic talents, Gardner stated that human intelligence entailed at least seven
talents and that people exhibit these intelligences in rather different ways
(Campbell, Campbell & Dickenson, 1999; Gardner, 1999).

Gardners new concept of intelligence was based upon the results of his studies
in cognitive psychology and his examination of both genius people and
mentally handicapped. Gardner (1999) confirmed that the brain seems to
activate separate psychological processes that produce linguistic, numerical,
pictorial, gestural, and other kinds of symbolic systems (p. 5). As a result,
Gardner concluded that there are seven distinct intelligences which all people
possess and exhibit in rather different ways. Later on Gardner added the
naturalist intelligence - observing patterns in nature (Campbell et al., 1999;
Gardner, 2006).

The nature of each intelligence and the way the intelligences interact with each
other are determined by the surrounding environment and the individuals
genetic makeup. Each intelligence is associated with certain end-states and
contains central processes (Gardner & Hatch, 1989). Table 1 demonstrates
Gardners original seven intelligences from 1984, along with their related end-
states and core components.

Table 1: MI Theory, its end-states, and core components

(Note: Adopted from Gardner & Hatch, 1989 )

Intelligence End-states Core Components

Logical- Scientist Sensitivity to, and capacity to discern
mathematical Mathematician logical patterns.

Linguistic Poet Sensitivity to the sounds, rhythms, and

Journalist meanings of words.
Musical Composer Abilities to produce and appreciate
Violinist rhythm, pitch, and timbre.
Spatial Navigator Capacities to perceive the visual spatial
Sculptor world accurately.
Bodily-kinesthetic Dancer Abilities to control ones body
Athlete movements and to handle objects
Interpersonal Therapist Capacities to discern and respond
Salesman appropriately to the moods of other
Intrapersonal Person with Access to ones own feelings and the
detailed, ability to discriminate among them.
accurate self-

After a decade of proposing his theory, Gardner weighed the presence of two
more intelligences: the naturalist intelligence, and the existential intelligence.

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Both intelligences scored high on Gardners previously mentioned eight criteria

of intelligence. However, Gardner could not fully approve of the existential
intelligence, as it may be part of human emotions. Hence, the revised list of
Gardners multiple intelligences comprised eight intelligences through
including the naturalist intelligence (Gardner, 2006).

Numerous advantages of using MI in education have been pointed out in the

literature (Ibnian & Hadban, 2013; Dastgoshadeh & Jalilzadeh, 2011; Chan, 2000;
Celik, 2012; Ahmad, Seman, Awang & Sulaiman, 2015; Freedman, 2015). One of
these advantages is the suitability of the MI theory for the 21st learner as it caters
for the individual growth not only at the educational level but also the
emotional and social levels. Furthermore, the theory of MI calls for a fuller
appreciation of the human intellect. Maintaining learner motivation is another
characteristic of MI. Ibnian & Hadban (2013) carried out a study in Jordan to
explore the characteristics of MI theory as well as its possible applications in the
ELT field. They suggested that considering all nine intelligences - the ninth
intelligence is the spiritual intelligence- in designing classroom tasks and lesson
plans plays a significant role in arousing learners interests and making them
more responsive. They further named procedures to incorporate MI in teaching
such as handicrafts, songs, drama, and games. Finally, the researchers
concluded that MI theory could be an attractive choice to enhance learners

In spite of these well-acknowledged advantages, some studies described how

school curriculum could sometimes fail to address students multiple
intelligences. Some teaching textbooks are found to be misaligned with MI
theory and students intelligence profiles (Abbasian & Khanjavi, 2012;
Ibragimova, 2011; Taase, Satariyan, & Salimi, 2014), as they are more usually
built around the traditional intelligences: the verbal-linguistic, and the logical-
mathematical intelligences. To help further investigate this issue, the present
study is set to examine the students MI profiles in one particular EFL context,
that is grade 12 students in Oman and then explore the extent to which the
Omani EFL textbooks address these intelligence profiles.

Research Questions
The present study is guided by two main questions:
1-What are the MI (Multiple Intelligences) profiles of EFL grade twelve female
2- To what extent do the MI profiles of grade twelve English textbooks align (or
misalign) with the students MI profiles?

A. Population and Sample

The study used a website www.surveysystem.com/sscalc.htm in order to

calculate the student sample size: 530 (15%) out of a population of 3486 with a

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confidence level of 95% and a confidence interval of 2.8. The student population
size comprised of 3486 grade twelve female students in Muscat Governorate for
the academic year 2014/2015 according to the Department of Statistics in
Muscat Educational Directorate. Cluster sampling was employed to determine
the sampled students. The MI surveys were distributed to 530 grade twelve
female students; the majority came from intact classes at four randomly
sampled schools.

B. Research Instruments

The present study used two instruments: (a) a student MI survey, and (b)
textbook analysis.

1) MI student survey. A multiple intelligence inventory -originally developed

by McKenzie (1999)- was used in order to identify students MI profiles. The
survey was first adapted to suit the Omani culture. Then it was translated into
Arabic and accompanied with an introduction and a personal section.

The survey targeted grade twelve female students in Muscat governorate. It

consisted of two primary sections. The first section asked for student personal
information. The second section consisted of eighty MI statements split into
four subsections for surveying the eight intelligences; each subsection had
twenty MI statements. A yes-no scale was used to identify whether the
statements applied or did not apply to the respondents. A panel of eight judges
validated the survey.

2) Analysis of grade twelve Engage with English textbooks. The Engage

with English series are textbooks designed and produced by the Ministry of
Education in Oman. The researchers categorized the textbooks activities
(activities in the course book and workbook of Engage with English for grade
twelve of the second semester) into the eight modalities of intelligences using
Campbell et al.s (1999) instructional menus as a guide. The eight menus list
examples of possible instructional objectives that belong to the eight
intelligences and thus aid categorization of the activities. A total count of 241
activities was described in terms of their addressed intelligences.

A panel of eight judges validated the textbook analysis. This was done by
providing them with a sampled textbook analysis of unit one in theme one
along with copies of the coursebook, workbook, related pages from the
teachers book as well as Campbell et al.s Instructional Menus (1999). Inter-
rater reliability was employed to ensure the reliability and consistency of
categorizing the textbook activities into the eight MI types

Results and discussion

Students MI Profiles
Results concerning students MI profiles are presented in Table 2 below.

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Table 2: Students MI Profiles

Types of Multiple intelligence Mean (out of 10) Standard

1. Intrapersonal intelligence 8.44 1.182
2.Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence 7.78 1.690
3.Visual-spatial intelligence 7.60 1.714
4. Naturalist intelligence 7.33 3.613
5.Logical-mathematical 6.79 1.449
6. Musical intelligence 6.40 1.842
7. Interpersonal intelligence 6.39 1.843
8.Verbal-linguistic intelligence 6.36 1.679

Table 2 presents the results according to the types of multiple intelligences. The
mean and the standard deviation of the sampled students responses towards
the statement are given, bearing in mind that the mean is out of a total of ten. By
considering the mean, it seems that students intrapersonal intelligence
dominates their MI profile since students responses to the intrapersonal
intelligence scored the highest mean of 8.44. The second strongest intelligence
for students is the bodily-kinesthetic with a mean of 7.78. Visual-spatial
intelligence ranks third with 7.60. Natural intelligence ranks fourth with a mean
of 7.33. Logical-mathematical intelligence occupies the fifth rank with 6.79.
Musical intelligence ranks sixth with 6.40. The interpersonal intelligence and the
verbal-linguistic intelligence rank seventh and eighth respectively.

When applying the concept of quartiles to the data obtained from the students
questionnaire, the intrapersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, and visual-spatial
intelligences occupy the upper quartile, whereas all other intelligences occupy
the middle quartile.

In terms of the standard deviation, the expected normal standard deviation for
this scale of data (out of 10) is 1.67. By considering the values of the standard
deviation of the eight variables as illustrated in Table 2, it seems that the
standard deviation of six intelligences falls within normal variance. However,
the standard deviation of the intrapersonal intelligence (1.182) and the standard
deviation of the naturalist intelligence (3.613) are rather different. To explain
further, the sample responses of the statements of intrapersonal intelligence
seem to be more homogeneous, while the sample responses of the statements of
the naturalist intelligence seem to be more heterogeneous than would be
expected in normal variance.

Looking back at the ranking of personal intelligences (intrapersonal and

interpersonal intelligences), it seems that students prefer to work individually

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and reflect on their own rather than to work cooperatively in groups. Such an
inference comes from the fact that students rank intrapersonal intelligence first
while they rank interpersonal intelligence seventh. Hence, intrapersonal
activities that involve indulging in self-reflection, setting goals, having options,
and carrying out an assessment of ones own learning, feelings, and life can be
more attractive for grade twelve students. In terms of bodily kinesthetic
intelligence, which ranks second in students list of intelligences, grade twelve
students are more inclined to engage their bodily-kinesthetic performance to
show their understanding rather than sit still in one corner during lessons. The
visual-spatial talent of the students is also at a reasonable degree since it ranks
third in their MI profile. The involvement of colors, concept maps, posters,
collages, and active imagination in learning could enhance students
understanding as suggested by neuroscience research (Lazear, 2014).

In addition to the three most predominant student intelligences (intrapersonal,

bodily-kinesthetic, and visual-spatial intelligences), other intelligences seem to
appeal to students but to a lesser degree. For instance, the naturalist intelligence
ranks fourth while the logical-mathematical intelligence ranks fifth in their MI
profile. Also, musical intelligence does not appear to suit students interests.
This may be attributed mainly to cultural factors.

The verbal-linguistic intelligence ranks last in comparison to the rest of the

seven intelligences. Although this might suggest that students are less
motivated towards languages or language learning, language still composes the
major vehicle of expressing and transmitting all other intelligences. The
intrapersonal intelligence, for example, is best depicted through writing
journals, reflections, and personal aspirations. Without arranging logical
meaning in a sentence or paragraph layout, it would be difficult to engage and
strengthen intrapersonal reflection. According to Gardner, intelligences do not
work separately but they work in combination with each other (2006, p. 8).

Interestingly, Ibragimova (2011) found similar results in terms of students MI

profiles. In his study, the intrapersonal intelligence ranked first while musical,
linguistic, and interpersonal intelligences ranked sixth, seventh, and eighth,
respectively, similar to the case in this study. Students bodily-kinesthetic
intelligence in Ibragimovas study ranked third which is close to the students
ranking in the present study. Also, students in Ibragimovas study ranked the
naturalist intelligence as the fourth intelligence just as is the case with grade
twelve students in the present study. However, the results of the present study
run counter to the findings of the study by Modirkhamene & Azhiri (2012) in
which students preferred intelligences were interpersonal, musical, and
naturalist types.

Students MI Profile and the Textbooks MI Profile

This section presents results answering the second research question which
addresses the level of alignment (or misalignment) between the EFL textbooks
used in grade 12 in Oman and students MI profiles.

2016 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


Figure 1 shows the difference between students MI profiles and the textbooks
MI profiles in an ascending order as number one stands for the most dominant
intelligence while number eight stands for the least dominant intelligence in
both profiles.

Students MI profile (percentage of Textbooks MI profile

the mean)

84.40% 1- Verbal- 100%

1- Intrapersonal Linguistic
77.80% 2- Interpersonal 54.94%
2- Bodily-kinesthetic
3- Logical- 39.42%
3- Visual-spatial 76%

73.30% 4-Intrapersonal 19.09%

4- Natural

5- Logical- 5- Visual-Spatial 11.20%

6-Natural 10%
6- Musical 64%
7- Bodily- 0.83%
7- Interpersonal 63.90% Kinesthetic
8- Musical 0%
8- Verbal - linguistic 63.60%

Figure 1: Students MI profiles versus the textbooks MI profile

As Figure 1 illustrates, there is a noticeable degree of misalignment between

students MI profile and the textbooks MI profile. When correlating the ranks
in both profiles, the value of the Spearman correlation is -0.48, which indicates a
moderate negative correlation between the ranks of intelligences in student
profile and the textbook profile. This indicates that the increase of a certain
intelligence in one profile is accompanied by the decrease of the same
intelligence in the other profile.

To shed more light on the negative correlation between the students MI profile
and the textbooks MI profile, we should consider the verbal-linguistic, the
interpersonal, the intrapersonal and the bodily-Kinesthetic intelligences. To
begin with, number one intelligence in grade twelve English textbooks is the
verbal-linguistic domain with 100% prevalence. On the other hand, the verbal-
linguistic ranks last in students MI profile since its mean percentage is 63.60%.
By the same token, the interpersonal intelligence comes second in the textbooks
MI profile, but it occupies the reversed position in students MI profiles. In
terms of the visual-spatial intelligence, it ranks third in students MI profile
with a mean percentage of 76% while it ranks fifth with 11.20% presence in the

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textbooks activities. The logical-mathematical intelligence ranks third in the

textbooks whereas it ranks fifth in students MI profile. Conversely, the musical
intelligence ranks sixth in students profile while it ranks last in the textbook MI
profile since there is no presence at all for music in the textbook activities. As
for the natural talent, there is relatively less misalignment for it ranks fourth in
students profile while it comes sixth in the textbooks profile.

In the section that follows, the nature of the misalignment is further

highlighted. Linking students preferences in terms of MI theory into the
existing MI profile of the English textbooks sheds more light upon the extent of
the misalignment, its possible reasons as well as its possible solutions.

Misalignment in the verbal-linguistic and interpersonal intelligences

There is a sharp contradiction between the presentation of the verbal-linguistic
and interpersonal intelligences in the textbooks as the two most dominant
intelligences when compared to their presence in students MI profile as the
least dominant intelligences. All 241 activities in the textbooks are of a verbal-
linguistic type as 39 out of the 241 activities are purely linguistic, while the rest
are merged with other intelligences particularly the interpersonal intelligence.
Even so, the surveyed students ranked both the verbal-linguistic and the
interpersonal intelligences as their least favorite ones. Other descriptive studies
have also indicated a disparity between English language textbooks and
students MI profiles such as Ibrgimova (2011); Abbasian & Khajavi (2012); and
Taase et al. (2014). The discrepancy in the Omani setting may indicate that the
verbal-linguistic and interpersonal nature of the activities in the English
textbooks fail to develop students positive attitude towards these two
intelligences. Here it is important to mention that Engage with English
textbooks are taught in both grades eleven and twelve. Consequently, the
quality of these activities needs to be upgraded and made more varied to
appeal to students varied interests and satisfy their intelligences.

Misalignment in the intrapersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, and visual-spatial

As mentioned earlier, the intrapersonal, bodily-kinesthetic, and visual-spatial
intelligences rank first, second, and third in the students profile while they
rank fourth, seventh, and fifth in the textbooks profile. This trio of intelligences
constitutes the students preferred intelligences. On the other hand, there is a
less emphasis on them in the textbooks, especially the bodily-kinesthetic
intelligence that is represented in less than 1% of the activities. It can be
concluded that grade twelve students are taught Engage with English
textbooks without much attention to their dominant learning inputs. This might
partially explain what some studies have reported in terms of Omani students
lack of motivation and hence lack of command of the English language (Sergon,
2011; Ministry of Education and the World Bank, 2011; Al Maashani, 2011; Al-
Issa & Al-Bulushi, 2011).

Misalignment in the naturalist intelligence. The naturalist intelligence ranks

fourth in students profile with 73.30%. As for the textbooks MI profile, it ranks
sixth with 10%. The environmental nature of the passages in one particular

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theme in the textbook is what accounts for the 10% presence of the naturalist
intelligence. Thus, the tasks and activities in themselves do not invoke
naturalist intelligence. Hence the 10% of naturalist material in the textbooks
needs to be raised both in quantity as well as quality through the adaptation of
more genuinely naturalist tasks.

Misalignment in the musical intelligence. As for the musical intelligence, it

ranks sixth in students profiles with a means percentage of 64% while it ranks
eighth in the textbooks MI profile since it is not addressed at all in the
activities. The absence of musical activities in the textbooks could partially be
attributed to students age; there is a stronger presence of music in elementary
classrooms (Mills, 2001) compared with post-basic education as students are
expected to be more focused on their academic goals, considering that year 12
marks the last stage of their school years. Lazear (2014), however, stresses the
importance of musical intelligence in the learning process when he stated the
consciousness altering effect of music and rhythm on the brain is probably the
greatest. Similarly, Eberle (2011) emphasized the connection between the
musical and the linguistic talents describing the relationship between them as
complementary, especially when one attempts to play with the patterns and
sounds of the language.

Misalignment in the logical-mathematical intelligence. The logical-

mathematical intelligence ranks third in the textbooks profile while it ranks
fifth in students profile. The observed trend in textbooks logical-mathematical
activities is its presence in the form of answering the question why and
ordering topics. Since one of the textbooks aims is to nurture the students
higher order way of thinking (Ministry of Education, 2009), such logical
activities might not suffice to promote the cognitive domain, taking into
consideration that students logical-mathematical talent ranks fifth in their MI


Based on the apparent misalignments between the textbooks MI profile and the
students MI profile in almost all of the intelligences, it is fair to conclude that
there is an MI gap that separates students, on one hand, and the English
textbooks, on the other hand. It hence becomes urgent that future revisions of
the Omani EFL curriculum (Ministry of Education and the World Bank, 2011)
are done through the lens of MI theory in order to improve the quality of
students learning experiences.

Textbooks are essential tools for teaching English at schools. Thus, textbooks
plus their resources need to be reformulated in the light of the MI approach. As
Gardner (1999) points out there are three main stages in designing an MI
environment (p. 145). These steps are (a) establishing practical educational
goals, (b) carrying out practices or strategies (based on MI theory), and (c)
evaluating the process and the product (based on MI measurements). In this
case, syllabus designers need to be precise on their educational objectives. Then,

2016 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


after grasping the concepts of MI theory, they can use MI strategies and
practices to achieve the clearly stated goals. Finally, syllabus designers along
with teachers, students, school administrators, and parents can be involved in
evaluating the success of the MI practices and modifying them if necessary.

Saying so, it is still important to acknowledge the fact that textbooks used to
teach at schools constitute only one part of school curriculum. Besides
textbooks, schools can create other conditions supportive to their students most
dominant intelligences. This can be achieved through a variety of methods such
as raising teachers awareness of the importance of considering students MI
profiles, varying teachers teaching techniques to accommodate students most
dominant intelligences and involving students in a wide range of extra-
curricular activities that address different intelligence types.


The authors would like to thank and acknowledge the participation of the grade
12 students from Muscat Governorate who contributed to the completion and
success of this study.


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Fawzia Al Seyabi has a PhD in TEFL from the University of Essex, UK in 2002.
She is a faculty member in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in
College of Education, Sultan Qaboos University. Her research interests involve
EFL curriculum and teaching methods, intercultural communication,
humanistic approaches in teaching and the role of culture in foreign language
teaching and learning.

Hind Al Zaabi has a Master of Education in Curriculum and Teaching Methods

in English language from Sultan Qaboos University in the Sultanate of Oman.
She has been teaching English in Omani schools for more than ten years. Her
research interests include teaching methodology and curriculum design.

2016 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.