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Vol.15 No.2
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VOLUME 15 NUMBER 2 February 2016

Table of Contents
The Development and Factor Structure of the Faculty Perceptions of Statistics (FPS) Scale ........................................ 1
Laura Taylor, Kirsten Doehler and Jessalyn Smith

Teachers who Attract or Repel: A Glimpse at Student Expectations of their Tertiary-Level Teachers .................... 21
Dr Stephen Joseph

The Effects of Goal Type, Learning Interest, and Task Difficulty on Learning English Words ................................ 32
Pengcheng Zhang and Zhe Wang, Olusola Adesope

An ICT Approach for Implementing Emerging Technologies for Teaching and Learning in Low Resource
Communities: Lessons Learnt from Namibia .................................................................................................................. 47
Shehu M and Jere N.R

Descriptive Study on Grade 2 Pupils Relationship Behavior and School Adjustment As Perceived By Teachers:
The Case of Jimma Zone, Oromia ...................................................................................................................................... 65
Fisseha Mikre and Nasser Aba-Milki

The Magnitude of Teacher Expectation Effects: Differences in Students, Teachers and Contexts ............................ 76
Zheng Li

Principles and Practices of ESP Course DesignA Case Study of a University of Science and Technology .......... 94
Chin-Ling Lee

Escalating Ability to Write Papers: To Make Use of Direct Instruction....................................................................... 106


Ismail Marzuki

Students Attitudes and English Language Performance in Secondary Schools in Tanzania ................................. 117
Gilman Jackson Nyamubi, Ph.D
1

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 1-20, February 2016

The Development and Factor Structure of the


Faculty Perceptions of Statistics (FPS) Scale

Laura Taylor and Kirsten Doehler


Elon University
Elon, NC, USA

Jessalyn Smith
Pacific Metrics
Monterey, CA, USA

Abstract. The purpose of this study is to introduce the Faculty


Perceptions of Statistics (FPS) scale, report on clusters associated with
the inventory, and provide analytical comparisons of sum scores based
on demographics. Items on the FPS scale refer to numerous facets of
statistics such as the use of statistics in teaching and scholarship. A
larger version of the FPS scale was administered online at seven
universities and colleges to 747 participants. This research reports on a
preliminary validation of the FPS scale to measure attitudes of college
faculty towards the statistics discipline based on hierarchical cluster
analysis with n=674 participants who completed all items. Seven
clusters within the FPS scale were utilized: Comfort, General Teaching,
Expectations, Statistical Literacy, Scholarship, Effective Teaching, and
Benefits. The Cronbachs alpha values for the individual clusters ranged
from 0.58 to 0.92. This article also highlights numerous results of the
data collected by cluster based on participant demographics, such as
discipline and previous statistical experience.

Keywords: attitudes toward statistics; hierarchical cluster analysis;


factor structure; scale development.

1. Introduction
In light of the widespread teaching and use of statistics, it is important to
understand the perceptions towards statistics held by faculty in other disciplines
since they serve as role models to their students. Faculty perceptions and use of
statistics could have a significant impact on students perceptions and uses of
statistics.

There is a growing collection of research related to students attitudes and


perceptions toward the field of statistics, and several inventories exist to
measure these student views. Some prominent inventories include: the Survey of
Attitudes Toward Statistics (Roberts & Bilderback, 1980); the Attitudes Toward

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2

Statistics Scale (Wise, 1985); the Statistics Anxiety Rating Scale (Cruise, Cash, &
Bolton, 1985); the Survey of Attitudes Towards Statistics (Schau, Stevens,
Dauphinee, & Del Vecchio, 1995); and the Mathematics and Statistics
Perceptions Scale (Cherney & Cooney, 2005). These instruments focus on
understanding how statistics is viewed by students, and often include questions
related to whether students believe that statistics is useful in daily life. Previous
research has led to many important findings on students attitudes toward
statistics, including an entire special issue of the Statistics Education Research
Journal devoted to the topic (Schau, Miller, & Petocz, 2012). Findings related to
student attitudes indicate a correlation between students attitudes and
academic gain (Emmiolu & Capa-Aydin, 2012). Additionally, Cherney and
Cooney (2005) state that there is a significant, positive correlation between
statistics attitudes and students final grades. These results are important due to
the potential for faculty attitudes to impact students attitudes toward statistics.

Recent research has explored comparative classroom experiments on student


attitudes towards statistics. For example, Gundlach et al. (2015) investigated
attitudes among students taking a statistical literacy course in traditional, online,
and flipped classes. Winquist and Carlson (2014) also looked at the effects of
flipped classrooms for introductory statistics, but they considered the impacts a
year after instruction and reported significantly higher retention for students in
the flipped-classrooms. Ciftci, Karadag, and Akdal (2014) examined the impacts
of using computer-based tools in statistics instruction for teacher candidates
through a variety of scales to measure student attitudes and anxiety related to
statistics. A small research study conducted by Autin, Marchionda, and Bateiha
(2014) investigated the effects of a student-centered collaborative-learning class
on student attitudes toward statistics and indicated some potential benefits to
student-centered collaborative learning.

However, Shaughnessy (2007) states there has been very little research into []
teachers beliefs and attitudes toward statistics (p. 1001) as quoted in Eichler
(2010). The only previous research the authors have found on the topic of
faculty perceptions toward statistics were the Faculty Attitudes Toward
Statistics scale (Hassad & Coxon, 2007) and the Teaching of Introductory
Statistics Scale (Hassad, 2011). However, Hassad focused on perceptions of
faculty who teach statistics in behavior science programs and/or health
programs. Based on the authors knowledge, there is no survey which considers
attitudes of all faculty towards the discipline of statistics, a field utilized by
many other disciplines. Additionally, Hassads Teaching of Introductory
Statistics Scale focused on pedagogical aspects of teaching statistics, which are
not considered in this research. Hassad (2013) has also developed the Attitude
Toward Technology Integrations Scale, which measures attitudes of statistics
instructors. In addition, Hassad (2015) has surveyed statistics instructors about
the extent to which they teach statistical literacy and highlights discrepancies
between what is actually taught and what instructors intend to teach.

It is necessary to further understand statistics perceptions of faculty, especially


faculty within client disciplines. These client faculty are interacting with

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3

students who exit out of introductory statistics and enter their classes to use
statistics. Therefore, a symbiotic relationship exists between statistics
departments and client disciplines whereby statistics courses prepare students to
be successful in their major area of study. Faculty attitudes and perceptions are
an important area of research, particularly outside of mathematics and statistics
departments, since statistics is widely taught and utilized by faculty across many
client disciplines (Sterling, Rosenbaum, & Weinkam, 1995; Carlson, 2002; Switzer
& Horton, 2007; Doehler, Taylor, & Smith, 2013). Indeed, Eichler (2010) states
that future research should investigate the teachers attitudes towards statistics
in more countries involving more representative samples of ordinary teachers
(p. 4). The research presented here considers individuals teaching statistics
within many other disciplines. Therefore, it helps to fill a gap in the literature.
Since statistics is utilized and taught by faculty in a large number of disciplines,
it is imperative to also consider how faculty perceive statistics. If instructors
have a poor attitude towards statistics and its usefulness, they could prevent
statistics from being a positive experience for their students. Garfield, Hogg,
Schau, and Whittinghill (2002) state that our courses should attempt to build
strong positive attitudes towards statistics [] to increase their chances of using
statistics after they leave our courses (p. 3). It seems logical that if this is a goal,
then instructors and other individuals who influence students should also have
strong positive attitudes towards statistics. Zieffler et al. (2008) recognize the
need for instructors to help students have a positive learning experience when
studying statistics. They also state that learning of statistics could increase if
students attitudes toward the discipline improved. Therefore, student learning
of statistics may increase when positive attitudes towards the discipline are
displayed by faculty. Although this likely applies more so to faculty teaching
statistics within any discipline, this may also apply to faculty who do not
actually teach statistics. For example, if a student taking an introductory
statistics class overhears a professor in another discipline saying that doing
statistics is too hard for him/her, this could negatively impact the students
learning.

The study presented in this manuscript is of importance to the educational


research community since a large portion of academics teach statistical topics,
whether it be within a course in a client discipline or in an actual statistics
course. Section 2 discusses features of the survey and results of the hierarchical
cluster analysis that was performed. Section 3 presents a summary of sum
scores for each demographic characteristic as well as discussion of inference
based on the demographic categories. Concluding remarks are provided in
Section 4.

2. Methodology
The Faculty Perceptions of Statistics (FPS) survey items were developed by the
authors to be similar in intent to those in the aforementioned student attitude
scales. Modifications and adjustments were made to a few items from student
attitude scales so that the instructor was the intended audience. Many items
were crafted based on characteristics which the authors believed would impact
faculty attitudes. Question items in the FPS were intended to cover aspects of

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4

teaching statistics, use of statistics, and statistics in research. A working draft of


the initial scale was reviewed by three experts in scale development and two
subject matter experts. Additionally, an initial analysis was conducted using the
first working draft of the scale. The initial data were analyzed to verify the
scales psychometric characteristics were within industry standards. The final
version of the FPS collected information on attitudes and perceptions of faculty
towards statistics. This study was conducted under IRB approval. There were
747 participants in the overall study collected from seven colleges and
universities in the United States. Responses were collected from four private
schools and three public institutions. Of the 747 responses collected, n=674
individuals completed all 33 Likert scale items (see Table 1) used in the
hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA) presented in this paper. All Likert items
used in the cluster analysis were on a six-point scale from strongly disagree to
strongly agree. Demographic information was also collected related to the
participants previous statistical coursework, highest degree attained, years of
teaching experience, job position, discipline, sex, school type (private or public),
and use of statistics in teaching.

Table 1: Faculty Perceptions of Statistics Scale with Cluster Identification.


Item Label Survey Item Cluster

General_H I feel comfortable interpreting statistical results. 1 Comfort

I feel comfortable reading scholarly articles that use


Research_B 1 Comfort
statistical analyses.
I feel confident advising students using statistical analyses
Research_D 1 Comfort
in their research.

Given the opportunity, I think I would like to teach classes 2 General


Teaching_A
that discuss or use statistics. Teaching
It is likely that I will educate students on statistical analyses
2 General
Teaching_C (hypothesis tests, confidence intervals, regression, etc.) in
Teaching
my classes.
It is likely that my students will understand statistical 2 General
Teaching_D
analyses after taking my class. Teaching
I would feel comfortable using basic statistical methods in 2 General
Teaching_E
courses that I teach. Teaching
I would feel comfortable using advanced statistical methods 2 General
Teaching_F
in courses that I teach. Teaching

I expect my students to do well in an introductory statistics 3


Education_A
course. Expectations
I expect introductory statistics courses to be relatively easy 3
Education_B
for my students. Expectations
It is important for my students to understand basic statistics
3
Education_C in order to do well in my upper-level undergraduate
Expectations
classes.

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5

It is useful to be able to understand basic statistics (poll 4 Statistical


General_A
results, averages in newspaper articles, etc). Literacy
I am confident that I understand basic statistics (poll results, 4 Statistical
General_B
averages in newspaper articles, etc). Literacy
I am confident that I can interpret graphs and charts 4 Statistical
General_C
appropriately. Literacy
I think statistical literacy is an important part of being an 4 Statistical
General_F
informed citizen. Literacy
4 Statistical
General_G Statistical literacy is important for my field of study.
Literacy
It is useful to be able to carry out statistical procedures or 4 Statistical
General_I
methods. Literacy

It is likely that I will use statistical techniques when 5


Research_A
conducting research. Scholarship
5
Research_C I find it important to use statistical analyses in my research.
Scholarship
I feel that using statistical methods makes research papers 5
Research_E
stronger. Scholarship
5
Research_F Articles that use statistical methods are more trustworthy.
Scholarship
5
Research_G Applying statistical techniques makes my research stronger.
Scholarship
It is more likely that I can get a scholarly paper published if 5
Research_H
it includes statistical analyses. Scholarship
Statistical interpretations written in lay terms have more 5
Research_I
impact than those technically written. Scholarship

It is likely that I will use statistics (poll results, averages, 6 Effective


Teaching_B
graphs, etc.) in my teaching. Teaching
The courses that I teach would be enhanced if I had greater 6 Effective
Teaching_G
statistical knowledge. Teaching
For the classes that I teach, it is more important for students
6 Effective
Teaching_H to be able to interpret statistical results than to compute
Teaching
statistics.
I feel that a student with an understanding of statistics
(relative to my field) is more likely to have the independent
Education_D 7 Benefits
reasoning/analytical skills needed to succeed in the
workplace.
Students with a better understanding of statistics will have
Education_E 7 Benefits
an advantage when applying and interviewing for a job.
I feel that a student with an understanding of statistics
(relative to my field) is more likely to have the independent
Education_F 7 Benefits
reasoning/analytical skills needed to succeed in graduate
school.

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6

Students with a better understanding of statistics will have


Education_G 7 Benefits
an advantage when applying to graduate school.
I feel that having some statistical training is important for
Education_H 7 Benefits
today's college graduate.

General_D I like using statistical formulas. DROPPED

To examine the underlying relationship between the survey items, HCA with
complete linkage was used. Clusters were identified using a dendrogram and
descriptive statistics. The best solution presented seven unique clusters of
items, each having moderate to high reliability. During the initial analysis, one
original survey item (General_D) was dropped from the final solution due to
lack of fit. Specifically, the item had very little variability among respondents
and did not fit with any of the clusters found in the solution. This brought the
final FPS scale to 32 items. The sizes of the clusters ranged from three to seven
items. The unique traits that underlie each cluster are as follows: (1) comfort
with statistics, (2) general statistics in teaching, (3) student expectations with
statistics and success in a statistics course, (4) statistical literacy, (5) use of
statistics in own research or scholarship, (6) using statistics as part of an effective
teaching practice, and (7) benefits of statistics to a students training. Note that
the cluster information can be found in Table 1 with abbreviated cluster titles.
Figure 1 shows the dendrogram for the final solution with the seven clusters or
scales. For each of the clusters identified in the analysis, summary statistics are
reported in Table 2. There was little variance in the responses on the Comfort,
Expectations, and Effective Teaching scales. The highest variances were
observed on the General Teaching andCluster
Scholarship
Dendrogram scales.
1.2
1.1
1.0
0.9

General_A
General_I
General_F

General_G
Research_D

Teaching_B
Teaching_H
0.8

General_B

General_C
Height

Education_H
Teaching_A
General_D

Education_C

Education_D

Education_F
Research_B
General_H

Education_A
Education_B

Teaching_G

Research_I
Teaching_E
0.7

Research_E
Education_G
Education_E

Research_A
Research_C
Teaching_F

Research_F
0.6

Research_G
Research_H
0.5

Teaching_C

Teaching_D

Figure 1: Final cluster solution based on hierarchical cluster analysis


with complete linkage.
dmat
hclust (*, "complete")

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7

Table 2: Sum score summary statistics by cluster.


Cluster/Scale N Min Q1 Median Mean Q3 Max SD
1Comfort 3 3 10.0 13.0 12.0 14.0 15.0 2.8
2General
Teaching 5 5 11.3 17.0 16.5 22.0 25.0 6.1
3Expectations 3 3 9.0 10.0 10.1 12.0 15.0 2.4
4Statistical
Literacy 6 6 26.0 28.5 27.5 30.0 30.0 3.2
5Scholarship 7 7 24.0 30.0 27.7 33.0 35.0 6.2
6Effective
Teaching 3 3 10.0 11.0 11.0 13.0 15.0 2.6
7Benefits 5 5 18.0 21.0 20.3 23.0 25.0 3.8

Cronbachs alpha was computed to examine the strength of each cluster.


Additionally, to examine the relationship between the clusters, the correlation
between each cluster was also calculated. Table 3 shows the reliabilities and
correlations between clusters. Note that the reliabilities are in bold along the
diagonal. The alpha values indicate that the clusters have moderate to strong
reliability, which supports the clusters measuring the same trait. Additionally,
the correlations between clusters tend to be in the moderate range which
supports the notion that the clusters are measuring unique traits. Note that the
most related clusters are Comfort and General Teaching. The most unique pairs
of clusters are Comfort and Effective Teaching, Comfort and Expectations, and
Expectations and Effective Teaching.

Table 3: Cronbachs alpha (diagonal) for each cluster and the inter-cluster
correlations.
Cluster/Scale 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1Comfort 0.85
2General Teaching 0.78 0.92
3Expectations 0.36 0.49 0.58
4Statistical Literacy 0.66 0.61 0.37 0.80
5Scholarship 0.56 0.54 0.41 0.53 0.88
6Effective Teaching 0.36 0.54 0.36 0.48 0.45 0.60
7Benefits 0.45 0.53 0.49 0.54 0.60 0.45 0.87

3. Results
The following section describes the demographics of the sample used in the
cluster analysis. Additionally, to gain a better understanding of the differences
in perception of statistics among various demographics, the findings from the
cluster analysis were used to determine if there were identifiable differences
between any demographic subgroups. This was carried out using simultaneous
confidence intervals which were generated using Fishers LSD adjustment to
control the family-wise type I error rate at 0.05. The following sections highlight
some of the more interesting differences detected, but for brevity, all significant
differences are not highlighted.

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8

3.1. Demographics
There were 674 respondents from seven universities and colleges in the United
States who answered all of the original 33 Likert scale items considered. The
participant pool was fairly even between females (51%) and males (49%).
Approximately 85% of respondents had taken a statistics class. Of these
individuals, about 82% had taken their most recent statistics class at the
graduate level. The mean and median of the number of years taught by
respondents were 13.3 and 10 years, respectively. The corresponding standard
deviation was 10.5 years.

Respondents came from a variety of levels of academic attainment. There were


69% with a Ph.D., 19% with a Masters degree, 4% with a Professional degree, 1%
with a Bachelors degree, and 6% of participants indicated some other degree as
their highest level of attainment.

Presented in Table 4 is the distribution of position type within each academic


area for the survey respondents. The two disciplines most represented were
STEMS (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, and Statistics) and
Social/Behavioral Science with 21% and 20% of responses, respectively.
Additionally, most participants had a professorial position (72%) or non-
professorial teaching position (21%). Individuals on non-professorial teaching
tracks held positions such as lecturer, adjunct, instructor, or similar position.
The small number of individuals who selected Other as their teaching position
tended to identify themselves as professor emeritus, staff, or having multiple
positions.

Table 4: Demographic distribution of faculty position type within academic area.


Assist. Assoc. Full Teach-
Academic Area Admin Prof. Prof. Prof. ing Other Total
Arts 0 7 7 3 12 0 29
Business/Mgmt. 2 13 16 12 13 3 59
Communications 2 8 6 4 8 0 28
Education 2 21 16 7 16 3 65
Health/Medicine 1 27 32 25 14 11 110
Humanities 0 13 22 14 26 1 76
Professional Fields 4 5 4 5 4 4 26
STEMS 2 36 33 38 25 5 139
Social/Behavioral
Sciences 5 42 35 28 24 4 138
Vocational/Technical
Fields 0 2 1 0 1 0 4
Total 18 174 172 136 143 31 674

Almost 31% of respondents indicated that they use statistics or teach statistical
methods in their classes frequently or almost all of the time, while 32%
stated that they use statistics occasionally in their teaching. The remaining 37%
of respondents reported using statistics rarely or never in their teaching. A

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9

vast majority of respondents indicated that they were comfortable teaching


statistical procedures in their undergraduate courses, with only 12.5% indicating
that they were neutral or not comfortable teaching statistics.

Sum scores were calculated for each scale to measure statistics attitudes and
were combined to calculate an overall sum score. Table 5 contains summary
statistics for average overall sum scores and averages for each of the seven scale
sum scores for each demographic category.

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10

Table 5: Summary statistics of sum scores for major demographics reported as mean
(standard deviation).

Expectations

Scholarship
Statistical
Teaching

Teaching
Effective
Comfort

Literacy

Benefits
General
Overall

7
Previous statistics coursework
No (n=101) 104.4 (21.1) 9.5 (2.9) 11.4 (5.4) 9.0 (2.4) 25.3 (3.4) 21.5 (7.2) 9.8 (2.9) 17.9 (4.3)
Yes (n=573) 128.7 (18.8) 12.4 (2.6) 17.4 (5.7) 10.3 (2.3) 27.9 (3.0) 28.8 (5.3) 11.2 (2.5) 20.8 (3.5)
Most recent statistics coursework
Graduate (n=471) 132.4 (15.6) 12.8 (2.3) 18.3 (5.3) 10.5 (2.2) 28.3 (2.6) 29.8 (4.4) 11.6 (2.1) 21.2 (3.2)
Undergraduate/HS (n=101) 111.4 (22.3) 10.3 (3.0) 13.4 (6.0) 9.5 (2.5) 25.9 (3.7) 24.1 (6.6) 9.3 (3.2) 18.9 (4.0)
Highest Degree
Bachelors (n=9) 122.6 (16.6) 11.3 (2.2) 15.4 (5.7) 9.9 (2.3) 27.1 (2.8) 28.4 (2.7) 9.8 (3.8) 20.6 (3.2)
Masters (n=132) 116.1 (21.2) 10.5 (2.9) 13.5 (6.0) 9.5 (2.2) 26.1 (3.9) 26.5 (5.5) 10.2 (3.2) 19.7 (3.7)
Ph.D. (486) 128.2 (20.6) 12.5 (2.6) 17.7 (5.7) 10.3 (2.3) 28.0 (2.9) 27.9 (6.5) 11.3 (2.4) 20.6 (3.9)
Professional (n=38) 118.7 (16.0) 10.2 (2.6) 12.8 (4.9) 9.9 (2.5) 26.3 (3.1) 28.7 (5.2) 10.9 (2.4) 19.9 (2.8)
Other (n=9) 117.9 (17.4) 11.4 (2.2) 13.6 (5.7) 10.0 (2.8) 25.9 (2.8) 28.2 (5.7) 8.8 (3.8) 20.0 (3.5)
Teaching Experience
0-5 (n=199) 123.8 (20.7) 11.6 (2.8) 15.8 (6.0) 9.8 (2.3) 27.3 (3.3) 28.4 (5.7) 10.8 (2.8) 20.1 (3.8)
6-10 (n=137) 124.9 (21.9) 11.7 (3.0) 16.4 (6.3) 10.0 (2.2) 27.6 (3.0) 27.6 (6.6) 11.4 (2.5) 20.2 (4.2)
11-19 (n=149) 126.0 (21.8) 12.5 (2.5) 17.0 (6.0) 10.1 (2.6) 27.7 (3.1) 27.4 (6.5) 10.9 (2.9) 20.3 (4.1)
20-29 (n=107) 124.7 (20.1) 11.9 (2.8) 16.7 (5.8) 10.4 (2.2) 27.2 (3.5) 27.0 (6.3) 11.0 (2.4) 20.4 (3.3)
30+ (n=72) 129.5 (19.2) 12.5 (2.9) 18.0 (5.9) 10.6 (2.3) 28.1 (2.6) 27.8 (5.9) 11.2 (2.2) 21.4 (2.7)
Position
Administrator (n=18) 126.4 (17.4) 12.2 (2.3) 16.6 (5.7) 10.6 (2.4) 27.0 (3.8) 27.7 (5.9) 11.2 (2.3) 21.3 (2.8)
Assistant Professor (n=174) 127.3 (19.6) 12.1 (2.7) 16.9 (5.8) 10.0 (2.4) 27.9 (2.8) 28.7 (6.2) 11.2 (2.3) 20.4 (3.9)
Associate Professor (n=172) 126.9 (21.0) 12.3 (2.6) 16.8 (6.0) 10.2 (2.3) 27.8 (3.4) 27.9 (6.2) 11.2 (2.5) 20.6 (3.7)
Professor (n=136) 128.0 (20.9) 12.3 (2.9) 17.8 (5.9) 10.6 (2.3) 28.0 (2.2) 27.5 (6.6) 11.1 (2.3) 20.7 (3.6)
Teaching (n=143) 117.3 (22.8) 10.9 (3.0) 14.4 (6.3) 9.7 (2.3) 26.2 (3.9) 26.4 (5.9) 10.3 (3.1) 19.6 (4.1)
Other (n=31) 124.9 (15.0) 12.0 (2.6) 16.9 (5.6) 9.5 (2.4) 27.7 (2.3) 28.1 (4.8) 10.6 (3.1) 20.2 (2.6)
Discipline
Arts (n=29) 98.6 (18.2) 9.5 (2.7) 10.3 (4.7) 8.2 (2.1) 24.2 (3.7) 21.8 (5.6) 8.0 (2.6) 16.5 (4.3)
Business/Manage. (n=59) 130.8 (15.7) 12.6 (2.2) 18.3 (5.5) 10.1 (2.1) 28.3 (3.7) 29.2 (4.2) 10.9 (2.3) 21.4 (3.2)
Communications (n=28) 119.9 (18.0) 11.9 (2.5) 14.8 (5.5) 8.8 (1.9) 27.4 (2.5) 26.0 (5.6) 11.4 (2.1) 19.7 (3.5)
Education (n=65) 123.6 (17.4) 11.7 (2.6) 15.5 (5.5) 9.8 (2.2) 27.4 (3.4) 27.9 (5.6) 11.4 (2.3) 20.0 (3.0)
Health/Medicine (n=110) 128.8 (14.3) 11.7 (2.6) 16.3 (5.3) 10.9 (2.0) 27.5 (2.4) 30.3 (3.4) 11.6 (2.4) 20.6 (2.9)
Humanities (n=76) 98.9 (22.1) 9.2 (3.2) 10.0 (5.0) 8.1 (2.2) 24.6 (3.6) 20.7 (7.2) 9.0 (3.4) 17.2 (4.5)
Professional Fields (n=26) 124.3 (19.2) 11.4 (2.6) 15.4 (5.6) 10.3 (2.7) 26.7 (3.6) 28.5 (5.5) 11.1 (2.9) 20.9 (2.7)
STEMS (n=139) 131.5 (17.8) 12.8 (2.3) 19.4 (4.9) 11.0 (2.0) 28.4 (2.7) 27.9 (6.1) 11.1 (2.4) 20.9 (3.7)
Social/Behav. Sci. (n=138) 134.9 (16.5) 13.2 (2.3) 18.9 (5.3) 10.5 (2.3) 28.7 (2.1) 30.0 (5.0) 11.8 (1.9) 21.8 (3.2)
Vocational/Technical (n=4) 131.3 (7.6) 12.5 (0.6) 17.5 (3.9) 10.0 (1.6) 28.3 (0.5) 29.5 (3.3) 12.3 (1.5) 21.3 (1.5)
Sex
Female (n=337) 123.0 (21.6) 11.5 (2.9) 15.4 (6.1) 10.0 (2.5) 27.1 (3.4) 27.9 (6.0) 11.0 (2.7) 20.1 (3.8)
Male (n=326) 127.3 (20.2) 12.4 (2.7) 17.6 (5.8) 10.2 (2.2) 28.0 (2.6) 27.5 (6.4) 11.0 (2.5) 20.6 (3.7)
School type
Private (n=250) 122.6 (24.3) 11.6 (3.1) 16.4 (6.6) 10.2 (2.4) 27.3 (3.4) 26.0 (7.0) 11.0 (2.6) 20.2 (4.0)
Public (n=424) 126.6 (18.7) 12.2 (2.6) 16.6 (5.7) 10.1 (2.3) 27.6 (3.1) 28.7 (5.4) 11.0 (2.7) 20.4 (3.6)
Use of Statistics
Almost all of the time (n=55) 145.2 (7.0) 14.3 (1.3) 23.7 (1.8) 11.3 (1.9) 29.6 (0.7) 30.8 (3.5) 12.4 (1.9) 23.1 (2.4)
Frequently (n=152) 139.8 (13.8) 13.5 (1.9) 21.3 (3.8) 11.2 (2.1) 28.8 (3.1) 30.4 (4.7) 12.3 (2.0) 22.3 (3.3)
Occasionally (n=218) 127.7 (14.8) 12.4 (2.1) 17.0 (4.6) 10.2 (2.0) 28.0 (2.2) 28.5 (5.0) 11.4 (2.1) 20.2 (3.3)
Rarely (n=168) 114.9 (18.3) 10.6 (2.9) 12.8 (4.5) 9.4 (2.5) 26.5 (3.2) 25.9 (6.3) 10.3 (2.4) 19.3 (3.6)
Never (n=81) 98.0 (18.9) 8.9 (2.7) 9.1 (4.1) 8.3 (2.2) 24.4 (3.7) 22.1 (7.4) 7.8 (2.9) 17.5 (4.1)

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3.2. Previous Statistics Coursework


Boxplots of sum scores for respondents based on the indicator variable of
previous statistics coursework is shown in Figures 2 and 3. Overall there was a
significant difference between responses of individuals who have taken a
statistics class and those who have not (F1,672 = 138.8, p < 0.0001). In particular,
respondents who had taken a statistics class scored significantly higher overall
and on all scales (higher on average by 24.3, 2.9, 6.0, 1.3, 2.6, 7.3, 1.4, and 2.9,
respectively for overall and scales 17) based on Fishers LSD adjusted
simultaneous pairwise confidence intervals. There was a significant difference
between those that had taken their most recent statistics course at the graduate
level and those who had taken their most recent statistics course at the
undergraduate or high school level (F1,570 = 127.2, p < 0.0001). In particular,
respondents who had taken their most recent class at the graduate level scored
significantly higher overall and on all scales than individuals who took their
most recent statistics class as an undergraduate or high school student (higher
on average by 21.0, 2.5, 4.8, 0.9, 2.4, 5.7, 2.3, and 2.3, respectively for overall and
scales 17).

Figure 2: Sum scores based on previous statistics course (No, Yes).

Figure 3: Sum scores based on most recent statistics coursework (Graduate,


Undergraduate/HS).

3.3. Highest Degree


Boxplots of sum scores for respondents based on highest degree are shown in
Figure 4. Differences in overall average scores based on highest degree were
detected (F4,669 = 12.4, p < 0.0001) with a Ph.D. yielding a significantly higher
overall average score than those with a Professional degree, Masters degree, or

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12

Other degree (higher on average by 8.7, 12.6, and 12.2, respectively). While
there was no significant difference detected between overall scores for those
with a Ph.D. compared to a Bachelors degree, it is worthwhile to note that the
sample size for Bachelors degree was nine. It is also of interest to note that there
are no significant differences detected between Bachelors degrees and any other
degree overall or on any scale. Individuals with a Ph.D. degree scored
significantly higher than individuals with a Masters degree across all scales
(higher on average by 2.1, 4.4, 0.7, 1.9, 1.4, 1.2, and 1.0, respectively for scales 1
7). Additionally, in all scales except Expectations and Scholarship, respondents
with a Ph.D. scored significantly higher than individuals who selected Other
for their highest degree (higher on average by 2.1, 4.7, 1.8, 1.3, and 1.3,
respectively for scales 12, 4, and 67).

Figure 4: Sum scores based on highest degree (Bachelors, Masters, Ph.D., Professional
Degree, Other).

3.4. Teaching Experience


Years of teaching experience were categorized into the following categories: 0-5,
6-10, 11-19, 20-29, and 30 or more years. Figure 5 shows boxplots of sum scores
for respondents based on the years of teaching category. No significant
differences in overall scores based on teaching experience were detected (F4,659 =
1.0, p =0.3821). The Comfort scale was the only scale with significant differences
detected based on teaching experience (F4,659 = 2.8, p = 0.0251). However, there
were no meaningful patterns in the pairwise differences of average sum scores
on the Comfort scale.

Figure 5: Sum scores based on teaching experience (0-5, 6-10, 11-19, 20-29, 30+ years).

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3.5. Position
Figure 6 provides boxplots of sum scores for position type. There was a
difference detected in the overall average score based on position type (F5,668 =
5.3, p < 0.0001). Full professors, associate professors, and assistant professors
scored higher overall than individuals on non-professorial teaching tracks by
10.7, 9.6, and 10.0 points, respectively, on average. Similarly, full professors,
associate professors, and assistant professors scored significantly higher than
individuals in non-professorial teaching positions for the Comfort, General
Teaching, Statistical Literacy, and Effective Teaching scales. On the
Expectations scale, full professors scored significantly higher on average than
assistant professors, individuals in non-professorial teaching positions, and
individuals in the Other category by 0.5, 0.9, and 1.1 points, respectively. On
the Expectations, Scholarship, and Benefits scales, associate professors scored
significantly higher on average than individuals in non-professorial teaching
positions, by 0.5, 1.5, and 1.0 points, respectively. Note that among the assistant,
associate, and full professors, the only significant difference detected was a
higher score on the Expectations scale for full professors compared to assistant
professors, with an average difference of 0.5 points.

Figure 6: Sum scores based on position (Administrator, Assistant Professor, Associate


Professor, Professor, Teaching, Other).

3.6. Discipline
Participants were asked to identify their discipline from one of the following
fields: Arts, Business/Management, Communications, Education,
Health/Medicine, Humanities, Professional Fields, STEMS, Social/Behavioral
Sciences, and Vocational/Technical Fields. Boxplots of overall sum scores by
discipline are given in Figure 7 and for each scale in Figure 8. All comparisons
were made for the overall sum scores and the seven scale sum scores among all
disciplines with the exception of Vocational/Technical Fields which had only
four respondents. There was a difference in overall scores detected based on
discipline (F8,661 = 39.5, p < 0.0001).

As seen in Table 5, the lowest average sum score overall and for each of the
clusters was associated with either the Arts or Humanities. The highest overall
sum score was attributed to the Social/Behavioral Sciences, which also yielded
the highest average sum score in four of the scales: Comfort, Statistical Literacy,
Effective Teaching, and Benefits scales. The highest average sum score for the

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General Teaching and Expectations scales were associated with STEMS


disciplines. Health/Medicine had the highest average sum score on the
Scholarship scale.

In general, fewer differences were detected on the Effective Teaching scale, and
the most differences were detected on the General Teaching scale. Each
discipline was compared with the remaining eight disciplines across the seven
scales and across overall sum scores for a total of 64 pairwise comparisons.
Professional Fields had the least number of significant pairwise differences
detected among these comparisons with a total of 22 significant differences
detected. Both Arts and Humanities had the most significant pairwise
differences when compared to other disciplines with a total number of 52
significant pairwise differences detected. There were six or seven significant
differences detected on each scale and in the overall sum scores for both Arts
and Humanities. The only pairs of disciplines that were not significantly
different from each other overall or across any scales were (1) Arts and
Humanities and (2) Health/Medicine and Professional Fields. The following
pairs of disciplines were significantly different from each other in overall sum
scores and on every scale were Arts with (1) Business/Management, (2)
Education, (3) Health/Medicine, (4) STEMS, and (5) Social/Behavioral Science
and Humanities with the same disciplines as Arts.

Figure 7: Overall sum scores based on discipline (Arts, Business/Management,


Communications, Education, Health/Medicine, Humanities, Professional fields,
STEMS, Social/Behavioral Sciences, Vocational/Technical fields).

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(a) Comfort Sum Scores (b) General Teaching Sum Scores

(c) Expectations Sum Scores (d) Statistical Literacy Sum Scores

(e) Scholarship Sum Scores (f) Effective Teaching Sum Scores

(g) Benefits Sum Scores


Figure 8: Boxplots of sum scores for scale by discipline ((Arts, Business/Management,
Communications, Education, Health/Medicine, Humanities, Professional fields,
STEMS, Social/Behavioral Sciences, Vocational/Technical fields).

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3.7. Sex
Boxplots of sum scores by sex are given in Figure 9. There was a difference in
average sum scores between males and females (F1,661 = 7.1, p = 0.0080) with
male respondents scoring significantly higher overall than female respondents
by between 1.1 and 7.5 points. In addition, scores on the Comfort, General
Teaching, and Statistical Literacy scales were also significantly higher for males
(higher on average by 0.9, 2.2, and 0.9, respectively for scales 12 and 4). The
Expectations, Scholarship, Effective Teaching, and Benefits scales showed no
significant differences between females and males.

Figure 9: Sum scores based on sex (Female, Male).

3.8. School Type


Figure 10 shows overall sum scores based on school type. Average overall score
was significantly different (F1,672 = 5.7, p = 0.0168) with individuals from public
institutions scoring significantly higher than those at private institutions by
between 0.7 and 7.3 points. Similarly, scores on the Comfort and Scholarship
scales were also significantly higher at public institutions (higher on average by
0.6 and 2.7, respectively). No other significant differences were detected
between scale scores based on school type.

Figure 10: Sum scores based on school type (Private, Public).

3.9. Use of Statistics


Each respondent was asked to identify how often they use statistics or teach
statistical methods in their classes. Associated boxplots of sum scores are
located in Figure 11. There was a significant difference in the average overall

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sum scores based on use of statistics (F4,669 = 136.8, p < 0.0001). Specifically,
average sum scores increased as the frequency of statistics usage increased from
Never, Rarely, Occasionally, Frequently, and Almost all of the time.
The average overall sum scores were 98.0, 114.9, 127.7, 139.8, and 145.2,
respectively. Significant pairwise differences were detected between all use of
statistics response categories in overall sum scores and in the sum scores for the
Comfort and General Teaching scales. For the remaining scales, all pairwise
differences of sum scores were significantly different with the exception of the
Almost all of the time and Frequently response categories, for which no
significant differences were detected.

Figure 11: Sum scores based on the use of statistics (Almost all of the time, Frequently,
Occasionally, Rarely, Never).

4. Discussion
Not surprisingly, a comparison of sum scores based on demographics indicated
that the presence of previous statistics coursework is an indicator of the
importance for which faculty have towards the discipline of statistics. This
appeared higher with graduate level statistical coursework compared to lower
levels of coursework in statistics. In addition, the level of academic
achievement held some importance on the sum scores overall and across scales
with Ph.D. respondents scoring consistently and significantly higher than
individuals with a Masters degree. The type of position provided some
indication on sum scores. In particular, individuals on the professorial track
tended to have higher scores. Scores varied greatly across disciplines with
Humanities and Arts having scores significantly lower than other fields. Male
respondents had significantly higher scores on some but not all scales. Based on
the results, private colleges and universities have a significantly higher overall
sum score. However, these results may be associated with whether an
institution is considered to be a Research I, liberal arts, or other type of school.
As expected, a higher frequency of teaching statistics is associated with a
significantly higher average statistics attitude scores. Based on the results, there
was not a relationship detected between overall sum scores and years of
teaching experience. Initially this was somewhat surprising, since it is likely that
more experience teaching is positively correlated with more exposure to
statistics. However, with statistics being a relatively new and rapidly growing
discipline, it is possible that younger faculty and instructors utilize statistics

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more and therefore also have positive attitudes towards the discipline and its
usefulness.

While the current study includes responses from seven colleges and universities,
the responses were collected through online surveys for convenience. As is the
norm, participation was voluntarily. Although this type of sampling method is
common in many studies, it is possible that respondents were more likely to be
interested in statistics, resulting in more positive attitudes. In an effort to reduce
possible biases and encourage more individuals to respond, participants at six of
the seven schools were eligible to enter a drawing to win one of multiple $20 gift
cards that were available. The number of responses obtained also appeared to
be related to how the email with the survey link was distributed. For example,
at some schools the survey was sent by a contact individual, while at other
schools the survey link was sent out via a forwarded email. In general larger
schools tended to yield more responses. Varying response rates among
institutions could have impacted the demographic characteristics of our sample.

5. Conclusion
Little to no research exists measuring the attitudes of faculty across all
disciplines towards statistics. The Faculty Perceptions of Statistics (FPS) scale
introduces a survey of 32 Likert scale items to measure these attitudes. Based on
the results of the hierarchical cluster analysis, it is clear that there are some
underlying constructs related to the views that faculty or academic department
members have towards the use and importance of statistics. The analysis
indicates seven scales: Comfort, General Teaching, Expectations, Statistical
Literacy, Scholarship, Effective Teaching, and Benefits. This study is an initial
exploration into the area of faculty attitudes and shows promise with
Cronbachs alpha values ranging from 0.58 to 0.92 for the different clusters
identified. Based on these results, differences in cluster sum scores were
detected among demographic groups. Many of the differences were not
surprising. For example, having statistical experience tended to lead to increases
in sum scores. There was a lot of variability in sum scores among the
disciplines, with Arts and Humanities having the lowest sum scores both overall
and for all clusters. Somewhat surprisingly, there did not appear to be a
relationship between years taught and attitudes towards statistics based on sum
scores.

The FPS instrument would benefit from further refinement, and additionally, a
cross-validation study and invariance testing should be conducted in order to
see if the clusters found are generalizable. It would also be beneficial to
administer the FPS scale survey across a wider variety of institutions such as
community colleges.

The FPS scale and the findings presented in this paper are an initial step into
examining the interwoven attitudes of faculty and students. Previous literature
indicates a strong relationship between students attitudes and academic success
in statistics courses (Emmiolu & Capa-Aydin, 2012; Cherney & Cooney, 2005).

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Based on this, more research should be conducted to explore the relationship


between faculty attitudes towards statistics and students attitudes.

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 21-31, February 2016

Teachers who Attract or Repel: A Glimpse at


Student Expectations of their Tertiary-Level
Teachers

Dr Stephen Joseph
Centre for Education Programmes, The University of Trinidad and Tobago
Valsayn Campus, Old Southern Main Road, Curepe, Trinidad and Tobago

Abstract. This study examined student expectations of their tertiary-


level teachers, highlighting specific teacher characteristics that either
attract or turn off students from their professors. Four hundred and one
(401) students were randomly selected from three teacher education
campuses in the north and south of Trinidad as well as Tobago.
Findings of the study revealed that students generally had high
expectations of their teachers on two levels: (i) pedagogical competence
and (ii) discipline competence. Findings also revealed that the three
teacher characteristics that attract students to their professors were
caring for the welfare of students; professionalism; and teaching style.
Conversely, students listed unprofessionalism; teacher aggressive
attitude; and lack of concern for students as things that repel them from
their professors.

Keywords: student expectations; tertiary-level teachers; teacher


characteristics

Introduction
University students generally welcome the opportunity to choose their lecturers.
However, some professors become self-conscious when only a few individuals
select their courses while the majority of students gravitate to other instructors.
Increasingly, students are expecting more of their tertiary-level teachers in terms
of pedagogical competence, discipline competence, and endearing personal
characteristics.

In their study on the best and worst university instructors, Fortson and Brown
(1998) found that the best instructors were those who used a variety of teaching
methods and good course organization. Poor course organization was the
characteristic that most influenced students choice of their worst instructors.
Other studies identified favourite teachers as those who possessed sound
content knowledge and pedagogical skills as opposed to professors who

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22

focussed more on research rather than teaching (Tam, Heng, & Jiang, 2009).
Similar studies identified effective communication, enthusiasm, well-organized
lessons, and sound knowledge as top qualities of effective university teachers
(Malik & Bashir, 2015; Singh, Pai, Sinha, Kaur, Soe & Barua, 2013; Al-
Mohaimeed, 2015).

Student conceptions of the ideal or most effective teacher fall into three major
categories: (1) knowledge of the subject taught (2) personal qualities (3)
knowledge of teaching and learning (Arnon & Reichel, 2007; Crawford &
Bradshaw, 1968; Witcher, Onwuegbuzie & Minor, 2001; Douna, Kyridis, Zagkos,
Ziontaki, & Pandis, 2015; Obermiller, Ruppert, & Atwood, 2012; Slate, La Prairie,
Schulte, & Onwuegbuzie, 2011; Epting, Zinn, Buskist & Buskist, 2004; Korte,
Lavin & Davies, 2013).

Studies have shown that excellent professors also tend to exhibit specific
personal characteristics beyond instructional practices. Gurung and Vespia
(2007) posit that professors should not think just about preparation for lectures
but also about preparation for being in the classroom (p.9). Findings of these
studies also revealed that students generally enjoyed the teaching and learning
process better when lecturers were friendly and accommodating, interacted well
with students, and paid attention to personal grooming. McLean (2001)
concurred that personal qualities were more important to students than other
technical aspects of the job such as well-organized lesson plans and lectures.
Students also expect their instructors to have a good sense of humour, maintain
interesting class sessions, as well as demonstrate caring and concern for students
(Fortson & Brown, 1998; Strage, 2008; Feldman, 1998; Goa & Liu, 2013).

Since the education process can also be considered as a social process, students
expect their instructors to go beyond traditional roles of lecturing to embrace
more social aspects of learning (Giroux, 1988). Therefore, more is demanded of
the teachers time outside of the formal classroom setting for consultation and
feedback on students performance.

Although there is a proliferation of studies on the ideal professor conducted in


Europe, North America, and to a lesser extent Asia, not much has been done in
Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean to investigate student perceptions of
their tertiary-level teachers. This current study seeks to expand the discourse to
the Caribbean region.

Purpose of the study


The purpose of this study was to examine what students expect of their
university teachers and what specific teacher characteristics attract or turn off
students from the teaching/learning process. Three research questions served to
focus this investigation:

1. What are students expectations of their tertiary-level teachers?


2. What teacher characteristics attract students most to their tertiary-level
teachers?

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23

3. What teacher characteristics turn off students most from their tertiary-
level teachers?

Methodology

Participants

A random sample of 401 students was selected to participate in the study. These
respondents were both full-time and part-time students enrolled in the
University of Trinidad and Tobago Bachelor of Education programme at three
campuses located in the northern and southern parts of Trinidad and well as
Tobago.

Instrument
This study utilized a survey instrument with 20 items covering three objectives
arising from the research questions outlined above. Using a 5-point Likert-type
scale, respondents were required to express their opinions regarding what they
expect of their tertiary-level teachers. The instrument was pilot-tested and
feedback from that activity was used to improve the instrument before formally
distributing the questionnaires to the research sample. Cronbachs alpha was
used to measure internal consistency or reliability for 6 of the items used in the
Likert scale. The result was .847, which indicates a high level of internal
consistency for the items used in the scale.

Procedure and Analyses


As part of the survey, participants were asked share their expectations of their
tertiary-level teachers. Frequencies and descriptive statistics were conducted to
provide information about the sample used in the study. Frequency tables were
also developed for recording and tabulating demographic responses with the aid
of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS) software. The
demographic responses included questions related to gender, degree
programme, status (part-time or full-time) and level (Year I, II, III, or IV).

Results
Four hundred and one (401) undergraduate students participated in a survey
which required them to share their expectations of their professors. These
participants were located in the north (40.1%) and south (42.4%) of Trinidad as
well as Tobago (17.5%). As shown in Table 1, the majority of participants, 72.3%,
(n= 290) were females, while 27.7%, (n= 111) were males.

Frequency analysis of the data also revealed that the majority of the
respondents, 64.3% (n=258) were part-time students, while 32.4% (n=130)
engaged in full-time studies. Table 1 also shows a distribution of students
according to the year of study in the undergraduate programme.

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Table 1. Demographic Data on Participants

Demographic N (%)
Geographic Location
North 161 (40.1)
South 170 (42.4)
Tobago 70 (17.5)
Total 401 (100)
Gender
Male 111 (27.7)
Female 290 (72.3)
Status
Part-time 130 (32.4)
Full-time 258 (64.3)
Missing 13 (3)

Level
Year I 56 (14)
Year II 131 (32.7)
Year III 115 (28.7)
Year IV 85 (21.2)
Missing 14 (3.5)

Student responses to the survey questionnaire were grouped in the following


three categories: (1) student pedagogical expectations (2) discipline and
pedagogical competence (3) teacher characteristics. As shown in Table 2, all of
the respondents, irrespective of their level or status, indicated very high
pedagogical expectations of their professors. They all expected their professors
to find out how they learn best; use appropriate teaching/learning methods; and
set high standards for teaching and learning.

Table 2. Student Pedagogical Expectations

Pedagogical Expectations
Use of Set high
appropriate standards for
Demographic Find out how I learn best
teaching/learni teaching and
ng methods learning
Level
46/56 53/56 55/56
Year I
Year II 105/131 125/131 125/131
Year III 100/115 111/115 111/115
Year IV 71/85 79/85 77/85
Total 322/387 368/387 368/387

Status 213/258 246/258 246/258


Part-time 109/130 123/130 125/130
Full-time 322/388 369/388 371/388
Total

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In addition to having high pedagogical expectations of their teachers,


participants of the study also expected their professors to keep up-to-date with
developments in their specific disciplines; use appropriate assessment methods;
as well as provide prompt feedback on their assignments. Table 3 provides
information on student expectations about their professors discipline
competence. As shown in Table 3, 97% (n=374) of the respondents indicated that
their professors should always keep up-to-date with content knowledge in their
specific fields, while 98% (n=378) of the participants felt that their teachers
should explore appropriate assessment measures to evaluate student learning,
and 95% (n=366) of the respondents required prompt feedback from their
professors on their class assignments. Review of the data revealed a high level
of consistency in the responses among participants regardless of their level or
status. All participants had high expectations regarding teachers competence in
their various subject domains.

Table 3. Discipline Competence

Discipline Competence
I expect my I expect my
I except my teacher
teacher to use teacher to
to always keep up-
Demographic to-date with
appropriate provide prompt
assessment feedback on my
content knowledge
methods assignments
Level
54/56 55/56 54/56
Year I
Year II 127/131 127/131 125/131
Year III 114/115 114/115 111/115
Year IV 79/85 82/85 76/85
Total 374/387 378/387 366/387

Status
250/258 251/258 243/257
Part-time
124/130 128/130 123/130
Full-time
374/388 379/388 366/388
Total

Participants were asked to report their level of confidence in their professors


ability to effectively teach concepts; conduct fair assessment; and model what
good teaching is all about. These responses were based on a table which
indicated 0 30% as no confidence; 40 80% as moderate confidence; and 90-100% as
complete confidence. As shown in Table 4a, the majority of participants (67.7%)
reported moderate confidence in their teachers ability to effectively teach
concepts, with 19.3% indicating no confidence at all, and 13.5% reporting
complete confidence in their professors ability to teach concepts effectively.

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Table 4a. Pedagogical Competence

Teachers ability to effectively teach concepts


No Moderate Complete Total
Confidence Confidence confidence
Level Year I 12 32 11 55
Year II 24 88 14 126
Year III 16 77 18 111
Year IV 20 57 6 83
Total 72 254 49 375

Status
Part-time 61 154 34 249
Full-time 12 99 17 128

Total 73 253 51 377

Participants indicated similar responses when asked about their teachers ability
conduct fair assessment. The data presented in Table 4b show that 64.5% of the
respondents had moderate confidence, while 19.3% indicated no confidence, and
16.3% said that they had complete confidence in their teachers ability to conduct
fair assessment of their work.

Table 4b. Pedagogical Competence

Teachers ability to conduct fair assessment


No Moderate Complete Total
Confidence Confidence Confidence
Level Year I 10 37 8 55
Year II 31 75 22 128
Year III 17 50 24 111
Year IV 15 62 7 84

Total 73 244 61 378

Status
Part-time 53 154 44 251
Full-time 20 91 18 129

Total 73 245 62 380

When asked about their professors ability to effectively model what good
teaching is all about, only 12.6% indicated complete confidence, while the
majority (64.6%) reported moderate confidence and 23.2% indicated that they
had no confidence at all in their professors ability to act as good models of
classroom teaching. This information is illustrated in Table 4c below.

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Table 4c. Pedagogical Competence

Teachers ability to effectively model what good teaching is all


about
No Moderate Complete Total
Confidence Confidence Confidence
Level Year I 14 34 7 55
Year II 37 79 13 129
Year III 18 72 21 111
Year IV 19 57 7 83
Total 88 242 48 378

Status
Part-time 66 156 27 249
Full-time 21 89 20 130

Total 87 245 47 379

Participants were asked to rank the most important characteristics they expect
professors to possess in the teaching/learning context. As shown in Table 5,
participants listed professionalism; dedication to teaching; preparedness for
class; strong ethical values; and caring/understanding as the top five
characteristics they expect teachers to possess. The five least important
characteristics were charisma; sociability; ability to use technology; well-dressed;
and enthusiasm.

Table 5. Teacher Characteristics in order of importance

1. Professionalism
2. Dedicated to teaching
3. Always prepared for class
4. Strong ethical values
5. Caring/understanding
6. Positive attitude
7. Engage students in class
8. Ability to relate well to students
9. Fairness in assessments
10. Fun/interesting
11. Enthusiasm
12. Well-dressed
13. Ability to use technology
14. Sociability
15. Charisma

Participants of the study were also to list three things that either attracted them
or turned them off from their professors. As shown in Table 6, 44.2% of the
respondents indicated caring as the number one quality that attracted them to

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their teachers; 36.2% indicated professionalism; and 33.7% listed teaching style.
Unprofessionalism was the major turn off as reported by 41.1% of the
respondents; while 40.7% of the participants identified aggressive behaviour;
and 27.7% listed lack of concern for students as other characteristics that they
disliked most in professors.

Table 6. Things that attract or repel students from their professors

Things that attract Things that repel


1. Caring 1. Unprofessionalism
2. Professionalism 2. Aggressive attitude
3. Teaching style 3. Lack of concern for students

The final two questions in the survey explored how students regarded teachers
who challenged them to think critically as opposed to those who graded easily.
Analysis of the data revealed that 85% of the respondents showed preference to
those teachers who challenged them to think critically. Only 15% of the
participants indicated preference for teachers who graded easily.

Discussion
This study examined student expectations of their tertiary-level teachers on
three levels: (i) pedagogical competence; (ii) discipline competence; and (iii)
teacher characteristics.

Pedagogical competence

The majority of participants in the study, irrespective of level or status, indicated


high expectations of their professors in terms of their ability to recognize varying
learning preferences among students. As such, participants expect teachers to set
high standards while using appropriate teaching/learning strategies to
maximize the learning potential in each student. These expectations matched
those in Fortson and Browns (1998) study which showed that the best
instructors were those who used a variety of teaching methods.
Participants of the study expressed moderate confidence in their professors
ability to teach concepts effectively. Only 13.5% reported complete confidence,
while 19.3% indicated that they had no confidence at all in their professors
ability to effectively teach concepts. These results suggest that professors should
pay closer attention to concept teaching especially in a teacher education setting
where effective concept teaching is critical to student success on practicum or
field teaching. Studies conducted by Hande, Kamath and DSouza (2014)
concluded that students perceive teachers as effective when they are able to
clarify difficult concepts, and make learning fun and interesting.

Student perception of their teachers ability to conduct fair assessment should


also be noted as a matter of concern. While the majority of respondents (64.5%)
indicated moderate confidence, 19.3% stated that they had no confidence in their

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29

professors ability to conduct fair assessment of student learning. This


perception seems consistent with student rating of teacher characteristics, where
fairness in assessments was ranked 9th on a scale of 1-15 as shown in Table 5.

Modelling good classroom teaching to students is an important objective for


professors operating in a teacher education setting. It means, therefore, that
professors should not only be concerned with content delivery, but also how
different students interact with the content taught in the classroom. Results of
the study revealed that almost one quarter of the participants (23.2%) had no
confidence in their professors ability to act as good models of classroom
teaching. And while 64.6% of the participants reported moderate confidence in
their teachers ability to model good teaching, professors in a teacher education
context should not be comforted by this. These results suggest the need for
greater effort on the part of professors to bolster student confidence in their
teachers pedagogical competence. If prospective teachers are expected to
demonstrate effective teaching skills in the practicum classroom, then professors
should feel a sense of responsibility to model what good teaching looks like.

Discipline competence

Results of the study revealed that the majority of participants (97%) expect their
professors to always keep abreast with the latest developments in their field.
Students also expect their teachers to use appropriate assessment methods as
well as provide prompt feedback on student assignments. These findings are
consistent with other studies that emphasize the importance of subject mastery
as an indicator of teacher competence (Arnon & Reichel, 2007; Roberts, 1981).

Teacher characteristics

Participants of the study listed the five most important teacher characteristics as
professionalism; dedication to teaching; preparedness for class; strong ethical
values; and caring/understanding. The five least important qualities were
charisma; sociability; ability to use technology; well-dressed; and enthusiasm.

Student responses were consistent when asked to indicate the things that either
attract or repel students from their professors. Again we see teacher
professionalism and caring emerging as important characteristics that attract
students to their tertiary-level teachers. These findings are somewhat different
from similar studies conducted by Gurung and Vespia (2007), and McLean
(2001) who found that students learned more and liked the class better when
teachers were well-dressed, good-looking and approachable. In this study, well-
dressed teachers were not as important to students as those who demonstrated
professionalism and caring for the welfare of students.

Concluding Comments
Professors generally set high standards for their students in terms of critical
thinking and problem-solving skills; classroom management and leadership
skills as well as reflective teaching skills. In like manner, students have high
expectations of their tertiary-level teachers. This study revealed that students
expect their teachers to be competent not only in content delivery, but also as
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30

effective models of good classroom teaching. While students in other contexts


are attracted to teachers who are well-dressed and exhibit likeable qualities, this
research suggests that students are more readily drawn to professors who
demonstrate professionalism and show interest in the well-being of their
students. Understanding students expectations of their professors is important
for establishing the type of professor-student relationship that inspires student
success. In future research, it would be worthwhile to identify those professors
who attract rather than repel students, in order to better understand the
philosophy which informs their practice.

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 32-46, February 2016

The Effects of Goal Type, Learning Interest, and


Task Difficulty on Learning English Words

Pengcheng Zhang
Nantong University
Nantong, China

Zhe Wang, Olusola Adesope


Washington State University
Pullman, United States

Abstract. Within the past few decades, goal-setting research has


emerged as a prominent approach to motivation. However, little is
known about the relationship among goal types, learning interest, and
task difficulty. Using a 3 x 4 x 3 mixed experimental design, one
hundred middle school students with different levels of learning interest
(strong, moderate, and weak) in the present study were asked to learn
English words of different levels of difficulty (high, medium, and low)
under the context of different goal orientations (mastery-approach,
mastery-avoidance, performance-approach, and performance-
avoidance). Our results mainly showed that: (a) the main effects of
learning interest, goal types, and task difficulty on performance were all
significant; and (b) the interaction between goal type and task difficulty
on performance was significant. Important educational implications are
discussed as well as limitations and future directions.

Keywords: Achievement goal; Interest; Task difficulty.

Introduction
The topic of Goal-setting has become an underlying component of the
research on academic motivation (van Dam, 2014). Goal-setting theory
was formulated on the basis of Ryans (1970) belief that conscious goals
influence action, which through four mechanisms. Specifically, goals are
directive (Rothkopf & Billington, 1979), energizing (Bandura & Cervone,
1983); also, goals affect persistence (LaPorte & Nath, 1976) and lead to the
active use of task-relevant knowledge, skills, and strategies (Wood &
Locke, 1990). The primary interest of industrial-organizational

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33

psychologists in predicting, explaining, and influencing performance has


directed goal-setting researchers focus toward the relationship between
performance goals and level of task performance (Locke & Latham, 2002).

Goal-setting theory maintains that the goal itself has an incentive effect,
which can turn peoples needs into motivation, make people's
behavior accord with a planned direction, and contrast the results of their
own behavior to the established goal to assess the discrepancy and fill the
gap between them timely so that the goals can be achieved ultimately
(Cao & Liu, 2011). Since the mid-1980s, many attempts have been made
to distinguish between mastery goals (aiming to develop and gain ones
competence) and performance goals (aiming to demonstrate ones
competence relative to others) (e.g., Ames & Archer, 1988; Nicholls, 1984;
Preenen, van Vianen, & De Pater, 2014). Later, researchers began to
realize that approach-avoidance was also a primary distinction that
deserved a core position in the conceptualization and classification of goal
types (Elliot, 1999; Pintrich, 2000a). According to these researchers,
approach goals were directed toward positive or desirable events,
whereas avoidance goals were aimed at avoiding negative or undesirable
events. Therefore, adding the goal valence dimension to the theory
allows both mastery and performance goals to be framed in either an
approach manner or an avoidant manner (Senko & Hulleman, 2013),
leading to four specific goal types, which are mastery-approach,
performance-approach, mastery-avoidance, and performance-avoidance
goals. The mastery-approach goal is a goal orientation improving
individuals own ability as a pursuit of learning through cultivating
the sensitivity of individual perception and the autonomy of behavior and
emphasizing on the close relationship between learning and growth (see
Dysvik & Kuvaas, 2010). The mastery-avoidance goal is a goal orientation
that individuals actively adopt various measures trying to evade any
performances of their own imbecility as a pursuit of learning (Madjar,
Kaplan, & Weinstock, 2011). The performance-approach goal is a goal
orientation that individuals try best to demonstrate their ability and
expect to get a positive evaluation on the ability from others as a pursuit
of learning (Roussel, Elliot, & Feltman, 2011). The performance-
avoidance goal is a goal orientation that individuals try to evade the
comparison with others which displays their imbecility or negative
evaluations by others on their own ability as a pursuit of learning (Smillie,
2008; Law, Elliot, & Murayama, 2012). Building on the 2 2 goal
framework, much research has emerged examining the role of each goal
type in learning performance (e.g., Cury et al, 2006; Elliot & Murayama,
2008; Murayama et al., 2011).

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34

An important theoretical framework underlying research on goal setting


is that students are motivated by their personal dispositions as well as the
environments (Ames, 1992b; Maehr, 1984; & Nicholls, 1989). Also,
Tuominen-Soini, Salmela-Aro, and Niemivirta (2011) suggested that in a
given situation, students tend to adopt goals depending on both
dispositional tendencies and external settings. In other words, the
students goal orientation does not remain unchanged and may vary
depending on different settings in which they find themselves. Patrick,
Kaplan, and Ryan (2011) conducted a study showing that perceived
classroom mastery goal structure correlates substantially with perceptions
of the teacher as promoting classroom mutual respect and providing
emotional and academic support and relates closely to perceiving the
teacher as promoting student learning-related discussion. Tuominen-
Soini, Salmela-Aro, and Niemivirta (2011) offered evidence for change in
achievement goal orientations over time although the changes were small.

The Relationship among Learning Interest, Goal Types, and Task


Difficulty
It has been acknowledged that mastery goals are closely aligned with
intrinsic motivation and thus are deemed directly relevant to a
framework articulating motivation and engagement (Brophy, 2005).
Although most studies positioned mastery goals as a more effective
motivational orientation, the debate as to mastery-oriented goals versus
performance-oriented goals has never ceased. For instance, Martin (2007)
found that mastery goals are more positively associated with educational
aspirations, class participation, and enjoying school than are performance
goals, whereas Kaplan & Middleton (2002) pointed out that performance-
approach goals may contribute to positive outcomes in competitive
learning environments; or may be connected with certain types of positive
outcomes such as achievement. Besides, Harackiewicz et al. (2002)
identified positive potential of performance-approach goals and ways
performance-approach goals can be integrated with mastery goals to
enhance optimal motivation. In response to the debate and research
findings that have been diffuse, we reasonably argue that the advantage
of specific goal orientations may depend on certain individual
characteristics and/or contextual factors such as task difficulty.

Goal setting has become one of the most important motivational factors
believed to influence achievement (Elliot, 2005; Anderman et al, 2006;
Kaplan & Maehr, 2007). At the same time, a robust body of studies (Ryan
& La Guardia, 1999; Renninger, 2000; Hidi, 2006) in the field of interest

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35

showed that situational and/or individual interest had an enormous


impact on learning outcomes. Harackiewicz, Barron, Tauer, and Elliot
(2002) provided empirical evidence that the students' learning interest
was positively associated with their final achievements. Goal setting and
interest, conceptualized as two affective factors, however, have not
received adequate attention in terms of potential interactions between
them. Among the few is the study conducted by Harackiewicz, Durik,
Barron, Linnenbrink-Garcia, and Tauer (2008) suggesting that initial
interest motivates individuals to adopt mastery goal approach and then
this approach can facilitate the development of interest. In addition,
although Senko and Harackiewicz (2005) focused on the effects of
achievement goals and interest, they only investigated the mastery-
approach and performance-approach goals.

Besides individual characteristics, many studies argued that learning


activity relevant features such as task difficulty plays a critical role in
performance (e.g., Chae, Seo, & Lee, 2015; Marshall & Brown, 2004).
There are few studies conducted on the relations between goals and task
difficulty. Among the exceptions, Kuman and Jagacinski (2011) found
that increasing levels of difficulty lead to declining levels of performance-
approach goals and increasing levels of work-avoidance goals. Li, Lee,
and Solmon (2007) examined task difficulty in relation to self-perceptions
of ability, intrinsic value, attainment value, and performance and found
that initial self-perceptions of ability negatively predicted perceptions of
task difficulty. However, research on the moderation effect of task
difficulty on the goal-outcome relationship has received less than
adequate attention, making the need for taking task difficulty and goal
type as two factors predicting learning outcomes pressing.

In summary, given the dearth of studies on investigating learning


outcomes from an integrated perspective, research is needed to clarify the
complex relationship among goal type, learning interest, and task
difficulty. Overall, we raised two hypotheses: (1) Significant main effects
of learning interest, goal type, and task difficulty are expected; and (2) a
significant interaction among learning interest, goal type and/or task
difficulty on the achievement is expected. Given that goal orientations
can be changed depending on different environments according to the
literature we just reviewed, the present study set four learning scenarios
determined by different instructions under which participants were
hypothesized to develop a certain type of goal orientation.

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36

Method
Participants and Design
Two hundred and forty students (124 girls and 116 boys) from 20 classes
of 11 middle schools in China participated in the formal study.
Participants mean age was 14.5 years (SD = 0.82). All participants were
Chinese and most of them had learned English as the second language for
3 years. A 3 (learning interest) by 4 (goal type) by 3 (task difficulty)
mixed experimental design was used, in which both learning interest and
goal type were between-subjects variables whereas task difficulty was a
within-subjects variable. Participants in each interest condition were
randomly assigned to one of the four goal-type conditions.

Materials
Learning material was a sheet where English words were presented. All
the words were classified into three categories according to three
difficulty levels (high, medium, and low), with each category consisting
of 40 words. The difficulty level was determined by the length of words.
Specifically, words composed of eight letters were considered as high-
difficulty (e.g., abidance); words of six letters (e.g., castle) were
considered as medium-difficulty; and words of four letters (e.g., lava)
were considered as low-difficulty.

Measures
Students mid-term scores were used as a pretest measure. A one-way
analysis of variance (ANOVA) showed no significant differences among
the conditions.

Students interest in learning English was assessed by a 7-point Likert-


scale including one item (How much are you interested in learning English?)
ranging from 1 (not interested at all) to 7 (very much interested).
Responses ranging from 1 to 2 indicated weak learning interest; 3 to 5
indicated medium learning interest; and 6 to 7 indicated strong learning
interest.

Students learning performance was assessed by a recognition test. The


ratio of the number of words in the recognition test to the number of
words in the learning phase is 2.5:1. The similarity between old and new
words was controlled in two ways (the same length and the same
structure). There were 40 words presented on the reading material and
100 words presented on the recognition test. Each student was given one
point by correctly recognizing a word, yielding a possible score ranging
from 0 to 100.

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37

Procedure
Before the formal experiment was carried out, we recruited 800 students
randomly from 11 middle schools in Shanghai to complete a survey
regarding learning interest about six main subjects including politics,
geography, Chinese, English, mathematics, and history. The participants
rated on a 7-point Likert-scale ranging from 1 (not interested at all) to 7
(very much interested). Responses of 1-2 indicated weak learning interest;
3-5 indicated medium learning interest; and 6-7 indicated strong learning
interest. Eight hundred questionnaires were distributed and 767
questionnaires were collected. According to the results of the survey,
students interest in learning English was comparatively evenly
distributed on three levels, which were strong, medium, and weak.
Therefore, English words as learning material were selected in the present
study.

Next, 80 students were randomly selected by the experimenter out of


those with strong interest in English; 80 students were randomly selected
out of those with medium interest in English; and 80 students were
randomly selected out of those with weak interest in English, yielding a
total of 240 final participants in the present study.

Different types of goals were designed based on different instructions


given. The instruction used to set up the masteryapproach goal was: We
welcome you and appreciate your willingness to take part in this study. There
are 40 words in the sheet. Please learn as many words as possible when you read
them. At the end, the more words you can remember the more rewards you will
get. The instruction used to set up the masteryavoidance goal was: We
welcome you and appreciate your willingness to take part in this study. There
are 40 words in the sheet. Please learn as many words as possible when you read
them. In the end, you can leave early if you remember more; otherwise you will
have to stay and clean the classroom together with the experimenters. The
instruction used to set up the performance-approach goal was: We
welcome you and appreciate your willingness to take part in this study. There
are 40 words in the sheet. Please learn as many words as possible when you read
them. In the end, the higher your ranking is, the more rewards you will get. The
instruction used to set up the performance-avoidance goal was: We
welcome you and appreciate your willingness to take part in this study. There
are 40 words in the sheet. Please remember as many words as possible when you
read them. In the end, if you rank higher, you can leave early; if you rank lower,
you will have to stay and clean the classroom together with the experimenters.

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


38

In each goal condition aforementioned, the students were then required


to read and memorize the English words in 30 minutes. After the 30
minutes had passed, the students were required to work on the
recognition test. After the answer sheet had been collected, the
participants were thanked, debriefed and dismissed.

Results
Main Effects
Before we analyzed the data, all variables were examined for assumptions
of parametric data. No univariate or multivariate outliers were identified
(Tabachnick & Fidell, 2012). Given that the assumption of sphericity was
violated based upon the Mauchlys test resulting in the variations across
different conditions (high difficulty, medium difficulty, and low difficulty)
that are not similar, the Greenhouse-Geisser correction was employed to
produce a valid F-ratio (Field, 2013).

Table 1: Descriptive statistics of achievements for different levels of task difficulty,


goal types, and learning interest.
Mastery- Mastery- Performance- Performance-
approach goal avoidance goal approach goal avoidance goal
stron gener wea stron gener wea stron gener wea stron gener
Interest weak
g al k g al k g al k g al
task M 78.0 77.5 73.5 70.9 60.35 49.9 78.0 68.5 59.2 73.8 63.8 60.2
difficulty SD 10.7 11.1 13.1 10.8 13.0 15.2 13.8 14.8 13.5 14.2 13.4 11.5
(high) MSE 2.39 2.48 2.93 2.42 2.91 3.40 3.09 3.31 3.02 3.18 3.00 2.57
task M 85.2 81.9 78.6 77.6 65.4 59.1 85.9 84.2 75.9 75.9 73.5 70.3
difficulty SD 10.1 9.2 14.8 13.9 16.9 15.0 11.2 12.0 14.4 11.8 13.6 14.8
(medium) MSE 2.26 2.06 3.31 3.11 3.78 3.36 2.51 2.68 3.22 2.64 3.04 3.31
Task M 87.9 82.4 80.9 91.7 88.9 86.9 85.6 79.2 78.2 93.1 89.1 82.9
difficulty SD 9.1 8.5 12.9 5.8 7.3 9.0 9.4 9.8 11.4 5.7 8.1 10.6
(low) MSE 2.04 1.90 2.89 1.30 1.63 2.01 2.10 2.19 2.55 1.28 1.81 2.37

Achievement test score means and standard deviations were reported in


Table 1 for between-subjects and within-subjects variables. The result
demonstrated that the main effect of the learning interest was significant,
F (2, 228) = 54.21, MSE = 135.97, p < .01; partial eta squared = .32. When
learning interest was strong, moderate, and weak, the mean achievement
scores were M = 81.66; M = 76.17; and M = 70.58 respectively. In addition,
the main effect of goal types was significant, F (3,228) = 12.18, MSE =
135.97, p < .05; partial eta squared = .138. It is apparent that the
descending order of achievement for each different goal type was:
mastery-approach goal, performance-approach goal, performance-
avoidance goal, and mastery-avoidance goal (Table 2). At the same time,
the main effect of task difficulty was also significant, F (2, 228) = 110.30,

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39

MSE = 149.75, p < .01; partial eta squared = .33.

Table 2: Descriptive statistics of achievements for different goal types


Mastery- Performance- Performance- Mastery-
Approach approach avoidance avoidance

M 80.65 77.18 75.84 72.3

SD 11.06 12.26 11.52 11.88

Interactions
The results of univariate tests showed that generally, there was no
significant interaction among learning interest, goal type, and task
difficulty on achievement, F (12, 228) = 1.04, p = .413, partial eta squared
= .027. In addition, the interaction effect between learning interest and
goal types in between-subjects was not significant, F (6, 228) = 1.94, p
= .075, partial eta squared = .049. The interaction effect was also not
significant between learning interest and task difficulty, F (5, 228) = 1.27, p
= .24, partial eta squared = .011. However, a significant interaction effect
(see Figure 1) was detected between goal type and task difficulty, F (6, 228)
= 18.70, p < .001, partial eta squared = .198.

We specifically focused on the goal type task difficulty relation given its
significant interaction. The analysis of simple effect revealed that, with
high difficulty, the descending order of achievement for each different
goal type was: mastery-approach goal, performance-approach goal,
performance-avoidance goal, and mastery-avoidance goal. Using Tukeys
honestly significantly difference (HSD) post-hoc test with alpha less
than .05, it was found that there was no significant difference between the
performance-approach goal and the performance-avoidance goal (p > .05).
For the remaining contrasts, significant differences were detected. The
analysis of simple effect with moderate difficulty portrayed the
descending order for each different goal type as: performance-approach
goal, mastery-approach goal, performance-avoidance goal, and mastery-
avoidance goal. The HSD test showed that there was no difference
between the performance-approach goal and the mastery-approach goal
or between the performance-avoidance goal and the mastery-avoidance
goal (both ps > .05), whereas there were significant differences for the
remaining contrasts. With low difficulty, the descending order for each
different goal type was: mastery-avoidance goal, performance-avoidance
goal, mastery-approach goal, and performance-approach goal. The HSD
test showed that there was no significant difference between the mastery-

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40

avoidance goal and the performance-avoidance goal or between the


mastery-approach goal and the performance-approach goal (both ps > .05)
while significant differences for the remaining contrasts.

Goal types
90.00
Masteryapproach goal
Masteryavoidance goal

Achievements

85.00

Performance-approach goal
80.00
Performance-avoidance goal
75.00

70.00

65.00

60.00

high moderate low


Task difficulty
Figure 1: Interaction between goal types and task.

Discussion
One important aim of the present study was to examine the main effect of
learning interest. As hypothesized, this study demonstrated that the
main effect of the learning interest was statistically significant. That is,
the interest effect is independent of other factors (e.g., goals and task
difficulty in this study), which can be interpreted as: the stronger the
learning interest is, the better the performance is expected. The result is
consistent with findings from previous research (Hidi, 2000; Van Yperen,
2003; Harackiewicz & Hulleman, 2010). From the perspective of
emotional psychologists (Smith, Sansone, & White, 2007; Renninger, 2009),
serving cognitively and emotionally, interest is considered to be
underlying intrinsically motivated behavior and central to the
amplification and direction of attention and thus increases cognitive
engagement and promotes understanding.

As expected, we found that when the level of task difficulty was high, the
individuals setting mastery-approach goal outperformed those who had
other goal orientations. It is possible that the mastery-approach goal is
closely related to individuals self-improvement and growth. In order to
develop their competence and/or task mastery, individuals tend to
consider the task of high difficulty as an opportunity to improve, which
enables them to concentrate on the task and engage in learning activities

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41

accomplishing it actively and passionately, and thus facilitates their


learning. This finding can be interpreted by the desirable-difficulties
hypothesis - namely, that creating difficulties for the leaners during
meaningful acquisition can actually promotes retention and transfer
(Bjork, 1994; Yue, Bjork, & Bjork, 2013). Given that mastery-approach
goals contribute to arousing intrinsic motivation, this finding partly aligns
with the study conducted by Anshel and Weinberg (1992), who found
that difficult goals increased intrinsic motivation, whereas easy goals
decreased intrinsic motivation. Also, the finding is in accordance with the
study by Izadikhah, Jackson, and Loxton (2010). For individuals who set
performance-approach goals, they performed the second best among the
four goal types. It may suggest that when faced with difficult tasks,
individuals view outperforming their peers on difficult tasks as a way to
gain confidence and recognize their own ability, which would stimulate
their motivation and enhance learning outcomes. However, the
individuals who set the mastery-avoidance goal were outperformed by
those driven by all the other three goal orientations. One possible
explanation is that although mastery goal prompted the individual to
strive hard, meanwhile the inclination of avoidance when dealing with
the tasks of high difficulty might cause the individual to struggle and
thereby incur the approach-avoidance conflict, which could lead to
learning anxiety and distraction and thus overload the individuals
working memory resulting in poor performance (Elliot & McGregor, 2001;
Van Yperen, Elliot, & Anseel, 2009).

For the low-difficulty task, however, we found that those setting the
mastery-avoidance or performance-avoidance goal outperformed those
who set the mastery-approach or performance-approach goal. In other
words, regardless of that the individual prefers to gain their own mastery
or compares their competence with others, the avoidance of undesired
consequences serves as a primary drive of effortful involvement in
learning activities when the difficulty level of the task is low. Although
the finding is in contrast to some other research revealing avoidance goals
have a hindering effect on learning (Bartels & Magun-Jackson, 2009;
Brodish, & Devine, 2009; Luo et al, 2011; Bong, Hwang, Noh, & Kim,
2014), it may be the case that given the task is of low difficult, the
tendency of avoidance will not lead to the overloading effect from the
approach-avoidance conflict. As per mastery-approach goals, individuals
dont hold the belief that completing an easy task is beneficial enough to
assist them in gaining competence or mastery. Hence, when they are in a
learning environment shaped by mastery-approach goals, their attention
may be distracted, which can harm performance. Likewise, they tend to

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42

think that their completion of an easy task is not a convincing indicator of


their better competence relative to others because they believe that most
people would be able to reach the same desired level of performance
easily.

In conclusion, the results of the present study provide two crucial


educational implications that educators may consider. First, the finding
that increased learning interest leads to better performance when the goal
type and task difficulty remain constant suggests that teachers and
parents should make effort to arouse students learning interest at any
time. In addition, since the interaction between goal types and task
difficulty was significant, teachers and parents should pay attention to
assessing different goal types to set an appropriate one depending on the
difficulty level of a specific task.

Limitations and Future Research Directions


A major limitation of the present study is our exclusive focus on junior
middle school students in the context of remembering English words. In
order to improve the generalizability and fully understand the
interactional relationship among goal types, interest, and task difficulty,
future studies may examine the 3 4 3 model with college students and
with students in other subject matters such as mathematics.

Another drawback is that it might not make sense to distinguish different


levels of difficulty merely by classifying words based on the number of
letters each word consists of. It is possible that words are to be learned
consisting of more letters would turn out to be easier ones as compared
words of less letters because certain patterns and roots could be
recognized in long words, rendering memorizing them more efficient.
Future research is needed to evaluate the difficulty level from the angle of
learners (i.e., self-reported difficulty).

We analyzed task difficulty as the within-subjects variable due to the


limited number of students. A limitation associated with asking the same
student to work across different tasks and take different tests is that there
might be threats to internal validity. For example, although the learning
materials varied in content (words of 4 letters, words of 6 letters, and
words of 8 letters), they were presented in the same form (words after
words), resulting in practice and/or familiarity the students gained after
each test that could be mistaken for treatment effects. Therefore, future
studies recruiting more participants and operationalizing task difficulty
as a between-subjects variable may reduce potential threats to internal

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43

validity and further elucidate the relation between task difficulty and goal
types.

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47

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 47-64, February 2016

An ICT Approach for Implementing Emerging


Technologies for Teaching and Learning in Low
Resource Communities: Lessons Learnt from
Namibia

Shehu M and Jere N.R


Namibia University of Science and Technology
Windhoek, Namibia

Abstract. In this paper, emerging technologies in education which


include an interactive mobile learning application and new electronic
reading devices for Namibian Schools are discussed. The paper explains
how each of the studies was conducted and lays out the findings from
each of the studies. Our major aim is to design an ICT approach that
could be used in Namibia to implement emerging technologies within
the Namibian education system.

A case study qualitative approach was used. This was supported by


data collection methods such as interviews and focus groups, as well as
by data analysis paradigms comprising of a mix of Constructivist and
Classic Grounded Theory. Results from the studies showed negative
results which may hamper implementation of the new technologies in
Namibian schools. For example, on the issue implementing e-readers in
Namibian schools, the Namibian education stakeholders were
supportive of the idea but sceptical of its current viability. They
appreciated the potential benefits that the e-readers could provide, but
mentioned that a lot has to be done first in terms of establishing the
supporting ICT infrastructure. We concluded that there was lack of a
guiding approach that could be followed in implementing emerging
technologies in low resource areas. This workshop paper provides the
findings from the engaged participants and lessons learnt from the
studies. The focus of this paper is to outline the views of education
stakeholders in Namibia on the implementation of new ICTs.

Keywords: emerging technologies, ICTs, teaching and learning

Introduction
The international community emphasizes the role of education in bringing about
sustainable socio-economic development. For instance, Goal 2 of the United

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48

Nations Millennium Development Goals aims to achieve universal primary


education for children everywhere, boys and girls alike, by 2015 (Valk, Rashid &
Elder, 2010). Specific to Namibia, the imbalances and inequalities between rural
and urban schools means that the same educational achievements are difficult to
attain across the country. In addition to this, most urban schools possess ICTs
and have incorporated e/m-learning at school. As a result, despite the
continuous technology developments witnessed in many urban areas, Namibian
rural schools remain mostly unreached.
On the other hand, developing countries face several challenges when
attempting to successfully implement ICT solutions in education sectors. These
challenges include, but are not limited to, technological illiteracy and a fear of
change among various stakeholders (Keller, 2010; Hovious, 2014). These
problems are further exacerbated by the presence of a low reading culture
among their school learners (Barker, 2011), as well as the lack of a proper
engagement and needs-assessment process when implementing ICT solutions.
From a global perspective, technology is changing at a rapid pace and new ICT
solutions are required in all sectors of a developing economy, most especially its
education sector. In addition to these problems, there is no standard
implementation plan that is currently in place which ICT stakeholders could
follow when introducing new technology.
This paper explains a study which was conducted in Namibia, which proposed
e-readers as a new reading solution in Namibian classrooms. The paper outlines
an overview of the study, how it was done and its major findings. The main
focus is to expose the current Namibian environment and how that affects
implementation of emerging technologies. The paper shows the current state of
the views of learners, teachers and education stakeholders in implementing
emerging technologies. The next step is to propose best approaches, techniques
and supporting theories that could be useful in the application of modern
technologies to Namibias education system.

Overview of Namibian schools


Namibia has 1400 schools operated and administered by the state and 100
schools operated by the private sector (Fischer, 2001). The Namibian constitution
and the Education Act (2001) define the frameworks for the educational system:
compulsory seven (7) years of primary school for children aged 6-12 and five (5)
years of secondary education for children aged 12-18. Schools are well spread
across the country both in rural and urban areas with the majority residing in
rural areas. Schools in rural areas have historically poor performance metrics on
the national standard examinations compared to the urban-area schools; this is
caused by several imbalances within the system. Leaners attending schools in
urban areas are exposed to excellent learning resources and state-of-the-art
infrastructure such as computers, internet access, libraries, transportation etc.
and this gives them a definite learning advantage over learners in rural-area
schools, which is reflected by good grades in the national standard exams
(Fischer, 2001).

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


49

The Namibian education system is structured as follows:


Table 1: Namibia's education system structure
INSTITUTION STARTIN YEAR
CYCLE LEVEL
S G AGE S
Universities,
Polytechnics,
Tertiary Tertiary
Vocational
Centers
Second
Senior High Secondary
Cycle 15 4 yrs
School schools
Education
Basic Education Junior High
12 2 yrs
(Free Education) School
First Cycle
Primary School 6 6yrs
Education
Kindergarten 4 2yrs

An understanding of the Namibian education system is vital as this formed part


of the sample size and provided guidance in deciding on which schools to
engage. Appropriate use of ICT can catalyse the paradigmatic shift from teacher-
centred pedagogy to more effective learner-centred pedagogy (Hare, 2007). For
this paper only the second-cycle education schools were considered. We also
observed a couple of challenges within the Namibian schools that were almost
similar to the observations of Power & Sankale (2009) who mention that the
education system faces challenges in implementing ICTs in teaching and
learning such as;
Teachers and learners being computer illiterate
Lack of ICT facilities
Lack of electricity

Research objectives:
The objective of this paper was to propose an ICT approach that could be used
in introducing new technology in Namibia. This could be achieved by
determining the key actors and factors that will play a role in the successful
implementation of e-readers in Namibian educational institutions.

Technology in education
Namibia has shown progress when it comes to mobile application development
even though not necessarily in learning (Stork & Calandro, 2011). The
directorate of examinations together with local mobile operators introduced a
system whereby grade 10 and 12 students get their examination results via text
messages. This system works on any type of phone; one only needs to send a
SMS to a provided SMS line. In similar projects, SchoolNet Namibia offers local
hands-on ICT deployment, training and support (Ballantyne, 2004). It is an
organization that was established in February 2000 to empower youth through
the internet and provide sustainable, low-cost internet-based solutions to all
Namibian schools.

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50

In cases where ICTs have been introduced in the education sector, there are still
common challenges experienced such as underutilization of ICTs and poor ICT
implementation strategies. Implementing e-readers in Namibian schools was
proposed. The benefits of e-readers include portability, low energy
consumption, increased capacity for educational content storage at no extra
weight, low price and Wi-Fi connectivity. E-Readers can be utilized in Namibias
education sector to solve some current problems, especially the lack of teaching
& learning materials. This study, therefore, aimed to assess the readiness of the
Namibian academic community at large to the deployment of e-readers in
schools and tertiary institutions, as well as to outline appropriate
implementation strategies for successful e-reader integration into Namibian
schools.
Main theories considered
Learning is the result of experience having a permanent change on our behavior
(Huitt, 2013). With educators regularly considering the use of use new curricula,
teaching methods and assessments, separating the wheat from the chaff when it
comes to the assessment of these methods necessitates a grounded
understanding of the foundational theories that teaching is based upon, such as
how students learn and what they should learn (Wilson & Peterson, 2006). There
are several schools of thought related to this issue, each espousing its own
assumptions, principles and methods. An overview of these theories is
presented next (Huitt, 2013).

Table 2: Schools of thought regarding learning theories


social
learning,
informat
cognitive social
behavior ion humanisti connectiv
constructivi constructiv
al processi c ism
sm ism &
ng
social
cognition
Stimuli Acquirin Needs Mental and Attitudes Developm
Primary Focus

and g and self- developme and social ent


response knowled esteem ntal influences through
s to them ge and processes towards interactin
critical attaining g with
thinking goals digital
skills networks
Environ Mental Emotional Individual Social Digital
Assumptions

mental operation influences constructio environmen social


forces s dictate dictate n dictates ts dictate networks
dictate learning learning learning learning dictate
learning learning

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51

Biologica Changes Individual Diagnose Peer and Digital


l bases of over time ity learner adult networks
behavior in Self- readiness interaction influence
Principles

Actions complexi determina Help Individual learning


and ty tion students responsibili Personal
conseque Standard Setting learn on ty constructi
nces s dreams their own on of
and goals meaning
Experime Experime Clinical
Natural and Experiment Mostly
ntal ntal/ method
structured al, qualitativ
Methods

methods correlatio Pencil and


observation systematic e
Systemati nal paper observation
c lab Pencil Paper and
observati and pencil
on paper
The Connectivism school of thought is of particular relevance to this study, as it
emphasizes contemporary learning through connection to digital networks. The
introduction of e-readers avails (and requires) connectivity to the internet for
group work and study, content lookup, assignment grading and self-study.
Furthermore, one of the principles of Connectivism is that personal construction
of meaning is critical, which plays an important role in how students should
ideally study and absorb content in the classroom. It consequentially emphasizes
the production of knowledge rather than just the consumption of it, and the
aggregation of several such personally produced content to a knowledge base
for the benefit of other present and future learners to use. A vivisection of Table
2, focusing on the principles of each theory from the first-person perspective,
looks as follows:

Table 3: Theories of learning and their principles, adapted from Huitt (2013)
Theory Principles
Define goals and break them down into sub-objectives
Behavioral Interact with the material (take notes)
Rewards for accomplishing objectives
Pay attention in class and during study.
Information Processing Identify major terms and concepts before studying.
Try to apply concepts you learn
Relate your learning to your life
Humanistic Be comfortable while learning; avoid stress
Make the study and learning process fun
Relate new material to concepts youve already
Cognitive
encountered before
Constructivism
Try to work, learn and study with another student
Group study
Social Learning, Social
Set concept-learning goals
Constructivism &
Develop the best methods of learning and studying, and
Social Cognition
learn from others
Connect with knowledge bases and other inquirers.
Connectivism
Produce knowledge, do not just consume it

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52

The theories assisted in understanding how ICTs could be integrated into the
teaching and learning process in Namibian schools. We note, however, that the
introduction of technology into the classroom requires certain considerations to
be made. Wilson, Zygouris-Coe & Cardullo (2014) introduce to us the concepts of
deep learning and deep trouble, defining deep learning as using knowledge and
skills in ways that prepare students for real life and deep trouble as what happens
in classrooms that adopt technologies without a plan, purpose, teacher
professional development, and a school culture that neither embraces nor
supports teaching and learning with technology (Wilson et al., 2014).

Study approach
Being a body of research primarily concerned with the introduction of new
technological tools into the education sphere, it was most appropriate that it be
conducted under the umbrella of design-based research. Furthermore, due to its
relatively novel status within the Namibian education sphere, it was likewise apt
that any and all data collected should be analysed through a combination of
Classic and Constructivist Grounded Theory. Both the Design-Based Research
(DBR) approach and the underpinning analytic foundation of Grounded Theory
were applied in this study. A non-exhaustive description of DBR follows in the
next section.

Defining Design-Based Research (DBR)


Design-Based Research focuses on solving broad-based, complex, real world
problems that are critical to education, with the end-goal of making
contributions both scientific and applied to the field (Reeves, Herrington, &
Oliver, 2004; van den Akker, 1999; Herrington, McKenney, Reeves, & Oliver,
2007). They however concur that DBR protocols require intensive and long-term
collaboration involving researchers and practitioners, and that it meshes
practical solutions to sector-based challenges with the acknowledgement of
reusable design principles. Van der Akker (1999) further points out that in DBR
output is measured as design principles, aiming to benefit to all stakeholders
involved (Reeves, 2000).
Persistent, significant problems exist in education research and this cyclic nature
necessitates practitioners to become more directly involved in the research by
collaborating with relevant stakeholders within the sector (Cotton, Lockyer, &
Brickell, 2009; Reeves & Hedberg, 2003). DBR thus applies to this research in the
sense that after the initial feedback solicitation (which is the scope limit of this
thesis), further research will need to be undertaken to ensure thorough data
collection, especially from other schools both at the secondary and tertiary levels
within Namibia. Piloting of proposed ICT interventions would then follow, and
this would in turn necessitate the monitoring and evaluation of the interventions
thereafter.

Phases of Design-Based Research


In formulating our own ICT integration strategy for e-readers in Namibian
schools, we loosely modelled it upon the guidelines of design-based research.

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53

The guidelines of this underpinning theory are explained in the following


sections.

Phase 1: Problem Definition


In this phase, researchers and educators collaborate to identify and define
practical problems within education. This involves problem and objective
definition in addition to fleshing out the research questions and performing a
review of relevant literature (Bannan-Ritland, 2003; Herrington, McKenney,
Reeves, & Oliver, 2007; Gay, 1992; van den Akker J., 1999).

Phase 2: Theoretical Framework Definition


This phase requires defining the theoretical framework and draft principles that
will underpin all the research to be undertaken. DBR is best suited to pragmatic
theoretical foundations, wherein the theorys value is in its capacity to produce
tangible change. The proposed intervention of change is also defined in this
phase (Barab & Squire, 2004; Cobb, Confrey, diSessa, Lehrer, & Schauble, 2003;
Herrington, McKenney, Reeves, & Oliver, 2007).

Phase 3: Iterative testing


This phase involves the selection of methodologies (either quantitative or
qualitative), the participants (whose selection must be contextually relevant to
the study) and iterations of intervention implementation in order to fine-tune
and further perfect the preferred solution to the defined problem. Data analysis
is also carried out at this stage (van den Akker, Gravemeijer, McKenney, &
Nieveen, 2006; Herrington, McKenney, Reeves, & Oliver, 2007).

Phase 4: Production of design principles


This final phase sees the distillation of the data received and analyzed into key
design principles that can be used to guide future implementations of
interventions, to inform policymaking as well as to expose all parties involved to
new methods of teaching and learning (Herrington et al., 2007).

Description of proposed intervention


In order to elicit sufficient data on key variables pertinent to this study such as
the viability, usability and desirability of implementing e-readers into Namibian
schools, it was important to engage the relevant end-users, namely school-
teachers and students. For the purposes of this study, the consideration of other
variables such as affordability was impractical at this stage, as the proposed
intervention was not yet at the pilot stage. This research was based on
questionnaires handed out to students and teachers in three (3) different schools
within the Khomas region in Namibia across a broad range of subjects and ages,
as well as interviews with administrators at schools where e-reader programmes
have already been implemented. Finally, intensive interviews with upper
management staff at one of the leading Namibian Publishing Houses rounds out
our studys data collection. The following section explains the approach used to
identify the sample selection, interviews and data analysis.

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54

Sample Selection
For the purposes of this study, three schools were selected within the urban
areas, two of which are government schools and one of which is a private school.
The reason for this was to provide a balanced point of view with regards to
ownership and usage experience of e-readers and similar devices in general, as
private school children are significantly likelier to have owned and used an iPad
before, thus skewing the data.

Questionnaires
A total of one hundred and fifty (150) questionnaires were handed out to
students in these three schools via their teachers, with whom a previous faculty
affiliation existed. All the questionnaires were returned within two weeks of the
hand-out date. The teachers handed out the questionnaires to their students
during class times, and themselves filled in their own specially made version of
the questionnaire (Teachers Questionnaire). The grades of the students range
from Grade 8 to Grade 10, with ages falling between 11 and 17+. We present
descriptive statistics on these demographics, as well as their answers to the most
pertinent questions.

Interviews
Three separate interviews were conducted with three different key actors in the
education arena. All interviews were recorded using a voice recorder. The first
interview was with the pioneer of an iPad study tool program at one of the
leading schools in Windhoek. The second was with the head librarian at the
same school who introduced an online e-book platform to the school to allow
students to read books without having to physically go to the library. The third
interview was with a senior staff member at one of Namibias leading publishing
companies, NPH (Namibian Publishing House). All interviews contained
broad ranges of questions designed to elicit, inter alia, the number of years they
have currently worked in their respective fields, their thoughts on the reading
culture in Namibia, the challenges they have faced in their respective initiatives
and their thoughts on the future of e-reading and e-readers in Namibian
classrooms.

Data analysis
The questionnaire data was entered and sorted using Microsoft Excel
spreadsheet software, while the interview recordings were transcribed with the
help of Microsoft Windows Media Player software. The quantitative data was
analyzed using simple statistical analysis. Percentages were derived from the
number of students (or teachers) who took a certain point of view as a part of the
total. Agreements and emphatic agreements (Agree and Strongly Agree)
were counted as a combined metric; therefore, if 50% of the students agreed on a
view, and a separate 25% of the students strongly agreed on the same view, then
the view was calculated as having a combined total of 75% of the respondents in
agreement of that view. The same process applied for disagreements and
emphatic disagreements.
In terms of analyzing the interview data, thematic summaries were first noted
down and categorized accordingly so that main ideas and themes could emerge.
These summaries allowed us to notice broad differences and similarities in

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55

challenges being faced in the respective fields. Further review of the literature
combined with iterative analysis of the collected data consisted the process of
developing codes, the next step in the Grounded Theory data analysis paradigm.
Exploring emerging concepts and themes in the data and searching for
potentially disconfirming evidence that could have gone against the findings
were further steps that we took during data analysis (Kraft, et al., 2014). Data
analysis in this research was carried out using Grounded Theory. This method
allows themes, issues and important topics to emerge from the data through
iterative analysis of said data; these topics then form the basis for subsequent
analysis (Glaser & Strauss, 1967).

Study findings
Following below are the major findings that were culled from the second study.
The results are divided into two sections, based on whether the results were
students or teachers.

STUDENTS

Ownership of e-readers and internet access


In terms of online access and e-reader ownership, just over half of the sampled
students (53%) have internet access at home, while 43% do not have internet
access at home. On the other hand, a significant and unsurprising 82% of
students do not have e-readers, and only 15% of the students have e-readers.
This overall low level of connectivity can be attributed to low incomes and
limited knowledge of the existence of e-readers themselves, as most of the
students were sourced from government schools which generally consist of
learners from low income backgrounds. However, 83% of the respondents
categorically stated that they would like to have internet access to help them
with their school work.

Books over laptops


When asked whether they would prefer reading on a PC/laptop than from a
book, a combined total of 43% disagreed, compared to only 38% agreeing that it
would be better to read from a PC/laptop than a book. This percentage could
be explained by the already low rates of e-reader ownership among learners. A
further 15% of the respondents remained neutral on the topic. A significant 66%
of respondents further stated that they prefer having pictures rather than text
material, with 42% preferring material to be in color rather than plain black and
white.

More interesting content leads to improved focus


A significant 65% of the students did not find school work boring, but around
the same number (64%) went on to state that they would focus more on their
school work if it was more interesting. As an indicator, a healthy 76% stated that
they would also like to watch educational videos in addition to their text
materials.

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56

Electronic devices mean better studying


Firstly, most (66%) of the students expressed the opinion that they carry too
many school books every day. In addition to that, a whopping 60% of the
students categorically stated that they would study better if they used
electronic devices such as iPads to study, compared to only 25% disagreeing
with the proposition. They also mostly preferred the convenience of online
assistance with studying, as 72% of the students sometimes wished they could
immediately look up difficult terms, phrases or concepts online while reading
their school books.

Figure 6: Assertions among study participants

Digital books over physical ones


Conclusively, the majority of the students (63%) would prefer digital books over
physical books.

Teachers
From a sample of 11 teachers, 6 of them had taught for more than 11 years each.
The majority (63%) had never owned a tablet phone/device before, but all the
teachers had a PC or laptop for their use at home. Only one teacher out of
eleven had ever owned an e-reader.

Teaching with technology not practiced enough


Only 3 out of the 11 teachers surveyed agreed that they often try to incorporate
technology into their teaching. The rest either disagreed or were neutral. This
suggests the need or a paradigm shift in terms of teacher attitudes towards
technology-assisted teaching and learning.

Boring books bore students


The majority (63%) of the teachers acknowledged that the textbooks they use to
teach students were not engaging enough, with 54% of them further stating that
students were usually bored with reading their textbooks in class.

More interactivity, more focus


64% of the teachers admitted to not being familiar with e-readers in general, but
all of them agreed that students focus in the classroom would increase if the

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57

lessons were more interactive (save for one who remained neutral).
Furthermore, all of them (save for two neutral respondents) believed that
teaching would be easier if it was done through digital devices such as iPads.
To further corroborate the views of the students, every last one of the teachers
believed that kids would learn faster if they could immediately look up
difficult terms, phrases or concepts online while reading their school books,
and that kids should have internet access on such devices.

Teaching would be easier on a digital device


91% of the teachers surveyed believed that it would be easier to give and
grade homework/assignments on a digital device, and that they would not
mind having all their lesson plans, attendance registers, etc. stored digitally on
such a device. All of them further agreed that teaching would be easier and
faster if everyone in class had an e-reader. More than half of them further
disagreed that students would be distracted in class if they had such a device.

Teachers Edition e-readers would be desirable


Conclusively, all but one of the teachers (who remained neutral) were in support
of having all school textbooks accessible on a digital device, and they expressed
a desire for a different Teachers Edition of such a device, should it be
implemented.

Assertions
54%
KIDS WOULD BE DISTRACTED WITH E-READERS
27%
TEACHING WOULD BE EASIER IF DONE ON A DIGITAL 18%
DEVICE 82%
STUDENTS WOULD FOCUS MORE IF LESSONS WERE 0%
MORE INTERACTIVE 100%
64%
I AM FAMILIAR WITH E-READERS
27%
STUDENTS GET BORED WITH READING BOOKS IN 27%
CLASS 54%
18%
BOOKS USED TO TEACH AREN'T ENGAGING ENOUGH
63%

0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 120%

Disagree Agree

Figure 7: Various assertions among teachers

Teachers: General Comments


Qualitative data was also obtained from the teachers at the end of the given
questionnaire. Comments were mostly supportive of the initiative, and ranged
from support of using digital devices such as iPads in schools, to
acknowledgement of the success of such initiatives in other countries (one
teacher mentioned Sweden in particular). As one teacher put it: Students

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58

would not be bored (of e-readers), they would enjoy it. Less paper, less usage
of exercise and textbooks. Would be ideal.

Table 4: Comparison of findings between student and teacher questionnaire


responses
Students
Teachers
Students do not have e-readers, and not all Teachers teach several hours a week with
have internet access short, infrequent reading periods in between
Students prefer reading from books than Teachers do not often try to incorporate
from laptops technology into their teaching
Students like reading in general, but mostly Teachers acknowledge that boring books
for school bore students
Students read for leisure mostly a few times a Students do not bring textbooks to class
week because they cannot afford them
Most of the students read on a daily basis Teachers are not familiar with e-readers, but
believe more interactivity would increase
focus
Students mostly read offline Teaching would be easier on a digital device
Students have low attention spans when it comes Teachers are in support of e-readers, and
to reading they would like their own version
(Teachers Edition)
Students DO NOT find school work boring,
but would focus more if it was more -
interesting
Students would study better if they used
-
electronic devices
Students would prefer having their books in
-
digital rather than physical form

Findings from the publisher


The findings from the interview are presented below.
Poor infrastructure hindering initiatives In many parts of the country,
the availability of basic amenities like electricity mean that students are
struggling to make effective use of the physical hard-copy books they
already possess. This lack of basic amenities, not to mention an almost
total absence of adequate internet access in most private and state
schools beyond Windhoek, means that the focus shifts from
implementing future-forward technological initiatives (such as e-
readers), and remains firmly entrenched on fixing the current ills
plaguing our education system.
Social ills reduce quality of education received The problem is
exacerbated by the growing gulf between the rich and the poor, wherein
kids from high socio-economic backgrounds can afford to be schooled at
private schools where they are afforded adequate school materials,
teacher attention and support, as well as the benefit of home-taught
reading, writing and comprehension skills. These schools also have the
budget to afford luxuries like e-readers in classrooms for their students

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59

due to the relatively high tuition fees that they charge. Learners from low
socio-economic backgrounds, however, have challenges in buying books,
stationery and even basic amenities like healthy, balanced meals.
Logistical and regulatory challenges delay service delivery Publishers
in the country serve to accomplish several objectives. One of these is to
deliver quality, context-relevant textbooks in designated languages to
schools in the country. These tasks are however dependent on the
backing and support of the relevant government bodies within the
country. Regulatory delays in syllabus approvals for school-taught
subjects inevitably lead to printing delays on the publishers end. This all
cumulatively means that students receive their prescribed school
textbooks later than usual, resulting in an inadequate number of study
materials for all students.
Implementing e-readers would be prohibitively expensive
Furthermore, the funding model that would be required to acquire e-
readers (ostensibly to improve the reading skills for every student in
every school in Namibia) would run up a bill that does not justify
abandoning the poor state of the current reading culture status quo.
From their point of view, the interviewee felt that the money that would
be spent on such an e-reader initiative could be better channeled towards
solving the tangible, urgent problems that we currently face in our
education sector.
The Namibian consumer market is not yet ready Moreover, the
consumer market in Namibia, from a publishers point of view, is not
conducive to the sale and use of e-readers, due to high rates of
unemployment among the ranks of the parents who would be the buyers
of such devices. With time, they think, the situation might improve to the
point where having an e-reader is no longer a luxury, but a necessity.

Proposed approach in line with the methodology

Defining a framework of stakeholders and roles


It was important to identify the main stakeholders within the Namibian
education sector.

Table 5: Key stakeholders in Namibian education and their envisioned roles


Stakeholder Roles/Strategies
Build up and maintain adequate infrastructure such as
ubiquitous electricity coverage and internet access in all schools
Government Provide device subsidies to parlay initial costs of device
acquisition
Provide teacher ICT training
Develop syllabi for students
Teachers Liaise with publishers to decide on content for the devices
Undergo ICT training for teaching with digital tools
Design and develop digital content and layout for the devices
Publishers Publish, market and advertise quality content to provide a
plethora of choices for teachers

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60

Engage in cost-effective practices during the publishing process


to keep final content costs down
Provide awareness of new ways of teaching, provide support
and encouragement to schools during transition and liaise with
Community Leaders
relevant government bodies for national buy-in. Encourage and
& Administrators
reward platform developers to come up with innovative apps
and other learning tools
Design, develop and publish engaging, interactive and
Software developers educational apps that can be integrated into Namibian schools.
For example, software developers different languages
Use devices and all apps, tools and resources within the learning
ecosystem to improve all necessary metrics such as reading
Students
literacy, writing ability, numeracy skills, and subject
comprehension.

These roles can play a central role within a larger implementation framework. It
is evident from the findings that different factions have different views on the
viability and strategy of e-reader implementation in the country.

Summary of findings
Findings clearly show a huge gap between the different stakeholders, i.e.,
learners, teachers and publishers. There are a couple challenges which could be
social, economic, and technical and ownership of ICT devices that may affect
implementation of emerging technologies. Namibia has different cultural
backgrounds and many official languages with a population of just over 2
million people. These differences certainly affect implementation of new
technologies. However, as technology changes there is need to be innovative and
design a strategy that will enable ICT integration in Namibian schools. Hence,
the proposed plan in Figure 7.

Proposed implementation plan


Based on the views of the stakeholders surveyed in this research, it is clear that
the coordinated efforts of several stakeholders is paramount to ensuring
successful replication of such programs nationwide in primary, secondary and
tertiary schools alike. Defining the roles that these stakeholders will play enables
the creation of a robust implementation strategy for e-reader deployment. The
stakeholders and their concomitant roles are explained in Table 4.
Certain key assumptions were made in the creation and definition of these roles.
Chief among them was that the key education stakeholders in Namibia would
buy into the idea of e-reader deployment across the country. The role-definition
process was supported by a careful consideration of existing literature
pertaining to ICT implementation in schools, the identification of pivotal
stakeholders in the Namibian education sector, the engagement of these
stakeholders through qualitative methods and a comparison of findings from the
research to the existing literature.
The framework in and of itself is meant to act as a guideline for governing
bodies that aim to undertake the process of ICT integration in institutions of
learning As such, the purposeful non-linear, non-cyclical and non-parallel

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61

nature of the framework is designed to allow for flexibility in determining which


facet is to be worked on first, last or concurrently with other facets of the
framework.

Stakeholder
engagement
- Students
- Teachers
Monitoring & - Publishers
Evaluation - Schools
- Stakeholder feedback - Content Providers
- Regular review against
ICT Infrastructure
long-term goals Hardware/Software
- Networking structure
- Content creation
Namibian ICT
- Emerging trends
Integration
Framework

Awareness, Training &


Policy Support
- Draft training schemes New Business
Models
- Ongoing professional
development - Cost structures
- Lean production

Figure 8: An ICT plan for implementing new technologies in Namibia

The proposed plan is based on the findings from the two studies and
observations on the current ICT state in Namibian schools. A brief description of
the major components of the ICT integration plan is given below:
Stakeholder Engagement Stakeholders are one of the key factors of this
framework. A far from exhaustive list of this subset would include:
Students, Teachers, School Administrations, Publishers and Content
Providers. These stakeholders would need to come together to forge a
path forward.
ICT Infrastructure This includes the physical and non-physical aspects.
The physical aspect entails the underlying hardware structures, such as
the requisite electricity grid coverage and the terrestrial wiring of
broadband cables to enable internet connection. Computers, storage
devices, electronic tablets fall under here as well. The non-physical aspect
of the infrastructure subset deals with the intangible, such as software
provisions for the e-readers, cloud storage for schools, and creating
language-localized educational material.
New Business Models ICT investments are capital-intensive, and it is
necessary to have an accurate grasp of estimated costs and expected

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62

returns on investments (ROIs) in order to ensure sustainable spending


practices.
Awareness, Training & Policy Support It is necessary for new
implementations of ICTs to be paired with sufficient training to enhance
overall integration. This can be achieved through training workshops,
seminars and advanced professional development. Furthermore,
supporting policies must be enacted to enable and assist the overall
process. These include the commissioning of broadband infrastructure by
government; subsidized equipment procurement; offering training,
professional certification and increased remuneration for ICT-related
skills; improved working conditions for affected stakeholders (e.g.
teachers), and more awareness campaigns about the benefits of ICTs in
schools.
Monitoring & Evaluation After implementation, monitoring and
stakeholder feedback solicitation are crucial to determining the success or
ineffectiveness of e-reader deployment. These are needed to gauge the
effectiveness and efficiency of implemented solutions against long-term
goals.

Conclusion
The proposed implementation plan requires the establishment of a committee
that will be responsible for driving e-reader deployment in Namibian
classrooms. This committee should consist of people from different backgrounds
who are committed to seeing the proposed idea through. From the findings, it is
clear that this will require working together and engaging a lot of stakeholders.
The committee will need to comprise of relevant stakeholders from the
education sector, as well as from ancillary sectors such as social services, health,
sports and culture, the arts and others. The committee will need an established
mandate on that covers several facets:
implementation of e-reader deployment
identification of high-need institutions within the country
establishment of supplier, partner and donor relationships with regard to
the e-readers and other required resources
ongoing feedback solicitation on the effectiveness of the program, and
long-term scaling of the deployment initiative
In this paper we have focused on the findings from the two studies that could
assist in identifying the views of the Namibian participants, as well as in
designing an ICT strategy. We started out by first looking at the challenges being
faced by schools in developing countries, followed by a brief overview of the
Namibian education system. This was to allow us to understand the root
problems being faced by students and educators alike. A summary of core
teaching theories followed, enabling us to put into the context the
methodological approach chosen for this study. This approach was described,
together with the intervention used. The analysis was performed, and the results
extracted from the data. We discovered that, while interest in the deployment of
e-readers is high (as we expected), the actual execution could face some
challenges, and these were summarized. These findings then properly informed
our proposed strategy for implementing our tentative idea: that of e-reader

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63

deployment in Namibian schools as a positive way of alleviating some of the


challenges being faced in the sector. We aim to share the ICT integration plan
during the workshop and learn from other ICT experts as well.

References

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literacy-report.pdf
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Namibia, 125. Windhoek NIED: Namibia
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In C. Vrasidas (Ed.), ICT for education, development and social justice.
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Sommerville, I. (2010). Software engineering (Ninth Edition). Edwards Brothers: Boston.


Stork, C., & Calandro, E. (2011). Internet gone mobile in Namibia. Retrieved from
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65

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 65-75, February 2016

Descriptive Study on Grade 2 Pupils


Relationship Behavior and School Adjustment
As Perceived By Teachers:
The Case of Jimma Zone, Oromia

FISSEHA MIKRE (Assist/Professor) and


NASSER ABA-MILKI (Lecturer)
(Department of Psychology, Jimma University, Ethiopia)

Abstract. This research aimed at examining teachers perceptions of


their relationship with pupils and the association of this relationship
with the pupils school adjustment. Quantitative data on the teachers
perceptions of the pupils relationship and school adjustment behaviors
were collected from 26 self-contained classes for 446 grade two sampled
pupils using standardized measures. The Wards method of cluster
analysis identified the following three distinct pupil- teacher
relationships, (a) positively involved, (b) functional average and (c)
negatively involved. Likewise, the one way analysis of variance
computed for the three relationship behavior scores showed statistically
significant variation among the three clusters that designates the
presence of three distinct pupils relationship behaviors. In addition, the
one way analysis of variance for the school adjustment scores among the
three relationship types resulted in a statistically significant variation.
The pupils whom the teachers reported to have positive relationship
show close, warm and interactive relationship behaviors with their
teachers. Moreover, the pupils scored significantly higher in school
adjustment measure than the pupils whom the teachers reported to have
functional average and negative involvement in their relationship
behavior. Furthermore, the Pearson Product Moment Correlation
analysis between pupils relationship behavior and school adjustment
scores revealed the presence of a strong positive and statistically
significant association between the teacher-pupil relationship and the
school adjustment measure.

Keywords: Relationship behavior; school adjustment; teacher


perceptions; early relationships

Introduction
Several developmental theories assert the significant role teacher-pupil
relationship play in leading to a range of positive academic and social outcomes
(Wentzel, 2009). According to Bergin and Bergin (2009: p141), a childs school
success can be influenced by the type of affection he/she has with parents at

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66

home and teachers in the school environment. The same authors assert the
importance of early relationship in predicting the long-term well-being of the
child.

In general, the significance of early years relationship behavior to learning and


development is a well acknowledged phenomenon. Pupils differences in
relationship behaviors with adults are linked to the variations in school
adjustment and learning. Kamala (2013), for instance, concludes that pupils
relationship behavior with significant persons predicts their competence in
school adjustment. Hamre and Pianta (2001: p636) also confirm teacher-child
relationship patterns as greatly useful components of childrens success at
school. At the early years, teachers assume a parent-surrogate role for children
and may observe relationship behaviors which can have salient contributions for
school adjustment and certain developmental outcomes for the child (Ramadass
& Gowrie, 2014).

There is also a general conviction to the critical nature of early years in human
development. Research evidence show the quality of relationships to be linked
with the childs school adjustment behavior at present and in the future
(Hughes, Gleason, & Zhang, 2005: p305). In fact, the correlations between quality
early relationship and later school work are strong and persistent. The
relationship is more evident in the areas of academics and social success (Hamre
& Pianta, 2001: p636). Kennedy and Kennedy (2004) indicated the presence of
strong conviction on the significance of high quality early affiliation on
childrens school adjustment. OConner (2007) also indicated the contribution of
high quality relations for childrens academic success. From this, one can make
an assumption that childrens relationship behavior influence academic
achievement through the encouragement of active learning and class activities
(Patrick, Mantzicopoulos, Samarapungavan, & French, 2008).

Secure teacher-pupil relationships may be significant to make the school a


supportive environment that can influence the adjustment competence of pupils.
Moreover, when children experience positive relationships at school, they act
attentively and explore their environment well. On the other hand, the
experiences of insecure relationships with teachers lead to stress, suspicious
exploration of the school environment and distorted self-concepts (Wentzel,
2009). In general, secure relationship forecasts more knowledge, high test result,
learner motivation and fewer problematic and special needs education (Bergin &
Bergin, 2009: p154). Negatively involved type of pupil relationship is
characterized by continuous controlling of childrens behavior and
discouragement of the teacher in creating positive classroom setting (Driscoll &
Pianta, 2010). The major predictors of pupil insecure relations and
maladjustments may be attributed to some unfulfilled or thwarted pupil needs
within their homes and/or school environment.

Teachers sensitivity to the type of relationship behavior determines the quality


of school adjustment and learning for the child. It has also been estimated that 12
percent of the worlds primary school going children are so emotionally upset as

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67

to require the services of educational psychologists, sociologists or guidance and


counseling specialists in matters of relationship and emotional stability
(Ramadass & Gawrie, 2014). Hence, this is contextually a timely study with the
intention of describing the teacher-pupil relationship behavior and its
association to the pupils school adjustment competence as perceived and
reported by the teacher. Such type of research evidence can be informative for
those significant individuals such as school teachers and school psychologists to
understand how patterns of relationship behavior determines school adjustment
and competence in the school environment and help to prepare themselves for
possible interventions for perceived problematic relationships as the early
relationship experiences have paramount importance for the individuals future
life.

Teacher-Child Relationships
Research findings showed positive relations between teacherlearner interaction
and their school performance and adjustment (McCormick, O'Connor, Cappella
& McClowry, 2013). Relationships are the arenas for socialization, development
of communication skills and the regulation of emotions for children (Driscoll &
Pianta, 2010). A secure and close type of relationship not only predicts school
adjustment but also crucial to the development of later successful relationship.
Children adjust well if they feel their relationship is emotionally supportive
(Wentzel, 2009: p309). On the other hand, if they feel threatened, anxious or
uncertain, they fail to adjust well at school. The role of school teachers is not
only to facilitate for knowledge acquisition but also socialize the children to form
trusting relationships with others.

As Vygotsky (1978) stated it the teacher-child relationship behavior and the


perception of the relationship by the teacher exert influence on salient
developmental outcomes including cognitive ability. Children, who are
supported for independence, motivated for achievement and encouraged to feel
worthy, differ from their classmates on later quitting of school, success in
learning and peer social skills in the school context. Bergin and Bergin (2009:
p141) asserts the crucially of socio-emotional wellness on success at school
where the basis of which is early attachment and relationship behaviors.

There are several studies which document teachers perceptions on childrens


relationship behavior. Pianta (1997: p15), in his research described six categories
of teacher relationship perceptions of children as uninvolved, dependent, angry-
dependent, dysfunctional, functional average and positively involved positively
involved. Children in the different patterns of relationships vary for the school
adjustment measure. Of these, the most problematic are the dysfunctional and
the angry-dependent. The functional average and positively involved children
show relatively good adjustment to the school environment. They also show the
fewest problem behaviors at school. Children whose relationships are described
as dependent and angry dependent often experience adjustment difficulties at
school. They have more conduct problems, less competent in cognitive
functioning and also less tolerant to frustrations. Developmental researches have
also documented angrydependent relations at early childhood period to be

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68

associated with decreased competence in socio-emotional functioning of the


child. According to Demaray and Malecki (2002: p213), pupils with low
perceived support attained significantly lower scores on positive behavior
indicators and higher scores on problem behavior indicators than those having
average or high perceived support groups do.

Child-Adjustment at School
A well-adjusted child at school shows more behaviors of independence,
creativity, active involvement in school work and less irritable behaviors.
Kington (2013: p117) asserts higher levels of school adjustment and competence
to have bases from positive teacher-pupil relationships and negative
relationships to predict less promising path for childrens future. Child-
adjustment at school correlates with the relationship behavior of significant
others such as the school teacher. For instance, Patrick, et al (2008: p126) and
Furrer and Skinner (2003: p149) claim that having a relationship with ones
teacher characterized by closeness, absence of conflict or dependency increases
the chance of pupil motivation and achievement at school. On the other hand,
children with anxious, avoidant and negative relations with teachers often show
adjustment difficulties. For instance, children who are identified by
dysfunctional and angry dependent relationship behaviors likely show more
conduct problems, limited cognitive competence and learning difficulties. In
fact, children with different relationship patterns with teachers vary in school
adjustment behavior.

Children who often show positive relations exhibit better habits in various
school works. There are researcher evidences which report the social adaptation
advantages of early relationship behavior of children (Hamre & Pianta, 2001:
p626). The teachers perception and care for the childs emotional needs plays a
salient role to predict learning and the development of social skills. Teachers are
expected to examine the classroom environment in such a way that children are
treated well and cared for. In the words of Malecki and Demaray (2003: p249)
emotionally supportive tendencies of teachers relate to the childrens academic
success to a great extent. As a result of this, the influences of relationship
behaviors on school adjustment should receive the highest recognition to be
investigated so that to pave the ways for intervention schemes in case of
problematic adjustment patterns. Because, improving the quality of teacher-
pupil relationship starting from kindergarten and early grades can have salient
contributions to the effectiveness of schools (Pianta, Hamre, & Allen, 2012:
p336).

Research Methods
This study followed a cross-sectional survey design that was helpful to collect
data on grade 2 self-contained classroom teachers perceptions of childrens
relationship behaviors and the corresponding adjustment at school. Twenty six
grade 2 self-contained teachers from four Districts of Jimma Zone filled out the
adapted teacher-child relationship scale a seminal work of Pianta and Steinberg
(1992) and the school adjustment scale by Barbara (1975) for a total of 446
children. Before the actual data collection, the two instruments were checked for

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69

content validity to examine whether they can reliably measure the intended
variables in the study. A pilot-test of both instruments by five teachers for
twelve children each resulted in an internal consistency reliability coefficient of
0.76 for the teacher-child relationship scale and o.69 for the childs school
adjustment scale (which can be judged as moderate).

The data for the main study were collected on separate days for the two scales.
The twenty six grade two self-contained teachers filled out the teacher-child
relationship scale for an average of eighteen children each. After two weeks,
they again filled out the school adjustment scale for the children to whom they
filled the teacher-child relationship scale. The time gap in filling out the two
scales helped to decrease the chance of bias and maximize the return rate of the
scales. The responses were based on a 5 point Likert scale ranging from
definitely does not apply (1) up to definitely apply (1) to the child yielded a
range of scores from 21 to 105 for the teacher-child relationship scale and from
19 to 95 for the school adjustment scale, respectively. In both types of scales
relatively high scores show positive and relatively low scores show negative
outcomes in the measured variable. After assigning numerical values to both
types of measured variables (N= 446, Female= 218 & Males=228) the Wards
method of cluster analysis was done for the teacher-child relationship behavior
scores.

Wards hierarchical method of cluster analysis is based on the logic of minimum


error variance grouping (SAS Inc., 2008). In the clustering, three distinct cluster
solutions came out for the teacher perceptions of childrens relationship
behavior. Following the clustering, the school adjustment scores of each child
were matched to the scores of teachers perceptions of child relationship
behavior for the respective clusters. Next, a one way analysis of variance that
assumes inequality of variation for teacher relationship perception scores and
school adjustment scores among the three cluster solutions was computed to
verify whether the three patterns of relationships are equally homogeneous for
the two measured variables. Then after, a mean difference test (t-test) that
assumes the three patterns of relationship perceptions as independent was
computed for both relationship perception and school adjustment variables.
Further, to check for the presence of systematic association between the two
variables, Pearson-Product-Moment correlation was calculated for the three
clusters. Finally, the statistical tests of significance in the study were all checked
at alpha () = 0.05.

Results
The Wards hierarchical cluster analysis method carried out on the raw scores of
child relationship behavior obtained from 446 sampled children resulted into
three distinct teachers perceptions of the pupils relationship behaviors as
perceived by their self-contained classroom teachers. This method works by
iteration of the scores to reach to the final cluster solution, where the researchers
chose the clustering with the least error variance grouping. After checking the
cluster solutions for 3, 4, 5 and 6 groups, the minimum error variance was found
to be for the cluster solution of 3 groups. Therefore, the researchers decided the

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70

three cluster solution to report the results. Table 1 below shows the number of
observations (n), mean scores (X) and standard deviations (SD) of the different
relationship behaviors.

Table 1: Number of observations, mean score and standard deviation in the


relationship score
Cluster case Observations(n) % Mean Standard
Score(X) Deviation(SD)
Positively involved 156 34.97 95.26 4.81
Functional average 182 40.81 80.21 4.74
Negatively involved 108 24.22 65.88 4.68

Table 1 shows the three types of relationship behaviors as perceived by their


self-contained classroom teachers, namely the positively involved (n=156),
functional average (n=182), and negatively involved (n=108). This classification
was made by assuming the least error variance grouping.

The one way ANOVA that assumed homogeneity within the same cluster case
was carried out on the three clusters of pupils relationship behaviors as
perceived by their teachers (see table 2). The Levens test for inequality of
variances among the three groups also confirmed the presence of significance
variations on the pupils relationship behavior perceptions of the teachers for the
three distinct clusters.

Table 2: ANOVA Summary for the three pupil relationship behavior types
Variations SS df MS F-ratio
Between groups 29 999.72 2 14999.36 309.52**
Within groups 21564.86 444 48.46
Total 51459.58
** P< 0.01

Table 2 shows the presence of a statistically significant variation of the teachers


perceptions towards the relationship behavior of children in the three cluster
cases (F 309.52, df (2/444), P<0.01). This result depicts the presence of three
distinct teacher-child relationship patterns as perceived and reported by the
teachers.

Table 3: Number of observations, mean score and standard deviation in the school
adjustment behavior
Cluster case Observations(n) % Mean Standard
Score(X) Deviation(SD)
Positively involved 156 34.97 90.47 5.11
Functional average 182 40.81 77.96 4.86
Negatively involved 108 24.22 62.38 4.52

Table 3 above shows the three groups of pupils adjustment situations at school,
where the well-adjusted are (n=156), moderately adjusted (n=182), and poorly
adjusted (n=108).

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71

Table 4: ANOVA Summary for pupils school adjustment types


Variations SS df MS F-ratio
Between groups 22168.74 2 11849.37 223.65**
Within groups 21986.62 444 48.77
Total 44155.36
P<0.01

On the other hand, one way ANOVA was conducted on school adjustment
scores for children grouped in the different relationship patterns as perceived by
their teachers (see table 4).As shown in the table, the F-statistic resulting from
the one-way analysis of variance revealed the presence of statistically significant
variation (F=223.65, df (2/444), P<0.01) in their school adjustments. This result
showed statistically significant difference in the school adjustment scores where
the positively involved receiving high scores, which show better adjustment in
the school environment to benefit from academic learning and social
competence. Furthermore, Pearson Product Moment Correlation that assumes
both relationship and school adjustment behaviors of children as continuous
variables computed & shown in table 5 below.

Table 5: The correlation between pupils relationship and school adjustment scores
No Case N Pearson Correlation Coefficient
1 Whole group 446 0.83 **
2 Positively involved 156 0.74**
3 Functional average 182 0.58*
4 Negatively involved 108 0.42*
** P< 0.01
* P< 0.05

As indicated in table 5, the correlation analysis showed the presence of strong


and statistically significant links between the relationship behavior of pupils as
perceived and reported by the teachers and the corresponding school
adjustment scores (P<0.001). The correlation coefficient values reveal that there
are associations between teachers perceptions of pupils relationship behavior
and measures of school adjustment which range from light to strong,
respectively. For instance, for the positively involved relationship group, the
correlation coefficient value is 0.74 that shows the presence of a strong positive
association between the teachers perception of the childrens relationship
behavior and the school adjustment score.

Discussion
Current researches are showing the significant role of relationship behaviors to
childrens school adjustment and academic performance. Driscoll and Pianta
(2010: p40) witnessed the presence of evidence in support of the link between
pupils school adjustment and the importance of teacher-pupil relations in the
early elementary school years. As Murray-Harvey (2010:p104) avers, compared
to the relationships with family and peers, teacher-pupil relationship exerts the
strongest influence on academic, social and emotional outcomes. The salience of

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72

early adult-child relationship and the perceptions associated to childrens


learning and development is also a well acknowledged fact (Ramdass & Gowrie,
2014).

According to the perceptions of teachers, grade two pupils in the present study
were classified into three distinct relationship clusters as of children with
positive involvement (secure, affectionate and warm), positive but moderate
involvement (functional average group) and negative involvement (conflicting,
avoidant and dependent) respectively. Similar results about teacher-child
relationship behaviors at Kindergarten level were already reported in several
studies (Driscoll & Pianta, 2010). The teachers perceptions clearly revealed those
children in the positively involved relationship cluster are often characterized by
close and warm relationship behaviors. Most of the teachers reported to
experience a warm, secure and a relatively affectionate relationship with the
children. Moreover, relationship items indicating conflict and dependency are
rated the lowest among these children. The moderately positively involved
childrens relationship behavior was reported to be in mid-way between positive
and negative experiences. The children who are characterized to have negative
relationship patterns with their teachers often show conflicting, avoidant and
dependent relationship patterns (Bergin & Bergin, 2009).

Since the importance of early life in general and relationship experiences in


particular is well supported by development theories and practices in the field,
the findings of this study can have clear implications for further rigorous
research and inform the practices on the part of early childhood caregivers and
teachers.

On the other hand, the study finding revealed the presence of a strong
association between childrens relationship behavior as perceived by the
teachers and the school adjustment scores. The more the child is positively
involved his/her relationship with the teacher, the more he/she will likely to
experience successful and competent adjustment behaviors in the school
environment. On the other hand, when teachers perceive positive relationships,
they tend to exert more effort to guide and to teach, and the pupils in turn
develop trust and motivated to succeed (Driscoll & Pianta, 2010: p40).
Furthermore, the well-adjusted children outperform their class mates in
academic competence, peer relationship, maturity and also language
development. For instance, a study by McCormick et al (2003: p611) reported a
valid prediction of high quality teacher-pupil affiliations at Kindergarten level
and in first grade Mathematics achievement.

For the insecure children, there are conditions in the environment which create
frustrations leading to personal inadequacies, feelings of inferiority, rejection by
teachers, parents or peers. In many respects, these conditions happen to relate to
conflicting and dependency oriented patterns of child relationship behavior.

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73

Hence, caregivers and teachers at the early periods of life would need to be
sensitive and skillful to identify patterns of early childhood relationship
behaviours as this may facilitate to early intervention and the devising of
copying strategies when the child grow up. Thus, teachers would be able to
foster positive relationships, which are predictors of pupils academic success,
active engagement and enthusiasm about learning (Reyes, Brackett, Rivers,
White & Salovey, 2012: p701).

In summary, perceived positive relationships of pupils are capable of boosting


the teachers motivation to extend their effort and time to enhance the pupils
successful and competent adjustment behavior in the school setting. This, in turn
will lead to eventual improvement in the academic performance of the pupil.
Contrary to this, conflict and dependency based relationship behaviors may
potentially hamper the attempts of creating a positive classroom environment
(Wentzel, 2009).

Conclusion
Childhood social environments can have association with certain developmental
outcomes such as adjustment at school and learning competence. For instance,
teacher-child relationship behavior associates with the childs social, emotional
and academic development outcomes. As this study showed significant
variations exist in the way school teachers perceive the pupils relationship
behavior. These significant variations in the relationship behavior are also
strongly linked to the pupils adjustment in the school environment.

The significance of childhood life experiences to the betterment of later


development and life is a well theorized and evidenced phenomenon.
Specifically, there is a strong conviction to the prominence of early relationship
experiences to the acquisition and development of competent behaviors, which
will contribute to an individuals quality of life in later periods of life. Because of
this reason, teacher-child relationship patterns at early grades would require
careful observation and study with the intention of informing school personnel
particularly the teachers and promoting positive early social relations and school
adjustment for a scheme of not only encouraging the positive relationships
involvement and adjustment but also to plan for remedial interventions for
children with problematic social relationships and incompetent adjustment at
school and with difficulties in successful learning.

Recommendations
Early life social processes particularly childhood relationships behavior with
significant others have great implications for school adjustment and other
desirable developmental outcomes. Consequently, it is essential to note down
the fact that significant influence of social processes in childrens adjustment,
learning and development. Therefore, the following recommendations are
forwarded:
Teachers at the early grade levels need to get refreshment training in how
to identify childrens relationship behavior and approach the children by
considering social and emotional tendencies.

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74

Teachers at the early grades are required to be attentive in identifying the


childrens relationship behaviors to facilitate intervention mechanisms
with children of problematic behavior.
Teachers in collaboration with school psychologists and parents of the
children may intervene on the children with problematic relationship
patterns because early year interventions are likely to bring better
outcomes of school adjustment and social relations.
Researchers in the areas of school psychology shall pay greater attention
in furthering investigations which will come out with better knowledge
of childrens relationship and school adjustment behavior so that to
inform teaching at early grades, teacher professional competence and
responsibility.

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 76-93, February 2016

The Magnitude of Teacher Expectation Effects:


Differences in Students, Teachers and Contexts

Zheng Li
College of International Studies,
Southwest University,
Chongqing, China

Abstract. This article aimed to present a comprehensive review of the


moderators of teacher expectation effects. It concluded the factors
which may strengthen or weaken the effects of teacher expectancies in
classrooms. Apart from student characteristics, this article highlighted
the individual differences in teachers and contextual features which have
not been systematically reviewed to date. It seemed that some teacher
and contextual variables were likely to generate and modify teacher
expectation effects to a significant extent. Implications and future
research direction were also discussed.
Keywords: Teacher expectation effects, Teacher beliefs, Moderation
Effects, Individual differences

Introduction
With the publication of Pygmalion in the Classroom (Rosenthal & Jacobson,
1968), the self-fulfilling prophecy theory was acknowledged within educational
psychology. In the classic Pygmalion experiment, it seemed that the students
(randomly selected) whose teachers were induced to hold high expectations for
tended to show greater gains in IQ than control group students one and two
years later. The Pygmalion study immediately provoked extremely
controversial reactions. Advocates accepted the findings enthusiastically and
praised the study as the key to eliminating educational and social inequalities
(see Spitz, 1999; Wineburg, 1987 for reviews). However, among some
researchers studying educational psychology and intelligence, the experiment
generated a storm of criticism (see Spitz, 1999 for a review). After a large
number of replication studies examining teacher expectation effects (TEEs) on

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77

students IQ, academic and social outcomes in both laboratory settings and real
classrooms (see reviews by Brophy & Good, 1974; Hall & Merkel, 1985; Spitz,
1999), the debate came to an end, as Rosenthals series of meta-analyses finally
demonstrated the existence of TEEs (Rosenthal, 1968, 1974, 1976, 1985; Rosenthal
& Rubin, 1978; Rosenthal & Rubin, 1971). The meta-analyses examined studies
of interpersonal expectancy effects in laboratory and everyday situations, and
revealed that overall 3440% of the previous expectation effect studies had
reported significant self-fulfilling prophecy effects, with the percentage of
positive results being slightly higher in the classroom studies than in
laboratories. These data and other reviews (e.g., Brophy, 1983; Jussim & Harber,
2005; Raudenbush, 1984) have supported the existence of TEEs and the concept
that teachers initial expectations increase the probability of students conforming
to meet the teachers perceptions and predictions.
Though it has been acknowledged that self-fulfilling effects of teacher
expectations do exist, there have been concerns about the strength of TEEs in
naturalistic classrooms. Some research argued that the magnitude of TEEs was
relatively small. For example, Brophy and Good (1974) reported that the effects
of teacher expectancies averagely contributed to only 510% differences per
student on academic achievement, and Cooper and Good also stated that there
was relatively little evidence in favour of sizeable self-fulfilling effects of teacher
expectations (Cooper, 1979; Cooper & Good, 1983). However, researchers have
also contended that stronger TEEs may be found in particular classrooms (e.g.,
Raudenbush, 1984), suggesting that the magnitude of TEEs varied by different
teachers, students, classrooms or other circumstances.

Student Moderators of Teacher Expectations Effects


In terms of student moderators, findings have shown that students with specific
characteristics are more susceptible to TEEs. These characteristics
include student individual differences in race, socioeconomic status,
gender, age, prior achievement and so on.

Student ethnic group


Jussim and colleagues (1996) found that teacher expectations influenced the
standardised test scores of African Americans ( = .37) more strongly than they
influenced the scores of European American students ( = .14). Steele (1992,
2003) also conducted studies primarily on African American students and argued
that they were more susceptible to TEEs than their European American
counterparts. McKown and Weinstein (2002, 2003) investigated the role that
student race may play as a moderator of the relationship between teacher
expectations and student mathematics and reading achievement and they found
that African American children were more vulnerable to stereotype threat and

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TEEs, especially negative expectancy effects, than other student groups, for
instance Caucasian children. In New Zealand, researchers (Rubie-Davies,
Hattie, & Hamilton, 2006) have also reported that Mori students were more
subject to unfavourable TEEs than other ethnic groups. More recently, one
study about children from kindergarten to sixth grade in Europe (Speybroeck et
al., 2012) documented differing associations between teacher expectations and
student mathematics achievement for ethnic minority and majority children, and
the findings showed TEEs seemed to be somewhat stronger for ethnic majority
students ( = .16) than for ethnic minority students ( = .11). Generally,
previous research has concluded that expectancy effects are more powerful
among students who are from ethnic minority groups. The latest research
(Jacoby-Senghor, Sinclair, & Shelton, 2016) has also provided evidence that
teachers biased expectations may predict black students underperformance. In
most cases, ethnic minority students may be particularly likely to suffer negative
self-fulfilling prophecy effects of teacher expectations.

Student socioeconomic status


Investigation of students from lower socioeconomic status (SES) groups whose
family has a low income and poor education background has shown that low SES
students may be more vulnerable to TEEs, with standardised coefficients of .11
relating teacher expectations to student future achievement for higher SES
students, and .25 for students from lower SES backgrounds respectively (Jussim
et al., 1996). Another longitudinal study (Alvidrez & Weinstein, 1999) explored
the relations between preschool teacher expectations and student high school
performance and found that teacher predictions were weakest for students with
higher SES families. Another study (Hinnant, OBrien, & Ghazarian, 2009)
about teacher expectations in the early school years as a predictor of future
academic achievement in the reading and mathematics domains investigated
nearly 1000 children and families at first, third and fifth grades. The findings
showed that teacher expectations seemed to be significantly and positively
predicting subsequent mathematics performance of children from families low (
= .20, p < .001) and average incomes ( = .12, p < .01) families. However, teacher
expectations tended to be not significantly linked to later mathematics
achievement of students from high income families ( = .04, p > .10). More
recent studies have also reported consistent results of the student SES moderator.
For example, one study (Gregory & Huang, 2013) about teachers college-going
expectations and student postsecondary education status collected data from
more than 4000 tenth-grade students and their teachers and parents, which found
that teacher expectations had the strongest link to post-secondary education for
lower income students. Sorhagens study (2013) also used prospective
longitudinal data to examine the associations between teachers inaccurate

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expectations in first grade and students high school performance at age 15; the
findings suggested a significant interaction between teacher expectations and
student family income, with stronger TEEs on mathematics, reading
comprehension, word knowledge and verbal reasoning scores of children from
relatively poorer families. Findings have consistently shown that students from
lower SES families may be more susceptible to expectancy effects and therefore
more likely to conform to what their teachers expected.

Student gender
Previous studies have shown that female students may be more vulnerable to
teachers stereotyped expectations in mathematics, especially when they
themselves have incorporated this stereotype into their own views (Eccles &
Hoffman, 1984; Eccles & Jacobs, 1986; Meece, Parsons, Kaczala, & Goff, 1982).
However, Jussim and colleagues (1996) conducted a study which examined
nearly 2000 students in seventh-grade mathematics classes, and documented that
girls scores were not significantly affected by teacher expectations for their talent
more than boys were; the predictive effects of teacher expectations on both boys
and girls later scores in mathematics were comparatively small (.10 to .20).
Hinnant and colleagues work (2009) found that first-grade teachers expectations
were consistently related to ethnic minority boys reading scores in their
third-grade, but not to ethnic minority girls. A more recent study (Wood,
Kurtz-Costes, & Copping, 2011) into African American students found that for
boys, but not girls, educational attainment expectations made a significant
contribution to their post-secondary progress, with eleventh-grade teacher
expectations predicting college attendance one year after high school graduation.
An investigation (Karwowski, Gralewski, & Szumski, 2015) revealed that the
relationship between teachers expectations of student creativity and students
creative self-perception was markedly stronger for female students and males.
It seemed that student gender generally was reported as a moderator of TEEs.
However, the gender moderator functioned in a complicated manner; it seemed
to interact with some other variables, like subject and student ethnicity.

Student age
It has been commonly acknowledged that student age works as a moderator of
the TEEs mechanism, which indicates that stronger TEEs may occur for children
at earlier ages. In the classic Pygmalion study, Rosenthal and Jacobson (1968)
evidenced that students of younger ages would be more likely to be affected by
TEEs than older students. Later studies confirmed that assumption (e.g.,
Kuklinski & Weinstein, 2001; Weinstein, Marshall, Sharp, & Botkin, 1987; West &
Anderson, 1976). For example, Kuklinski and Weinsteins study (2001) reported
a significant age-related decline in the impacts of teacher expectations on student

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80

future achievement, and this outcome may suggest that TEEs tend to magnify
childrens performance gap in the early grades but gradually diminish in later
grades.

Student prior achievement


In Madon, Jussim and Eccles study (1997) of naturally occurring effects of
teacher expectancies, evidence showed that teacher perceptions were more
precisely connected to student future achievement for low achieving students
than for high achievers. The authors (Madon et al., 1997) argued that low
achieving students may find school consistently difficult and unpleasant (p.
793), and their greater susceptibility to both positive and negative teacher
expectations may result from their lower self-concept (Jussim, 1986), which may
lead to greater likelihood of internalising their teachers expectations. A more
recent study conducted in the Netherlands (de Boer, Bosker, & van der Werf,
2010) explored the relationship between teacher expectation biasthe
difference between observed teacher expectations and predicted teacher
expectations on the basis of students talent, effort and achievement (p. 169)
and long-term student later achievement. The findings of the study (de Boer et
al., 2010) demonstrated that teacher expectations, positive or negative ones, were
more closely related to low-achieving student performance after one year;
however, TEEs were stronger for high-achieving students performance after five
years. Another study (Archambault, Janosz, & Chouinard, 2012) reported
different results; it was found that teacher expectancy effects on student
academic accomplishment in mathematics one year later were similar for all
students regardless of their prior grades. However, the results may be not
representative because the samples for this study were all from schools serving
low SES students. In general, student susceptibility to TEES may vary as a
function of their prior achievement. Although some studies present different
and even contradictory findings, they appear to suggest that the moderation
effects of student prior achievement may be influenced by other factors as well
(e.g., student SES), which calls for more intensive investigations.

Other student personal characteristics


Other student personal characteristics, such as motivation, attribution pattern
(Brophy, 1983), and self-concept (Madon et al., 1997), have also been found to
moderate TEEs. Students who are more motivated are more prone to TEEs
(Brophy, 1983). Students who attribute their success at least partially to their
own efforts are more vulnerable to TEEs than students who attribute success
completely to uncontrollable factors such as ability or luck (Brophy, 1983).
Teacher expectations produce considerably stronger impact for students with
lower self-concept in mathematics than students with higher self-concept

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(Madon et al., 1997). When students desire to initiate friendly social interactions
with teachers, they are more likely to conform to what their expect from them
(Snyder, 1992).

Teacher Moderators of Teacher Expectation Effects


Susceptibility to TEEs is also an individual variable in teachers (Brophy, 1983).
TEEs are more likely to occur to some teachers with particular characteristics.

Proactive, reactive and overreactive teacher


Based on teachers behaviour towards students previous and current
performance, Brophy and Good (1974) hypothesised teachers as being proactive,
reactive, or overreactive. Proactive teachers, who were most likely to have
positive expectation effects on students, performed their own analysis of their
students characteristics and needs, had well-articulated ideas about what and
how to teach, and consequently shaped students through teachers expectations
rather than through other sources (Brophy, 1983). According to Brophy and
Good (1974), most teachers were reactive and had few self-fulfilling prophecy
effects on students. Reactive teachers held their expectations more lightly,
adjusting them to respond to new feedback and emerging trends. However,
overreactive teachers, according to the authors (Brophy & Good, 1974), usually
developed and maintained rigid, stereotyped expectations of students based on
student prior records or first impressions, and treated students as stereotypes
when interacting with them. These overreactive teachers were most likely to
foster undesirable expectation effects in low achievers.
The proposal of proactive, reactive and overreactive teachers lacked empirical
evidence, however. The authors hypothesised such teacher groupings on the
basis of speculated teacher responses to students prior records and present
behaviour. In their studies (Brophy, 1983; Brophy & Good, 1974), teachers
expectations, teaching behaviours and the effects on student outcomes were not
measured or recorded at all, but the speculations about teacher individual
differences shed light upon teachers susceptibility to TEEs.

High bias and no-bias teachers


Babad and his colleagues distinguished teachers as high bias teachers and no-bias
teachers and explored the features of teachers with different susceptibility to
biasing information (Babad, 1979; Babad, Inbar, & Rosenthal, 1982a, 1982b; Babad
& Inbar, 1981; Babad, 2009). Babad (1979) devised a performance measure to
identify teachers who were prone to demonstrate expectancy effects in the
classrooms. In this measure (Babad, 1979), students of a physical education
college were asked to score two drawings which they were told were drawn by a
high SES and a low SES child (based on ethnic and socioeconomic information

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provided about the two imaginary children). In fact, the two pictures were
reproduced from a test manual and the drawing created by the so-called high
SES child had a test manual score three points higher than the one by the
low-SES child. The differences between the scores given to the two children
by the subjects (minus the three-point objective difference) were interpreted as
the scorers susceptibility to biasing information. Unbiased teachers were not
easily influenced by social status information in grading students assignments,
but highly biased teachers assigned notably higher scores to high SES students
than to students with low SES.
In a series of experimental studies conducted among physical education
pre-service teachers (Babad, 1979; Babad et al., 1982a, 1982b; Babad & Inbar, 1981),
Babad and colleagues reported stable distributions of bias scores for the student
teachers, with one sixth of the subjects scoring the drawings objectively, half
mildly biased, and one fourth highly biased (Babad, 1998). Substantial
differences were found between unbiased and highly biased individuals.
Although highly biased teachers, not the unbiased ones, were more likely to
describe themselves as over-reasonable, highly objective, logically reasoned, and
unbiased (Babad, 1979), they used more dogmatic statements in written analyses
of educational events and manifested more dogmatic behaviours, while no-bias
teachers behaved towards students in a more democratic, balanced, flexible, and
open manner (Babad & Inbar, 1981). Highly biased teachers held more strongly
expressed political views (Babad, 1979) and educational beliefs (Babad, 1985)
and exaggerated much more the achievement difference between high
expectation students and low expectation students (Babad, 1998). Unbiased
teachers perceived and predicted more accurately the differences between
students, while highly biased teachers treated different students with different
degrees of friendliness, different motivational strategies, and different degrees of
criticism (Babad et al., 1982a). Highly biased teachers demonstrated more
nonverbal leakage indicating expectation and affect cues towards their
classrooms than unbiased teachers (Babad, Bernieri, & Rosenthal, 1989a, 1989b).
Most importantly, teachers differing susceptibility to biasing information may
lead to varying probability of generating TEEs (Babad, 2009). Highly biased
teachers created more substantial negative expectancy effects on their students
than unbiased teachers (Babad, 1985; Babad et al., 1982a). The series of studies
by Babad and colleagues (Babad, 1979, 1985; Babad et al., 1989a, 1989b; Babad et
al., 1982a, 1982b; Babad & Inbar, 1981(Babad, 2009)) demonstrated teachers
susceptibility to biasing information and their subsequent differential treatment
towards students. Limitations of their studies were that the participants were
not in-service teachers but student teachers, the studies mainly focused on a
single subject, physical education, and scorers expectation biases were
manipulated by the experimenters rather than naturally occurring.

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83

High differentiating and low differentiating teachers


Another major teacher moderator that has been investigated is the extent to
which teachers are perceived to treat students differentially (Brattesani,
Weinstein, & Marshall, 1984; Weinstein, Marshall, Brattesani, & Middlestadt,
1982; Weinstein, 2002). In a series of studies of children in elementary schools
(Weinstein, 2002; Weinstein et al., 1982; Weinstein et al., 1987; Weinstein &
Middlestadt, 1979), Weinstein and colleagues developed an instrument, the
Teacher Treatment Inventory (TTI), in which children independently reported on
the frequency of a variety of teacher behaviours towards an imaginary high and
low achiever respectively in their classrooms, and thus perceptions of teachers
differential treatment were reflected in the difference between the ratings
towards those two hypothetical students. Consistent reports of teacher
differentiating treatment supported the classification of high differentiating
teachers and low differentiating teachers (Weinstein et al., 1982), and classrooms
may be also characterised by the degree to which teachers are perceived to
differentiate their behaviour (Weinstein & McKown, 1998, p. 220).
Studies linking teacher expectations to student outcomes (Brattesani et al., 1984;
Kuklinski & Weinstein, 2001; Marshall & Weinstein, 1986; McKown & Weinstein,
2008) showed stronger relationships between teacher expectations and
subsequent academic, social and emotional outcomes of students in classrooms
with high levels of perceived teachers differential treatment. Statistical
analyses reported that in classes of high differentiating teachers, 918% of the
variance in student achievement could be explained by teacher expectations,
while the figure dropped to 15% in classes of low differentiating teachers
(Kuklinski & Weinstein, 2001).
Weinstein and colleagues work (e.g., Brattesani et al., 1984; Kuklinski &
Weinstein, 2000, 2001; Marshall & Weinstein, 1986; McKown & Weinstein, 2008;
Weinstein, 2002; Weinstein & Middlestadt, 1979) has contributed to further
understanding of the teachers role in moderating TEEs. Their findings provide
evidence that TEEs in natural classrooms are associated with teacher individual
characteristics and the degree of differential treatment of students; however, the
studies were mostly conducted in reading classrooms at elementary schools,
which indicates a need for investigations within different samples.

High expectation and low expectation teachers


In more recent studies, Rubie-Davies has explored teachers class-level
expectations and pointed out that teacher expectations can be class-centred as
well as individually centred (Rubie-Davies, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008a, 2008b;
Rubie-Davies, Flint, & McDonald, 2012). Rubie (2004) identified teachers who
held uniformly high or low expectations for all the students in classes. One

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month into the school year, teachers were asked to predict their students
academic achievement at the end of the year on a seven-point scale. These
predicting scores were compared with students actual running records at the
beginning of the year. According to the differences between teachers prediction
and students actual performance, teachers were identified as high or low
expectation teachers who had expectations that were significantly either above or
below students actual achievement. Data were reanalysed and showed that
teachers expectations were pervasive for all the students in the identical
classroom. When teachers had high expectations for the high achieving
students, they were likely to have similarly high expectations for the average and
low achieving students in the same class; likewise the low expectation teachers
held uniformly low expectations for all achievement levels.
Through teacher interviews, and classroom observations, Rubie-Davies found
that high expectation teachers and low expectation teachers differed greatly in
their pedagogical beliefs and instructional practices (Rubie-Davies et al., 2012),
provided varying learning opportunities, and created a diverse socioemotional
climate in classrooms (Rubie-Davies, 2004, 2007, 2008a, 2008b). After one school
year, students with high expectation teachers made markedly more academic
gains than the peers with low expectation teachers did (Rubie-Davies, 2004, 2007,
2008a). In addition, students self-perceptions in both academic and
non-academic areas were also found to be associated with teachers class-level
expectations (Rubie-Davies, 2004, 2006, 2008a). Although no statistically
significant differences in student self-perceptions were identified at the
beginning of the school year, statistically significant differences were found at the
end of the school year, because the self-perceptions of students with low
expectation teachers declined substantially after one school year. Rubie-Davies
work about teachers uniform expectations for the overall class, and the effects on
the overall class outcomes added weight to the argument that TEEs may be a
function of individual differences in teachers, especially in their beliefs
(Rubie-Davies et al., 2012). Her work identified the teachers who were more
likely to enact expectancy effects on the whole class, and suggested possible
mechanisms for such effects. However, a larger sample size is needed to enable
generalisation of the results. Further, Rubie-Davies studies were conducted in
reading and physical education courses in elementary schools, which left other
subjects and school levels unexplored.

Situation Moderators of Teacher Expectation Effects


Teacherstudent interaction can also be moderated by the situation or context in
which students are placed (Brophy & Evertson, 1978). Research in relation to
context moderators is not abundant within the teacher expectancy field.

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85

Transitional situations
A meta-analysis completed by Raudenbush (1984) showed that the strongest
TEEs tended to take place in the first, second and seventh grades. Larger effects
of teacher expactancies have also been reported for adult trainees in a military
programme (Eden & Shani, 1982). It seemed that these findings denied a
moderating function of age, but they suggested moderation effects of situational
factors (Jussim, Smith, Madon, & Palumbo, 1998). People, even adults, may be
more vulnerable to self-fulfilling effects of interpersonal expectancy when they
were transferring to new and unfamiliar situations (Weinstein & McKown, 1998).
When people engage in major transitions, they may have unclear and weakened
self-perceptions, which may increase the likelihood of expectancy effects (Jussim
et al., 1998). Results from other findings also consistently show that when
students are in transition phases, such as entering a new school level, they are
more likely to behave in ways that confirm teacher expectations (Jussim, 1986;
Swann & Ely, 1984; Li, 2014).

Ability grouping
Grouping students refers to segregating students into different groups or classes
according to their abilities. Grouping, in the eyes of students and teachers,
represents institutional justification for believing that students are different in IQ
or academic potential (Jussim et al., 1998). Thus grouping may lead to more
rigid teacher expectations. Also, compared with students who are not grouped,
students in ability groups appear to be more susceptible to labelling effects,
which are more likely to provoke self-fulfilling prophecy effects or perceptual
biases of teacher expectations (Eccles & Wigfield, 1985; Hall & Merkel, 1985;
Jussim, 1986, 1990; Palardy, 1969). Self-fulfilling effects of teacher expectations
have been found to be strongest among students in the low ability groups when
teachers use within-class grouping (A. E. Smith et al., 1998). Poor quality
instruction (Jussim et al., 1998), reduced teacher effort (Evertson, 1982) and
limited learning opportunities (Slavin, 1993) for students in low-ability groups
may restrain student academic gains considerably. Some studies (e.g., Kelly &
Carbonaro, 2012; Weinstein, 2002) have also discussed TEEs on students who are
placed in higher groups. Teachers may hold higher expectations for students in
higher groups, and placement in higher ability groups may provide students
with increased learning opportunities and lead to greater academic gains over
time. In addition, it has been argued that TEEs may be stronger for intact
groups than for individuals in the classroom (Brophy, 1983; Jussim & Fleming,
1996; Rubie-Davies, 2008a). Group-level expectancy effects are anticipated to be
more powerful because students may function as a member of a group more than
an individual, a false belief about a group may be more credible and more
difficult to disconfirm, and teachers spend more time addressing the classes or

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86

groups as a whole than addressing their students individually (A. E. Smith et al.,
1998).

Class/group size
TEEs may be more likely to happen in classrooms or groups with larger numbers
of students than in smaller classrooms or groups. This is because teachers in
larger classrooms or groups are busier and more occupied, and therefore more
susceptible to biases or rigid expectations (Brophy, 1983; M. L. Smith, 1980). On
the other hand, teachers in smaller classrooms or groups show less differential
attitudes to students and even put in more effort to compensate for low
expectation students (Weinstein, 1976). In addition, with limited resources in
larger classrooms or groups, such as computers, laboratories, and athletic
facilities, teachers may find it more difficult to manage instructional practice, and
thus be more subject to perceptual biases and self-fulfilling expectancy effects
(Rosenthal & Rubin, 1971).

Nature of the content being taught


It has been proposed that with tasks of familiar content and predictable difficulty,
teachers are likely to form accurate expectations and therefore expectancy effects
are less probable (Brophy, 1983). One empirical study has found that larger
TEEs take place in relation to student reading achievement than for mathematics
achievement (M. L. Smith, 1980), which may be due to the differences in
instructional practice used in teaching reading and mathematics. For example,
reading may be taught in small groups while mathematics is often taught to the
class as a whole (Cooper, 1985; Good & Brophy, 2009). Rubie-Davies (2008a)
reported that class-level TEEs varied across curriculum areas, being more salient
in reading than in physical skills. Sorhagens longitudinal study (2013) also
found varying TEEs across academic subjects. Teachers false expectations in
mathematics and language abilities seemed to have a more meaningful effect on
students from lower income families (p. 475) than the effect in students reading
abilities. Another moderator related to the subject is when new content is
being introduced. The relationship between teachers expectations and student
outcomes may be strengthened when students are highly reliant on teachers as
limited sources of the new content (Braun, 1976; West & Anderson, 1976). Lis
study (2014) argued that TEEs in foreign language classrooms were pronounced
because teachers and classrooms were the major sources of learning
opportunities. Additionally, if subject matter is taught through peer-tutoring or
self-pacing to a larger degree than through teacher delivery, TEEs probably
would be reduced (Cooper, 1985).

Implications and Future Research

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The review showed that individual differences in teacher, students and contexts
may strengthen or weaken expectancy effects to a significant degree. That is to
say, TEEs could possibly be modified by shaping and altering teachers and
students beliefs and behaviours and some contextual factors.
More importance should be attached to the teacher role in generating expectancy
effects, because research highlighting the teacher factor has been
comparatively scarce and has become the latest focus in the related field. Apart
from what has been reviewed above, some studies have also shed lights on the
teachers role in producing TEEs. For example, a study in Singapore (Ker, 2016)
reported that students achievement in mathematics was more likely to vary in
line with their teachers beliefs and expectations. Another investigation into
Mexican American students (Wentzel, Russell, & Baker, 2016) found that teacher
variables were significantly predicting student academic outcomes.
Professional development programmes for pre-service and in-service teachers
could be planned to enhance teachers expectations and modify their behaviours
in instructing and interacting with their students. However, caution should be
taken because teacher expectations are not isolated but interrelated with other
teacher variables for example teacher beliefs and self-efficacy. Teachers may
modify their beliefs and behaviours to build a more positive instructional and
socioemotional environment and more and better opportunities for student
learning, which may lead to substantial academic gains by their students.
Hence, how to distinguish different types of teachers seems worthwhile.
Teachers expectations may be functions of some characteristics, such as some
demographic features, and pedagogical beliefs and self-efficacy; and these could
be identified by large-scale empirical studies in the future.
In addition, very little research has been done to investigate the contextual
moderators of teacher expectation effect, compared with studies of teachers and
students in the mechanism. Contextual factors should not be neglected and
merit more attention. For example, the impact of curriculum area has not
been fully explored in the expectancy field. It can be anticipated that TEEs
would be more salient in some classrooms because of the features of particular
subjects. What is worth noting is the institutional settings. For instance, TEEs
have been seldom studied in tertiary institutions. In future research, to enhance
student academic gains and to achieve educational equality, there is a need to
explore closely all variables for promoting positive expectancy effects and
eliminating negative expectation effects.

Acknowledgement:
This article was supported by the Southwest University Teaching Reform Fund
[2015JY062]

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88

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 94-105, February 2016

Principles and Practices of ESP Course


DesignA Case Study of a University of Science
and Technology

Chin-Ling Lee
National Taichung University of Science and Technology
Taiwan, R.O.C.

Abstract. The study is aimed to investigate the learners perspectives of


perceived needs on their ESP (English for Specific Purposes) course at a
university of technology. Two groups of 257 students of varying
proficiency levels participated in the study, including English majors
and non-English majors. A learners needs analysis questionnaire was
administered to collect data from the subjects using the survey method.
The data was analyzed via the SPSS software package for window. It
was concluded that the extent of ESP needs perception held by the
students was very high, about 80% of students thought ESP courses are
useful and helpful for the future job. Plus, the English skill needed most
was writing skill and students with the higher English proficiency held
significant difference from the lower on interest in English learning.
Keywords: needs analysis; English for specific purposes (ESP);
international business

Introduction
The international business world is a complicated field with a number of exotic
cultures which makes the teaching approach on international trade and business
transactions more challenging. Given the concept of the global economy, it is
inevitable to provide students with a comprehensive but professional English
relevant courses in order to meet the needs of international business operation.
As long as presenting clear objectives and understanding what students expect

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of, a feasible and practical English for Specific Purposes (ESP) course design
would be carried out for a successful and particular business English teaching.

Research Purposes
ESP courses are widely provided in higher education in Taiwan. The most
common ones are business English, technical English, or major-based courses for
specific purposes. It should be appropriate for the purposes to share the newest
developments and advances in knowledge and practice of international business
to cope with the global environment. It is for the purpose of sharing the teaching
experience and exchanging relevant information on business English course
design, the study is focused on a case study on business English courses, in term
of investigating the learners needs and requirements to help them adjust to their
further academic study or future business career.

In addition to a wide review of literature on ESP, this paper is aimed to present


fundamental support for EFL instructors developing business English courses.
Educational system in Taiwan provides students with more than ten years of
intensive English training, in terms of language listening, speaking, reading and
writing. Moreover, the government has strived for elevating the English abilities
of their people. Nevertheless, a big discrepancy has still remained relatively high
between general English level required for university EAP and the requirements
of ESP for real workplaces. Plus, the majority of teachers are not native speakers
of English and the fields of their expertise are general English teaching rather
than occupational English used in the world of international businesses. Worst
of all, materials provided are not authentic content of the workplace texts. These
materials might fail to integrate the academic English into the required specific
English tasks needed in the international business world. Therefore, the
preliminary step is to examine current business courses in order to find out the
demerits and restrictions. Simply put, it would be the first step to implement a
simple needs assessment for the ESP course design.

Questions of Research
Research questions are accordingly illustrated on the basis of the purposes of the
present study as follows:
1. What English language skills do the students perceive that they will need the
most in their future work?
2. Do the perceived needs of ESP differ among students by gender?

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3. Do the perceived needs of ESP differ between English major and Non-English
major students?
4. Do the perceived needs of ESP differ among the variety of the students
English proficiency levels?
5. Do the perceived needs of ESP differ among expected future jobs of the
students?

Definition of Terms
1. English for specific purposes (ESP): The foundation of ESP is an approach to
ELT to meet learner need and it is an approach to language teaching in
which all decisions as to content and method are based on the learners
reason for learning (Hutchinson & Waters, 2001).
2. Needs analysis: A needs analysis of ESP course is usually referring to not
only an indispensable process of clustering information on the requirement
of the students, but also a basis of a curriculum development for general
English courses or English for Specific Purposes (ESP) to satisfy the needs of
a particular group of students (Iwaii et al., 1999). In the study, the analysis of
needs is an approach on processing statistically descriptive data collected
from the students responses to a questionnaire of needs analysis adopted
from Balint (2010).

Literature Review
This literature review consists of three sections: one to define the needs analysis,
the other to indicate the needs analysis in ESP curriculum development, and
another to explore the current state of ESP course design in Taiwan.

What is ESP?
As for the more focus on the question What is ESP? the greater details
might come out to explain its discrepancy from English Language Teaching
(ELT), either EFL or ESL. Although people think ESP is all but essentially
language-centered approaches for the particular learners to gear up with
particular or professional knowledge of specific subjects through the process of
English learning, the learning processes of ESP is not much different from those
of general English. Except for the various content of learning, ESP could as well
be used in the learning of any kind of English. Therefore, ESP must be seen as
an approach not as a product as what Hutchinson and Waters (2001) indicate,
which illustrates that ESP is a learner-centered approach to English learning.

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97

Origins and Development of ESP


The emergence of ESP was not imminent until in the late 1960s. Underlying its
theoretical and practical focuses, it was particularly associated with notion of a
special language and with important sub-field of English for science and
technology (Far, 2008). Later on, the view of communicative function was
applied to ESP and the importance of needs analysis was brought into the focus
of the perspectives on learners needs for English learning and language skills.

The fundamental of needs analysis for ESP is first to define the situation or
premises in which the learners will use English and practice their profession,
and then the relevant instruction is aligned accordingly. Consequently, teachers
of ESP courses provide authentic and specific language in their students needs
to succeed in future career.

Needs analysis
The overview of needs analysis in language teaching has depicted its history,
theoretical foundation, and approaches. Needs analysis is also regarded as
demand or requirement needs, which has become a necessary and important
stage of course design for either general English course or English for Specific
Purposes (ESP) course(West, 1994). Learners needs has been the principle of the
curriculum development of ESP. As defined by Johns and Dudley-Evans (1991),
it can be regarded as what field the learners will practice English in the future.
Studies on learner needs focused on the needs analysis and needs
assessment, including the survey about students backgrounds and goals, as
well as interviewing the faculty (Johns, 1981; Howorwittz, 1986). The more
learner needs are clear, the more the objectives are expressed and the ESP course
easily becomes successful (Theeb, H., & Albakrawi, M. (2013).

Since needs analysis has become a prerequisite and necessary condition, it is also
expounded as a guidance of course design or an evaluation of the students
existing perceptions of needs. Although experienced teachers may ask students
directly to understand what they expect of the class in the very beginning, a
well-aligned needs analysis involve just much more than that. Needs analysis
can help teacher gather information to find out how much the students already
know and what they still need to learn. Pourshahian et. al. (2012) concluded the
results of previous studies and suggested the needs analysis should be to learn

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98

what aspects of language the learners need to study, what degree they need to
study and why the learners study language. Berwick (1989) stated the
administration of needs analysis can help course designer realize the
discrepancy between a current state of learners language skills and a desired
future state. Generally speaking, the previous studies on needs analysis usually
focus on collecting data on the perspectives of learners' wants, needs and
expectation in terms of attitudes, beliefs and viewpoints. Furthermore, detailed
information about all contextual factors like learning materials, aids, and
environment are included into a more comprehensive needs analysis (Boroujeni
& Fard, 2013).

Method
The present study investigated the perspectives and perception on the needs of
ESP courses among students in a technological university. The information of
the demographic part was as follows; 257 three-year students including 62 males
and 195 females voluntarily participated in this study; 105 were English majors
and 152 were non-English majors; their English proficiency level range was
between elementary to advanced ones; 158 of the participants expected English
related jobs as their future career, whereas 99 of them chose non-English related
ones, including, and 62 males, 195 females.

A Six-point Likert scales questionnaire by Balint (2010) was adopted to find out
the needs of Taiwanese college students from the language point of view. The
questionnaire was distributed to 257 respondents. The questionnaire consisted of
two parts; one was the demographic part for personal information and the other
was questionnaire items for the perceived language skill needs. The origin
English version was translated into Chinese to prevent students from
misunderstanding the question items. A pilot test with 52 second-year students
was implemented to check for each item wording and the construction of the
questionnaire. The formal questionnaire consisted of 35 five-point Liker scale
items. Both item analysis and reliability were processed to support the construct
validity of research instrument. The Cronbachs alpha reliability of the
instrument was .92. The questionnaire was scrutinized by two English teachers
to gain the content and face validity.

The formal questionnaire was distributed to the students to collect the data.
Descriptive, t-test and ANOVA statistic via SPSS statistic software package for

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windows were used to analyze the collected data.

Results and Discussion


The result of the analysis of first question was presented in Table 1. Most (50% or
above) students were interested or very interested in learning English. Among
the interest in learning English, item 6 and 8 had the much highest percentages,
83.3 and 85.2 respectively, which concluded that the students all believed in
having good English proficiency would be of great help to their future career.
The least frequency was item 4 indicating half of the participants did not expect
to seek an English-related job after graduation. Moreover, among the ESP, EAP
and general English courses, the students felt most interested in ESP instruction
(78.2%) and considered ESP courses could be more useful for their future
English needs.

Table 1 Descriptive statistic for the category of Interest in learning English


Interest in Learning English From Usually To Always
%
1. I choose to attend this course because of the opportunity to take 74.1
2. upper-division English-medium courses.
3. I have a goal to take elective courses taught in English in my 4 years of 55.1
4. university.
5. I am interested in doing a study abroad program in an English-speaking 55.2
6. country while I am a university student.
7. I have a goal to get a job which requires English after graduating from 47.9
8. university.
9. Learning English is a challenge that I enjoy. 66.5
10. I want to learn English to be more educated. 83.3
11. I believe learning English is important to get a good job after graduating 85.2
from
12. university.
13. If taking English courses in the ESP were optional, I would choose to take 60.3
14. them.
15. I think English for specific purposes (ESP, or work-related English) 78.2
instruction
16. is useful for my future English language needs.
17. I think English for academic purposes (EAP) instruction is useful for my 50.6
18. future English language needs.

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19. I think general English instruction (Everyday conversational English and 75.8
20. travel English) is useful for my future English language needs.
21. Among the three types of English instruction, I would like to take the 56.4
22. ESP/work-related English

Table 2 presented findings regarding the importance of four English language


skills which the students perceived. The mean scores of the perceived skills were
4.03, 4.27, 4.03, and 4.05 respectively regarding reading, listening, speaking, and
writing. Listening skill was concerned to be the most important and needed skill
to be geared up with, which might also show the lack of the students English
listening skills.

Table 2 Descriptive statistic of mean scores of the perception on the importance of


four English skills

Reading Listening Speaking Writing


Mean 4.03 4.27 4.03 4.05
Std. .647 .588 .682 .723

Table 3 illustrated findings for gender difference in perceived needs of four


English skills. The importance and needs of listening was the most concerned
sub-skill between male and female students (mean = 4.23 and 4.29 respectively).
The result of the independent sample t-test showed no significant differences
between males and females, which meant male and female students held similar
viewpoints on the importance of each English skills.

Table 3 Descriptive statistic of mean scores of four English skills by gender difference

Gender Mean Std. Gender Mean Std.


Male Reading 3.99 .647 Female Reading 4.04 .648
Listening 4.23 .682 Listening 4.29 .557
Speaking 4.07 .723 Speaking 4.02 .670
Writing 3.99 .859 Writing 4.06 .676
In Table 4, there showed the mean scores of interest in English learning, reading,
listening, speaking, and writing among different English proficiency level. As
for interest in English learning, students at higher proficiency level showed
higher mean score, indicating elementary and advanced levels at 3.67 and 4.18
respectively.

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101

Moreover, the perceived needs or importance of four language skills showed the
highest each at the advanced level and the lowest at the elementary level.
Students at elementary level held highest needs on listening skill (M= 4.19) and
lowest on speaking (M= 3.87), at intermediate level (M=4.33 for listening,
M=4.08 for reading, at the intermediate-high level (M= 4.39 for listening, M=4.06
for writing), and at the advanced level (M=4.85 for listening, M= 4.50 for
reading)

Table 4 Descriptive statistic of means by different English proficiency level

Proficiency N Interest in Readin Listening Speaking Writing


English g
Elementary 119 3.67 3.94 4.19 3.87 3.93
Intermediate 119 3.97 4.08 4.33 4.15 4.13
Intermediate- 14 4.12 4.13 4.39 4.13 4.06
high
Advanced 5 4.18 4.50 4.85 4.57 4.80
Total 257 3.84 4.03 4.27 4.03 4.05

General Linear Model was employed to examine whether or not there were
significant differences on four language skills needs by students different
English proficiency levels. The statistics analysis of the multivariate test showed
significant with the Pillais Trace value at .131 (F = 2.30, p= .03 < .05) for the
unequal groups. After processing the post hoc test, the findings showed that
students at elementary level held significant difference to intermediate and
intermediate-high levels on interest in English learning. According to Table 4,
the results indicated that students at higher English proficiency level held higher
interest in English learning. Moreover, students at elementary level held
significant difference to intermediate levels on English speaking needs.
According to Table 4, the result stated that students at higher English
proficiency level held much more needs on English speaking skill.

Table 5 The multiple comparison of different English proficiency level by Scheffe test
Mean Std. Error Sig.
Difference
(I-J)
Dependent (I) Level (J) Level
Variable
Interest inElementary Intermediate -.2983 6.517E-02 .000

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English
Intermediate-high -.4503 .1420 .020
Advanced -.5146 .2295 .173
Intermediate Elementary .2983 6.517E-02 .000
Intermediate-high -.1520 .1420 .766
Advanced -.2162 .2295 .828
Intermediate- Elementary .4503 .1420 .020
high
Intermediate .1520 .1420 .766
Advanced -6.4286E-02 .2619 .996
Advanced Elementary .5146 .2295 .173
Intermediate .2162 .2295 .828
Intermediate-high 6.429E-02 .2619 .996
Reading needs Elementary Intermediate -.1429 8.334E-02 .403
Intermediate-high -.1912 .1816 .775
Advanced -.5602 .2935 .305
Intermediate Elementary .1429 8.334E-02 .403
Intermediate-high -4.8319E-02 .1816 .995
Advanced -.4174 .2935 .569
Intermediate- Elementary .1912 .1816 .775
high
Intermediate 4.832E-02 .1816 .995
Advanced -.3690 .3349 .750
Advanced Elementary .5602 .2935 .305
Intermediate .4174 .2935 .569
Intermediate-high .3690 .3349 .750
Listening needs Elementary Intermediate -.1345 7.542E-02 .367
Intermediate-high -.1975 .1644 .696
Advanced -.6518 .2656 .113
Intermediate Elementary .1345 7.542E-02 .367
Intermediate-high -6.3025E-02 .1644 .986
Advanced -.5173 .2656 .287
Intermediate- Elementary .1975 .1644 .696
high
Intermediate 6.303E-02 .1644 .986
Advanced -.4543 .3031 .524
Advanced Elementary .6518 .2656 .113

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Intermediate .5173 .2656 .287


Intermediate-high .4543 .3031 .524
Speaking needs Elementary Intermediate -.2737 8.663E-02 .020
Intermediate-high -.2587 .1888 .599
Advanced -.6975 .3050 .159
Intermediate Elementary .2737 8.663E-02 .020
Intermediate-high 1.501E-02 .1888 1.000
Advanced -.4238 .3050 .588
Intermediate- Elementary .2587 .1888 .599
high
Intermediate -1.5006E-02 .1888 1.000
Advanced -.4388 .3481 .662
Advanced Elementary .6975 .3050 .159
Intermediate .4238 .3050 .588
Intermediate-high .4388 .3481 .662
Writing needs Elementary Intermediate -.2000 9.243E-02 .199
Intermediate-high -.1277 .2014 .940
Advanced -.8706 .3255 .070
Intermediate Elementary .2000 9.243E-02 .199
Intermediate-high 7.227E-02 .2014 .988
Advanced -.6706 .3255 .239
Intermediate- Elementary .1277 .2014 .940
high
Intermediate -7.2269E-02 .2014 .988
Advanced -.7429 .3715 .264
Advanced Elementary .8706 .3255 .070
Intermediate .6706 .3255 .239
Intermediate-high .7429 .3715 .264
* The mean difference is significant at the .05 level.

Furthermore, Table 6 illustrated the correlations among different perceived


English skill needs. There showed significant correlations among different
variables at high level above .56 to .69, which presented there were close
relationship between different English skill and students perceived each
individual skill was important for their English learning.

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Table 6 Correlations of the perceived skill needs

Interest inReading Listening Speaking Writing


English
Interest inPearson 1.000 .577 .568 .654 .553
English Correlation
Sig. (2-tailed) . .000 .000 .000 .000
N 257 257 257 257 257
Reading Pearson .577 1.000 .692 .616 .566
needs Correlation
Sig. (2-tailed) .000 . .000 .000 .000
N 257 257 257 257 257
Listening Pearson .568 .692 1.000 .683 .647
needs Correlation
Sig. (2-tailed) .000 .000 . .000 .000
N 257 257 257 257 257
Speaking Pearson .654 .616 .683 1.000 .676
needs Correlation
Sig. (2-tailed) .000 .000 .000 . .000
N 257 257 257 257 257
Writing Pearson .553 .566 .647 .676 1.000
needs Correlation
Sig. (2-tailed) .000 .000 .000 .000 .
N 257 257 257 257 257
** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

Conclusions
The present study was aimed to measure the perceived needs of four
English skills and interest in English learning from the students of a
technological university. The major findings depicted the needs perception held
by the students were at very high level, indicating students realized that four
English skills were all important and needed to be much improved to help with
employment advantage or the future job performance. Still, more than half of the
students did not expect to obtain English-related jobs after graduation, which
may indicate their view of current situation of traditional industries in Taiwan.
And students at higher proficiency level held more interest in English learning
than those at lower level, which showed the importance of motivation and the

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105

inspiration of learning achievement. Last but not least important, among four
language skill needs, listening skill was the most need one, followed by writing
skill, and these findings could be presented as a useful suggestion to English
teachers that students think and perceive that the productive skills need to be
much more improved.

References
Balint, M. (2010). Assessing students perceived language needs in a needs analysis.
Retrieved November 2012 from http://www.paaljapan.
org/resources/proceedings/ PAAL9/pdf/BalintMartin.pdf.
Benesch, S. (1996). Needs analysis and curriculum development in EAP: An example of a
critical approach. TESOL Quarterly, 30(4), 723-737.
Berwick, R. (1989). Needs assessment in language programming: From theory to practice.
In R. K. Johnson (Ed), The second language curriculum, 48-62. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Boroujeni, S. A., & Fard, F. M. (2013). A needs analysis of English for specific purposes
(ESP) course for adoption of communicative language teaching. International
Journal of Humanities and Social Science Invention, 2(6), 35-44.
Far, M. M. (2008). On the relationship between ESP & EGP: A general perspective.
English for Specific Purposes World, 1(17), 1-11.
Hutchinson, T., & Waters, A. (2001). English for specific purposes (16the Ed). UK:
Cambridge University Press.
Iwai, T. Kondo, K., Limm, S. J. D., Ray, E. G., Shimizu, H., and Brown, J. D. (1999).
Japanese language needs analysis. Available at
http://www.nflrc.hawaii.edu/Networks/NW13/NW13.pdf.
Pourshahian, B., Gholami, R., Vaseghi, R., & Kalajahi, S. A. (2012). Needs of an ESL
context: A case study of Iranian graduate students. World Applied Sciences Journal,
17(7), 870-873.
Theeb, H., & Albakrawi, M. (2013). Needs analysis of the English language secondary
hotel students in Jordan. International Journal of English Language Teaching, 1(1),
13-23.
West, R. (1994). Needs analysis in language teaching. Language Teaching, 27(1), 1-19.

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106

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 15, No. 2, pp. 106-116, February 2016

Escalating Ability to Write Papers: To Make Use


of Direct Instruction

Ismail Marzuki
Faculty of Teacher Training and Education, University of Muhammadiyah Gresik,
Jl. Sumatera 101 GKB, Randu Agung, Gresik, Indonesia.
E-mail ilmailmarzuki@yahoo.co.id

Abstract. The purpose of this study is to determine whether using a


model of direct instruction can improve writing skills on papers for
students of Primary School Teacher of Education (PGSD) at University
of Muhammadiyah Gresik (UMG). This research is a classroom action
research (CAR) with the subjecst of class "A" of the first semester. The
research also involved two fellow lectures as observers. This research
was performed in three cycles by focusing on students' ability to write
the cover, introduction, background, systematic procedures of writings,
and a list of references, where all these things are indispensable in
preparing a good paper. The results show that the students have been
able to write representative papers indicated by improving the quality of
papers that have been collected. It can be concluded that the model of
direct instruction can improve students' writing ability to compose
papers.

Keywords: Writing Papers, Direct Instruction

Introduction
A Language skill plays an important role in human life, because all
areas of life need it. Based on the index survey of language skills (especially
reading) of the population of Indonesia is in position of 39 in the world rank.
This reality is an irony given the importance of th language skills for
communication in the world. Lack of language skills, according to Muslim
(2011), is due to many factors, including: curriculum, teachers, students,
infrastructure, and the government as policy maker. Another problem worsens
this condition is that the common practices of conventional learning and
teacher-centered (not student centered), too many numbers of students in a
class, and too many administrative tasks of teachers.
Therefore, we need innovations to go out of this problem by
innovations in learning. To learn the language cannot be separated from the
four aspects of language skills: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Writing is one of the four language skills in which it essentially is an attempt to
convey messages, ideas, and feelings to others through graphic symbols or texts

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107

(Mulyati, 2002). Writing is also consiere an effective form of communication


besides oral communication.
Language learning goals are to improve the ability of learners to be able
to communicate well, both orally and in writing (Depdiknas, 2006). At higher
education level, aspects of speaking and writing are important because both are
needed to support learning other subjects. Aspects of speaking are needed when
presentations, discussions, submission of ideas, questions and answers, etc.,
while writing aspects are needed during the composition of writing papers,
book reports, resumes, manufacture thesis, and even a dissertation.
Writing has a strategic and significance role for the students, as a means
of publication in the academic world. Therefore, writing needs to be trained,
habituated, and familiarized when someone studying at college. Writing is not
easy, because many students have difficulty when given the task to make
writing such papers and thesis. Frequently, someone is failing to study in
college because he or she is not able to finish thesis.
In particular, students' paper focuses more on products' writing or articles of
researchs and non researchs. According to Heuboeck (2009), domain and level of
significance of text are divided into three groups: global, macro and micro.
Global domain consists of text loads that describe the relationship between
pragmatic (global coherence) and logical (functions). Domain of macros
illustrates the semantic linkage (propositions), while the micro domain consists
of a linkage between units and syntagmatics (textual).
Therefore, the understanding of ways and structures of academic
papers must meet the good rules particularly when making the introduction. To
write the introduction becomes a very important part because readers will easily
capture the contents of the paper if the preliminary information is able to
describe the importance of the reasons to be put forward by the authors in it.
Thus there are some important things to consider (Swales: 2004) they are::
1. To express current knowledges in the areas being studied.
2. To explain the summary of previous findings and provide a broader context
and background of the importance of the focus.
3. To provide an overview of writing plan and show the gap on the focus by
presenting the question.
4. To introduce the objectives and designs of the plan.
Furthermore, according to Agrawall (2015), to develop introduction in
the paper, exactly there is a difference between native authors and non natives
in which the writers of non-native usually are not interested in using claiming a
nich, but they tend to use establishing a nich, as well as the use of gap, the non-
native writers are not easy to use in writing a paper.
To create the adequate introduction it needs review of theories related to
the focus or the main purpose of the article. Thus the study of theory is essential
to support the quality of the article that is being developed. Onwuegbuzie,
Leech, and Collins (2012) explains that to support the review theory in a paper
needs efficient ways because the purposes of the theoretical review itself are as
follows:
1. Clarify the research problems being studied as optimal as possible.
2. Provide supporting relevant resources.
3. Demonstrate reasons to use related references.

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4. Clarify the terms used in the keywords.


5. Indicate the main sources used and summarize them well.
Many students' writing are mostly not quite readable and complicated
because some terms are usually difficult to understand and many times
jumping due to unclear wordings. To overcome these problems require serious
and structured efforts so that similar bad conditions will not occur again.
Because the researchers intend to act in class 'A' on the Elementary School
Teacher of Education Program, University of Muhammadiyah Gresik.
At this department, subject of writing paper is given for three semesters,
namely semester 1, 2 and 3. This course contains 9 credits which becomes the
core course of science educationa. The learning competencies include four types,
namely; to understand the general guidelines of papers; to write introduction
according to the standardized rules; to review related literature; and to report
findings and conclusion properly.
Based on the preliminary observations of the writing problems of students,
on average, their capabilities are still not good. There are nine out of ten papers
that have many errors especially on the background development which is not
original yet. Similarly, when writing the formulation of the problem, the
purpose is not stated clearly so that the information is sometimes not related at
all with the focus to be investigated on title.
Writing error rate even reached 85%, including the systematics, spelling, and
citation. This errors must be addressed, because it can adversely impact when
the students make a paper, a research proposal, even thesis. Therefore, a team of
lecturers plan to hold actions in the classroom by using the directinstruction
model. The rationales of the use of this model are:
1. This model is suitable for developing performance-oriented capabilities,
one of which is the ability to write;
2. This is suitable for the skills and abilities related to task-oriented;
3. This is suitable to help learn the basic knowledge or procedural skills ;
4. This model allows the students to master in a short time;
5. Writing is a basik skill that should be structured and performed gradually
(Nur, 2011:27).
Rtmann & Keeper (2011) states that there are two general teaching
strategies that lead to learning outcomes, namely direct and indirect instruction
instruction. Direct instruction is usually used to equip students to understand
the facts, rules, order, and so leading to pshycomotor domain. While indirect
instruction is a teaching strategy that helps students understand abstract
concepts or things that require a high complexity. However, in the
implementation of the class, usually two types of strategies can be combined in
the form of problem solving, cooperative working, or case studies. Furthermore,
Moore (2012) explains that the direct Instruction has five steps, namely
orientation, presentation, structured practice, guided practice, and independence
practice.
This study, therefore, uses a direct instruction of teaching strategies to
improve students' ability to develop the ability to write paper.

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109

Research Method
This research is a classroom action research which is conducted in the
classroom of "Morning" first semester of the department of Elementary School
Teacher at University of Muhammadiyah Gresik with the subjects of 45 students
of class "A". The research also involved two fellows of faculty members and
observers. Specific Learning Outcome (CPK) which is the target of the research is
the students are able to write according to the standard rules of writing papers.
Designs of this study are: Reflection at the beginning planning actions 1
implementation of measures 1 and observation reflection and evaluation 1
plan of action 2 implementation of actions 2 and observation reflection and
evaluation 2 plan of actions 3 implementation of actions 3 and observation
reflection and evaluation 3. The procedures of the research are: planning
action, implementation of action of learning, plan of recording, and analysis of
data.
The analysis model is the strategy developed by Miles and Huberman,
whose activities include 3 things done simultaneously: (1) data reduction, (2)
presentation of data, and (3) conclusion / verification. After the data were
analyzed, the results were used as reflections conducted at each end of the cycle.
In addition to discussing the shortcomings of action, reflection is also addressed
at all stages of the research process. Results of reflection will be used as input for
improvement in the preparation of an action plan in the next cycle.
The data used is the result of observation and reflection of the impact of
action. Results of observation are all recorded related to the attitude and student
response to the actions of researchers. The action impact is a skill that is achieved
by the students as a result of actions taken by researchers. Results are included
in the group impact studying of this action. Data from the study was then
assessed and classified based on the established criteria. Data were obtained
through two ways: through observation in the classroom and by measuring
student learning outcomes.

Findings and Discussion


This study was conducted on 23 November to 7 December 2015. The results
of the research are as follows:
Cycle 1
Skills to be achieved in this cycle is the students can write the cover, write
the preface, write background, and write formulation of the problem. Action
cycle 1 was conducted on Monday, November 23, 2015 at 12:30 to 14:30 pm
on the subject of writing paper. There are three categories of assessment
standard: good, sufficient, and fair. Description of the assessment standards
can be seen in the following table:

Table 4.1. The category of assessment in cycle 1


Skills Assessment
Good Sufficent Fair
(91-100) (81-90) (71-80)
To write The writing is The writing is The writing is
Cover complete, appropriate, complete, complete, but not
and proporsional. appropriate, but not appropriate, and

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proporsional not proporsional


To write The writing includes Same with the good Same with the
aknowle gratitude, title, category, but does not good category but
dgement objectives, thanks, mention the purpose does not mention
expecting input from of writing and the purpose of
reader, and the name of acknowledgments, writing, thanks,
the author-town and do not ask for
input.
To write The writing mentions Same with the good Same with the
backgrou the urgency of the category but does good category
nd theme, there is field not mention the field but does not
data and mentions the data. mention field
impacts if the problem data as a the
is not examined / impacts if the
investigated problem is not
studied.
To write Formulation of the Formulation of the Formulation of
problem problem is according to problem is the problem is
statemen the theme, the meaning according to the according to the
ts of the phrase is clear, theme, the meaning theme, the
and the statement is of the phrase is clear, meaning of the
right. but the writing is sentence is less
less precise. clear and less
precise.

Student results are seen from the quality of their writing products. Data
shows that in writing cover there are 67% of the students get a good value,
33% sufficient, and no student whose value is fair. Writing the
aknowledgement, 73% students are good, 25% adequate, and 2% fair. Writing
background, 73% students are good, 18% sufficient and 9% lfair. Writing
formulation of the problem 18% of students are good, 22% adequate, and 60%
fair. To facilitate a comprehensive analysis, the data is presented in graphical
form as follows:

Graph 4.1. Learning outcome of cycle 1


80

60
Good
40 Middle
Low
20

0
Design Cover Writing Writing Backround Writing Statement
Acknowledgment of the Study of Problem

The graph above can be described as follows:


1. Most of the students have been able to write the cover, write
acknowledgement, and write the background well.
2. Most of the students are sufficient for all three of their above mastery.
3. Most of the students have not been able to write good formulation of the problem.

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111

Results of the observational record show that: 1) the classroom atmosphere


is relatively ordered although there is little noise; 2) students make notes when
researchers present; 3) When the researchers give the students feedback they are
not motivated; 4) researchers are in rush during presentations and
demonstrations; 5) researchers are in a hurry while giving a guided exercise; 6)
targets of students skills that must be mastered are too much; 7) the potentials of
students are diverse; 8) there are still students that are difficult to focus after ice
breaker; 9) some students are confused and difficult at the moment of guided
exercises; 10) one student got impaired vision. After considering the
observational record and after associating it with learning outcomes that the less
optimal of student learning targets, especially the ability to write formulation of
the problem, are caused by:
1. targeted skills to be mastered are too many, while time is limited.
2.The potential of students is diverse, so it takes different approach;
3. Researchers are in a rush when delivering presentations and
demonstrations, causing the student does not understand;
4. Motivation of student learning is not optimal;
5. The way the students learn manytimes is not appropriate;
6. Ice breaker causes some students not be able to focus, so it needs some
breaks until they are really ready.
Based on the above descriptions it is suggested that: 1) When presentation it
should not be in a hurry; 2) There should be sufficient time at each stage of
learning; 3) To condition the students after the ice breaker to have better
preparation; 4) Modify the guided exercises so that the result is optimal; 5) To
repeat the background material and formulate the problem in cycle two.

Cycle 2
The material of cycle 2 is writing background and writing the problem
formulation. This material has actually been in cycle 1, but because the results
are not satisfactory and many students who have not completed are decided
to repeat cycle 2. This cycle was held on monday, November 30, 2015 at 12:30
to 14:30. Standard assessment is the same as in the first cycle with three
categories: good, sufficient, and fair or low. Description of the assessment
standard can be seen in table 4.2.

Table 4.2.The category of assessment in cycle 2

Skills Assessment category


Good Sufficient Fair
(91-100) (81-90) (71-80)
To write The writing The writing is The writing is same
backgroun mentions the same with the with the good
d urgency of the good category category but does
theme, no field data but does not not mention the field
and mentions the mention the field data and the impacts
impacts if the data. if the problem is not
problem is not studied.
examined /

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investigated
To write Formulation of the Formulation of Formulation of the
problem problem is the problem is problem is
statement according to the according to the according to the
theme, the meaning theme, the theme, the meaning
of the sentence is meaning of the of the sentence is
clear and precise phrase is clear, less clear and
but the precise.
formulation is
less precise.

Data from the study shows that 84% of students get good grades, 11%
adequate, and 5% fair for the writing background. Meanwhile writing
formulation of the problem shows that 82% of students get good grades, 9%
adequate, and 9% fair. To facilitate the analysis, the data above are presented
in graphical form as follows

Graph 4.2. Learning outcome in cycle 2

100
80
Good
60
Middle
40
Low
20
0
Writing Backround Writing Statement
of the Study of Problem

The graph above shows that over 80% of the students have been able to write
background and formulation of the problem well which means they have
been completed.

Cycle 3
Skills to be achieved in this cycle are the student able to: 1) quote well; 2
write with correct systematics; 3) write a list of references properly. The
actions of cycle 3 was held on Monday, December 7, 2015 at 12:30 to 14:30.
This skill of assessment standards is grouped into three categories: good,
sufficient, and fair. Description of the assessment standards can be seen in the
following table:

Table 4.3 Assessment category in cycle 3

Skills Assessment category


Good Sufficient Fair
(91-100) (81-90) (71-80)

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113

Ability The writing of The writing of The writing


to quote citations and citations and ofcitations are
punctuation are punctuation are correct, but the it is
correct and the correct, but the still wit wrong
sentences flow sentence is less punctuation and the
well. flowing properly. sentences are less
flowing well.
The The writing is The writing is The writing is less
systemat coherent, coherent, structured, coherent, sloppy,
ics of structured, neat, but less neat and and less regularly
writing straight, and straight. spaced.
spaced regularly.
Ability The writing the Writing the name of Writing the name of
to write name of the author, the author, year, title the author, year, title
the list of year, title of the of the book, the town, of the book, the
reference book, the town, and publisher is less town, and publisher
and publisher is precise is not appropriate.
correct.

Based on data from study it is found that: 60% of students in citing are good,
40% sufficient, and no fair value. For systematics of writing 80% of students
are good, 16% sufficient, and 4% fair. Meanwhile writing the list of reference,
all the students get good value. The display of total learning outcomes of this
cycle can be observed in the following graph:

Graph 4.2. Learning outcome in cycle 3


100
80
Good
60
Middle
40
Low
20
0
Writing Backround Writing Statement
of the Study of Problem

The graph above shows that:


1. Completeness of writing the list of reference is the highest of 100%;
2. The majority (80%) students have been able to write good systematics
writing ;
3. The interval of citing skills between categories of good and sufficient is in
small margin with 20%.
Meanwhile, based on the observation in the classroom, the data shows
that:
1. The classroom atmosphere is better than the second cycle: more calm and
conducive;

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114

2. When researchers presenting the material and feedback three active


student asked;
3. The time to have guided practice is quicker.
Based on the data from cycle 1 to cycle 3 it can be stated that:
1. The student motivation to learn is an important role;
2. It needs necessary analysis and careful calculation in determining the
learning targets associated with available time;
3. The need to learn proper way of sharing with students is crucial;
4. There should be proper arrangement between the students with learning
resources;
5. The need for personal guidance is intense because of the potential of
different students;
6. Repeated exercise and continuous guidance are to improve the skills of
students.

Results of this study, therefore, have been consistent with what has been
done by previous researchs (Moore, 2012; Rtmann & Kipper, 2011), especially
Mart (2013) who also have tested the direct instruction in which this strategy has
a positive impact not only on student writing skills but also the ability of oral
communication.
The successful use of direct instruction is also the case in the
development of the ability of students' reading (Kamps, Greenwood, Wills,
Veerkamp, & Kaufman, 2008; Crowe, Connor, & Petscher 2009; Stockard, 2010)
where direct instruction in this regard has been given a boost to students to get a
better reading scores so as to encourage the spirit of learning which is further
improved.
This study not only supports the improvement of reading skills of
students but also even help improve math skills (Stockard: 2010).
Thus the use of proven direct-instruction can be used to help increase
students' ability both in terms of cognitive, psychomotor, and good critical
thinking in reading, oral communication, even in writing academic papers.

Conclusion
The conclusions can be made as follows:
1. Using the three cycles, teaching strategy using direct instruction has a
positive effect on students' ability to write the cover, introduction,
background, systematic of writing, and a list of references, where all the
points are indispensable in preparing a good paper. The results show
that the students have been able to write a paper representatively
supported by improving the quality of paper that has been collected.
2. Thus, this research concludes that the model of direct teaching can
improve students' writing ability
Based on the results of the study, the researcher wants to make
suggestions as follows:

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115

1. For students, it should be capable of increasing self-motivation to learn


because motivation plays an important role. To set correctly all learning
sources and practice many times to really succeed.
2. For lecturers / researchers, they should analyze carefully in determining
the target of learning, sharing need to learn in proper ways to students
and guiding them personally because they are with different potentials.

References

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reading curricula, poverty, and fi rst through third grade reading
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Bahasa Indonesia SD - SMA.

Heuboeck, A. (2009). Some Aspects of Coherence, Genre and Rhetorical Structure and
Their Integration in a Generic Model of Text. Language Studies Working
Papers. Vol. 1, 35-45.
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for students most at risk in kindergarten: Two-year results for
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Kristianto, H. Cara membuat makalah yang baik dan benar. http:// hengki kristianto
ateng.blogspot.com. diakses tanggal 4 Mei 2015.
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International Journal of Academic Research in Business and Social Sciences
November, Vol. 3, (11).
Moore, David, W. (2012). Direct Instruction: Targeted Strategies for Student Success.
Retrieved on January 16, 2016, from
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m_moore_direct_instr_seb21_0414a.pdf
Mulyasa. (2010). Praktik Penelitian Tindakan Kelas. Bandung: Remaja Rosda Karya.
Mulyati, Y. (2002). Pendidikan Bahasa dan sastra Indonesia di Kelas Tinggi. Jakarta:
Universitas Terbuka.
Onwuegbuzie, Anthony J., Leech , Nancy L.& Collins, Kathleen M. T. (2012). Qualitative
Analysis Techniques for the Review of the Literature. The Qualitative
Report 2012 Volume 17, Article 56, 1-28,
http://www.nova.edu/ssss/QR/QR17/onwuegbuzie.pdf
Prabowo. (2011). Metodologi Penelitian (Sains dan Pendidikan Sains). Surabaya: Unesa
University Press.
Rtmann, T. & Kipper H. (2011). Teaching Strategies for Direct and Indirect Instruction
in Teaching Engineering. 14th International Conference on Interactive
Collaborative Learning (ICL2011) . 2123 September 2011, Pieany,
Slovakia, Retrieved from http://oaji.net/articles/2014/457-
1408435110.pdf.

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Stockard, J. (2010). Promoting reading achievement and countering the Fourth-Grade


Slump: The impact of Direct Instruction on reading achievement in fi
fth grade. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk, 15, 218-240.
Stockard, J. (2010). Improving elementary level mathematics achievement in a large
urban district: The effects of Direct Instruction in the Baltimore City
Public School System. Journal of Direct Instruction, 10, 1-16.
Swales, J. M., & Feak, C. B. (2004). Commentary for academic writing for graduate students:
Essential tasks and skills (2nd ed.). Ann Arbor, MI: University of
Michigan Press/ESL.
Wibowo, W. (2011). Cara Cerdas Menulis Artikel Ilmiah. Jakarta: PT. Kompas Media
Nusantara.Yulianto, Bambang. Dkk. 2009. Model Pembelajaran Inovatif
Bahasa Indonesia. Surabaya: Unesa University Press.

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 15, No. 2, pp, 117-133, February 2016

Students Attitudes and English Language


Performance in Secondary Schools in Tanzania

Gilman Jackson Nyamubi, Ph.D


University of Iringa, Tanzania

Abstract. The study explored the role of attitudes in secondary school


students performance in the English language. It explored how learning
English was silhouetted by students interests and utilitarian attitudes to
the language. The fieldwork covered six secondary schools in Morogoro
Urban and Mvomero districts in Morogoro Region. Respondents were
students and their teachers of English. Data were collected through
questionnaire and an achievement test. It was found that students
differed in terms of their mastery of English, scoring higher in the
structure section, while composition was the most poorly scored section.
In all, students, in both Form One and Form Four, had strong and
positive attitudes to English. Specifically, while Form One students had
more positive interest attitudes than their counterparts, Form Four
students displayed more utilitarian attitudes to learning English,
compared to Form One students. Students positive attitudes are in line
with the current Government policy on the language of instruction in
secondary schools. The paper ends by emphasising that students
positive attitudes to English can be exploited to enhance the learning of
the language.

Keywords: Students language attitudes; English language learning;


performance; secondary school; Tanzania

INTRODUCTION

Tanzania is essentially a multilingual society. The country has about 150


ethnically-based languages (Muzale and Rugemarila, 2008), used by several
communities especially in rural areas. For most Tanzanians, matters pertaining
to customs, values, humour and cultural practices are often better
communicated by the use of these ethnic languages (Rubagumya, 1993).
Kiswahili is the national lingua franca, official language and the second
language for about 80 percent of Tanzanians (Mapunda, 2013). Mapunda (ibid.)
further observes that the exclusion of ethnically-based languages from being
used in the education system in Tanzania makes the transition of non-Kiswahili
speaking children from the home language in a primary school language

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118

difficult. Primary school education in all public schools is derived through the
medium of Kiswahili. Pupils learn English as a subject.

At the secondary school level, there is a switch of the language of


communication in which English takes over as a medium of instruction (URT,
1995). At this change point, most Pupils from public primary schools experience
a new language, that is English, which, according to Komba, et. al. (2012), it is
unfamiliar for expressing concepts that students previously learned in Kiswahili.
In this experience, most learners feel a hard and confusing task of expressing
themselves when they are not competent in the language (Roy-Campbell and
Qorro, 1997). This situation might have been a logical consequence of successive
narrowing down the sphere of English language in the Tanzanian society
between 1960s and 1980s. During that time, the language was restricted to
classroom use, and was used to only communicate with foreigners (Rubagumya,
1999).

English language has, at various levels of use, historically been changing its role
and status. It was both the national and the official language throughout British
rule in Tanganyika (1918-1961). According to Rubagumya (1999), this served the
interests of the colonial administration, which needed to communicate with all
locals in one language-Kiswahili, and with the metropolis and business
community in English. In the 1960s, the political agenda for Tanzania was
disengagement from neo-colonialism and the building of a self-reliant society
(Rubagumya, ibid.). Currently English is needed in Tanzania in order to have
regional and international relationships, as it facilitates communication, and this
language is more vital in this era of globalisation of information, technology and
commerce.

English language is taught as a language in all public primary schools, from


class three onwards. It is also used as the medium of instruction in the education
system, starting from secondary school to tertiary level. At Forms Five and Six
levels, English language is taught as one of the subjects in a given combination.
Similarly, in universities, it is one of the courses offered. Tanzania follows an
education system of 7-4-2-3+, that is, seven years of primary school, four years of
ordinary level secondary school, two years of advanced level secondary school
and three years or more of university education (URT, 1995).

Although English is spoken by few people, it occupies a high status as it is the


language of higher education, in the judiciary system, and in diplomatic circles
(Schimied, 1986). The Education and Training Policy (1995) presents that the
objectives of language teaching in secondary education are to promote the
development of competency in linguistic ability and effective communication.
These objectives indicate that English language is a very important school
subject and medium of communication at both local and international levels.
The English syllabus for forms I-IV targets at enabling students to communicate
effectively with other speakers of English language both inside and outside the
country and use their knowledge of English in furthering students own
education (URT, 2010).

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119

It is therefore expected that, after the ordinary secondary school level of


education, students will have acquired and developed the specified knowledge,
attitudes and skills of that language, so as to cope with the English language
demands at higher levels of education and in the world of work in general.

The effective learning of a foreign or second language depends largely on the


attitudes of individuals to the target language (Baker, 1992). Little is known on
how attitudes Tanzanian secondary school students have on English as a foreign
language, would determine their learning and performance in English language
as a school subject.

Statement of the Problem

Despite the fact that English is taught in Tanzanian schools from the primary
school level, the majority of secondary school students are performing poorly in
national examinations (Mkumbo, 2012). This poor performance may be
explained by the fact that learning a foreign language effectively is associated
with learners attitudes and the utilitarian need to learn it (Nyamubi, 2003). In
this way, factors such as learners academic advancement or career aspirations in
life may shape their attitudes towards and performance in the language.

In this frame of reference, this study was formulated to sift how students
attitudes to the English language explain their performance in the subject. The
study explored the trend of students performance in English.

The major research objectives are two:


First, to examine how students attitudes to learning English correlate with their
performance in the subject, the realisation of which was guided by these
questions:

What are secondary school students attitudes to learning English?


How do these attitudes explain their performance in English language in class?

Second, to explore the performance level of secondary school students in


English, the data of which were guided by two questions:

What is the performance level of secondary school students in English?


How do students demographic variables, gender and class level, elucidate their
performance in the English language?

Attitudes are important aspects in the formation of national language policy.


Baker (1992) affirms that no policy on language can be successful if it does not
conform to the expressed needs and attitudes of language users in the
community. Thus, it is anticipated that the findings of the study might shed
some light on possible ways of encouraging socially desirable attitudes to
learning the language. It is therefore hoped that this study will contribute to
improving the teaching and learning of English language, and hence lead to
better students performance.

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120

RELATED LITERATURE

In this section, a review of literature is made. It provides a discussion of the


main concepts of the study in order to discern the gap to be filled in by the
present study.

Attitudes and Language Learning

Different people have defined differently the concept of attitude. To begin with,
Anold (2005) defines attitude as either mental readiness or implicit
predispositions that exert some general or consistent influence on a fairly large
class of evaluative responses, which are usually directed towards some objects,
events or persons. Ewen (2003) on the other hand, defines attitude as a mental
and neural state of readiness organised through experience, exerting a directive
or dynamic influence upon the individuals response to all objects and situations
with which it is related.

The common characteristic in these definitions is that attitudes entail evaluative


predispositions to respond to social objects that interact with situational
variables, thus guiding and directing the overt behaviour of an individual. The
working definitions preferred in this study are Ajzens (2001), who defines an
attitude as a disposition to respond favourably or unfavourably to an object,
person or event, and Armitage and Conners (2001), who see that the role of
attitudes is to help locate objects of thought, such as language, as being an object
that is perceived to be favourable or unfavourable. These definitions are
preferred because they link attitudes to measurement, that is, whether they are
favourable or unfavourable in relation to an object, person or event.

In this way, if an attitude of a person to an object such as language is known, it


can be used in conjunction with situations and it can explain a persons reaction
to it. A survey of attitudes provides an indicator of current community thoughts,
beliefs, preferences and desires (Garrett, 2010). Attitudes comprise beliefs about
things that have some social significance. Such beliefs, for example, can be
values that are attached to English by many Tanzanians that knowing the
language is synonymous to being educated (Mapunda, 2013). It also provides
social indicators of changing beliefs and the chance of success in language policy
implementation.

Attitudes and motivation differ in that while attitudes are learners feelings of
approval or disapproval to learn the target language (Mapunda, 2013),
motivation to learn language is an extent to which an individual strives to learn
the target language because of a desire to learn the language and satisfaction
experienced in the activity of learning (Ushida, 2005). In this, a motivated learner
is eager to learn the language, expand efforts to learn it, and to sustain the
learning activity. This encourages language retention, fluency, need for
achievement and improved strategies to increase students language
comprehension levels (Wilkinson, 2015). According to Ushida (2005), motivation
mediates the relationship between language attitudes and language
achievement. The current study, however, examined the role students language

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attitudes in their performance in English without including motivation as


mediating factor between the two variables under study, because other studies
have dealt with this (Gardner, 2000, Ushida, 2005).

Language as a tool for socialisation and determinant of individual knowledge of


the world is highly gendered in language use in school and society (Kidenyi and
Getui, 2011). Gender as a social constructed concept shapes interpersonal
relation and the way people perceive language, that is, their attitudes towards
that language in its use as well as learners overall performance. It determines
how female and male students feel about the language they learn (ibid.).

In education, attitudes could be both an input and an output. A favourable


attitude to language learning may be a vital input in language achievement.
Baker (1992) found the following: First, attitudes have a positive correlation with
success in learning a second language; and second, they facilitate learners
motivation to learn the language in relation to goal attainment. Attitudes can
also be an outcome. After a language-learning course, the teacher and learners
may have favourable attitudes to the language learnt, if they expect to benefit
from it. In this way, learners will strive to achieve highly in the expectation of
doing well in examinations and mastering the language, which in turn facilitates
better performance.

Gardner (1985) argues that second language learners with positive attitudes
towards the target language learn more effectively than those who do not have
such positive attitudes. He explains that learners language attitudes predict
students degree of success in terms of linguistic outcomes in learning the target
language.

In language learning, attitudes seem to be very important in predicting learners


academic performance. The learners favourable attitude to the language she/he
is learning would facilitate success in it. Tahaineh and Daana (2013) argue that
personal beliefs about ones capabilities and positive attitudes towards what one
is learning positively influence learning. In this way, learners positive attitudes
to the language they are learning could help them to master the language,
leading to success in their performance at school and after school linguistic
needs in real daily-life situations.

However, little is known about the contribution of students attitudes to English


to their performance at the secondary school level in Tanzania. The present
study therefore was intended to address this issue.

METHODOLOGY

This study was conducted in secondary schools in Morogoro Region, Tanzania.


The area was randomly selected from other twenty-five Regions, in Tanzania
Mainland. Two districts in Morogoro Region, Morogoro Urban and Mvomero,
were selected, from which six secondary schools were randomly picked for the
study.

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122

Morogoro, like other regions, catered for the education of the local people from
both urban and rural areas around the country. Schools in the area had varying
characteristics in terms of student composition, which were essential aspects that
explained students attitudes towards English language learning in relation to
their performance in the language.

The population of this study included secondary school students and teachers in
Mvomero and Morogoro Urban districts. Six secondary schools were selected,
that is, three schools from urban and the other three from rural areas.
Specifically, the target population included Forms One and Four students and
their teachers of English.

Form One students were involved in the study because they had just completed
primary education where majority of them, particularly from public primary
schools, had been learning all subjects, except English, in Kiswahili.
Additionally, because the language of instruction in primary schools is
Kiswahili, with exception of English medium primary schools, it was important
to find out how the change to English as the language of instruction in
secondary schools could explain students attitudes to the English language.

Form Four students on the other hand were involved in the study because, at
their level, the English language syllabus content for ordinary level was
supposed to have been covered by the learners. Additionally, Form Four
students would have more immediate needs for the language for higher studies
or employment, and that would adequately gauge students attitudes to learn
English.

Teachers of English were involved in the study, as they were the important
input in the teaching-learning process. Their views on students attitudes to
learning English were considered important to the study. Teachers provided
information that was useful for analysing and discussing the findings.

The sample comprised 450 students, that is, 230 males and 220 females. Their
ages ranged from 12 to 17 years. In the selected schools, all Forms One and Four
students had an equal chance of being involved in the study. Thus, the sample
was 276 and 174 for Forms One and Four, respectively. Again, the sample can be
categorised as 280 students from urban secondary schools and 170 from rural
schools. Permission to access schools in the study area was obtained from
relevant authorities and institutions, and all participants agreed to participate in
the study.

The selection of teacher respondents who participated in the study from each
school was through the purposive sampling technique, which was utilised to
deliberately choose respondents in accordance with the data that was intended
to be collected. Thus Forms One and Four teachers of English from each school
were included in the study on the merit of their duties.

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123

Student respondents, on the other hand, were selected by randomly picking one
stream in each Form in every school that had more than one stream. Since
streaming in Tanzanias secondary schools is not based on ability, it was
reasoned that, whichever stream was picked, it would provide a fairly
representative sample of all students in that level. In schools where there was
only one stream, there was no choice but to pick that stream. The number of
students in each stream ranged from 25 to 65.

Two data collection instruments were used in this study. These were
questionnaires and achievement tests. Questionnaires, which included
attitudinal rating scales, were twofold: one for students and the other for
teachers. The Students questionnaire was designed to elicit their personal data,
and their attitude to the English language. The standardised instrument for
measuring individual students attitudes towards a language they learn was
adopted from Krashen (1981). However, these items were modified to suit the
Tanzanian situation, and in particular, in the context of English language
learning at the secondary school level. The instrument had 15 items for interest
attitudes sub scale and 10 items for the utilitarian attitudes sub-scale.

In each section, respondents were to respond by rating the appropriate reply.


Responses were tapped in a four-point Likert type format, ranging from strongly
agree (4) to strongly disagree (1). To ensure that high scores indicated higher or
positive attitudes towards English, negatively worded items were reverse
scored. Scores obtained were correlated with students performance. The
teachers questionnaire asked them to provide information on the students
attitudes to learn English language.

The achievement tests in both Forms One and Four were administered to
students so as to ascertain their performance in English. There were two tests;
one for Form One and the other for Form Four. They were both curriculum-
based as they covered the content as stipulated in the respective syllabi. Both
tests consisted of three sections, comprehension, composition and structure or
grammar. The whole achievement test was marked out of 100. The marking of
both tests was based on a marking scheme. The tests were marked by the
researcher and two independent teachers of English. The scores obtained in both
tests measured students performance.

The students questionnaire and the achievement tests were administered by the
researcher with the help of the teachers of English in each school. Questionnaires
were distributed to each respondent, and enough time was given to respond to
the questionnaire. Respondents completed a questionnaire at their schools in the
presence of a researcher. Assistance was provided, as needed, to help in reading
and understanding the survey items. Achievement tests were administered to
students a day after they had filled in the questionnaire. Time for the test in both
classes was one hour, which was enough for respondents to complete all test
questions. As for teachers, questionnaires were distributed to each respondent
by the researcher. The time and day for collection were set.

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124

As regards validity and reliability of the instruments, the questionnaire was


written in English and later translated into Kiswahili with assistance of a person
fluent in both languages. This ensured consistency in the content and meaning.
In the field, respondents were given an opportunity to choose any of the two
languages in which they were comfortable to communicate. This was due to the
fact that although English is the language of instruction in Tanzania secondary
schools, students across the board, including those with difficulties in
understanding English can understand and are fluent in Kiswahili (Lyakulwa,
2012).

Furthermore, a pilot study was conducted prior administering the survey. This
was done to find out whether any of the items were ambiguous to ascertain
applicability, relevance and usefulness of research tools. The pilot study also
served as a means to find out the internal consistency or reliability as well as the
validity of the questionnaire, which was found to be of fairly good quality, with
a reliability coefficient of 0.89. The main study was done in July-August, 2015.

Data were entered and analysed using SPSS for windows (version 21) following
IBM guidelines. Cross tabulation was performed to obtain frequencies, means
and percentages of students responses on their attitudes towards English. An
independent t-test was performed to explore the variations among respondents
in terms of gender, class and school location. Pearsons correlations were
calculated to examine the strength and direction of the relationship between the
variables.

RESULTS

Attitudes towards Learning English


The results are presented in relation to the identified two attitudes types, which,
according to Krashen (1981), are interest attitudes - which show ones
willingness to learn a language, and utilitarian attitudes - which refer to the
benefits one expects to get after learning the language.

The study sought to register students willingness to learn English, which


reflected their interest attitudes towards the language. Results are presented in
table 1.

Table 1: Students Ratings on the Interest Attitudes to Learning English by Gender,


Class and School location (N=450)

Strongly Strongly
Category Agree Agree Disagree Disagree Mean SD t p
N % N % N % N %
Gender Male 124 53.92 91 39.59 9 3.91 6 2.61 27.23 5.257
Female 96 43.62 86 39.09 27 12.28 11 5.0 29.64 5.176 1.255 0.072
Class Form I 143 51.82 113 40.94 12 4.35 8 2.89 29.14 5.484
Form 76 43.68 66 37.93 21 12.07 11 6.32 27.26 2.218 1.725 0.081
IV
School Rural 84 49.41 74 43.53 8 4,71 4 2.35 26.82 4.361
Location Urban 156 55.71 98 35.01 17 6.07 9 3.21 2.84 4.372 0.865 0.377
TOTAL 228 50.66 171 38.0 34 9.5 17 3.77 27.82 4.478 1.657 0.172

Key: SD= Standard deviation.

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125

As regards gender, the data showed that more male students, 93.4 percent, than
female students, 82.7 percent, showed that English was more interesting and
preferable than most other subjects in the curriculum. The difference however,
was not statistically significant when an independent t-test was conducted. It
yielded the following results: male students mean = 27.23, standard deviation =
5.257, female students means = 27.23, standard deviation = 5.176, t (450) = 1.255,
p = 0.072.

In terms of students class level, the data revealed that students positive
interests in learning English is stronger when they at the lower classes. It was
shown that Form One students (mean= 29.14, standard deviation = 5.484), that
is, 256 students out of 276, held an opinion that English should be used to teach
all other subjects in the curriculum to all students at all levels of the countrys
education system. Form Four students, on the other hand, held this opinion by
81.6 percent, with a mean of 27.26, and a standard deviation of 4.218 among
them. Results indicated that the difference between the two groups was not
statistically significant, given the t-test results: t (450) = 1.725, p=0.081.

In terms of school location, the data showed that there were no significant
statistical differences between students studying in ruralbased schools
(mean=26.82, standard deviation=4.361) and those in urban secondary schools
(means = 26.84, standard deviation = 4.372) as regards to their interest attitudes
to learn English. Students in both categories indicated that they used English
language more frequently in their interactions and that English as a schools
subject was not difficult to learn. The independent t-test results t (450) = 0.865,
p=0.377, indicated the absence of statistically significant variation between
students from the two locations.

Furthermore, the study sought to find out students utilitarian attitudes to learn
English. These kinds of attitudes reflected their perceived usefulness of the
language when learning it at school as well as after school value of English.
Table 2 summarises the results.

Table 2: Students Ratings on the Utilitarian Attitudes to Learning English by Gender,


Class and School location ((N=450)

Strongly Strongly
Category Agree Agree Disagree Disagree Mean SD t p
N % N % N % N %
Gender Male 112 48.69 106 46.09 7 3,04 5 2.18 23.97 4.972
Female 111 50,45 86 39.09 14 6.37 9 4.09 21.86 4.821 1.446 0.071
Class Form I 118 42.75 118 42.75 26 9.43 14 5.07 24.29 4.721
Form 87 50.0 65 37.36 14 8.05 8 4.59 23.96 4.683 1.253 0.014*
IV
School Rural 84 49.42 62 36.47 15 8.82 9 5.29 26.73 4.128
Location Urban 121 43.21 143 51.07 11 3.93 5 1.79 26.84 4.239 1.568 0.096
TOTAL 246 54.66 162 36.0 32 7.11 10 2.23 24.61 4.371 1.469 0.069

Key: *= p value is significant at the 0.01 level (2-tailed).

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126

The study revealed that secondary school students had strong utilitarian
attitudes towards learning English, that is, benefits learners expect to get after
learning the language.

In terms of gender, majority of students, both males (94.7 percent) and female
(89.5 percent) agreed that English was the subject worth learning in schools
because it helped them to learn better the other subjects taught through the
medium of English. The t-test results indicated absence of statistically significant
differences between male students (mean= 23.97, standard deviation = 4.972)
and female students (mean = 21.86, standard deviation = 4.821) at t (450) = 1.446,
p=0.071.

Again, the majority of students recognised the importance of English language


in the world. In this, they agreed that studying English would make them more
knowledgeable in various fields of study. The t-test results indicated that more
Form Four students 87.3 percent (mean = 24.29, standard deviation 4.721) than
Form One students (mean = 23.96, standard deviation = 4.683) felt stronger
usefulness of English in the school and after school lives. This difference was
statistically significant given the results t (450) = 1.253, p=0.014.

Additionally, the majority of students, 94.2 percent from urban-based schools


and 85.8 percent from schools in the rural setting, refuted the notion that English
was overvalued in the Tanzanian education system. The difference on their
opinion was not statistically significant, t (450) = 1.568, p= 0.096.

Teachers were asked their opinions on the learning of English among secondary
school students in Tanzania. They revealed that students liked to learn English
to the extent that they were ready to attend paid private tuition sessions in order
to succeed and advance in other subjects. Furthermore, teachers revealed that
students liked debating in English and to be taught all subjects through the
medium of English. The majority of teachers were of the opinion that students
utilitarian attitude to learning English was prompted by the need to advance to
further studies. Table 3 summarises the results.

Table 3: Teachers Opinions about Learning English Among Students (N=16)

Opinion Item Strongly Strongly


Agree Agree Disagree Disagree
N % N % N % N %
1. Students like to learn English 2 12.5 8 50.0 5 31.2 1 6.3
2.Students like to be taught all subjects in 3 18.7 10 62.5 2 12.5 1 6.3
English
3.Most students like debating in English 3 18.7 6 37.5 4 25.0 3 18.7
4.Students are prepared to pay for English 3 18.7 6 37.5 6 37.5 1 6.3
language tuition
5.Most students learn English in order to 5 31.2 9 56.2 1 6.3 1 6.3
advance in other school subjects
6.Students want English only in order to be 4 25.0 3 18.7 7 43.8 2 12.5
selected for further studies

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127

Students English Language Performance Levels

Students differed in their mastery of the English language as reflected in their


scores in the test. The results are presented separately according to the classes in
all the schools. They show how well the students fared by gender in the tests
three sections, which were comprehension, structure and composition. Table 4
shows Form One results.

Table 4: Form One Performance by Test Sections and Gender

TEST PERFORMANCE LEVEL


Section Maximum Male (N=134) Female (N=142) Total (N=276)
Score Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD
Comprehension 30 15.09 4.47 12.87 4.74 13.95 4.72
Structure 35 23.18 6.19 20.43 5.86 21.77 6.17
Composition 35 14.00 11.72 10.58 5.80 12.25 9.13
Whole Test 100 51.53 13.84 43.97 12.20 47.65 13.54

Key: SD= Standard deviation.

The results showed that in Form One, in the comprehension section, the average
score was 13.95, out of 30, with male students getting a higher mean score than
female students, which was 15.09 and 12.87, respectively. Performance in
English structure was better than the other sections, with a mean score of 21.77,
the male students with a mean score of 23.18, while the female students score
was 20.43. However, the results in the composition section showed the lowest
mean score of 12.25. In all, the total test average score was 47.65.

Table 5: Form Four Performance by Test Sections and Gender

TEST PERFORMANCE LEVEL


Section Maximum Males (N=96) Females (N=78) Total (N=174)
score Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD
Comprehension 30 16.49 6.29 15.52 6.15 15.95 6.21
Structure 35 21.95 5.74 19.67 4.46 20.68 5.18
Composition 35 18.63 4.66 17.48 4.19 17.99 4.43
Whole Test 100 57.00 12.13 52.47 11.02 54.48 12.18
Key: SD= Standard deviation.

In Form Four, similar trends were observed as shown in Table 5. Results


indicated poor performance levels in composition and higher marks in the
English structure section. The mean scores were 18 out of 35, and 21 out of 35,
respectively. In the comprehension section, the score was 16 out of 30. In all, the
composition section registered the lowest score compared to the other sections,
with a mean score of 17.99, with the male students scoring an average of 18.62,
and female students mean score was 17.48. As in the case of Form One,
performance in English structure was on the whole better than in other sections,
with a mean score of 20.48, with male students getting 21.95, and female
students 19.67. The comprehension section had a mean score of 16.49 for male
students and 15.52 for female students. The mean score for the whole test was
54.48, with male students getting 57.00 and female students 52.47.

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128

The Relationship between Attitudes and Performance

The scales, strongly agree, agree, disagree and strongly disagree were
assigned weighted scores whose sum was used as an index for attitude, while
students scores in the achievement tests were used as the dependent variable.

Table 6: Correlation between Test Scores and Students Attitudes towards English
Language Learning

Category Form Comprehension Structure Composition Whole Test


Interest Attitudes I 0.216** 0.275** 0.210** 0.280**
IV 0.198** 0.200** 0.169 0.206**
Utilitarian Attitudes I 0.269** 0.276** 0.200** 0.209**
IV 0.274** 0.282** 0.240** 0.288**
Overall Attitude I 0.176** 0.272** 0.264** 0.331**
Scale IV 0.222** 0.286** 0.220** 0.344**

Key: ** Correlation is significant at 0.01 level (2-tailed).

The results in Table 6 show that there was evidence in support of the aspect that
students performance in English was positively related to the attitudes they
have to learning English. Thus, in Form One, the performance in the whole test
yielded a positive correlation of 0.331, while in Form Four it was 0.344.
Moreover, when the three sections of the test were correlated with students
attitudes to learning English, all yielded positive correlation coefficients. The
English structure section had the highest correlation coefficients across both
attitude categories compared with the other two sections, while composition
yielded the lowest but positive correlation coefficients.

DISCUSSION

The Direction of Attitudes towards the English Language

The findings show that students have very strong and positive attitudes towards
English language because it is the basis for further studies and it provides them
with an opportunity to communicate with other people inside and outside the
country. Similar findings were reached by Rubagumya (1993), who noted that
the majority of students in Dar es Salaam Region secondary schools had positive
attitudes to the English language. In this way, students positive attitude to
English is enhanced when they know that success in English goes hand-in-hand
with their doing well at school.

The findings further indicate that students agree that they are very interested in
learning English and that they like the language as it could help them learn other
subjects better. Similar results were achieved by Kapoli (2001), who found that
students awareness that knowing English is a prerequisite for doing well at
school impels them to strive to learn the language. Thus, when learners find
satisfaction with their English language learning, they will feel motivated to
learn the language and be more likely to form habits of reading English books

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129

(Chien and Yu, 2015). Students positive attitude to English is a requirement for
positive classroom interaction, which in turn facilitates language learning.

Thus, despite the fact that Kiswahili their national language, very few students
would like the language to be adopted as the medium of instruction in
secondary schools. This corroborates Perssons (2013) findings that although
several of the students in Tanzania secondary schools struggle with the
vocabulary and the pronunciation, they feel that English is the path to higher
education and a good job. These are contributing factors to the fact that the
majority of students prefer English as their language of instruction in secondary
school, to their own national language, Kiswahili. This attitude is very clearly
related to a feeling that English is of great importance in the modern world and
that knowledge of the language would be of assistance to students
opportunities for career advancement, which help them to improve
academically and linguistically (Close, 2015).

It can be inferred from the findings that the English language no longer has the
connotation that it is the language of colonialists, as Yahya-Othman (1990)
noted, but rather, it is regarded as an international language for wider
communication across the world. This is in line with Moodys (1992) observation
that, in most East and Southern African countries, English has became an
important means of communication, not only as a medium of instruction in
schools, but also for informal social communication. English indeed has a
functional utility in the Tanzanian education system in that it meets learners
immediate usage and practical needs. Knowledge in the English language, for
example, provides students an opportunity to communicate with people both
inside and outside the country (Nyamubi, 2003).

English has a high status and a major role as an international language for wider
communication in the media, education, trade, science and technology. Graddol
(1997) also agrees that the use of English is important in such aspects as books,
newspapers, airports, air traffic control, international business, academic
conferences, international sporting competitions, pop music and advertising. In
this way, English provides a window for the discernment of the world and it
gives the opportunity for the young to meet challenges of the pluralistic world.

One of the findings that emerged from this study is concerned with gender
differences in students attitudes towards a foreign language. Female students
have consistently stronger positive attitudes of both an interest and utilitarian
nature towards English than male students do. Nyamubis study (ibid.) found a
smaller difference between genders in that more girls than boys felt that they
should use English as the language of instruction in all subjects. The reasons for
the differences are presumably located in the socio-cultural behaviours of the
two sexes (Kidenyi and Getui, 2011) with girls more inclined to like the arts
subjects while boys go for the sciences and mathematics.

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130

In terms of students class level, the findings show that, while Form One
students interest attitudes were more positive than those of Form Four students,
in the aspect of utilitarian attitudes Form Four students displayed a more
positive inclination towards learning English than Form One students. This can
be explained by the fact that Form Four students, who were about to complete
their education at that level, have more functional attitudes towards the English
language as they perceive it to be of more immediate value to them for either job
opportunities or further education. Similarly, Ntawigira (2005) found that
secondary school students in Rwanda are aware of the benefits of English in the
national and international milieu.

The trends in the labour market have changed in Tanzania. Unlike in the past,
current trends show that there has been a big increase in jobs requiring good
communication skills in English language and sound knowledge of information
technology (Chien and Yu, 2015). It has become necessary now for job seekers to
prove their mastery of this language. In this way, students are likely to become
proficient in their knowledge of English language through increasing
occupational options and trade opportunities with outside societies in a way that
will benefit individuals and society. Nyamubis (2003) study revealed that
knowledge of the English language increases students chance of getting
employment and/or helps them in their future studies.

On the other hand, Form One students, who had just started their secondary
school education, did not see the immediate relevance of the utilitarian aspect of
the language, but rather they focused more on developing an interest in English,
which they wished they could speak more and better. In a similar vein, Heller
and Martin-Jones (2001) observe that language is important as one way in which
knowledge is constructed and displayed as a means of gaining or controlling
access to other resources.

Students Knowledge, Attitudes and Performance in English

Students greatly differ in terms of their mastery of the English language. This is
reflected in the scores in the given tests, showing that students performance is
good in both Forms One and Four. However, standard deviations, which
indicate how students differ in terms of performance, are high, meaning that
some students scored higher marks while others had lower scores. The main
reason for this lies in individual abilities (Persson, 2013).

The results generally show that students in both Forms performed better in
English structure than in comprehension and composition. It was noted that
English structure was the area in the syllabus that was given higher priority in
terms of teaching time than other sections (Nyamubi, 2003). Composition, which
was poorly performed in both Forms One and Four, received little attention in
terms of teaching time, with teachers claiming to have little time left for marking
(ibid). Teachers reported that they had very heavy teaching load.

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131

It will be recalled that students in both classes also performed poorly in the
composition section. One of the factors that cause students failure in English is
the lack of writing exercises because teachers are more interested in teaching the
grammar of the language at the expense of comprehension and composition,
due to the heavy teaching load or to the easiness of teaching different sections of
the syllabus. Supporting this argument, Kapoli (2001) observes that the reasons
for concentrating on the teaching of English structure emanates from the English
language syllabus, which concentrates more on the manipulation of grammatical
structures, without any reference to the way in which the language is used by
learners as a system of symbols.

However, from the teachers perspective, the failure to provide writing exercises
is caused by overcrowded classes. Additionally, the teachers indicated that
heavy teaching loads, which resulted out of English language teachers shortage
to meet the demand of the increased number of students, contributes to a great
extent to the lack of effective teaching by most teachers. They are of the opinion
that the increased workload has reduced their readiness to attend to individual
students academically. Unlike teachers of most other subjects, teachers of
English need to provide and mark students written work regularly, in order to
facilitate their progress in the language, and thus foster their interest in learning
it (Kapoli, 2001).

The findings show that students performance in English is related positively to


the attitudes they have towards learning the language. The whole test result has
moderate but positive correlation coefficients across the two attitude types, that
is, interest attitudes and utilitarian attitudes. This indicates that students
mastery of the language is facilitated by the attitudes they have towards the
language. In general, attitudes towards a language are an important element in
improving language learning (Mapunda, 2013). Thus, as argued elsewhere,
learners attitudes towards the language they are learning determine their
performance, especially if they are in smaller classes and when teaching and
learning materials as well as qualified teachers of the language are present
(Persson, 2013).

Acquiring language skills empowers students to discover themselves and


explore meaning through effective interaction. Teachers contribute in a number
of ways to helping students acquire language skills through sustaining an
interest in and positive attitudes to the English language.

CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS


Based on research findings, discussions and interpretations of the study, the
following conclusions are drawn. The level of English competency among
secondary school students is high. Students ability to use the language is good,
in both Form One and Form Four, although there are variations among students.
This good performance is associated with the presence of high quality learning
environment at school.

Regarding students attitudes towards learning the English language, they have
strong and positive attitudes towards the language. English is found to be of

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132

great importance in the modern world as it is the means of both local and
international communication. The findings show a positive correlation between
students attitudes to English and their performance in the subject. The attitude
to the language is an essential factor in the overall process of learning.

Tanzanian secondary school students have very favourable attitudes towards


the English language. They have more utilitarian attitudes than interest
attitudes, as they anticipate more benefits from learning the language, such as
joining high schools and finding employment. These positive attitudes are in line
with the current Government policy on the language of instruction in secondary
schools, which advocates the use of English. Positive attitudes provide a good
basis for sustaining students interest in learning English, acting as an input for
students to benefit from the instruction. These positive attitudes can be exploited
to enhance the learning of the language.

Based on these findings, the following measures are recommended: First, there is
need to improve the teaching of English in secondary schools, capitalising on the
strong positive attitudes towards it and the high motivation for learning the
language. Second, care should be exercised in any attempt to change English as
the medium of instruction in secondary schools as students favoured it as the
language of communication in secondary schools. It is important that the choice
of a language of instruction should take into account the learners expectations
of it.

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