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International Journal
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Learning, Teaching
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Vol.16 No.11
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VOLUME 16 NUMBER 11 November 2017

Table of Contents
Pre-Service Elementary Teachers’ Experiences, Expectations, Beliefs, and Attitudes toward Mathematics
Teaching and Learning........................................................................................................................................................... 1
Roland Pourdavood, Xiongyi Liu

Factors Influencing the Poor Academic Performance of Learners with Vision Impairment in Science Subjects in
Kgatleng District in Botswana ............................................................................................................................................ 28
Joseph Habulezi, Kefilwe P J Batsalelwang, Nelly M Malatsi

Mapping Free Educational Software Intended for the Development of Numerical and Algebraic Reasoning ....... 45
Eliane Elias Ferreira do Santos, Aleandra da Silva Figueira-Sampaio, Gilberto Arantes Carrijo

PUP Graduate School Services: A Critique Assessment by the MBA Students ........................................................... 67
Cecilia Junio Sabio, Ralph Abenojar Sabio

The Professional Development of Adult Educators: The Case of the Lifelong Learning Centres (L.L.C) in the
Prefecture of Evros, Greece.................................................................................................................................................. 77
Kyriaki Georgios Anthopoulou, Efthymios Valkanos, Iosif Fragkoulis

Students’ Loans by Financial Institutions: The Way to Reduce a Burden for Government Funding to Higher
Education in Tanzania .......................................................................................................................................................... 92
Veronica Robert Nyahende

EducActiveCore: Computational Model to Educational Personalization Based on Multiagent and Context-Aware


Computing ........................................................................................................................................................................... 116
Fernao Reges dos Santos, Pollyana Notargiacomo

Influence of Management on Quality Assurance in National Teacher's Colleges ..................................................... 138


Josephine Lubwama, David Onen, Edris Serugo Kasenene
1

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 16, No. 11, pp. 1-27, November 2017
https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.16.11.1

Pre-Service Elementary Teachers’ Experiences,


Expectations, Beliefs, and Attitudes toward
Mathematics Teaching and Learning

Roland G. Pourdavood, Ph.D. and


Xiongyi Liu, Ph.D.
Cleveland State University (CSU)
Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Abstract. Many elementary pre-service teachers (PSTs) have negative


experiences regarding learning mathematics. They carry these prior
negative experiences with them as they take their mathematics methods
courses for teaching young children and they express their lack of
confidence in teaching mathematics. This qualitative and descriptive
study describes 23 elementary PSTs’ stated experiences, expectations,
beliefs, and attitudes toward mathematics during their K-12 schooling
and college mathematics courses. The study examines how a semester-
long methods course in mathematics provides these PSTs an
opportunity to re-evaluate their assumptions about what mathematics is
and the role of teachers and learners in mathematics classrooms. In
addition, the study describes the challenges that the primary researcher
and the instructor of the course face. It illustrates the strategies he uses
to accommodate PSTs’ professional transformation. Data was collected
throughout participants’ enrollment in a semester-long course called
Mathematics Instruction in Preschool and the Primary Grades, which was
taken in conjunction with their practicum. Data sources included
university classroom observations, pre-service teachers’ verbal and
written responses to class discussions, reading assignments, course
activities, presentations, and a final reflective paper. PSTs’ responses
were categorized and common themes were derived from the
triangulation of data to include prospective teachers’ critical reflections
on teaching and learning, transformation of their stated beliefs and
attitudes toward mathematics, and their concerns and struggles.

Keywords: Pre-service teachers; constructivism; mathematics education.

Introduction
Ideas about what mathematics is and is not may have a strong influence on the
teachers’ and learners’ experiences, expectations, beliefs, and attitudes toward
mathematics teaching and learning. Many people are convinced that they can

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2

never learn mathematics. Psychologists call this attitude, “learned


helplessness.” They define learned helplessness in the mathematics education
context as a pattern of beliefs whereby learners attribute failure to limitations of
ability (McLeof & Ortega, 1993). McLeof & Ortega (1993) compared learned
helplessness with “mastery orientation,” in which learners have confidence in
their ability to solve challenging problems. Learned helplessness is negatively
correlated with persistence, while mastery orientation is positively related to
persistence.

Psychologists also found that this conception of the ability to learn can be
modified by social context. They describe how classroom conversations can
encourage a learner to be more confident in their ability to solve problems. Such
positive beliefs can also be developed through positive experiences of
persistence in problem solving. Sometimes, characterizing a problem as “easy”
can profoundly demoralize learners, because from their point of view it may be
difficult. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) calls a
learner’s attitudes and self-confidence toward mathematics a mathematical
disposition (NCTM, 2000). Some researchers define mathematical disposition as
interest in, appreciation for, and persistence into mathematics (Briley, 2012).
Mathematical disposition also includes confidence, curiosity, perseverance,
flexibility, inventiveness, and reflectivity. A strong mathematical disposition is
important for learning and understanding mathematics and can be developed if
mathematics is presented in a real world context.

To learn more about real world contexts, this study examined 23 elementary pre-
service teachers’ (PSTs) reported experiences, expectations, beliefs, and attitudes
toward mathematics from Kindergarten through their college mathematics
courses. The study explores how a semester-long mathematics methods course
provides these PSTs an opportunity to re-evaluate their prior beliefs and
attitudes toward mathematics. The primary researcher and the instructor of the
course describe the challenges faced during the semester such as PSTs’ lack of
confidence in learning mathematics, fears of standing in front of the classroom
teaching mathematics, and prior experiences relative to the role of teachers and
students in the mathematics classroom. To face these challenges, the instructor
designs the course to provide opportunities for PSTs to reconstruct their prior
assumptions through reflective readings, reflection of personal philosophy,
writing and solving non-routine problems, cooperative learning, and use of
manipulatives and technology for teaching and learning mathematics. The
primary researcher communicates with the PSTs regarding roles and
expectations relative to mathematics classroom culture and spends extra times
with PSTs at risk of failing the course. The study is context specific and does not
intend to generalize the findings (i.e. 23 PSTs in one mathematics methods
course). It is the researchers’ hope that sharing the study’s challenges, strategies,
and findings will engage educational communities in reflection of their beliefs
and attitudes toward teaching and learning mathematics and providing
opportunities for their students’ personal and professional transformation. The
primary research question is, “How may a semester-long methods course in
mathematics provide opportunities for PSTs to transform their expectations,

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


3

attitudes, and beliefs as they take more participatory roles in their mathematics
methods course?”

Literature Review
Pre-service elementary teachers’ (PSTs) attitudes toward teaching and learning
mathematics are influenced by their prior mathematics education experiences in
K-12 schooling (Jong & Hodges, 2013; Itter & Meyers, 2017; Stohlmann, Cramer,
Moore, & Maiorca, 2014; Xenofontos & Kyriakou, 2017). However, mathematics
methods courses that are part of teacher education programs can serve to
improve the attitudes of PSTs (Burton, 2012; Jong & Hodges, 2013; Jong &
Hodges, 2015; Stohlmann et al., 2014). In their study, Stohlmann et al. (2014)
provided PSTs opportunities to transform their attitudes toward a conceptual
rather than procedural understanding of mathematics. This shift is important as
it shows that PSTs can be given teaching and learning models that present a
better understanding of principles, roles of teachers and learners in mathematics
classrooms, and the connections among interrelated concepts in mathematics
classrooms, rather than just reviewing sequences of procedures for solving
problems. Research shows that mathematics methods courses designed
specifically to impact elementary PSTs confidence and motivation in relation to
mathematical content knowledge (M-CK) and mathematical pedagogical content
knowledge (M-PCK), are more likely to do so than PSTs who did not participate
in the courses (Cardetti & Truxaw, 2014). It has been hypothesized that increases
in attitude toward M-CK and M-PCK will increase teachers’ self-efficacy, which
is thought to be related to teacher efficiency and effectiveness (Cardetti &
Truxaw, 2014).

Similarly, research showed that elementary PSTs have little knowledge of the
value of multiple representations in mathematics education (Dreher & Kuntze,
2015; Dreher, Kuntze, & Lerman, 2016; Özmantar et al., 2010). There is evidence
that teachers in general and PSTs in particular see multiple representations as a
method to motivate students to learn mathematics in a fun way rather than a
tool to enhance conceptual understanding of mathematical ideas. They often
minimize the need to explain connections among different representations
explicitly, which is necessary for students’ understanding of mathematical
procedures (Dreher & Kuntze, 2015). The accepted notion that an understanding
of the interrelatedness of different representations is essential in order to
thoroughly understand mathematical concepts sets an important target for
further research and professional development (Dreher & Kuntze, 2015; Dreher,
Kuntze, & Lerman, 2016). Furthermore, Dreher & Kuntze (2015) recognize a
need for research into how domain-specific content knowledge influences PSTs’
views of how to utilize multiple representations meaningfully.

Briley (2012) examined the connections between mathematics teaching efficacy,


mathematics self-efficacy, and mathematical beliefs in 95 elementary PSTs with
the use of surveys. PSTs with more sophisticated beliefs in regards to doing,
validating, and learning mathematics, as well as beliefs about the usefulness of
mathematics, tended to have higher mathematics teaching efficacy, which had a
statistically positive relationship to mathematics self-efficacy. Since

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mathematics-teaching efficacy is essential for positive performance as a teacher,


the author suggested that teacher educators ought to evaluate and facilitate, if
necessary, the transformation of PSTs’ beliefs and attitudes toward mathematics.

Theoretical Framework
The theoretical assumption of this study is grounded in social constructivist
perspective (Cobb, 1994; Cobb & Yackel, 1996). “Learning is a constructive
process that occurs while participating in and contributing to the practices of the
local community” (Cobb & Yackel, 1996, p.185). The primary researcher and
instructor of the course believe that a constructivist approach is reflected in the
instructor’s classroom activities and instructional practices. He believes teaching
and learning are constructed individually, as well as socially, while participating
in the activities of the classroom learning community (i.e., cooperative learning
and partnership). His intention is to create a learning environment where his
PSTs can get a sense of constructivism in action.

To incorporate constructivist beliefs in his classroom practices, he employs


several strategies. First, he uses small group cooperative learning to create
learning opportunities for PSTs to build their own meaning of mathematical
procedures (i.e., inquiry, contextualism, and partnership). Second, he requires
the PSTs to write non-routine, open-ended problems (inquiry-based
mathematics). Writing encourages PSTs to take risks and reflect. Third, he
attempts to create a supportive learning climate in the classroom by spending
the first couple of weeks in class discussing with PSTs about roles and course
expectations. This discussion is ongoing. Fourth, he continually tells the PSTs
they are capable mathematicians who can do mathematics and create relevant
mathematical problems. Fifth, he encourages and facilitates PSTs’ discussion
and active listening (professionalism). In problem-solving situations, he expects
his PSTs to restate what the problem is asking, articulate how they are
interpreting the problem, model their solution (visualization), and write about
their thinking, reasoning, and computation. The above method of instruction is
crucial for his classroom community to experience constructivism in practice.

Although there are a variety of constructivist frameworks (Hennessey, Higley, &


Chestnut, 2012), there is general agreement in the mathematics education
community that constructivist practices are more viable to educate our future
mathematics teachers and promote alignment with the standards put forth by
the NCTM (Briley, 2012; Kalchman, 2011; Narli, 2011; Zain, Rasidi, & Abidin,
2012). Traditionally, learning in school occurs in a teacher-centered environment,
in which the teacher is the center of attention and tells the students what they
need to know and do (Zain, Rasidi, & Abidin, 2012). However, constructivism
calls for approaches to learning that are student-centered and focused on
inductive learning and discovery. In constructivist classrooms, students are
active learners and construct ways of knowing that would make sense to them
(Garcia & Pacheco, 2013; Zain, Rasidi, & Abidin, 2012). Ample evidence exists
that constructivist teaching leads to better learning outcomes.

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


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Studies have also shown that constructivist learning environments lead to better
real-world connections, helping students realize how much mathematics is a
part of their lives outside of school (Kalchman, 2011; Zain, Rasidi, & Abidin,
2012). This is important because “students learn best when they are able to relate
what they learn in the classroom to the immediate environment and create
meaning from different experiences” (Zain, Rasidi, & Abidin, 2012, p. 324). This
heightened ability to form connections, along with a wider variety of learning
practices (kinesthetic, visual, and auditory) is significant for learning
mathematics. In addition, an emphasis on cooperative learning from teams and
peers promotes a high degree of participation and in result, a high degree of
retention (Narli, 2011; Zain, Rasidi, & Abidin, 2012). Perhaps most importantly,
students also report that learning in a constructivist manner is enjoyable, more
interesting than traditional approaches, and leads to better understanding of
abstract concepts (Garcia & Pacheco, 2013). As for teacher education, Briley
(2012) found the reflection that is involved in constructivist learning was
sufficient to produce positive change in PSTs’ mathematical beliefs, mathematics
self-efficacy, and mathematics teaching efficacy. Clearly, movement from
teacher-centered learning environments toward constructivist, student-centered
learning environments, can make a profound positive impact in our education
system at all levels, particularly in the area of mathematics education.

Context of the Study


Participants
The study is conducted in a state-supported university located in a large
metropolitan area in Midwestern America. The course has a dual numbered
section that includes both graduate and undergraduate students. There were 23
students in the classroom in the fall of 2016 (20 females and 3 males). Twenty-
one students were undergraduates and two were graduates. Four of 23 students
were undergraduate special education majors with emphasis on mild/moderate
intervention specialty and only one of them was doing her practicum in a
suburban school setting. The other 19 students were in the early childhood
program, 14 of which were doing their practicum during the course in different
school settings, six PSTs were in pre-k-kindergarten classrooms (four in urban
settings and two in suburban), and eight PSTs were in 1st-3rd grade classrooms,
in urban settings. All participants were enrolled in a three-credit, semester-long
methods course called Mathematics Instruction in Preschool and the Primary Grades.
This course focuses on development of a sound rationale for teaching and
learning mathematics that takes into account the constructive processes that
young children need to acquire numeracy and problem-solving strategies. The
23 prospective teachers who participated in this study ranged from 20 to 30
years old. While 20 (87 percent) of the participants were female, the class was
ethnically and racially diverse including five Black or African Americans, three
Hispanic or Latino students, two Asians, and two Middle Eastern students. The
remaining eleven individuals were White and of European descent. The course
meets once a week for three hours per meeting and is often taken in conjunction
with a field-based practicum. During the fall of 2016, 15 of the enrollees were
concurrently completing a 240-hour practicum in a preschool or primary school
setting. The instructor and primary researcher of this study has been teaching

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mathematics methods for 21 years and has experience supervising PSTs in the
field.

Registration for the course requires prior completion of a sequence of three


mathematics courses with a grade C or better. The three mathematics courses are
Mathematics for Elementary Teachers I, II, and III, also known as MTH 127, MTH
128, and MTH 129. MTH 127 focuses on numeration systems and whole number
arithmetic, integers and number theory, rational and real numbers, problem
solving, and applications. MTH 128 is the second course in the three courses
sequence designed to provide the interns opportunity to have a better
understanding of geometry, congruence, symmetry, similarity, and coordinating
geometry. MTH 129, the last course in the sequence, includes topics relative to
measurement, probability, and statistics along with appropriate use of
elementary classroom technology.

Design
Mathematics Instruction in Preschool and the Primary Grades provides prospective
teachers an opportunity to consider and evaluate various philosophies,
principles, practices, and problems associated with teaching mathematics in
preschool and primary grades. One of the required textbooks is a course packet
designed and developed by the primary. The course packet is an evolving
resource for him and for his students in the sense that the contents of the course
packet changes in order to accommodate students’ needs. The contents of the
course packet include short articles and activities about the history of teaching
and learning mathematics, co-operative learning, assessment, and non-routine
problems relative to NCTM contents and processes. The rationale for using his
own course packet as a required text is to model the importance of reflectivity,
professionalism, contextualization, and inquiry. The cost of the course packet is
covered as a part of their lab fee ($35) that they pay when they enroll for the
course. The rest of the lab fee goes towards overhead manipulatives such as
Base-10-Blocks, Square Tiles, Pattern Blocks, Tangram, Cuisenaire Rods, and
Geoboards. They keep their course packet and manipulatives with them as their
instructional resources at the end of each semester.

The other required text is: Putting it Together: Middle School Math in Transition by
Tsuruda (1994). The students receive the book free in the beginning of each
semester and are required to return it by the end of each semester. The rationale
for using Tsuruda’s book is that the author talks about his professional story of
transformation from being predominantly behaviorist to more constructivist in
his beliefs and practices. He describes how the “seed of change” and “paradigm
shift” occurred in his experience. He asserts that it took him 15 years to change
his approach to teaching and learning mathematics. He argues that his own
systematic reflection on his teaching and his students’ learning, his exchange of
ideas and information with his school colleagues, and his participation in and
contribution to the national organizations such as the National Council of
Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), are key factors of his evolution. Tsuruda’s
professional story is interesting and inspiring for all preK-12 teachers to hear
and to reflect on. In addition to the required textbooks, participants must read

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and reflect on at least eight current research articles relative to early childhood
teaching and learning mathematics as selected by the instructor. Collectively,
these readings provide the basis for classroom discussion and reflection.

Other assignments and activities of the course include writing a statement


describing the intern’s initial personal philosophy of teaching, learning, and
assessing mathematics; designing and presenting their lesson plan in
collaboration with other members of their group; writing an assessment letter to
a parent communicating how they would assess their children’s mathematical
learning; searching and evaluating internet resources relative to teaching and
learning mathematics for early childhood classrooms; creating non-routine
problems appropriate for early childhood classrooms; completing a
comprehensive problem solving exam, demonstrating their content knowledge
of mathematics; and revisiting their initial personal philosophy paper and
writing a reflective final paper about teaching, learning, assessment, and the use
of technological tools in mathematics classrooms. In addition, PSTs are required
to submit their portfolios that demonstrate their semester-long performance and
accomplishments for the course. The contents of portfolio include: a table of
contents, a summary letter regarding who the author is and what is in the
portfolio, and all of the course assignments organized by the author of the
portfolio.

Major themes of the course include: mathematics as an activity of constructing


and perceiving patterns and relationships; problem-centered learning, sharing
solutions and negotiating meaning; writing as a vehicle for developing thinking,
reasoning, and expressive abilities; and the role of technology in mathematics
learning. Finally, as a vehicle for promoting culturally-responsive pedagogy that
contributes to children’s confidence, sense of purpose, and well-being,
participants are challenged to employ teaching strategies that support
intellectual engagement, connectedness to the wider world, and respect for
diversity. To this end, PSTs are empowered to examine and identify the relative
strengths and limitations of various strategies for structuring constructivist
teaching learning environments that facilitate: problem-based, student-centered
learning; problem solving; reasoning and critical thinking; mathematical
communication; mathematical modeling; and collaboration.

Classroom Culture
In Mathematics Instruction in Preschool and the Primary Grades, the primary
researcher and instructor of the course is frequently dealing with PSTs who
enter the classroom with low self-esteem and low self-confidence around
teaching and learning mathematics. Although, all PSTs pass the sequence of
mathematics prerequisite courses, demonstrating their competence in teaching
elementary school mathematics, most of them remain unconfident teaching it.
They fear that they lack pedagogical content knowledge to teach young children.
They bring these attitudes with them into their mathematics methods course
classrooms. They carry the belief that they are not good at mathematics; they
think they cannot do mathematics; they do not like mathematics; mathematics is
something they think people either know or do not know. Sometimes, they say

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8

similar comments to, “I’m going to teach elementary students, so why do I need
to know this?”

The first challenge for the primary researcher and the instructor of the course
each semester is to debunk the myths they bring with them and to create an
environment in which they can safely question their prior assumptions about
mathematics. He starts from the beginning by posing questions that are relevant
to their experiences and open-ended. For example, in the beginning of each
semester, he model a problem-centered classroom and continues this modeling
throughout the semester so PSTs can see how it works and how they may use
this strategy for teaching mathematics. One example of a problem-centered
classroom activity is presented below. Consider these three problems:

1. A person takes a 5,000 miles trip in his/her car. He/she rotates his/her
tires (4 on the car and one spare) so that at the end of the trip, each tire is
used for the same number of miles. How many miles are driven on each
tire? Use any strategy and communicate your solution.

2. A farmer needs to take his goat, wolf, and cabbage across the river. His
boat can only accommodate him and either his goat, wolf, or cabbage. If
he takes the wolf with him, the goat will eat the cabbage. If he takes the
cabbage, the wolf will eat the goat. Only when the man is present, are the
cabbage and goat safe from their respective predators. How does he get
everything across the river? Communicate your thinking and reasoning.
(Adapted from Pappas’s Book entitled: the Joy of Mathematics, 1986, p. 159).

3. A person bought a horse for $50 and sold it for $60. He/she then bought
the horse back for $70 and sold it again for $80. What do you think was
the financial outcome of these transactions? Explain your Reasoning.

These problems are interesting for our PSTs, as they discover that they do not
need to memorize mathematical roles to solve these problems. They want to
figure out solutions to these problems in their ways. Problem-centered strategy,
which the primary researcher and the instructor uses, is very effective relative to
the PSTs’ change of attitudes and beliefs toward mathematics teaching and
learning. The problem-centered classroom has three components: (1) a task that
is interesting and requires mathematical thinking and processing, (2) small
group cooperative learning (4 to 5 interns in each group), (3) whole class
discussions and presentations of multiple solutions/ perspectives. Throughout
the semester, the primary researcher communicates with his PSTs regarding his
expectations relative to their participation in and contribution to the classroom
activities. When PSTs are working together, they are first expected to provide
support for each, then communicate their solution to others struggling to
understand and if they still have an issue, ask the teacher/the instructor for
help, if the question is the group’s question.

By establishing and communicating with PSTs his expectations, they develop


and understanding of how a problem-centered classroom works. During

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9

problem solving activities, they are advised to: restate what the question is
asking or how they are interpreting the problem; to use a variety of strategies for
gathering information about the problem such as drawing, making a diagram,
building a chart, using manipulatives such as play money or Base-10-Blocks, for
mathematical modeling and representations. It is necessary and required to be
able to communicate both verbally and in writing regarding how they solve the
problem. The primary researcher encourages discussions and multiple
representations during the problem solving situations. He values the PSTs’
thinking processes and encourage risk-taking. In addition, as a classroom
instructor, he models the importance of active listening, asking questions, wait
time for connecting with children’s responses, and authentic assessment. He
uses this mathematical teaching model throughout the semester in order to
illustrate constructivism in action.

The second challenge for him as an instructor of the course is reaching all of the
PSTs, especially those who are at risk of failing the course. One way to face the
challenge and accommodate/enhance those PSTs learning experience in the
methods course is to spend extra time with them before class, after class, and to
continue ongoing conversation with them via email communication. Spending
extra time with struggling PSTs seems to be an effective strategy for engaging
them in learning and facilitating their success in the course.

When PSTs reach the realization that they do not have to memorize formulas in
order to solve problems, they become more confident in their own abilities to
think independently and defend their solutions. When the primary researcher
sees them reaching that point, when he sees the light bulbs come on and sees
their joy of doing significant mathematics, he feels he have succeeded in
positively impacting someone else’s life. He believes there are more of these
moments now, than there were when he began teaching the course 21 years ago.
Through the process of interaction with his PSTs, he have become an observer of
himself and his participants (i.e. reflective inquiry). He have used their feedback
and his own systematic reflection of his teaching to reconstruct his course
packet, these strategies and inquiries are consistent with the spirit of NCTM
(2000, 1995, 1991, 1989) and constructivist epistemology.

Another sample of our classroom activities is that the PSTs are required to
develop a lesson plan, a lesson presentation, and group project appropriate for
the preK-3 level. The primary researcher and the instructor of the course
provides them with guidelines regarding their lesson plans and presentations.
Each group consists of four or five members. In order to facilitate their group
project productively, he asks the PSTs not to change their group once they have
started working and developing their lesson plan. In their small group, the PSTs
have opportunities to interact, negotiate, and make decision three times during
the instructional time per semester, for about 40 minutes each time. In addition,
the PSTs are encouraged to exchange ideas and information via internet for
further communication prior to their group lesson presentation. During the in-
class discussions, PSTs’ tasks are to make decisions about: (1) who will be the
team leader, (2) who will teach which grade level, and (3) what theme to use for

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the content that they intend to teach. They need to provide a rationale,
communicating why it is important to learn this lesson. The theme should put
their mathematics content in a meaningful context so that their lessons flow
seamlessly and are developmentally appropriate for each grade level following
the State Common Core Standards. For example, if a team decides to teach
measurement content standards for preK-3rd grades, they may think about a
context such as designing a playground or designing a room. Then, they need to
develop their lesson plans following the State Common Core Standards for pre-k-
3rd grades. The job of the team leader is to make sure that the collective lessons
are submitted to the instructor on time prior to their teaching so that PSTs have
opportunity to modify their lessons if needed. The PSTs working in groups of
four or five, teach their lessons to the class (10-15 minutes for each lesson
presentation, maximum 75 minutes for the group). Coherency and
interconnectedness of the group project is very important. The lesson
presentations should be hands-on, inquiry-based, student-centered, and
interactive. A lesson may focus on a mathematical game, puzzle or problem-
solving activity, numbers and operation, geometry, measurement, probability,
and early concepts of algebra. They are encouraged to use technology for
finding and adapting ideas and activities for their lessons. They are asked to use
Internet resources with clear references and connection to the origin of the
lesson. Before and after lesson presentation the PSTs receive feedback from the
instructor as well as their cooperative group members regarding the strengths
and weaknesses of their lesson plans and their presentations. In addition, the
lessons ought to include accommodations for Learners with Varying Abilities
and Exceptionalities (VAE), Emergent Bilingual Learners (EBL), and Gifted
Learners (GL). Furthermore, after lesson presentation, they are required to write
a narrative, analyzing their own teaching.

Methodology
A number of researchers indicate a need for future research to include more
qualitative data relative to PSTs’ experiences, expectations, beliefs, and attitudes
toward mathematics (Briley, 2012; Burton, 2012; Cardetti & Truxaw, 2014; &
Dreher et al., 2016). Briley (2012) posited that qualitative data could add richness
and clues to complexities of our current understanding of the relationships
between mathematics teaching efficacy, mathematics self-efficacy, and
mathematical beliefs. Similarly, Burton (2012), who researched the ability of
certain content methods courses to change PSTs’ attitudes toward mathematics,
suggested that qualitative data could provide valuable information on different
factors that influence the change process that occurs in PSTs. Cardetti and
Truxaw (2014) and Dreher et al. (2016) presented suggestions in line with the
previously outlined, asserting that qualitative data would provide details that
quantitative data fails to capture.

This qualitative research study is grounded in constructivist inquiry (Guba &


Lincoln, 1989; 1994; Lincoln & Guba, 1985). This methodology is consistent with
the theoretical framework of our research study. A constructivist views reality
as local and context-specific. As such, reality, according to constructivists, is
shaped by experience and social interactions. Such a perspective sees the

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11

relationship between knower and known as dialectical and suggests that


researcher and the researched interact and are interconnected. It is impossible,
therefore, to distinguish cause from effect. The constructivist questions the
generalizability of any research finding in positivist terms, arguing that research
is value-dependent.

Guba and Lincoln (1989; 1994) suggested the approaches for establishing
trustworthiness of interpretation and analysis of research findings. They
focused on four criteria namely credibility, transferability, dependability, and
conformability. Credibility refers to certain activities that increase the
probability that the findings will be authentic. One such activity is investment
of time. It is imperative that the inquirer spend time becoming oriented to the
situation. There is no answer as to how much time is needed for becoming
familiar with the research study. One indication of credibility is acceptance of
the findings by all participants, including the researchers. Data, analytic
categories, interpretations, and findings must be examined by the members who
provided the information to prove it’s credibility. Lincoln and Guba (1985)
called this “member checking”. Member checking continually occurs through
the data collection process and is an important component of credibility. The
second component of trustworthiness is transferability. Transferability refers to
the potential for others to identify with the research context and apply the
findings to their own particular situation. Transferability is obtained through the
provision of “thick description” (McCracken, 1988; Guba & Lincoln, 1989; 1994;
Lincoln & Guba, 1985). The third component of trustworthiness is dependability.
Lincoln and Guba (1985) describe dependability as a means of establishing
reliability. Dependability can be established in two ways: through the use of
inquiry teams or the use of the audit. An auditor examines the process by which
the data was collected and is closely connected to conformability, the fourth
component of trustworthiness. Therefore, we, the researchers, used
constructivist methodology to investigate the relationship between PSTs’ prior
experiences, expectations, attitudes, and beliefs toward mathematics learning
when they were in K-12 schools and their current attitudes and beliefs as they
participate classroom activities.

Data Collection and Data Analysis


Data collection and data analysis for this research are from the fall semester of
2016 and were gathered from 23 college students. Data sources include
university classroom observations, pre-service teachers’ verbal and written
responses to questions, verbal and written discussions, reflections on reading
assignments and course activities, presentations, and a final reflective paper.
Most data presented in this paper focuses on pre-service teachers’ written
responses to three questions presented in the beginning of the semester,
reflections on classroom activities and discussions, and their final reflective
papers. I, the instructor of the course and the primary researcher, acted as a
participant-observer, a facilitator, and a coach in the classroom. The on-going
process of sharing my understanding and interpretations of the findings with
interns (i.e., triangulation of data processing) played an important role for
establishment of a caring community and trustworthiness. Triangulation

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occurred in three ways. First, we triangulated data via an on-going conversation


with interns before and after each class meeting or during the following week’s
class after reading their papers. Second, we triangulated data by comparing
multiple data sources (i.e., reading reflections, classroom discussions,
observations, and one-on-one conversations). Third, we triangulated data
through member checking (i.e., exchange of ideas among the researchers).

Data collection and data analysis occurred simultaneously throughout a


semester-long course that aims to provide conceptual understanding of
mathematical ideas and enable the participating pre-service teachers to enact
these perspectives and contexts throughout their pedagogy. Data was
continually compared, applying a constant comparative method (Lincoln &
Guba, 1985). Based on emergent patterns and themes, several factors were
identified as being important considerations in regards to PSTs’ professional
transformation. The research methodology, data collection, and data analysis are
characterized by the following features suggested by Bogdan & Biklen (1982): (1)
a natural setting as the direct source of data; (2) the researcher as “developer”;
(3) the research as descriptive; (4) researchers’ concern for process over
outcomes and product; (5) inductive analysis; (6) analysis supported by
phenomenological theory which accepts multiple realities and suggests change
is the result of an individual’s thoughts and ideas; and (7) meaning as the
essential concern.

Constructing Meaning from the Data


In the beginning of each semester, the primary researcher and the instructor of
the course asks the PSTs to write a response to three questions: (1) what is your
definition of a good mathematics teacher?; (2) how do you describe your
experience, beliefs, and attitudes toward mathematics learning during your K-12
schools and college?; and (3) what do you hope to learn from this methods
course? Regarding the first question, most PSTs define a good mathematics
teacher as someone who is patient, who can “show” multiple ways to solve a
problem, who can make mathematics “fun”, who has good knowledge of the
subject matter, who understands and considers that children are different with
varying abilities and varying learning styles, and someone who can “show”
application of mathematics in the real world.

Relative to the second question, most PSTs expressed their negative experiences,
attitudes, and beliefs toward mathematics learning during their K-12 schooling.
For example, one PST stated:

Within my K-12 grades, I found my experience to be very difficult. I was


having a difficult time interpreting and memorizing the material, which
caused me to be placed within special classes where I was taught extra
mathematics by computer. I internalized these situations that I am not
good at math and I expected math to be always difficult after each year
due to the little attention I received when I was struggling with math. I
disliked mathematics because of the difficulty I had during these years.
(PST Response to the Second Question)

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Similarly, another PST reflected on the negative experience they had in their K-
12 schooling:

My experiences in mathematics while in K-12 were not the most positive


experiences. I remember that I was never given the opportunity to
“explore”, I was just taught through lectures and direct instructions. My
expectations were to “learn” math and be successful, but I suppose I
never truly learned most concepts. I never believed math would be very
beneficial. (PST Response to the Second Question)

Although most PST participants expressed their negative experiences, attitudes,


and beliefs toward mathematics, some PSTs shared positive experience,
attitudes, and beliefs toward mathematics learning during elementary schools.
For example, one PST wrote:

I loved math when I was in elementary school. I credit this to having


parents who also enjoyed math, and good math teachers. Math content
always came natural to me. In middle school my love and success in
math continued. I was fortunate enough to have good math teachers
throughout K-8 grade. I believed that math was an easily grasped
subject. In high school, math became harder, but I still had some very
good teachers. During my senior year of high school, I struggled the
most, because I transferred schools and my math teacher was less than
satisfactory. (PST Response to the Second Question)

All PSTs stated that their experiences, attitudes and beliefs, whether positive or
negative, were significantly impacted by their teachers’ instructional approaches
and the teachers’ expectations. As one PST put it:

I always enjoyed math in elementary school because I had good math


teachers. My attitude towards mathematics began to change in middle
school and high school because the way I was taught mathematics. I
found that my teachers were not as engaging. Math became harder and I
became discouraged. As a result, I did not have as good of an experience
as in my elementary school years. My middle school and high school
mathematics did not fully live up to my expectations because they were
not fun. (PST Response to the Second Question)

Relative to college mathematics experiences, the PSTs’ reactions were mixed.


Some stated they had positive experiences due to the engaging nature of
mathematics classroom environment and their instructors’ expectations:

I learned a lot in my college mathematics classes. I took three math


classes before taking this methods course. The professors always told us
how important math is and had high expectations. I did not like being
asked to communicate my answer verbally. However, little by little I
began to enjoy it. (PST Response to the Second Question)

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However, not many PSTs shared these positive experiences.

In my freshman year my math instructor was so impatient with me. I


started skipping so that I would not feel so judged and stupid. It got
better later on, as I advanced in my program. I realized how important it
was for me to be there, learning it. I really like math. (PST Response to
the Second Question)

Negative experience in college can significantly influence a PST’ self-confidence.


Another PST stated how her positive attitudes turned negative because of her
college mathematics experience.

In college, I brought with me the high expectations but my attitudes


quickly changed from enjoyment back to resentment, as I did not enjoy
the classes and was unable to connect with the instructors much. I was
able to maintain high grades in math. I have taken three math classes
before taking this class. I dreaded going to those math classes. (PST
Response to the Second Question)
Relative to the third question, PSTs stated their expectations in many different
aspects. They hoped to learn strategies for teaching mathematics. They wanted
to have a better understanding of mathematical contents and pedagogy. They
wanted to learn about current research on mathematics teaching, learning, and
assessment. They hoped to learn how to incorporate technological tools such as
calculators, computers, and Smartboards, into their teaching and learning of
mathematics. They stated their desire to become good mathematics teachers
who can inspire their students to having positive experience, attitudes, and
beliefs toward mathematics learning.

In what follows, we describe the PSTs’ critical reflections of their semester-long


experiences in the mathematics methods course, their professional
transformation, and their current concerns, struggles, and obstacles. The paper
ends with discussions, implications, and recommendations regarding
understanding and transforming complex processes of PSTs expectations,
experiences, beliefs, and attitudes toward mathematics.

PSTs’ Critical Reflections


Promoting reflectivity in the PSTs is an essential component of teacher
development. As the semester evolved, the participating PSTs were engaged in
various assignments and activities such as reading and reflecting on assigned
articles and the textbook; classroom discussions on theoretical and practical
issues raised by the instructor and the PSTs; problem solving and
communication, writing lesson plans, presentations, and a final reflective paper.
The PSTs participants reflected on several importance issues such as
constructivism and the role of culture in a mathematics classroom, how children
learn mathematics, the role of teachers in a mathematics classroom, authentic
assessment, and their professional transformation. In what follows we describe
each of the above.

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15

Constructivism and mathematics classroom culture. Classroom activities


and discussions provided the PSTs opportunities to reflect on the limitations of
the traditional teacher-centered way they learned mathematics (i.e., direct
instruction). They became more aware and appreciative of constructivism as a
new, effective way of learning mathematics and the notion of culture in the
mathematics classroom. For example, one PST stated:

When teachers are dispensers of knowledge, it leaves little room for


children to question facts that are presented by the teacher and often
leads to misunderstanding in mathematical relationship. Critical thinking
will be disabled because children will depend on their teachers to tell
them the right answer from a one-sided perspective. (PST Reflection on
Classroom Discussion)

Another PST mentioned the importance of knowing and understanding what


children already know as a starting point for instruction.

Perhaps I am teaching kindergarten, and one student comes in with a


plethora of learning experience, while the other has not had a single one.
Do I start them both off on addition and wonder why the child without
the experiences can’t keep up? Perhaps I want to do a lesson on the
metro parks and counting stones. Will the student who has never been
to the metro parks be as engaged as the student who goes once a week
with his grandma? This is where constructivism comes in. (PST
Reflection on Classroom Discussion)

After listening to the above PST, another PST reflected on his learning
experience, “As a child, I always thought something was wrong with me in
regards to math. I was considered very slow in the math classroom. As I reflect
know, I think it has a lot to do with the way I was taught math.” (PST Reflection
on Classroom Discussion)

The PST participants discussed the importance of mathematical connections


with real world and teaching contents in meaningful and relevant contexts. For
instance, one PST asserted, “Children who live in Florida may have a difficult
time talking about snow/winter condition and measuring snow fall because
they live in a state that normally has higher temperature than northern states.
The children in Florida will not be able to relate to the idea of winter in the same
sense that children from New York will be able to relate.” (PST Reflection on
Classroom Discussion) The PSTs discussed the value of culturally relevant
mathematics. They stated that teachers should respect the cultural differences
among their students. As one PST puts it:

So far, many of the readings and the overall structure of the course
influenced my growth in this area because all of these showed me how to
integrate students’ culture into mathematics instruction. This will prove
to be an important concept to have learned for the future when I am

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working as a teacher in any of the numerous culturally diverse school


districts. These cultural ties to mathematics will give students more
motivation and more of a solid platform as to why they should learn
mathematics. (PST Reflection on Classroom Discussion)

On children learning mathematics. As the semester continued, the PSTs


were involved in discussions of readings and classroom activities. The PSTs
participants reflected on various issues such as the importance of problem
solving, students writing, and cooperative learning. The PSTs noted that
mathematics learning ought to be meaningful and focus on building young
learners’ problem solving abilities. The PSTs stressed that problem solving is an
important component of mathematics learning. They mentioned that problem
solving should encourage learners to focus on their thinking processes rather
than the final product or solution. “A teacher whose goal is to facilitate their
students’ learning will promote problem solving as a process and allow them to
use multiple points of entry and a myriad of solution strategies.” (PST’s
Reflection on Readings and Classroom Activities) As another PST put it:

I will ask my students to write in their journals at least three times a


week to give an explanation of what they learned during the classroom
activities, how they can apply it outside of the classroom, and what areas
that they may need improvement. This will also improve children’s
written communication skills as well as help those who struggle with
verbally communicating their ideas or thought processes. Another
method that I think is beneficial in assessing children understanding is
writing down the steps needed for problem solving such as restating the
question, drawing pictures (visual representations of what is being asked
in the problem), communicating thoughts, and answering the question.
(PST’s Reflection on Readings and Classroom Activities)

Writing about mathematics is a strategy for showing problem-solving process


suggested by many PSTs. Another PST agreed with the above statement by
saying that as teachers, we do not really know what our students are thinking
unless we provide them the opportunity to explore their mental processes:

I have come to learn the value of student writing. Writing and math are
typically not seen as having a synonymous relationship. However, after
learning about math essays and practicing how to write out answers to
problems, I have come to find that writing in math allows you to reflect
on your thinking, as well as, gives your teacher a portal into your
thoughts and understanding. Assigning students thought provoking
problems that require time and effort to complete allows them to engage
in metacognitive processes related to math content. (PST’s Reflection on
Readings and Classroom Activities)

Through classroom actions and reflections of their own experiences learning


mathematics, the participating PSTs observed benefits of problem solving and
communication such as learners’ metacognition (i.e. thinking about thinking),

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informing instruction, and assessing learners’ understanding of mathematical


ideas. In addition, they reflected on the importance of cooperative learning.

Importance of cooperative learning. In the methods course, PSTs reflected


on the impact of cooperative group work on their own learning. They asserted
how beneficial this approach could be for children to learn mathematics. They
mentioned cooperative learning as a source for creating learning opportunities
for all children. They stated multiple benefits of cooperative learning such as
improving children’s self-confidence, self-concept, relationships with their
classmates, and communication skills with their peers from different ethnic
backgrounds. As one PST stated:

Cooperative learning is a vital component in a student-centered


classroom. It allows for students to work together in small groups on the
same task. The collaboration is extremely effective because the students
must explain their reasoning, understanding, and confusion. By helping
students develop confidence through an affectionate environment,
project-based learning, differentiation strategies, group collaboration,
writing opportunities, and authentic assessments, my students will be far
more confident in all content areas. My goal as a teacher is to provide my
students with experiences which will create a loving relationship with
school and specifically, with mathematics. (PST’s Reflection on Readings
and Classroom Activities)

On a teacher’s role in mathematics classroom. The participating PSTs


reflected on their current beliefs and attitudes toward mathematics instruction,
assessment, classroom environment, and the appropriate use of manipulatives
and technology for mathematical modeling and representation. Following we
describe PSTs’ current stated beliefs and attitudes toward mathematics teaching
as they participated in and contributed to the classroom discussions and
activities.

The most important factor, relative to role of teacher mentioned by the


PSTs, was classroom environment and relationship between teacher and
students. The PSTs stated that a transformative teacher is the one who has good
content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge. This teacher has patience,
values students thinking, and respects his/her students’ thoughts, ideas, and
opinions. This instructor also believes in their students’ abilities and challenges
them to think beyond their comfort zone. As one PST noted:

As a child, I always thought something was wrong with me in regards to


math. In English, I was considered gifted, but then in math I was
considered very slow. In this semester, so far, I learned there are many
different, engaging strategies that a teacher can use to reach her students
with varying abilities. These strategies would have benefitted me so
much in my early education. Our earlier learning experiences directly
correlate to our long-term success. What I come to know now is that as a
teacher, I will get to know my students extremely well and build

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18

relationships with them, “you cannot teach me if you do not know me.” I
want to provide my students with positive math experience and
confidence, which will travel with them throughout their lives. (PST’s
Reflection on Readings and Classroom Activities)

The PSTs’ notion of classroom environment and the value of teacher/students


relationships were mentioned by several PSTs throughout the semester. For
example, one PST stated the following:

If I can develop personal relationships with all of my students, I will be


better prepared as a teacher to create a curriculum connected to each of
their unique learning styles and abilities. Understanding where each
child comes from will also allow me to work with their best interest at
heart, as I will be able to know what their lives are like, and where they
may come from. Children are able to learn more comfortably when they
have a personal relationship with their teacher, and it is my job to make
sure I connect with each student in that way. (PST’s Reflection on
Readings and Classroom Activities)

The PSTs reflected on their prior learning experience in mathematics and


changed their views regarding teacher’s role as a facilitator of students’ learning
rather than dispenser of knowledge. One PST noted:

This is something that I have witnessed first-hand through this course


and can speak to the effectiveness of it. This type of role offers a greater
sense of equity in the classroom in that learning becomes more of a
shared experience between students and teacher. For students, the
classroom serves as a social environment in which the engagement and
collaboration with other students promote critical thinking and
acquisition of knowledge. The role of the teacher then becomes creating
these simulated instances in which students can interact with each other.
A way that this was achieved in this course was creating lesson plans
that shared the same content for a variety of grade levels. (PST’s
Reflection on Readings and Classroom Activities)

The PST was referring to one of the course assignments relative to the PSTs’
group project for developing and presenting their lesson plans that were
appropriate for the pre-kindergarten through third grade levels. The group
project component of the lessons refers to a coherent unit connecting pre-
kindergarten lessons to kindergarten, first, second, and third grade.

Manipulatives and technology in the mathematics classroom. Another


important factor that the PSTs reflected on, wrote about, and discussed
throughout the semester was the relationship between mathematics teaching
and the role of manipulatives and technology for mathematics instruction. The
PSTs experienced using a variety of manipulatives such as Based-10-Blocks,
Color Tiles, Pattern Blocks, Cuisenaire Rods, Tangrams, Geoboards, etc. during
classroom activities, as well as technological tools and resources such as a

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19

Smartboard, computers, and calculators. One PST stated, “As a student in this
class, I found using manipulatives to be very useful in solving problems,
especially non-routine problems. It is a powerful way of visualizing
mathematical problems.” (PST’s Reflection on Readings and Classroom
Activities) The PSTs reflected on the value of manipulatives as instructional
tools for teaching mathematics. They mentioned these tools provide learners
with opportunities visualizing mathematical relationships through game
playing and explorations. Furthermore, they stated that conceptual
understanding of mathematical procedures requires moving from concrete
manipulations of tools to abstract symbols. As one PST explained:

To effectively teach math so that young students grow to love and


appreciate it, you must teach it in a way that is appealing to the group of
students in your classroom. Math is often taught through the use of
teacher-directed, drill and practice instruction. However, many young
learners do not benefit from this type of instruction and often slip
through the cracks because of it. Math should be visual and hands-on.
Manipulatives are beneficial tools that teachers can use to enhance math
instruction. These tools allow students to create their own visual
representations of math problems such as fraction units. Visual
representations allow students to gain new understanding for math-
based concepts that would regularly be difficult to understand. For
example, a student could use rubber bands and geoboard to find the area
of an irregular shape by creating a rectangle or square around the shape
and seeing how many whole units and half units the irregular shape
contains. Completing this type of problem on paper can be difficult,
because the shape is one-dimensional and abstract, whereas, creating the
shape with a manipulative transforms it into a concrete, tangible object.
(PST’s Reflection on Readings and Classroom Activities)

Similar to the PSTs’ support for use of manipulatives was their reaction and
reflections toward technology as an integral aspect of mathematics teaching and
learning. As part of their course assignments, the PSTs participants searched,
described, and evaluated many online materials relative to teaching and learning
mathematics. Through the mixture of this research and classroom activities,
they became more aware of the strengths and limitations of technological tools
in mathematics classroom. They suggested that technology is an essential part of
mathematics instruction, as one PST mentioned:

In my opinion, technology is going to be more present in our schools as


the years go on. Therefore, I think that new-age teachers should critically
analyze the pluses and minuses of the various website they are using
before making it available to their students. Having said that, I believe
young teachers ought to make their students technology literate, because
many of them grew up during the boom of 21st century technology. I
believe that becoming a technology literate teacher is an essential part of
educating young learners, and, in my opinion, technology is a positive

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20

addition to modern day classroom and will keep getting better as time
goes on. (PST’s Reflection on Readings and Classroom Activities)

Authentic assessment. As the semester evolved, the PSTs reflected and


critically analyzed the limitations of standardized tests as the only way of
evaluating learners’ understanding and performance. They argued that the
standardized tests “measure” what learners can not do, where the purpose of
assessment is finding out what learners can do and using the information to
enhance student understanding and adjust their instruction. One PST participant
reflected on limitations of standardized tests:

I am not a fan of the increased focus on standardized testing in schools


and I believe that schools should be reformed and give less focus on this
matter. Standardized testing gives schools and states a small snapshot of
understanding of what children know, but it doesn’t assess the whole
child. Sometimes children may answer multiple-choice questions
correctly through guessing. Scorers will never know that a child guessed
on that particular question, but the child is either punished or rewarded
based on a guess. I think it is very important for the process to be
assessed and not the product. (PST’s Reflection on Readings and
Classroom Activities)

The PST participants were in favor of more authentic assessment instead of


standardized tests. One PST asserted that the best type of assessment is
authentic because it allows him to gauge his students for understanding of
mathematical ideas as well as their confusions. He described his authentic
assessment approach this way:

One example of the type of assessment I will conduct is students creating


a concept map. With a group, they will have to create a concept map on a
big poster to explain their understanding of the lesson we did. Another
example I have for an authentic assessment is role-playing. Perhaps
students are pretending to be geologist searching for lost treasure, and
having to scale a map to find their route. Role-playing provides students
with confidence, accountability, and engagement. (PST’s Reflection on
Readings and Classroom Activities)

The PST participants stressed that assessment is a key component to any type of
instruction. A shared notion is that assessment ought to be used more for
formative instead of summative purposes. Specifically, PSTs mentioned that
assessment allows a teacher to gather data, make necessary changes to
instruction, learn more about their students, and learn their students’ strengths
and weaknesses. PSTs also indicated that effective assessment requires multiple
approaches. As one PST explained:

Assessment can be done in a variety of different ways. I believe that the


most effective ways to assess are creating comprehensive portfolios,
including built in formative and summative assessment into lessons, and

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21

taking notes on the student’s abilities and performance in the classroom.


Assessment in a mathematics classroom should go beyond homework
assignments, drill and practice activities, and tests. (PST’s Reflection on
Readings and Classroom Activities)

PSTs’ Transformation of Beliefs and Attitudes


The PSTs’ semester journey in the mathematics methods course provided them
with opportunities to reflect and reevaluate their prior assumptions, beliefs, and
attitudes relative to what mathematics is, how students learn mathematics, the
role of teachers, classroom culture, authentic assessment, the role of
manipulatives, and technology in mathematics classroom. At the end of the
semester, they presented their concerns, struggles, and obstacles. One PST
wrote:

My main concern and struggle in teaching mathematics is the fact that I


have struggled with learning mathematics throughout my schools. It is
not my strong suit. Nevertheless, when I put my greatest effort into
learning and understanding mathematical concepts, I am successful. I
feel that even though I lack confidence in math due to years of being told
I was no good at it, I will overcome that insecurity for the good and
education of my future students. I truly care about the education and
well-being of my students. I care about their experiences, background,
and learning process. (PST Final Reflective Paper)

The PST stated that her passion for teaching would always lead her to face her
obstacles and find ways to solve problems in the future. She stated “teaching
mathematics is an act of love and I am determined to show this act of love to my
students” (PST Final Reflective Paper). Another PST stated her concern in
regards to her level of experience relative to creating a classroom climate
conducive to learning for all students. “I think I have knowledge that is required
to teach math content. However, I am concerned with my ability to teach it to
children” (PST Final Reflective Paper). Several PSTs clearly indicated their
change of beliefs as a transformative process that will effect their expectations
for future teaching careers. One PST reflected on her semester-long learning
experience and indicated the desire to become a teacher who can transform
experiences and beliefs of his/her future students:

This course has taught me how to encourage children to think for


themselves and to make connections to the world around them. As a
future teacher, I hope to influence children to think outside of the box
and explore different ways to solve mathematical problems. With the use
of technology, manipulatives, games, storytelling, and other fun
activities, math should never be viewed as a subject that is hard to
accomplish. Negative attitudes have a negative impact on the way that
one learns math and it will always appear to be difficult until their
mindset is changed. I’ve also realized that teaching math calls for
someone who is dedicated to teaching young children and constantly

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22

learning new methods to better meet the needs of children learning math.
(PST Final Reflective Paper)

Other PSTs shared similar concerns, struggles, and obstacles with respect to
teaching mathematics including motivating learners and finding an instructional
balance that is engaging for students, yet comprehensive in terms of the
distribution of contents. This is something that they are in the process of figuring
out how to balance. Many PSTs asserted that they would continue to reflect on
their teaching and seek out resources to create a more engaging classroom
experience for their students. One PST summed it up:

Going into this class, one concern I had was that I had trouble with math
growing up. When I was younger, math was one of my weakest
categories in school. I had fear when I would think about being an
educator that how can I teach children when I don’t always understand
math myself? This is still a conflict I am trying to solve, but I have
learned from this course that teachers need to be confident in themselves
in order to teach students. I know I am able to teach the math this is
required in these young grades, so I learned a lot about trusting myself as
a teacher and knowing I can do this. One piece of information I really
took with me from this class was something you [the instructor of the
course] taught us on the first day. I used to often say, “I hate math” or
“math is the worst subject,” and it was a worry I had because I was not
sure I was going to be able to teach it. On the first day, you told us that a
child does not want to learn from a teacher who hates what they are
teaching, and I have taken that with me. Is math my favorite? No, but the
children don’t need to know this. It will only discourage their learning.
No child wants to learn from a teacher who does not want to teach the
material. I think that is the most valuable lesson I learned, and I will take
it with me. As a teacher, we must always be evaluating ourselves and
trying to learn what we can do differently. Learning does not stop after
earning a college degree. I believe we are life-long learners. (PST Final
Reflective Paper)

Overall, although the PSTs expressed some concerns, struggles, and obstacles
relative to their new careers as teachers, especially when it involves mathematics
content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge for specific grade levels, they
were optimistic regarding facing the complexities of teaching and learning and
were determined to resolve those obstacles or conflicts in their future teaching
mathematics. It seems that some of them also learned to become self-aware of
their attitudes and beliefs as well as the causes and consequences and use self-
regulation strategies (e.g., self-evaluation and self-monitoring) to increase
positive experiences, maintain positive attitudes and beliefs, and rebuff negative
attitudes and beliefs.

Discussions, Implications, and Recommendations


Pre-service teachers’ reflections on their mathematical experiences, expectations,
attitudes, and beliefs in a constructivist classroom might bring about more

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


23

lasting change to their mathematics beliefs, self-efficacy, and teaching efficacy,


which might continue on into their teaching careers. Briley (2012) suggested
mathematics content courses for elementary pre-service teachers ought to be
taught in a more constructivist manner so that pre-service teachers can develop
beliefs that are consistent with the NCTM reform movements. While ambitious
goals have been set in the area of mathematics reforms, teacher education and
professional development have been largely unsuccessful in educating teachers
in line with such suggested reforms (Simon, 2013). Furthermore, pre-service
teachers showed a general desire to teach in an informed way, different from
how they learned mathematics in schools, but this is intimidating for some, as it
requires a restructuring of their mathematics beliefs and requires a deep level of
understanding of how children learn mathematics (Jong & Hodges, 2013).

Grounded in constructivist theories and using a qualitative approach, the


present study explored a group of pre-service teachers’ transformative
experience taking a semester-long methods course in mathematics. Through a
series of structured reflective activities, the PST participants shared their
previous mathematics learning experiences and their transforming beliefs,
attitudes, and expectations regarding role of teacher and students in
mathematics classroom, classroom culture, authentic assessment, role of
manipulatives, and technology in mathematics classroom. There is much
evidence that most PSTs gradually developed a more sophisticated
understanding of mathematics learning process, which also lead them to fully
embrace a constructivist approach. A recurring theme is that PSTs strongly
opposed the traditional, teacher-centered mathematics classroom characterized
by direction instruction, lectures, and drill and practice where students are
directed to memorize but struggle with conceptual understanding. Instead, they
favored a student-centered classroom where the teacher focuses on facilitating
students’ mathematics thinking by engaging them in problem solving,
visualization, writing and communication, etc.

The findings of the study suggest that PSTs’ critical reflections on the assigned
readings, classroom discussions, and activities are responsible for transforming
their beliefs and attitudes toward mathematics teaching and learning. PST
participants were able to reflect, analyze, and evaluate their mathematics
learning experiences from elementary school to college and become aware of
how their beliefs and attitudes regarding important aspects of mathematics
teaching and learning had evolved over the years through either positive and
negative experiences with different teachers. Such reflections not only helped the
PSTs to make sense of their past experiences, but also enabled them to
reconstruct their existing beliefs and attitudes and develop new expectations for
mathematics teaching that are more consistent with their reconstructed beliefs
and attitudes. Many of our PST participants reached a new level of
understanding of the teacher’s role in building relationships with learners from
different cultural backgrounds and that the teacher’s understanding of different
students learning styles is crucial for creating learning opportunities for all
learners. Another major theme in their transformation involves understanding
that as a mathematics teacher, believing in children’s abilities for doing

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


24

significant mathematics and setting clear goals and high expectations for all
learners is pivotal for turning negative attitudes, beliefs, and experiences to
positive. One PST participant expressed:

I want to apply myself to the “Big Picture Education” model. This model
includes teaching to attain long-term, meaningful goals. It focuses on
teaching children based on all areas of development, not just cognitive
processes. It also focuses on real-world applications, rather than out-of-
context, assumptive lessons. I think that this is the only way to truly
teach students. However, I must stay committed to this approach and not
fall into poor practices that steer away from this model. I also want to
approach teaching in a way that creates personal goals for students that
address all types of learning. Creating goals that are specific to all parts
of the student’s education and well-being are essential to effective
teaching. Students should reach goals based on emotional and social
facets of their lives, as well as process goals based on subjects. I think this
approach ensures that students are receiving their best learning. To
achieve this goal consistently, I must consistently create goals for
students based on their individual needs. (PST Final Reflective Paper)

Interestingly, the PSTs’ transformative experiences seemed to resonate with the


constructivist beliefs and practices incorporated and modeled by the primary
researcher and course instructor in the classroom. There is evidence that our
participants had a general agreement toward the end of the semester that
establishing goals for both teacher and learners, negotiating expectations,
communicating role of teacher and learners in mathematics classroom, believing
in learners’ abilities for doing mathematics, and building caring relationships
with learners are essential for educating all children in today’s society.

This research study is significant for two important reasons. First, as Simon
(2013) noted, modest changes in teacher education fail to address PSTs’ major
assimilatory structures, or the core conceptions, including actions, knowledge,
values, beliefs, feelings, and skills, that contribute to the teaching of
mathematics. This research study supports Simon’s assertions and describes
how the PSTs’ critical reflections, as an essential component of teacher
development, and analysis of their prior experiences, expectations, beliefs, and
attitudes provide them the opportunities to deconstruct their prior assumptions
and reconstruct them from different perspectives (i.e. change in epistemology).
Second, the PSTs’ epistemological shift from teacher-centered perspective to
constructivism is more than a teaching strategy but rather an essential
component of praxis (i.e. action and reflection). This was particularly evident in
their changed understanding of the role of assessment as a tool for reward and
punishment to a tool for informing instruction and improving learning. What
was also relevant was the PSTs’ growing emphasis on problem solving and
encouraging and facilitating mathematics thinking processes instead of the final
product or solution in a student-centered classroom.

The present study has significant implications for teacher education practices.

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


25

We suggest that the participating PSTs’ sustained transformation of beliefs and


attitudes requires ongoing professional development opportunities and
supports as they start teaching in various school settings during their student-
teaching and first few years of their professional lives. In addition, providing the
PSTs with mentoring opportunities is an essential component of teachers’
professional development relative to sustaining teachers’ transformations.
Connecting the PSTs with transformative mentor teachers, so that they can share
ideas and exchange information with one another, is vital for reforming
mathematics education. This kind of teachers’ practices is aligned with reform
movement suggested by NCTM.

Another implication of this research study is to demonstrate constructivist


epistemology into action for the mathematics education community as well as a
broader educational research community. The first group might be familiar with
methods for establishing a constructivist-oriented mathematics classroom. The
second group of readers might understand the principles of constructivism but
could possibly find it difficult to envision a mathematics classroom that is
structured in accordance with constructivist principles. Providing these two
groups opportunity to engage in praxis (i.e. action and reflection) may create a
milieu for crossing the boundaries of their own familiar cultural contexts in
order to meet the needs of diverse students in their own classrooms.

Finally, our study has some limitations and future research is warranted to
further investigate transformative experiences for different populations in
different settings. As far as teacher preparation programs are concerned, we
recommend more follow-up research relative to these practicing teachers’
expectations, beliefs, and attitudes toward mathematics as they start teaching in
their own classrooms. It is possible that engaging pre-service teachers and new
in-service teachers in becoming action researchers in their own classroom may
benefit the school and university partnership as transforming learning
communities. Furthermore, for better understanding of pre-service and in-
service teachers’ transforming expectations, attitudes, and beliefs, mixed
methods research that combines qualitative and quantitative approaches is
needed. We believe that mixed methods research benefits from the strengths of
both quantitative and qualitative research and therefore provide a better
perspective for understanding, analyzing, and interpreting the complexity of
teacher change and mathematics education reform in general.

Acknowledgment:
A short draft of this research paper was presented at the proceedings of 14th
International Conference of the Mathematics Education for the Future project:
Challenges in mathematics Education for the Next decade, September 10-15. 2017,
Balatonfüred, Hungary.

We would like to thank Mr. Nicholas M. Chmura for his time regarding editing
of the of this manuscript.

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


26

Endnote:
We obtained the Cleveland State University Institutional Review Board’s (CSU, IRB)
approval for conducting this research study. This paper has not been previously
published, nor is it before another journal for consideration.

About the Authors:


Roland Pourdavood is a professor of mathematics education at Cleveland State
University, Department of Teacher Education. His research interests include
mathematics teachers’ dialogue and reflection for transformation and school
reform. In addition, he focuses on cultural diversity, sociocultural aspects of
education, and emancipatory action research for personal and social praxis.

Xiongyi Liu is an associate professor of educational psychology at Cleveland


State University, Department of Curriculum and Foundations. Her research
interests include motivation, self-regulation, collaborative learning, and peer
assessment. Her research has a special focus on computer based learning
environments.

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 16, No. 11, pp. 28-44, November 2017
https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.16.11.2

Factors Influencing the Poor Academic


Performance of Learners with Vision Impairment
in Science Subjects in Kgatleng District in
Botswana

Joseph Habulezi, Kefilwe P J Batsalelwang and Nelly M Malatsi


University of Botswana
Gaborone, Botswana

Abstract. This study employed qualitative research design. The main


purpose was to determine factors that influence the poor academic
performance of learners with vision impairment in science subjects at a
senior secondary school in Botswana. Using purposeful sampling, 14
learners and 5 teachers were selected for the study. Data collection involved
interviews, observation and document analysis. The findings revealed that
multiple factors influence the poor performance of learners with vision
impairment. The factors include shortage of human and material resources,
teaching methods, teacher and learner attitudes. It is very clear from the
findings that learners with vision impairment are experiencing challenges in
learning science that are a result of deficient pedagogical practices, shortage
of specialised teachers of science and material resources. The study,
therefore, recommends intensive review of human resource deployment
policies and improved monitoring and evaluation of inclusive education
practices in schools if learners with vision impairment are to achieve the
desired outcomes.

Keywords: Academic performance; science subjects; learners; vision


impairment.

Introduction
Unsatisfactory academic performance of learners with vision impairment in science
subjects has been pervasive at schools in Botswana. The Government of Botswana
(2015) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation
(UNESCO) (2015) report the declining academic performance in the country. The
Botswana Daily News (2017) quoted the Minister of Basic Education, Dr. Unity
Dow, reporting in parliament that the results for learners with special educational

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


29

needs are not satisfactory. Government, though, has been working very hard to
facilitate improved outcomes for all learners by addressing issues of quality,
relevance, access, equity and accountability across the entire education sector
(Government of Botswana, 2015).

Table 1: Performance of learners who use braille in science subjects

Year # of learners number number pass % fail % credit quantity


sat for exam passed failed pass # pass #
(A-C) (A-E)
2016 9 0 9 0 100 0 0
2015 11 1 10 9 91 0 1
2014 8 2 6 25 75 0 2
2013 6 2 4 33 67 0 2
2012 5 1 4 17 83 0 1
2011 4 1 3 25 75 0 1
2010 3 1 2 33 67 0 1

Source: Special Education Department, 2017

The nature of science


Scientific ingenuity is strongly linked to visual imagination and this is why within
the world of science, numerous images cross science domains at all levels of practice
(Maguvhe, 2015). This is why learners are generally exposed to visual displays in
text books, teacher presentations and other multimedia materials (Jones, Minogue,
Oppewal, Cook & Broadwell, 2006). As a consequence, the capability of learners to
infer and comprehend the representations has become more and more significant in
education. In addition, science learning allows learners to gain problem-solving
competency, experience inquiry activities, simulate their own thoughts and find the
connection of science with everyday life.

Science versus learners with vision impairment


In learners with vision impairment, conceptual development and abstract thinking
appear to be delayed by the absence of graphical stimulus or imageries; cognitive
development occurs more slowly and standards for chronological age groups are
void (Fraser & Maguvhe, 2008). The fact that the greater parts of science
representations are visual, learners with vision impairment frequently face
educational challenges. This scenario emanates from the fact that most general
education classroom teachers lack the appropriate teaching and learning strategies
for learners with vision impairment. The consequent practices are text book science
pedagogies which do not favour learners who have sight problems.

In addition to the foregoing, (Beck-Winchatz & Riccobona, 2008; Moreland, 2015),


majority of the general education classroom teachers find it difficult to teach
learners with vision impairment because they have negligible experience and

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


30

embrace rigid views as regards to the abilities of learners with vision impairment.
There also seems to be a large gap between teachers’ perspectives about what
learners are able to do and the availability of teaching and learning resources to
help the learners realize their full potential. In short, McCarthy (2005) and Pressick-
kilborn and Prescott (2017) are of the view that learners with vision challenges are
deprived of the opportunities to experience science even when there is
substantiation that hands on-science approach yields better results for learners who
have vision challenges. Essentially, learners with vision impairment have cognitive
abilities equivalent to their peers and can equally become scientists. With the right
methods and assistive technology, the science learner who is visually impaired, can
learn and do the same assignments as other science learners (Beck-Winchatz &
Riccobono, 2008).

Science curriculum for learners with vision challenges


The science curriculum offered should be broad, balanced and accessible to provide
the maximum educational opportunities possible for all its learners regardless of the
diversity or complexity of their needs (Habulezi & Phasha, 2012). Although science
education for those who are visually impaired is very challenging and expectations
are low, learners who are visually challenged perform very well or moderately
depending on the learning support provided. Every piece of material, instrument or
text can somehow be modified with creativity, skill and tenacity to make it
accessible for those who have vision impairment. Employing appropriate
instructional methods, accommodations, adaptations, use of innovative forms of
assistive technology, having a positive mind set and embracing all learners
regardless of their circumstances helps learners excel in their own right (Ayiela,
2012).

Use of concrete materials and tactile graphics


Science subjects are highly painterly in nature and frequently utilise visuals to
convey significant materials, bestowing supplementary difficulty for learners with
vision impairment (Smith & Smothers, 2012). The use of concrete material and
tactile graphics largely benefit all learners because the practice increases
computation accuracy, helps them reason and solve problems (Hansen et al., 2016;
Hatlen, 1996). Manipulatives further offer children with vision impairment concrete
experiences to help them understand their environment and learn concepts parallel
to sighted peers in the classroom setting (Saracho, 2012). It is, therefore, of necessity
for teachers of learners with visual deficits to not only provide concrete objects and
tactile graphics but also teach learners how to read and make sense of concrete
materials and tactile graphics in science subjects (Zebehazy & Wilton, 2014).

In order to teach learners to be effective in the management and understanding of a


diversity of manipulatives and tactile graphics, teachers ought to use a sequence for
introduction of the materials (Koenig & Holbrook, 2010). Teachers should first
present learners with opportunities to handle real objects, transition to the use of
models and finally implement two dimensional representations. The effective

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


31

interpretation of manipulatives and tactile graphics needs knowledge of spatial and


geographic concepts and strategies for exploring and interpreting the displays
(Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2010; Kapperman et al., 2000; Claudet, 2014; O’Day, 2014).
Finally, after all tactile observation experiences, teachers should help learners
connect concrete objects, tactile graphics and abstract.

Aims of the study


The aims of the study were to investigate the factors that influence the poor
academic performance of learners with vision impairment in science subjects at the
school and to propose ways of improving the academic performance of learners.
The study used the following research questions: What factors affect the academic
performance of learners with vision impairment in science subjects at the school?
How can the school improve the academic performance of the learners in science
subjects?

Method
The study employed a qualitative approach because it is concerned with the
exploration of problems and this eventually leads to the understanding of a given
phenomenon (McMillan and Schumacher, 2014); in this case, factors that influence
the poor academic performance of learners in science subjects

Participants and research setting


An inclusive senior secondary school with a special education unit catering
specifically for learners with vision impairment, (at least up to 2013 when the
inclusive education policy came into effect), was used as a research site, following
permission the Ministry of Basic Education granted the regional education office to
conduct the study at the school. This research was part of the wider research carried
out during the Inclusive Education workshop under the North/South collaboration
inclusive research project.

Multi stage sampling technique was used to select the sample for the study. The
first stage involved purposive selection of 14 learners with vision impairment (out
of a total of 28 learners) who were taking sciences. The learners, whose age range
was 16-21 years, were then stratified based on their gender (6 males & 8 females).
Further, volunteer sampling procedure was used on the special education and
general education teachers. Three female and two male teachers were selected and
their age range was 29 – 44. In total, the study had 19 participants (8 males and 11
females).

Instruments
Interviews, observation and document analysis were used to collect the data.
Interviews lasted for approximately 20 - 40 minutes, depending on the interviewees’
willingness to talk. In-depth interviews were asked in an open-ended manner. The
semi-structured interview permitted the researchers to control the interview.

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


32

School authorities granted access to documents which were provided for analysis to
supplement data collected by means of interviews and observation. The documents
included inspection reports, special education termly and annual reports,
assessment reports and items, scripts from learners and attendance registers. Week
long observations were done in two classes of the 6 which had learners with vision
impairment. The two teachers of the classes volunteered to be observed.

Data collection process


A pilot study was conducted to trial data collection instruments with the aim of
determining their suitability. For a pilot study, 6 participants who were not among
the participants for the research (3 males and 3 females) were interviewed. The
results of the pilot study led to the addition of school documents which include
assessment items, inspection and departmental reports. Before data collection, two
meetings were held with the participants to address ethical issues and share the
purpose of the research. Participants were urged to seek clarifications on anything
concerning the research. Permission was obtained to record the conversations using
digital voice recorders and participants were assured that the recorded data would
be kept confidentially.

Data analysis
Data were transcribed verbatim. When transcriptions were ready, they were
repeatedly read to gain familiarity with the data (Creswell, 2007). As a way to
corroborate the interview data, it was compared with the data from observations
and document analysis. The following stage involved categorising data according to
the meanings generated. This was followed by relating categories and sub-
categories in order to provide explanations with regard to the poor academic
performance of learners with vision impairment in science subjects which
culminated into the explication of data on the studied subject.

Results
From the interviews conducted with participants, observations made and
information from the documents, it was evident that there are multiple factors
influencing the poor academic performance of learners with visual deficits at the
school. This is against the mammoth efforts and government resources invested in
the education of learners with vision impairment. Below are the themes that
emerged as factors influencing the poor academic performance of learners at the
school.

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


33

Large class sizes


The records analysed yielded results as tabulated in the table below.

Table 2: Class enrolments for 6 classes with learners with vision impairment

Class Form # of VI learners # of sighted learners Total


1 5 3 38 41
2 5 4 35 39
3 5 3 38 42
4 4 3 38 41
5 4 2 35 37
6 4 4 36 40
Source: Pastoral records (class registers)

The attendance registers perused indicated the above class enrolments for the
various classes. The registers confirmed interview results from three of the teachers
interviewed who complained of the large class sizes that translate into huge
teaching loads. When the senior teacher was asked about the number of learners in
the classes, she indicated that the issue was beyond their control. Authorities from
Ministry headquarters would just refer learners and instruct the school to admit and
the school has no power to deny a child a place.

Shortage of human and material resources


The two Biology classes observed had teachers by themselves handling all the
learners. In one class, when experiments were being carried out the teacher told
learners with vision impairments:
Go to the Special Education Department and read

The statement above resonated with complaints from three learners with vision
impairment who stated that every time there are experiments being done in the
laboratory or when the class is writing notes from the chalk board, we are told to go
to the Special Education Department and do something else. Asked what the
teacher would do to compensate for the missed experiment, she stated that learners
who are blind do not carry out experiments, instead, they sit for paper 4 , alternative
to practical. The teacher further said:
The learning support workers are supposed to be working with us during practical
sessions as practical assistants but Special Education Department claims there is a
shortage of learning support workers.

In an interview with a special education specialist teacher, we learnt that there was
only one science special education trained Biology teacher in the Science
Department trained to teach learners who have vision impairment. She stated that:

The officers at Teaching Service Managment are missing a point, when specialist
teachers graduate; they send them anywhere in the name of inclusive education and

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


34

send ordinary teachers here. Areas like VI and HI are specialised areas and need
trained teachers. Imagine all those twenty something teachers in the Science
Department, I am the only trained special education teacher. No one for Chemistry
and Physics. In addition I have 4 classes to teach.

The excerpt above coincides with the information obtained in the special education
annual reports that there is a shortage of specialist trained science teachers. Some
known science trained special education teachers refuse to be deployed at the school
because they claim there is too much work in special education and besides, they
are already enjoying scarce skill allowance as teachers of science.

On the part of learning and teaching resources, 8 of the 14 learners interviewed


complained of the shortage of assistive technology. One learner stated that:
They do not buy the equipment we need but buy what they want. How can they buy
stacks and stacks of braillon paper when what we need is zytex or ordinary braille
paper, adapted computers, CCTVs, digital voice recorders (meant for the VI, not for
journalists), …

One of the specialist teachers echoed similar sentiments that:


Government has bought a lot of materials that are not really relevant. You know this
merging of special education and guidance and counselling is not working for us.
How can they appoint a person from a related field to be in charge of special
education? This is the result, buying wrong stuff and failing to defend order requests
at the tender board because they do not know.

The records also indicted that the shortages of material resources were artificial as
government allocates money for items but during the procurement stage, delays
due to bureaucracy and lack of justification for the items would work against the
department. One teacher was quoted saying:
The government is very transparent in its purchase procedures, when our
representatives from related fields fail to justify why we have to buy this or that,
things are not bought.

A check at the Special Education Department revealed that there were a lot of
perkins braillers, (mostly malfunctioned), 3 thermoforms, 3 CCTVs, a few scientific
talking calculators, 2 braille embossers, two old adapted computers. Learners were
observed sharing a talking calculator during a test and others taking turns in using
the three CCTVs. There were neither prescribed books in braille nor in large print
despite the sighted learners being given all the prescribed books in each subject.

Attitudes of learners and teachers


When asked what they think are the factors influencing the poor performance of
learners in science subjects at the school, 11 of the learners interviewed frankly
stated that sciences were too difficult for them because they had a lot of diagrams.
Further probing revealed that they have a lot of past examinations tactile graphics

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


35

to use during the lessons and there are no teachers to tactile orientate the learners to
these diagrams which are not tailored towards the topic being taught. One of the
learners said:
You know sir, every time a teacher comes in class talks about some diagrams in a book
or on the chalk board, they first discuss then later, will say eeh special ed learners,
after the lesson go to Special Ed so that they search for diagrams on this topic for you
from past exam papers, ok! Because of some of these statements and teachers
remembering that we are also in their classes upon seeing us in classes, I hate any
science subject. After all, no special education learners who are totally blind pass
sciences.

The excerpt above suggests a negative attitude by the learners towards science
subjects. On the other hand, 2 of the 5 teachers interviewed indicated that it was not
their responsibility to teach learners who are blind outside the normal scheduled
lessons. One of them said:
Look, there are people who are paid scarce skill allowance to teach special education
learners. We are all not here for them, in fact given a chance, I wouldn’t want them in
my class because they are a bother. You have to prepare work twice and wait for their
work to be transcribed … no man!

The statement above was understood to be negative attitude from the teacher. The
records also showed that in 7 of the report books, marks for special education
learners were not recorded yet for the previous term. Class teachers referred all
queries to the Special Education Department. A member of the Special Education
Department retorted:
These teachers and their attitude! What will it take for them to change and treat all
learners equally? The book is here, all scripts were submitted to all teachers and
signed for.

The statement above also suggests negative attitude that has been going on in the
school about learners with vision impairment.

Inadequate adaptation and modification of teaching and learning resources


The learners complained of the fatigue they go through when trying to decipher
meaning from the many tactile diagrams found in science assessment items. They
claimed the sensation on their fingertips sometimes lets them down as they have to
battle the different textures of paper; the question paper on ordinary braille paper
which is a bit hard and the diagrams on soft zytex paper. One learner emotionally
said:
Imagine in one of the science papers with 60 questions, 47 of the questions have
diagrams you are not even familiar with. Even some of the questions that one can
answer without a diagram will have a diagram.

Similarly, one learner who is partially sighted complained that a facility where she
was assessed from recommended a font of 24 but teachers were just enlarging print

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


36

anyhow using the photocopying machine. Sometimes the font was better but other
times not. Rarely were the notes Brailled for braille users in most science subjects
except Biology. Most of the times, fellow learners had to dictate the notes to learners
with vision impairment.

Teaching methods
Government of Botswana (2015) whole school inspection report reads in part:
The teaching methodologies the majority of the teachers employed were teacher centred
and as such did not promote cooperative and practical learning (p.12). … Learners
were not actively involved in the learning process since they rarely demonstrated
knowledge and understanding of what they learnt.

The preceding excerpt confirmed the findings from the observations where one
teacher spoke in a low voice; neither read nor described what she had written on the
chalk board for the sake of learners with vision impairment. The writing was
illegible as she wrote small letters in cursive. While she had teaching aids for the
sighted learners, there were no embossed diagram for learners with visual deficits.
Three of the teachers interviewed claimed they did not know the learning and
teaching methods for learners with vision impairment. To the contrary, special
education departmental reports indicated that a workshop was held for teachers on
the same. In addition, induction workshops are held every year for new teachers in
the school.

Large teaching loads


The five teachers interviewed were all concerned over the large teaching loads that
teachers carry. They contest that the guidelines being followed were prepared when
the class enrolments were favourable. One of the teachers stated that:
You know, our population was very small and we could afford something like 25 to 35
learners in a class. We did not even have as many special education learners like we do
today. Maybe only one or two special education learners in a year. But this time, we
are talking about 30 learners with special educational needs in the school and an
average of 43 learners per class.

Some comments from teachers suggested that the administrators heading schools
with special education units should be trained in the area so that they can easily
articulate the issues concerning special education.

This was meant to indicate that management and the regional office do not
represent the special education area well because they were not trained in special
education.

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37

Discussion
The academic performance of learners with vision impairment in science subjects at
the school is faced with a lot of factors. The attainance of viable institutional
improvements needs thorough understanding of the factors that robustly combine
to create institutional failure. This section therefore discusses some of the factors
identified during the study.

Large class sizes


Hattie (2006) cites McGiverin, Gilman, and Tillitski (1989) who conducted a meta-
analysis of 10 studies of Indiana’s Prime Time project, a longitudinal study which
aimed to reduce class size to 14 in 24 Year 1–3 classes. They reported that Year 3
learners, who had been in smaller classes for 2 years had significantly higher
achievement test scores than did learners in larger classes. The significant academic
achievement in smaller classes is the intended destiny the Ministry of Basic
Education, Botswana would want to achieve. It laid guidelines regarding the
reduction in the number of learners in the classes that had learners with vision
impairment. School authorities are therefore expected to work in line with the
national guidelines.

In Botswana, one learner with vision impairment is equal to four sighted learners.
So, to have 38 sighted learners and 3 learners with vision impairment in a class
means that the class had an enrolment of 50 learners which is just too much. These
findings are similar to Koh and Shin’s (2017) observation that class sizes are other
demands for teachers that affect their feelings and performance in inclusionary
practices. In a case like this one, the rate of learning support is compromised as
reduced class enrolment is meant to maximise the support to learners who are
disadvantaged (Bruwiler & Blatchford, 2011; Njue, Aura & Komen, 2014). It is worth
noting that the school authorities make frantic efforts to reduce the number of
learners in classes which learners with vision impairment are allocated. The largest
of the classes where learners with vision impairment were had 42 learners. There
are however, some classes without learners with vision impairment that had class
enrolments of 46. School authorities explained they experienced challenges in
reducing the number of learners because the transition rate from junior to senior
secondary school has been increasing to give all Batswana children a chance of
being educated as the country is marching towards being an educated and informed
nation.

Shortage of human and material resources


The Botswana Government awards scarce skill allowance to Science, Mathematics
and Special Education teachers as a way of retaining and motivating them. Despite
the incentive, some science teachers choose to teach in the mainstream school
because they would still receive the scarce skill allowance. The teachers’ move
leaves a gap in the number of special education trained science teachers; hence the
shortage. On the other hand, mainstream science teachers outnumber special
education trained science teachers. This paints a picture that there is shortage of

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


38

staff when in fact; the teachers are according to the staff establishment register.
What is required, therefore, is to deploy more special education trained teachers to
the school. Besides, some teachers during the interview confessed that they do not
have requisite skills in teaching learners with vision impairment.

The lack of skills of most of the teachers teaching learners could be one of the
contributing factors to the learners’ poor academic performance in science subjects
(Mphale1 & Mhlauli1, 2014). However, according to Koh and Shin (2017), barriers
and concerns of this nature are frequent even in countries like United States of
America. Most frequent in their study were inadequate and insufficient training for
teachers to help them teach in inclusive classrooms and lack of resources for
effective inclusive education practices.

One of the concessions in the education of learners with vision impairment is


providing aides or other special arrangements to undertake teaching, learning or
assessment tasks (Fraser & Maguvhe, 2008; Capps, Kingsley, Kuo & Roecker, 2014).
The provision is meant to increase support because some learners may require one
on one teaching. This is common occurrence in practical subjects like Art and
Sciences. In the two classes observed in this study, there were no learning support
workers to act as experiment aides. Instead, learners with vision impairment were
asked to go and read at the Special Education Department. This denied the learners
a learning opportunity and would contribute to their poor performance in science
subjects. Classroom support helps to increase learner participation and academic
achievement. Use of special needs teachers and other learning support workers
would bring some needed additional resource to augment on teachers’ efforts in the
classrooms. At the time of this study, there was only one learning support worker
who was overwhelmed by demands of the tasks in the Special Education
Department. During debriefing though, it was observed that the number of learning
support workers had increased to four, which is a good move except the high
learner enrolments would demand more. The school has basic assistive devices and
instructional technology that teachers and learners use. These include CCTVs (3),
Photocopying machine, talking calculators, digital voice recorders, tape recorders,
embossing kits, braille and swell paper, embossers, thermoforms, perkins braillers,
slates and styluses to mention but a few.

There were a few models found in the Special Education Department. During class
observations, neither models nor concrete objects were used despite their
importance in increasing computation accuracy, helping learners to reason, solve
problems and offering learners concrete experiences to help them understand their
environment (Hatlen, 1996; Saracho, 2012). There is an abundance of tactile graphics
mostly from past examinations. These are not serving the learners well because they
are not topic specific. Besides, the science teachers do no tactile observations to help
the learners understand the materials. Learning support workers give learners
embossed diagrams which are meaningless because no one takes the learners

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


39

through the embossed graphics to make sure the learners understand. This practice
has a bearing on the learners’ performance.

Attitudinal barriers
From the interviews conducted with the learners, their poor performance in sciences
is partly due to self-prophecy fulfilment. The learners are resigned to the belief that
learners with vision impairment do not pass science subjects. Additionally, the
many diagrams that characterise science assessment tasks frustrate the learners that
they have some negative attitude towards the subjects. Teachers’ lack of inclusive
preparations that result in failure to arrange for embossed diagrams prior to
meetings with the learners encourages the learners’ negative attitude towards
sciences.

Teachers, too, have their own attitude towards the teaching of learners with vision
impairment. The fact that Government of Botswana awards scarce skill allowance to
special education teachers makes some teachers feel that the onus of teaching
learners with special educational needs is for teachers receiving scarce skill
allowance. The mainstream teachers’ attitude therefore falls short of a positive one.
Some of their teaching sessions are devoid of a sense of care, responsiveness,
adaptation, cohesiveness and synergy that bonds people together (Landberg,
Kruger & Swart, 2016); hence, the learners’ poor academic showing in science
subjects.

Modification and adaptation of teaching and learning materials


Science teaching and learning content as well as assessment tasks are inundated
with graphic representations that are too much for learners with vision impairment
during examinations. Learners are sometimes fatigued in an effort to explore the
diagrams which they rarely understand and eventually perform poorly. Some of the
diagrams included in assessment tasks have no bearing on the answering of
questions and these just increase material for reading when in fact the effort should
be to reduce it. Njue, Aura and Komen (2014) advise that individual differences of
the learners should be put into consideration and the teachers should therefore
choose materials which maximally benefit individual learners. The photocopying of
learners’ work without being font specific is dreadful and would destroy learners’
sight or create other problems to the learners. Effort should be made to avail
recorded, brailled or enlarged teaching and learning resources to promote equal
access to education for all learners.

Teaching methods
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) recognise accountability actions
including annual assessment of learners in the technical areas such as sciences. The
teacher centred teaching methods that do not accommodate all learners, (Habulezi,
Molao, Mphuting & Kebotlositswe, 2016), are counterproductive and detrimental to
learners’ performances. The Ministry of Basic Education’s (2015) findings in the
inspection report and findings from the observations during this study leave a lot to

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


40

be desired. Teachers are assets, rich resources of information and support.


Therefore, they need to be responsive, creative, accommodative and inclusive in
their routine facilitation of classroom activities for the benefit of all learners. In the
case of learners with vision impairment, pre or post lesson sessions would be
appropriate to compensate for the missing incidental information acquisition and to
promote parity in classroom participation.

Landberg, Kruger and Swart (2016) advise that teachers should encourage critical
thinking, argumentation, reflection and action on the part of learners in the learning
situation. In addition, Rose and Meyer (2002)’s three principles of universal design
of learning, (multiple means of representation, multiple means of action and
expression, multiple means of engagement), hold great potential to establish truly
accessible learning environments for all that can improve learners’ performance.

Holbrook and Koenig (2010) agreed that in the absence of vision, it was important to
give learners sensory training to the remaining senses like the senses of touch and
hearing so that they might be used as sources of information. To the contrary, the
results in this study indicate that learners were not being tactile orientated to the
embossed diagrams given to them. Further, some teachers neither read nor
described what they wrote on the chalk board. This does not compliment to the
missing incidental learning other learners with sight enjoy. Besides, the tactile
diagrams presented to the learners with vision impairment were not topic tailored
but related past examination diagrams. The practice denies learners equal and fair
opportunity to access teaching and learning materials. In some instances, learners
with vision impairment were sent to the Special Education Department to read
while the learners with sight carried out experiments which augmented on the
theory they had learnt, but alas for learners with vision impairment, it is an
opportunity of learning missed for ever.

Large teaching loads


Landsberg, Kruger and Swart (2016) observed that teachers are overwhelmed by
workloads that over stretch them such that they even fail to implement intervention
strategies or support stakeholders. The foregoing observations were reflected in
teachers’ comments in this study where teachers were unable to employ
intervention strategies due to the increase in enrolments and other demands in their
daily routine operations. Further, the Biology special education teacher had four
classes to teach in addition to her special education duties that include brailling,
remediation, consultations and transcription among others. Two science special
education teachers concentrated on their duties in the mainstream school and did
not want to associate themselves with the special education duties because they still
enjoyed scarce skill allowance as science teachers. Understanding of the important
role special education teachers play in supporting learners and other stakeholders
would be very helpful in improving service provision to the learners and
consequently improve learners’ performance in the subjects concerned. Clear

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


41

policies and awareness campaigns would be very helpful in this regard (Mutanga &
Walker, 2017).

Conclusion
Learners with vision impairment are facing challenges in learning science due to
multiple factors. Even well-meaning efforts if not properly handled retrogress
learner performance. The awarding of scarce skill allowance to special education
teachers led to some teachers who were not awarded the same to be reluctant in
helping learners with vision impairment. Objectionable teacher and learner
attitudes also play some part including pedagogical practices that are not really
tailored to meet individual learner needs. Although there are tolerable human and
material resources, the resources are not good enough to yield the desired academic
performance of the learners. Positive efforts in some instances are abound, but what
should be borne in mind is that all schools, even the most successful ones, have
occasional slumps in performance to fluctuating gradations. This is occasionally
linked to shifts in learner composition, changes in the external environment and
issues of staff turnover.

Recommendations
Intensive intervention measures targeted at improving learners’ academic
performance in science subjects are suggested. These should include enhanced
teaching and learning activities, deployment of more special education trained
science teachers, learning support staff and acquisition of specialised equipment.
Further, continued public sensitization on positive inclusive education practices
would be handy in the quest for excellency.

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45

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 16, No. 11, pp. 45-66, November 2017
https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.16.11.3

Mapping Free Educational Software Intended for


the Development of Numerical and Algebraic
Reasoning

Eliane Elias Ferreira dos Santos


Escola de Educação Básica – ESEBA
Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Brazil

Aleandra da Silva Figueira-Sampaio


Faculdade de Gestão e Negócios – FAGEN
Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Brazil

Gilberto Arantes Carrijo


Faculdade de Engenharia Elétrica – FEELT
Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Brazil

Abstract. Educational software has significantly changed how


mathematics is taught and learned. One challenge for educators is
choosing the most appropriate software among numerous options.
Therefore, we mapped free mathematics education software according
to number and operation content. The study was carried out with public
elementary school teachers (grades 6 - 9). The teachers watched a
presentation on the features of each software type and filled out a
checklist about the software and its content. The results showed that
63% of the 32 software titles were appropriate for developing numeric
and algebraic reasoning. According to the teachers, these titles were
appropriate for developing and consolidating concepts related to the
number system, operations and properties of natural and whole
numbers, numeric expressions, divisibility, prime numbers,
decomposition into prime factors, GCD, LCM, operations with rational
numbers in fraction and decimal form, comparison and operations on
equivalent fractions, first degree equations, and first and second degree
polynomial functions.

Keywords: Element school; Mathematic; Software; Number and


operations; Algebra

Introduction
Every day we deal with data related to the weather, advertisements,
percentages, account balances, debits, purchases, sales that demand arithmetic

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


46

competence. This type of thought includes the ordered use basic mathematical
operations, as well as the understanding of numerical calculation processes
(Savion & Seri, 2016), in addition to the ability to estimate quantities and
evaluate the reasonableness of results.

These skills are built throughout elementary and middle school and encompass
numerical and algebraic reasoning. According to curriculum guidelines (Brasil,
1998; National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 2000), students can
develop these thought processes through various strategies including the
exploration of learning situations that help them broaden and consolidate their
understanding of numbers, in various numerical sets, using social,
mathematical, and historical contexts. Thus, problem-solving situations should
allow students to expand on and consolidate their understanding of addition,
subtraction, multiplication, division, exponents, and root operations while
selecting and using different calculation procedures. Strategies should also
include the ideas of proportionality and percentage calculations.

Studies have focused on the use of calculators (Ahn, 2001; Lee, 2006), concrete
materials (Figueira-Sampaio, Santos, Carrijo & Cardoso, 2013) and computers
and software (Figueira-Sampaio, Santos, Carrijo & Cardoso 2012) in education to
assist in the development of mathematical skills that involve mastery of
numbers and calculations. The use of digital resources in teaching can favour
positive attitudes when learning mathematics (Chen, Lee & Hsu, 2015). There
exists considerable qualitative evidence concening the benefits of computers and
software in the education of mathematics: an increase in critical thought and in
the ability to solve problems (Condie, Munro, Seagraves & Kenesson, 2007;
Keong, Sharaf, & Daniel, 2005); an increase in motivation, interest and
participation (Keong et al., 2005; Neurath & Stephens, 2006; Reynolds &
Fletcher-Janzen, 2007); encourage collaboration which favours dialogue and
working in teams (Balanskat, Blamire & Kefala, 2006; Reynolds & Fletcher-
Janzen, 2006); improvements to basic abilities, such as reading, writing and
calculating; improvements to behaviour and attention during the class
(Balanskat et al., 2006); better retention of knowledge (Reynolds & Fletcher-
Janzen, 2007).

While numerous software packages have been developed for education, the use
of such material does not arrive into the classroom at the same proportion or
speed. The selection and even finding accessible software may distance teachers
and teaching practices from these educational resources According to Figueira-
Sampaio et al. (2012), the teachers choose the software through indications made
by the teachers that used such in their teaching. Aimed at aiding in the choosing
of software, as well as present the viable options of software in mathematics, the
objective behind this work was to map free educational mathematics software
for the development of concepts and procedures relevant to numeric reasoning
and algebra.

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


47

Method
The associated research was structured into two stages (Figure 1), these being
classified as exploratory and descriptive. In the first stage bibliographic research
was performed in order to carry out a survey of mathematical educational
software. The search was performed using sites or promotional material in
digital format. The selection of software was concluded from only available
freeware, with online access of installation files that are available and developed
for elementary school teaching in the 11 to 15-year age range.

Figure 1: Stages of research.

In the second stage, two meetings were held with teachers of mathematics from
the elementary levels, the objective being to identify possible content for the
development of numeric and algebraic thought, which in turn could be used in
the software programs. In total 34 Brazilian teachers from the public teaching
sector participated in the study.

During these meetings, the software interface was projected through use of a
projector and computer set up to evaluate the features from the didactic-
mathematical point of view. The features were demonstrated through providing

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48

examples, along with menu tabs and tools, buttons and on screen instructions. It
was not possible in this set up that the teachers themselves explore the software.

The teachers received a checklist with specific math content for Number and
Operations as well as Algebra at the beginning of each demonstration. The
checklist was elaborated based on essential content from an elementary
mathematical teaching level (NCTM, 2000).

Results and Discussion


During the survey of the all available freeware for the teaching of mathematics,
identification was made as to 32 programs with features that contribute to the
teaching and learning of mathematics at the elementary level (Table 1). From this
number, 59% need to be downloaded and installed onto the computer and 41%
were accessed through browsers.

According to the teacher group, 63% of the free software could be used to teach
elementary school content involving numbers and related operations and
elementary concepts of algebra (Figure 2). Mathematics at this level is centered
on numerical concepts and operations (Dunphy et al., 2014; Lemonidis & Kaiafa,
2014; Mohamed & Johnny, 2010; NCTM, 2000; Thanheiser, Whitacre & Roy,
2014) and problem solving (Lemonidis & Kaiafa, 2014; Ontario Ministry of
Education, 2005; Thanheiser et al., 2014). Students use operations and properties
involving different types of numbers to solve various problems. Algebraic
representations also contribute to the students’ experiences with numbers
(NCTM, 2000). Students encounter different sets of numbers (natural, whole,
rational, and irrational) progressively and according to necessity as their
problem solving requirements evolve.

The set of natural numbers is the most fundamental mathematical object


(Lengnink & Schlimm, 2010). These numbers arose at the beginning of ancient
civilizations and are used today to solve problems requiring counting, ordering,
and coding (Debnath & Basu, 2015). To solve problems of this type, students
need to understand both the meanings and properties of the numbers. The
teachers identified the following software packages as appropriate for this
objective: Árvores Algébricas (Algebra Trees), Butterflies, Circle 21 and 99, Criba
de Eratóstenes, Diffy, Roman Numbering, Prime Numbers, Tic Tac Go, and Tux
of Math Command.

Students consolidate their understanding of the meaning of numbers by


exploring different symbolic representations of numbers and the relationships
between them (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2005). Writing and manipulating
numerals contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of their
properties (Lengnink & Schlimm, 2010). Thus, it is common to work with both
Roman numerals and the Hindu-Arabic numbering system.

Roman numerals were widely used throughout the Roman empire, but are still
used for numbering centuries, book chapters, and the faces of some analog
clocks. The group of teachers recommended the Roman Numbering software for

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49

addressing relationships between two numbering systems. The objective of this


software is the conversion of Western-Arabic numerals into Roman numerals
and consists of two players taking turns proposing challenge problems to one
another. The first player presents a Western-Arabic numeral between 1 and 1000
and the second player converts the number to a roman numeral.

Table 1: List of free educational software for mathematics and the percentage of
teachers that identified the potential of software for developing a numeric and
algebraic thinking (n = number of teachers that answered the checklist for software).
Software Internet address % teachers (n)
2 Árvores Algébricas http://www2.mat.ufrgs.br/edumatec/atividades 100 (24)
(Algebra Trees) _diversas/maquina/arvore.htm
1,2 Butterflies http://nautilus.fis.uc.pt/mn/ 100 (22)
1,2 C.a.R – Compass and http://car.rene- -
Ruler grothmann.de/doc_en/index.html
1,3 Circle 0, 3, 21, 99 http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav 100 (18)
3 Criba de Eratóstenes http://nlvm.usu.edu/es/nav 100 (13)
(Sieve of Eratosthenes)
1,3 Diffy http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav 100 (4)
1,2 Dr Geo http://www.drgeo.eu/download -
1,3 Fractions-Equivalent http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav/ 100 (20)
1,2,3 GeoGebra http://www.geogebra.org/cms/download 48 (25)
1 Geometry 2.1 http://www.somatematica.com.br/zips/geometr -
y1.zip
1,2 Geonext http://geonext.uni-bayreuth.de/ 8 (24)
1,2,3 GrafEQ ftp://ftp.peda.com/grafeq_setup.exe 100 (2)
1,3 Grapher http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav 96 (27)
1,2,3 Graph http://www.padowan.dk/download/ 80 (15)
1 MathGV http://www.mathgv.com/ 90 (21)
1,2 PrimeNumbers http://nautilus.fis.uc.pt/mn/ 100 (17)
1,2 Roman Numbering http://nautilus.fis.uc.pt/mn/ 100 (18)
2 Polígonos (Polygons) http://www.somatematica.com.br/softw/poligo -
nos.zip
1,3 Poly ftp://ftp.peda.com/poly32.exe -
1,3 Percentages http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav 100 (13)
2 Raízes (Roots) http://www.somatematica.com.br/zips/raizes.zi 100 (17)
p
1,3 Pythagorean Theorem http://nlvm.usu.edu/en/nav -
1 Shape Calculator http://www.somatematica.com.br/softw/Shape -
Calc.zip
1,2,3 SpeQ Mathematics http://www.speqmath.com 100 (4)
2 Tangram 32 https://rachacuca.com.br/jogos/tangram-32/ -
1,2 Pitagoras' Theorem http://nautilus.fis.uc.pt/mn/ -
1 Tic Tac Go http://www.fisme.science.uu.nl/toepassingen/0 100 (3)
3088/toepassing_wisweb.en.html
2 Triângulo (Triangle) https://sites.google.com/site/softwaretriangulos -
2 Trigonometria 1.1 http://www.somatematica.com.br/zips/trigono. -
(Trigonometry) zip
1,2,3 Tux of Math Command https://tuxmath.br.uptodown.com/windows/do 100 (3)
wnload
1,2,3 Wingeom http://www2.mat.ufrgs.br/edumatec -
1,2,3 Winplot http://www2.mat.ufrgs.br/edumatec 89 (19)
Some Languages: 1Inglês, 2Portuguese, 3Spanish

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50

Figure 2: Software mapping by Numbers and Operations and Algebra.

Mathematics curricula for elementary and middle schools include the study of
the multiplicative structure of natural numbers (Brasil, 1998; NCTM, 2000). This
knowledge is applied at various levels and in diverse areas of mathematics
(Dias, 2005). Understanding the concept of the multiplicative structure includes
experience with the representation of natural numbers as the product of prime
numbers. This construction, in turn, includes the concepts of the greatest
common divisor (GCD) among two or more natural numbers, the least common
multiple (LCM), and the ability to recognize and justify divisibility relationships
(Brown, Thomas & Tolias, 2002).

Divisibility criteria are important tools for determining whether a quotient is


exact or not, without needing to know the quotient (Brown et al., 2002). Usually,
a simple calculation is made with the digits (Crandall & Pomerance, 2005;
Peretti, 2015). For prime numbers, it is sufficient to recognize that the number is
only divisible by one and the number itself. The problem of distinguishing

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51

between natural prime numbers and compound natural numbers and of


decomposing compound numbers into their prime factors is considered one of
the most important and useful in arithmetic (Debnath & Basu, 2015).

The teachers identified the following software as appropriate for developing


content related to prime numbers and divisibility criteria: Butterflies, Criba de
Eratóstenes, Prime Numbers and Tux of Math Command. These software
packages provide activities in which students actively participate in building
understanding of operations and calculation techniques. Each software with its
own features.

In the software Butterflies, quick animations and actions are necessary on the
part of the user. The Butterflies package displays numerous butterflies, labeled
with numbers, that move around the screen. The student needs to use mouse
clicks to capture the butterflies in the shortest time possible. Three different tasks
with primes and multiples can be used to capture the butterflies. Butterflies with
prime numbers are captured in the first task, butterflies with numbers that are
multiples of 3 in the second task, and in the third task, those with numbers that
are even when multiplied by 3.

The software Criba de Eratóstenes reproduces the methodical process of the


Eratosthenes sieve. The method for finding a finite number of prime numbers
greater than one (Debnath & Basu, 2015). The user interface presents a cell grid
(10xn), with natural numbers greater than 1. Students select the desired number
of rows and then choose whether or not to display the multiples of the number
chosen from the numbers on the screen. This functionality allows educators to
not only explore prime numbers but also the calculation of the least common
multiple between two natural numbers from the complete set of multiples. The
option "Quitar Múltiplos” (Remove Multiples) eliminates the multiples of the
natural numbers successively selected by the student. Thus, prime numbers
between 1 and n are obtained after a finite quantity of selections.

In the software Prime Numbers, the result for right and wrong answers is
presented to the user without any type of animation. The Prime Numbers
application is used to identify the prime numbers among the first 25 (or 100)
natural numbers. Selections are made using two on-screen buttons. The "Give
Up” button shows the prime numbers within the natural numbers selected by
the student. Counters for correct and incorrect choices are updated after each
selection.

Rational numbers are used to solve problems involving whole/part


relationships, quotients, ratios, proportions, scales, percentages, rates, indices
and simple interest. The concept of rational numbers is one of the most
important and complex in mathematics education at the elementary/middle
school level (Bezuk & Biek, 1993; Lemonidis & Kaiafa, 2014). Understanding this
type of number is important in school and in everyday life (Van Hoof,
Verschaffel & Van Dooren, 2015). Rational numbers can be written in many
ways including fractions, decimals, percentages, indices, and rates

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52

(Beyranevand, 2014). Learning these numbers involves not only understanding


each representation, but also transforming one format into another (e.g.,
fractions to decimals, percentages to fractions).

Understanding and correctly using decimal numbers is essential to


understanding more advanced mathematical topics (Isotani, MClaren &
Altaman, 2010) and daily activities involving measures and money. The decimal
form of rational numbers has been a significant source of difficulty in
mathematics education (Stacey et al., 2001).

Sadi (2007) highlights the mistakes made by students in performing operations


with decimal numbers. The software Circle 3, Diffy, and Percentages were
recommended by the teachers as potential aids for improving fluency with
operations using decimal numbers. These applications provide activities that
involve the addition, subtraction, and relative visualization of decimal numbers,
respectively. The Georgia Department of Education (2015) defines fluency as the
ability to perform procedures in a flexible, accurate, efficient, and appropriate
manner.

Proportional thinking, which includes an understanding of ratios, proportions,


and proportionality, is necessary in mathematics, science, and practical
applications (Lundberg, 2011; Ontario Ministry of Education, 2012; Silvestre &
Ponte, 2012). It is important to use a variety of experiences involving
proportional reasoning and to encourage students to make conjectures, create
rules, and generalize learning (Adjiage & Pluvinage, 2007; Ontario Ministry of
Education, 2012). In math education, some concepts are interconnected to aid in
the construction of proportional thinking. Understanding rational numbers in
different forms is included in these concepts (Ontario Ministry of Education,
2012).

The teachers in our study group recommended the Percentages application not
only works with decimal forms of rational numbers, but also helps build
understanding of the concept and calculation of simple interest and the
calculation of the fourth proportional. The software interface shows three text
boxes representing unit, part, and percentage (Figure 3). The essence of
proportional reasoning is the ability to consider numbers in relative rather than
absolute terms (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2012). In this software, the value
of an unknown is displayed by pressing the “Compute” button. Afterwards, a
graphical representation of the result appears in a bar graph and a pie chart. The
software thus encourages a comparison between an absolute value and its
percentage or relative value.

Students struggle with the representation of numbers as fractions, which differs


from the representation of natural numbers (Nunes & Bryant, 2009; Stafylidou &
Vosniadou, 2004). The fraction is interpreted as a pair of integers and while
students can usually write the fraction correctly, they are often unable to make a
connection between a fraction and an integer (e.g. 5/5 and 1) (Amato, 2005). A

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53

fraction is a relation between numbers that represents their quantities but not
their independent values (Nunes & Bryant, 2009).

Figure 3: Percentages software.

The teachers in our study group recommended the Fractions-Equivalent


application to build understanding of rational numbers in fractional forms. This
software was chosen for its potential in developing skills related to the
representation of fractions by dividing integers into congruent parts, by relating
them to their symbolic numerators/denominators, and by visualizing a part-
whole model. The software interface presents a diagram of the part/whole
relationship and its respective fractional representation (Figure 4).

The relation established between these two forms of representation builds an


understanding of the terms of the fraction. The student can then recognize that
the denominator represents the number of parts into which the integer is
divided and that the numerator is the number of parts that were considered
when associating the diagram with the part / whole symbolic representation.
Another important perception is the relationship between the number of parts
and the relative size of these parts (Way, 2011). This involves the realization that
the greater the number of parts that a shape is divided, the smaller the pieces
become. Symbolically, this means that the greater the denominator, the smaller
the parts. This knowledge can then be used to compare unit fractions.

The Fractions-Equivalent application randomly alternates the representation of


an integer with shapes such as squares, rectangles, and circles. The software also
responds to changes made in the diagram with corresponding changes in the
symbolic form of the fraction. The great advantage of digital resources over
other physical models is that different representations can be dynamically
linked, allowing experimentation with cause and effect relationships that
demonstrate the connections between different representations (Way, 2011).

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54

Figure 4: Fractions-Equivalent software.

The The Fractions-Equivalent application randomly alternates the representation


of an integer with shapes such as squares, rectangles, and circles. The software
also responds to changes made in the diagram with corresponding changes in
the symbolic form of the fraction. The great advantage of digital resources over
other physical models is that different representations can be dynamically
linked, allowing experimentation with cause and effect relationships that
demonstrate the connections between different representations (Way, 2011).

The concept of equivalent fractions is one of the most important abstract


mathematical ideas for elementary/middle-school students to assimilate (Ni,
2001). To build this skill, students must be able to determine equivalent fractions
using part-whole models instead of mechanically using an algorithm that
changes numerator and denominator through multiplication or division
(Ontario Ministry of Education, 2014). According to the teachers in our study
group, Fractions-Equivalent helps build this concept using part-whole models
(Figure 4). The software allows students to change the number of parts by which
an integer is divided without changing the initial division of the integer. This
feature is extremely useful because it allows students to observe cause and effect
(Way, 2011). Equivalent fractions are obtained when the lines that divide the
original integer coincide with lines from the new division. After this step,
students identify and write the new terms in text boxes and thus recognize the
equivalent fractions. Pressing the “Check” button displays a message indicating
whether the equivalence is correct or incorrect. Finally, the software also allows
users to find multiple fractions that are equivalent to the original fraction.

Understanding the meaning and multiplicative structure of natural numbers and


related operations is insufficient for solving problems in everyday situations
involving impossible differences, debt, and the idea of opposing or symmetric
quantities. These situations require integers (natural numbers plus negative
numbers). The concept of integers emerged concurrently within the context of
symbolic algebra used in solving algebraic equations (Brasil, 1998; Heeffer,

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55

2008). The set of integers and related operations present some challenges
(Fuadiah, 2015; Heeffer, 2008; Kar & Işik, 2015).

One of these challenges is how students perceive the logic of negative numbers
and attribute meaning to negative quantities. Unlike the logic used with natural
numbers, negative numbers make it possible to, for example, "add 6 to a number
and get 1" or "subtract 2 from a number and get 9" (Brasil, 1998). The challenge
of assigning meaning arises from the fact that students are surrounded by
objects that are counted with positive numbers (Fuadiah, 2015). In addition,
students interpret negative numbers as numbers having properties other than
those of positive numbers, which leads students to difficulties with operations of
type a + (-b), -b + a and a - (-b). The teachers in our study group chose Árvores
Algébricas (Algebra Trees), Circle 0, 21 and 99, Diffy, Tic Tac Go and Tux of
Math Command as software that could help build calculation skills with whole
numbers and deal with the challenges highlighted in Brasil (1998) and Fuadiah
(2015).

Although studies on the understanding of and the didactic approaches used for
irrational numbers (Voskoglou & Kosyvas, 2011) are rare, the topic is essential
for rebuilding the concept of numbers so that it extends from the idea of rational
numbers to include the set of real numbers (Sirotic & Zazkis, 2007). Definitions
of rational numbers at the elementary/middle-school level are strongly linked to
representations (Zazkis & Sirotic, 2010). Geometric representations are an
indispensable teaching tool for understanding the concept of this type of number
(Sirotic & Zazkis, 2007). Lewis (2007) presents a construction based on the
Pythagorean Theorem for the rational numbers √2, √3, √5, √6 and √7. In this
construction, students are provided with a visual representation of the irrational
number that they can then compare to the unit. Constructions such as this can be
produced with the GeoGebra software (Figure 5), which was recommended by
the teacher group for the visualization of irrational numbers. For Voskoglou and
Kosyvas (2011), activities with geometric constructions have helped students
improve their ability to construct immeasurable magnitudes and to represent
irrational numbers on the real axis.

Extending the concept of numbers and gaining fluency with arithmetic


operations are goals of elementary/middle school mathematics education
(NCTM, 2000). Students need to develop their conceptual understanding and
computational skills equally to develop operational fluency.

Conceptual understanding refers to an integrated and functional understanding


of mathematical ideas (i.e., understanding more than just isolated facts and
methods) (Kilpatrick, Swafford & Findell, 2001), while computational skill refers
to the ability to calculate accurately and efficiently (NCTM, 2000).

The teachers in our study group recommended Árvores Algébricas (Algebra


Trees), Circle 0, 3, 21 and 99, Tic Tac Go and Tux of Math Command for
developing addition skills and the same applications and Diffy for activities
involving subtraction. Only Árvores Algébricas (Algebra Trees), Tic Tac Go and

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56

Tux of Math Command were recommended for multiplication. From the last
three cited programs, Tic Tac Go is the only one that does not work with
division.

Figure 5: Construction in GeoGebra for the visualization of irrational numbers.

In Árvores Algébricas (Algebra Trees), students need to fill in text boxes and
then drag and link them to each other with arrows denoting the order of
operations. White boxes are used for data entry and output, while orange boxes
are used for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and exponent
operations. The software can be used to carry out operations with natural,
rational, whole, and irrational numbers in the form of radicals.

The user interface in Circle 0 displays seven overlapping circles with integers
spread out around the circles (Figure 6). The “New Game” button refreshes the
numbers on the screen and in circles, or keeps the current problem in the circles.
Students drag numbers into each circle such that the sum of the numbers is zero.
If students choose correctly, the circle is highlighted red.

Circle 3, Circle 21 and Circle 99 are analogs of Circle 0. However, the algebraic
sum of the numbers placed in each circle must be equal to 3, 21 and 99
respectively. In Circle 3, operations are performed on rational numbers in
decimal form, while in Circle 21 and Circle 99 operations are performed on
natural numbers.

Tux of Math Command can be played by more than one student and works with
elementary arithmetic operations, including negative numbers, and "missing
number" questions. The difficulty increases as the player progresses through the
game. The goal is to destroy asteroids that are falling on igloos. To destroy the

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57

asteroids, the students must mentally solve the math problems displayed on
each asteroid.

It is worth noting that mathematical knowledge includes proficiency with tools


such as pencil and paper, technologies, and mental techniques (Seeley, 2005).

Figure 6: Circle 0 software.

The Diffy application is a virtual manipulator designed to encourage students to


learn subtraction. The software simulates a board made up of five quadrilaterals,
with integers placed on the vertices of the outermost shape. The remaining
shapes are formed from the midpoint of each segment (Figure 7). The objective is
to fill in the text boxes with the result of the difference between the largest and
smallest number on the same line. The text box remains blank until the student
answers the question correctly. This process is repeated until all text boxes are
filled. The subtraction operations can be performed on natural, fractional,
decimal, and monetary values.

With Tic Tac Go, version 3, users can explore addition, subtraction, and
multiplication of whole numbers. Each cell contains an operation with integers.
A number at the top of the grid corresponds to the result of the operation
(Figure 8). Players scan the operations, perform an operation, and then select the
cell that will produce the correct answer. The activity is concluded when the
player can mark three correct squares in sequence, either horizontally, vertically,
or diagonally. Competition between two students is also possible. The winner is
the first to complete a correct sequence. In Tic Tac Go 5, the objective is to mark a
sequence of five correct results in the grid.

As arithmetic problems become more complex, mental calculations and


approximations are no longer sufficient to solve them. These more difficult
problems must then be modeled algebraically. Thus, emphasis is given to using
symbols to represent numbers and express mathematical relationships (Star et
al., 2015). Previous experience with numbers and their properties are
fundamental for working with algebraic symbols and expressions, which are

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58

elements of mathematical modeling (NCTM, 2000). Solving these types of


problems allows students to develop their capacity to generalize and deepen
their understanding of the relationships between patterns and algebra (Ontario
Ministry of Education, 2013). The systematic use of symbols to express
quantitative and structural relationships (i.e. representation) allows students to
solve problems (Smith & Thompson, 2007). This context allows mathematical
language and ideas to acquire meaning. Algebraic reasoning provides the basis
for the development and understanding of abstract mathematics (Ontario
Ministry of Education, 2013; Star et al., 2015). Equations and systems of linear
equations are used to represent, analyze, and solve a variety of problems
(Common Core State Standards Initiative [CCSSI], 2010).

Figure 7: Diffy software.

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59

Figure 8: Tic Tac Go software.

The technological modernization of algebra teaching, points to a shift from


memorization to meaningful mathematical action that leads to the development
of initiative and decision making (Yerushalmy, 2006). The visual and numerical
benefit gained from using computers and graphing calculators to work with
symbolic expressions can help students give meaning to algebraic expressions
and equations (Kilpatrick et al., 2001).

The teacher group identified Árvores Algébricas (Algebra Trees) and GeoGebra
for working with algebraic expressions and GeoGebra and Raízes (Roots) for
equations. The Árvores Algébricas (Algebra Trees) software, which was
recommended for developing fluency with arithmetic expressions, can also be
used with algebraic expressions and includes an option for graphing functions.
When students first work with mathematical sentences that express equality,
they need to understand that the equal sign represents a relation between
quantities and is not a symbol indicating that a calculation must be performed.
Activities are necessary that involve recognizing equalities such as 4+3=5+2 and
not just 4+3=7 and 5+2=7 (Ontario Ministry of Education, 2013). The teacher
group observed that the Árvores Algébricas (Algebra Trees) software can assist
with this type of activity. In this software, students recognize the equality
between the expressions 4+3=5+2 (Figure 9) when performing the operations
4+3=7 and 5+2=7 (Figure 10) by successively selecting the options “Expressão”
(Expression) and “Valor” (Value).

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60

Figure 9: The “Expressão” (Expression) option in Árvores Algébricas (Algebra Trees)


software.

Figure 10: The “Valor” (Value) option in Árvores Algébricas (Algebra Trees) software.

When students calculate the roots of equations, most errors arise from using the
quadratic formula (Didis & Erbas, 2015). The Raízes (Roots) application displays
empty boxes where the coefficients a, b and c can be entered. The “Calcular”
(Calculate) button returns either the roots of the equation or a message “Sem
raízes reais” (No real roots). Students can also use the software to calculate the
root of a linear equation by simply setting the coefficient of x2 (i.e. a) to zero.

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61

Once students understand how to solve linear equations, the concept can then be
extended to systems of equations (i.e. two linear equations sharing the same two
variables). According to the Georgia Department of Education (2015), this
process should start with systems whose solutions are ordered pairs of integers.
This makes it easier to locate the intersection of the graphed equations and
simplifies the calculations. More complex systems are then investigated and
solved using graphing technologies. CCSSI (2010) and the Georgia Department
of Education (2015) recommend that in addition to solving systems of linear
equations algebraically, students also estimate solutions by graphing the
equations. For graphing linear systems, our group of teachers identified
GeoGebra, Grapher, Graph, MathGV and Winplot. Each of these applications
allows users to simultaneously graph multiple equations and estimate whether
the system has one, zero, or infinite solutions (for concurrent, parallel, or
coincident lines, respectively).

Although Algebra is historically rooted in the study of general methods of


solving equations, the principles advocated by NCTM (2000) emphasize the
need to work with relationships between quantities, including functions, which
are ways of representing mathematical relationships. This same document
recommends that the focus in middle school should be on linear functions
(rather than non-linear functions) and that these can be demonstrated via tables,
graphs, or equations. The teachers identified GeoGebra, Geonext, GrafEq,
Grapher, Graph, MathGV, SpeQ Mathematics and Winplot for working with 1st
and 2nd degree polynomial functions. One important feature that these
applications share is the ability to introduce functions and their properties while
observing graphical and tabular representations of their domains and ranges.
According to Chen et al. (2015), the understanding of different conversion
processes for representing mathematics, increases the understanding of the
mathematical concepts involved.

The software GeoGebra GeoGebra has been accepted in the teaching of


mathematics for the teaching of Geometry as well as for Algebra (Mingirwa,
2016). GeoGebra not only provides the dynamic geometry features (Cardoso,
Nogueira, Figueira-Sampaio, Santos & Carrijo, 2013), but also shows both an
algebraic and a graphical representation of each mathematical object, which is a
useful feature for the study of algebra. The software also allows students to find
the roots of functions. If users change an object in one representation, the other
representation is immediately updated. Furthermore, the “View” button
displays, it a spreadsheet with ordered pairs that correspond to coordinates on
the graph within the domain of the function.

Our teacher group noted that many of the applications give students the
opportunity to check their answers and discover their mistakes. Feedback on
correct and incorrect actions allows students to correct themselves (Way, 2011)
immediately and then attempt more effective strategies (Hattie & Timperley,
2007). This in turn, allows students to rebuild concepts (Allen, 2007).

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


62

Inequalities, notable products, and algebraic fractions are essential to


mathematics education at the elementary/middle school level (Brasil, 1998;
NCTM, 2000). However, none of the analyzed software offered features or
resources that could help in the development of this content.

Conclusion
Numerical understanding encompasses the ability to deal with numbers and
solve problems. Our map of free software identified viable options for
developing and consolidating concepts related to the number system, operations
and properties of natural and whole numbers, numeric expressions, divisibility,
prime numbers, decomposition into prime factors, GCD, LCM, operations with
rational numbers in fraction and decimal form, comparison and operations on
equivalent fractions, first degree equations, and first and second degree
polynomial functions. Our map lists some content that was not covered by any
of the analyzed software.

The software interfaces are simple and intuitive and some of the applications can
be configured for different languages. The universality of mathematics
characters and symbols makes it easy to use the software in any of the available
languages. In some cases, activities can be performed either on paper while
others require rapid responses that can only be accomplished mentally.

In content areas where more than one application is available, software selection
should consider the didactic-pedagogical requirements of the teacher and the
technical requirements of the computer laboratory.

The software and mapping content feature relationship facilitates the selection of
the resource in the planning of the teaching practice. The teacher develops their
activities around the resources that aid the student in their understanding of
mathematics, in developing computational fluency and in acquiring a positive
attitude in terms of mathematics.

In terms of possible future work, it would be pertinent to consider the use of


educational software in the teaching of mathematics to (a) validate the numerical
concepts and procedures indicated by educators for each software, (b) evaluate
the efficiency of software implementation for numerical and algebraic learning.
Finally, (c) develop and validate strategies and/or material with the use of
software for numeric and algebraic content.

Acknowledgements
The authors are grateful for financial support from the following Brazilian
agencies: Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais
(FAPEMIG) and Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior
(CAPES).

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


63

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 16, No. 11, pp. 67-76, November 2017
https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.16.11.4

PUP Graduate School Services:


A Critique Assessment by the MBA Students

Cecilia Junio Sabio


Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila
(University of the City of Manila) and
Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP)

Ralph Abenojar Sabio


Chairperson, Business Management Department,
St. Scholastica's College, Manila, Philippines

Abstract. This paper looks into the services of PUP graduate school
from the point of the students. Some criteria/areas of accreditation were
considered to be assessed by the MBA students such as security and
safety, facilities, faculty members and the learner management system
(LMS). Of the four areas in the PUP graduate school services, the LMS
was rated to be high by the MBA student respondents which obtained
an overall mean score of 4.09; it was followed by (from highest to lowest
mean) safety and security, faculty members and facilities.

Keywords: PUP, Graduate School, Critique Assessment, MBA students.

Introduction
Generally the management of higher education in the Philippines is traditionally
concerned with the maintenance and enhancement of academic standards and
processes. The expansion, diversification and privatization of higher education
systems worldwide have brought with them an increased concern with the
quality of higher education, in both developed and developing countries (Martin
& Estella, 2007). During the past two decades, there has been an occurrence of a
worldwide call to propose or propagate a new model of teaching-learning
processes for the twenty-first century, especially in graduate education.

In the Philippines, various institutions exist to provide graduate


education. As defined by the Commission on Higher Eduation (CHED),
graduate education is at the apex of the educational system. It is expected to
showcase the best of the academic and intellectual products and processes of the
system. Specifically, graduate education shall be so structured as to enhance
quality, efficiency and effectiveness of higher education; it shall be made more
relevant and responsive to the development needs of the educational system as

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


68

well as to the regional and national development thrusts; and it shall take the
lead role in enhancing the quality of Philippine higher education towards global
competitiveness and world-class scholarship (CHED MORPHE, 2008).

The Polytechnic University of the Philippines (PUP) Graduate School


which was formerly known as the Faculty of Graduate Studies started in 1970
through the issuance of Republic Act 6089 (series of 1970) which gave rise to the
former name of PUP, the Philippine College of Commerce (PCC) to increase the
number of its course offerings (PUP, 2017). As a whole, the institution was
conceived to be a government school of Commerce or Business when it was built
hundred years back. Prior to its name PCC, it was initially called the Manila
Business School which objective is to develop scholars fit for office work and
business establishment. As the years passed by, the former PCC grew to what it
is known today as the biggest University in the Philippines in terms of student
population. Specifically, the PUP Master in Business Administration (MBA)
program, which is the subject of this research, officially opened on July 20, 1971.
The PUP-MBA program, of which current students are the subjects of this
research, is designed to: “develop capable, socially responsible and mature managers
and leaders in today’s global marketplace.” (PUP-MBA program, www.pup.edu.ph).

Currently, the MBA program of PUP has already acquired Level III
accreditation from the Accrediting Agency of Chartered Colleges and
Universities in the Philippines (AACCUP) Inc. Accreditation as defined by
AACCUP (2017) is a process by which an institution at the tertiary level
evaluates its educational activities, in whole or in part, and seeks an
independent judgment to confirm that it substantially achieves its objectives,
and is generally equal in quality to comparable institutions. For University set-
up the highest accreditation that can be granted to an institution which is
categorized with a University status is Levvel IV. Accreditation in the Philippine
setting forms part of the quality assurance mechanisms undertaken by higher
education institutions. This is true to all public and private higher education
colleges/universities. In accreditation process, a group of assessors or
accreditors look into the quality of programs being assessed based on the ten
(10) criteria such as: Mission, Vision, goals and objectives, Faculty Qualification,
Curriculum and Instruction, Students, Research, Extension and Community
Involvement, Library, Physical Facilities and Laboratories, Administration and
Alumni.

According to FGSR (2013) the assessment of quality in graduate


education is critical not only to the success of graduate students but also to the
future of research and creative activity both inside and outside academia. The
fundamental commitment of graduate programs is to achieve the best outcome
or each individual student informs quality assessment. Through on-going and
transparent quality assessment, stakeholders in graduate programs are able to
monitor the progress on improving the quality of the graduate education being
offered. Quality assessment is aimed at monitoring the degree of progress
towards the goals of the graduate program that will lead to the delivery of the
best possible graduate education. Quality assessment is envisioned as a regular

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


69

and on-going part of managing graduate programs, and the results of quality
assessment should be used to inform strategic planning.

In this research, the students as respondents were the ones who assessed
the PUP graduate school and not the group of accreditors, who, in the usual
process of accreditation, are generally composed of academicians from different
Universities in the country. Specifically, the students from Masters in Business
Administration were considered as respondents of this research. Quota
sampling was employed and a total of sixty respondents were considered in this
research. The respondents were composed of more than 50% of the total student
population enrolled during the Saturday MBA class, 2nd semester of School Year
2015-2016. Those who are enrolled in Sunday and week night classes are no
longer included in this research. Those who were available during the class
hours of 7am to 5am were included in this research. These classes were
composed of three (3) MBA sections who were present during the conduct of the
survey. The survey as a data gathering instrument was used in this research; it
considered some criteria/areas of accreditation which are necessary in the
school‟s operation and the point of view of the students were taken to assess
physical facilities, faculty, library, and laboratories. To the researchers‟ view, the
students‟ assessment or critique analysis is a more factual and reliable
information that can be considered in any attempt to improve the services of the
school/university as the students are the ultimate stakeholders and beneficiaries
of all reforms and development of an institution, hence the conduct of this
research.

The researcher made use of a descriptive research method approach.


Descriptive research determines the existing condition and answers the question
“what is”. According to Calderon (1993), descriptive research is defined as the
“purposive process of gathering, analyzing, classifying, and tabulating data
about prevailing conditions, practices, beliefs, process, trends, cause and effect
relationship, and then making adequate and accurate interpretation about such
data with or without the aid of statistical treatment. Further, according to
Franekel and Wallen (1993), descriptive studies described a given state of affairs
as fully as carefully as possibly. The most common instrument and the data
gathering techniques used in the descriptive method are the questionnaire,
interview, observation, and documentary analysis.

Further, a focus group discussion was executed to gather some inputs


from the students In the graduate education areas/services that needs to be
assessed, hence, mixed method approach was used. Specifically, the students
enrolled in the Master‟s in Public Administration (MPA) class were asked to
consider areas for assessment with four specific areas for critique analysis. In the
focus group discussion, the MPA students considered the importance of
assessing the following: safety and security, graduate school faculty members,
facilities in the graduate school Mabini Campus and the Learning Management
Systems. In the process of determining these items through a focus group
discussion, students were likewise asked to come up with specific items under
each areas of critique analysis, resulting with the questionnaire used to gather

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


70

student data from an MBA class. After gathering inputs from the MPA students,
the entries in the questionnaire were subjected to authority judgement and
content validation by two subject experts in the graduate then all their inputs
were considered in the final questionnaire. The final questionnaire were then
constructed in positive statements. However, to be able to validate some entries
in the questionnaire, some negative statements were incorporated in the final
questionnaire. All the necessary protocol were followed before the
questionnaires were floated. Given that qualitative and quantitative research
were employed through the focus group discussion and survey questionnaire,
the researcher employed Mixed Method research techniques.

Objective of the Study


This study aimed to gather an objective critique assessment of the PUP Graduate
School Services, Mabini Campus through students in the MBA program. It
specifically provided the demographic profile of the respondents in terms of
gender, civil status and employment position. Also, it provided a critique
assessment of the graduate school services of PUP in terms of safety and
security, faculty members, facilities and learner management system.

The primary objective of quality assessment is the continuous


improvement in the quality of educational experience being offered by the
graduate programs. Hence, quality assessment should be informed by the
fundamental commitment of graduate programs to achieve the best outcome for
the individual student which will only become effective when faculty, in close
consultation with students as the fundamental stakeholders, play the primary
role in designing or refining assessment procedures. Further, regular review
processes should be used to sustain and advance quality in graduate education
using benchmarks derived from comparable programs at peer institutions. An
additional key benefit of quality assessment is to inform internal and external
stakeholders of the quality and the relevance of the educational experience.
Sharing the goals and outcomes of assessment with all relevant stakeholders,
including the public, helps ensure that assessment efforts are understood and
valued, henceforth the publication of this research.

Focus Group Discussion


To be able to come up with a good questionnaire, twenty students from the
Masters in Public Administration program were invited for a focus group
discussion to get input concerning the things they think should be assessed as
students enrolled in the PUP Graduate School, Mabini Campus. Those who
formed part of the FGD composed of one class in the MPA program which is
20% of the total number of respondents. Those in the Sunday classes, week
nights and off-campus MPA students as well as those enrolled in the PUP Open
University were not considered in this research. Guide questions were
formulated and were given to the students to assist them in their assessment.
Focus group members were specifically given four (4) different types of services
in the graduate school to be assessed, such as safety and security, faculty
members, facilities and learner management systems; their inputs were then
considered as part of the simple survey using Likert Scale technique with 5
being strongly agree and 1 being strongly disagree. The extent of agreement and

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


71

disagreements to the statements were used as verbal interpretation in the survey


questionnaire to be able to fully determine their perception of the respondents
on how the services in the graduate school were felt, experienced or otherwise.

The Profile of the Respondents


The respondents of this research were generally Masters in Business
Administration students enrolled during the first semester of School Year 2016-
2017. Sixty students were randomly selected to respond to the simple survey.
The profile of the respondents is as follows: female dominated which is about
60%, generally single or 70%, majority are in rank and file position which is
about 60%.

Results and Discussion


Table 1 shows the mean distribution of the respondents‟ assessment on PUP
Graduate School‟s safety and security. As seen in the said table, the sufficiency in
the number of security guards who ensures the safety of the stakeholders obtained the
highest mean score of 4.22 which is verbally interpreted as “strongly agree”. All
the other items in the safety and security were rated by the respondents as
“agree” which includes (from highest to lowest mean) the presence of fire exit, fire
extinguisher,etc. which are to be used in case of emergency purposes with a mean score
of 4.05; the readiness of the university clinic and ambulance in case of emergency with a
mean score of 3.93; visibility of CCTV cameras and surveillance cameras in the campus
with a mean score of 3.82 and the observance of the security guards of proper protocol
in inspecting the people that gets into the campus with a mean score of 3.70.

Table 1. Mean Distribution of the Respondents’ Assessment


on PUP Graduate School’s Safety and Security

Verbal
Items in the Safety and Security Mean
interpretation
1. There are enough of security guards to ensure the safety of the 4.22 Strongly Agree
stakeholders
2. There are CCTV and surveillance cameras in the campus 3.82 Agree
3. The guards observe the proper protocol in inspecting the 3.70 Agree
people that gets into the ingress and egress of the campus
4. There are fire exit, fire extinguisher, etc. to be used in case of 4.05 Agree
emergency
5. The university clinic and ambulance are ready in case of 3.93 Agree
emergency
OVERALL WEIGHTED MEAN 3.94 AGREE

Generally, the MBA student respondents “agree” on all the items indicated in
the safety and security of PUP graduate school with an overall mean score of
3.94.

One quality indicator in graduate education is to have a relatively high student


satisfaction with regards to security and access to school facilities. When
students feel safe and secure in an educational facility, the learning process is
enhanced.

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72

Table 2. Mean Distribution of the Respondents’ Assessment


on PUP Graduate School’s Faculty Members

Verbal
Items in the Faculty Members Mean
Interpretation
1. Faculty members have the necessary qualifications 4.12 Agree
2. Faculty members do not adhere to the original schedule of classes 3.0 Neutral
3. Faculty member uses various teaching strategies 4.02 Agree
4. Faculty members are professional and ethical in their dealings to students and 4.22 Strongly Agree
colleagues
5. Faculty members are abreast on recent development in their field of specialization 4.17 Agree

OVERALL WEIGHTED MEAN 3.91 AGREE

Table 2 shows the mean distribution of the respondents‟ assessment on PUP


graduate school‟s faculty members. The sense of professionalism and ethical
standards exhibited by the faculty members to student and colleagues obtained the
highest mean score of 4.22 which is described as “strongly agree”. The statement
that the faculty members do not adhere to the original schedule of classes given to them
in the PUP graduate school obtained the lowest mean score of 3.0 which is
verbally interpreted as “neutral”. The result implies that since classes in the
graduate are done in a conventional and structured way there is no effective
way of conducting classes but to do it traditionally using face to face technique
following the usual schedule given to them. It is essential that faculty members
conduct classes on a regular basis since it is only done on a once a week meeting.
Also, the result could be attributed to the fact that some faculty members are
also teaching in an Open University System of PUP, hence may somewhat mix
the method to an open learning system or self-directed/self-paced methodology.
This findings require immediate attention of administration of the graduate
school so as not to short change the quality of teaching-learning processes.

The following were rated by the MBA students as “agree” (in the order of
preference, highest to lowest mean) faculty members are abreast with the recent
development in their field of specialization with an overall mean score of 4.17; faculty
members have the necessary qualification with a mean score of 4.12; and faculty
members uses various teaching strategies with a mean score of 4.02.

While there is one neutral result on faculty assessment, it garnered an overall


mean score of 3.91 which is verbally described as “agree”. Specifically the
respondents expressed agreements on the following: faculty members are
qualified, employs several teaching strategies, they professional and ethical and
abreast with recent development. The findings is also supported by the report
of the FGSR (2017) of the University of Alberta that one of the goals of graduate
education is to provide high quality training environment for graduate students
and this can only be attained if faculty members are of high quality. In addition,
the Philippine commission on Higher Education in their policies, standards and
guidelines (PSGS) about graduate education, an emphasis was made on high
calibre faculty members for the graduate school.

The Rackham Graduate School, University Of Michigan (2015) recognized that


faculty members‟ play a crucial role in the success of graduate students at the

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


73

graduate school. Faculty members should mentor their students as it supports


the students‟ achievement in research activity, conference or paper presentation,
publication, pedagogical skill, and grant writing. The knowledge that someone
is committed to their progress, who can provide solid advice and be an
advocate, can help to lower stress and build confidence.

A study by Chen, Lattuca, and Hamilton (2008) found that what faculty do in
their programs and courses, both inside and outside of the classroom, might
influence student engagement. And since student engagement is a function of
faculty engagement, faculty members in general influences the quality of student
learning. Hence, the commitment of faculty members in the graduate school to
provide valuable, effective and responsive teaching-learning processes are
necessary for the effective delivery of graduate education.

Table 3. Mean Distribution of the Respondents’ Assessment


on PUP Graduate School’s Facilities
Verbal
Items in the Facilities Mean
Interpretation
1. Classrooms are conducive for learning 4.02 Agree
2. Proper waste disposal are being observed in the campus 3.73 Agree
3. The university library, clinic and laboratory facilities are always available for the 3.67 Agree
students
4. Classrooms are equipped with LCD projector, monitors/smart TV, among others 3.50 Agree
5. Other facilities are not enough to cover the number of students, e.g. case room, IT 3.05 Neutral
research room, etc.

OVERALL WEIGHTED MEAN 3.59 AGREE

Table 3 exhibits the mean distribution of the respondents in terms of their


assessment on PUP graduate school‟s facilities. As shown in Table 3, all the
items included in the facilities were rated by the respondents as “agree” except
for one. The respondents gave a “neutral” rating or assessments on “the other
facilities are not enough to cover the number of students, case room, IT research room,
etc.”, implying that the MBA students are generally satisfied with the number
of facilities in the PUP graduate school in relation to the number of students. The
student respondents expressed agreement on the statement classroom are conducive
for learning which obtained the highest mean score of 4.02. All the other items
were rated by the respondents as “agree” such as proper waste disposal,
availability of library, clinic and laboratory facilities. As a whole, the
respondents rated the PUP graduate school facilities as “agree” with an overall
mean score of 3.59. , suggesting the MBA students are generally happy or
satisfied with the facilities of the said university.

These findings find similarities in the study made in the University of Alberta.
When more than 1800 graduate students were asked to rate the university
resources based on the quality they have experienced, it was revealed that
research laboratories, student counselling/resource centre and information
technology services obtained a mean score of 3.66, 3.40 and 3.62, respectively
which are among the highest mean obtained among the 19 items listed in their
questionnaire (University of Alberta, 2013). Verily, assisting graduate students
in gaining access to required school facilities and research materials ensures

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74

graduate school completion and success, leading to a lower attrition rate and
greater number of graduating students.

Table 4. Mean Distribution of the Respondents’ Assessment


on PUP Graduate School’s Learner Management System (LMS)

Verbal
Learner Management System Mean
Interpretation
1. Learner Management System (LMS) are accessible to the students anytime and 4.22 Strongly Agree
anywhere for viewing of grades, requirements and other purposes
2. The LMS of the graduate school of PUP regularly encounters a system 4.03 Agree
malfunction
3. The LMS of the University is user-friendly and hassle free 4.07 Agree
4. The learning packages (or modules) are also made accessible in the LMS 4.05 Agree
5. The LMS provides convenience to all the students transacting in the graduate 4.10 Agree
school of PUP

OVERALL WEIGHTED MEAN 4.09 AGREE

Table 4 shows the mean distribution of the respondents in terms of their


assessment in the learner management system (LMS) of PUP graduate school. Of
the five items included in this part of the survey questionnaire the accessibility of
the LMS obtained the highest mean score of 4.22 which is nterpreted as „strongly
agree”. The convenience the LMS providing students user-friendly and hassle
free availability of learning packages in the LMS were rated as “agreed” by the
respondents. This means that the students are generally satisfied with the
benefits and presence of LMS.

However, the result that the respondent expresses agreement on the


“malfunctioning” of the LMS on a regular or frequent basis is alarming. This
result should be given much attention by the administrators of PUP graduate
school to be able to address this problem. The fact that the respondents
expressed agreement to this statement requires immediate attention by the
administrators.

Krogman (2014) identified the following aspects necessary to improve the


quality of LMS: 1. Provide early guidance to graduate students to increase
graduate success; 2. Increase accountability of supervisors and departments for
good supervision; 3. Provide training and mentorship to supervisors and
graduate coordinators to raise standards of supervision and mentorship; 4.
Improve the culture of mentorship by continuing to provide, and provide more,
forms of guidance to graduate students.

Umbach and Wawrzynski (2005)identified evidence that suggest faculty


attitudes and behaviours create a culture that emphasizes best practices in
undergraduate education.Faculty practices (e.g., active learning, higher-order
cognitive activities) create an environment that is connected to student
engagement behaviours, student perceptions of the environment, and student
self-reported gains.

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75

Table 5. Summary of the MBA Students’ Critique Assessment


on PUP Graduate School’s Services

Verbal
Items in the Mean
Interpretation
PUP Graduate School’s Services
1. Safety and Security 3.94 Agree
2. Faculty Members 3.91 Agree
3. Facilities 3.59 Agree
4. Learner Management System 9LMS) 4.09 Agree

OVERALL WEIGHTED MEAN 3.88 AGREE

Table 5 shows the summary of the MBA students‟ critique assessment on the
services of PUP graduate school. In the order of preference by the respondents
the following were rated “agree” (from highest to lowest) LMS with a mean
score of 4.09; safety and security with a mean score of 3.94, faculty members
with a mean score of 3.91 and finally, facilities with a mean score of 3.59. As a
whole, the respondents agreed to the all the services of the PUP graduate school
which obtained an overall mean score of 3.88. This result indicates that the
respondents are generally satisfied with the services of the PUP graduate school.
While the result of the critique assessment is high, the graduate school should
still strive to provide the best services to its ultimate beneficiaries and clientele –
the students. There should be continuous improvement on the safety and
security, faculty members, facilities and LMS especially in the items that were
rated to be neutral.

Conclusion
Results of analysis revealed that the Level III accreditation, one of the highest
accreditations any program in a University can attain, validates the high
standards of quality that PUP graduate school exhibits. Whether the critique
assessment would come from the AACCUP assessors, accreditors, or the
students, the result would reveal one result – PUP graduate school epitomizes
efficiency and effectiveness in its systems and processes, as evidenced by the
agreement of the MBA students in all the four services. Its responsiveness to the
students‟ needs and its goal of aiding them in their learning processes realizes
the goal of providing quality graduate education.

References
AACCUP (2017). Definition Of Accreditation,
http://www.aaccupqa.org.ph/index.php/aaccup-accreditation (retrieved on 10
June 2017).
Calderon, F.C. (1993). Methods of Research and Thesis Writing, Manila National
Bokstore, Inc.
Chen, Helen; Lattuca, Lisa and Hamilton, Eric (2008). Conceptualizing Engagement:
Contributions of Faculty to Student Engagement in Engineering. Journal of
Engineering Education, July 2008, Vol. 97(3): 339-353.
CHED (2008). Manual of Regulations for Private Higher Education (MORPHE), Article
XIII, Section 66, p.51 ISBN 978-971-94347-0-2.

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


76

Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (FGSR) Council Working Group on Quality
Measures (2013) A quality Assurance Framework for Graduate Education at the
University of Alberta.Franekel R. & Wallen, Norman. How to design and
Evaluate Research in Education, 2nd Ed. New York: Mc Graw Hill, 1993.
Krogman, Naomi (2014). The Quality of Graduate Student and Trainee Supervision.
Faculty of Agriculture, Life, and Environmental Sciences. University of Alberta.
Martin, Michaela and Stella, Antony (2007) ExternaL Quality Assurance in Higher
Education: Making Choices, UNESCO: International Institute for Education
Planning (IIEP), ISBN:978-92-803-1304-8.
PUP (2017) Graduate School History, https://www.pup.edu.ph/gs/history.aspx,
retrieved on 11 June 2016) .
PUP MBA Program (2017), https://www.pup.edu.ph/gs/MBA.aspx, (retrieved on 11
June 2016) .
Rackham Graduate School, University of Michigan (2015), “How to Mentor Graduate
Students: A Guide for Faculty, http://www.rackham.umich.edu.publications
(retrieved on June 25, 2017).
Umbach, Paul D. and Wawrzynski, Matthew R. (2005). FACULTY DO MATTER: The
Role of College Faculty in Student Learning and Engagement. Research in
Higher Education, Vol. 46, No. 2, March 2005. Doi: 10.1007/s11162-004-1598-1.
University of Alberta (2013). Canadian Graduate And Professional Student Survey.

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


77

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 16, No. 11, pp. 77-91, November 2017
https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.16.11.5

The Professional Development of Adult


Educators: The Case of the Lifelong Learning
Centres (L.L.C) in the Prefecture of Evros, Greece

Kyriaki Anthopoulou
English Language Teacher
Alexandroupolis, Greece

Efthymios Valkanos
Associate Professor, University of Macedonia
Thessaloniki, Greece

Iosif Fragkoulis
Professor, Hellenic Open University
Patras, Greece

Abstract. The purpose of the present study was to record the opinions of
the Greek adult educators who were occupied in the Lifelong Learning
Centres in the Prefecture of Evros during the academic year of 2016-
2017, in relation to the concept of the professional development. The
partial aims of this specific research were: the recording and comparison
of their individual aspects regarding the skills, the training, the
professional development as well as the certification of qualifications
that modern adult educators should obtain. In order for the research to
be realised and for the interpretation of the data the qualitative method
was selected. This became feasible by individual interviewing on ten
adult educators, who cooperated with the Lifelong Learning Centres
existing in the Municipality of Alexandroupolis and the Municipality of
Orestiada. After monitoring the participants‟ viewpoint, the collected
data showed that there was certain converge relating the derived results
around the skills that characterize an adult educator. The general
opinion in the total of the educators was estimated encouraging
regarding their professional development while simultaneously the
latter proved to possess great potential progress. Although the majority
of the adult educators took part in continuous educational programs,
they found them someway insufficient. In conclusion, it was obvious
that the overwhelming majority of the participants did not certify their
qualifications.

Keywords: Adult educators; Skills; Professional development;


Certification of Qualifications; Lifelong Learning Centres.

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78

Introduction
Life long or continuing learning during adulthood is considered a global
phenomenon, sourcing from the rapid changes occurring in the technological,
scientific and sociopolitical contexts (Tsopozidou, 2014). An adult educator is
one of the fundamental elements of the non formal educational system.
Therefore, a significant voluminous Greek and international literacy is available
concerning this complex term. Many academics such as Jarvis, Rogers, Courau
etc, attempted to conceptualize the educator‟s professional identity and to
elucidate the required qualifications.

Generally, any individual who desires to impart any kind of knowledge could
be characterized as an adult educator (Jarvis, 2004). Specifying on the Greek
terms, a person who teaches adults may be a university Professor or a person
who is occupied in the non formal educative structures. Accordingly, adult
educator may also be a Primary or Secondary teacher who trains his colleagues
taking part in literacy classes or even a business executive when large
corporations organise training programmes for their employees. Rogers (1999)
stated that adult educators are considered not only the individuals who teach
but also those who plan educative programmes and more specifically, the
advisors or the overseers. In addition, the Greek legislation declared during 2012
that adult educators are the persons who maintain the typical and the
substantive qualifications rating the Cert for Educators of Adults in the highest
priority (Greek National Organisation for the Certification of Qualifications &
Vocational Guidance [EOPPEP], 2012). Considering the relevant literacy there is
a classification among the teachers concerning their working status (Jarvis, 2004).
The first category refers to those who hold a full time job, working mainly on the
public sector, being the minority of the whole (Kedraka, 2009) and consecutively
to those who have teaching assignments per hour. The second category is
consisted of the majority of the educators and it is limited to the teaching of their
specialty basically as a supplementary type of occupation.

Gaining Qualifications
Any educator wishing to be effective should possess numerous skills
differentiating him radically from the traditional teacher‟s type. It is commonly
recognised that assets associated with an adult instructor are synthetically
complex hence there is a combination of different scientific fields. Except from
the pedagogical certification, skills stemming from psychology, technology and
sociology are crucial to be attained (Tsakirides, 2016).
This skilful person obtains two categories of qualifications. The typical, that refer
to the gained degrees, diplomas or certificates and the substantial that refer to
the shape of the behaviour and other characteristics that the educator has
acquired from his working experience in various contexts. The gained
qualifications appear three dimensional: Knowledge, skills, behaviours.
Furthermore, an educator should possess: teaching abilities, good
communication skills, patience, adaptability, flexibility, empathy, critical
thinking and role adoption (Mockler & Noble, 1981). In Greece, the individual
who desires to gain professional education and to follow professional career on
the field of adult education could attend university studies, undergraduate or

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79

post graduate, seminars or short term training programmes. It should be


mentioned that the European Centre for the development of vocational training
[CEDEFOP] (2009) gave credits to the updated threefold of pedagogical training,
professional skills and to the motive of triggering the desire to work as adult
educator.

As it occurs in many developed countries, in the Greek system, an adult


educator is not a completely shaped profession, the qualifications are penurious
and inappropriate, but simultaneously the existed training programmes are
essential as they promote new knowledge, information, progress and
professional development.

Professional development of adult educators


The term professional development is pivotal for this study. It was firstly
referred in the decade of 1970s. A great number of studies on the professional
progress played a significant role to the lifelong learning. Hence, it is considered
as a lifelong lasting process while it strongly constitutes a personal hypothesis.
More specifically, as a person matures it measures his personal perception, his
working conditions and his personal abilities and inclinations (Greenhaus, 1987).
A part of Greek researches proved that the professional development starts from
an early age creating working stereotypes.

Professional developmental state is not a static and linear condition but it


appears as a deep time consuming self interaction stemming from financial,
psychological, and sociological parameters. Thus, it is true that progresses made
to the profession mean additionally personal and sociological development or as
Levinson (2002) strongly supports when age is combined with experience leads
to progress.

In a parallel concept, the adult educators‟ professional evolvement arose during


1980s, in order to upgrade the lesson quality and to meliorate the role of the
educator. An intense need in development is expressed due the factor that
society changes dramatically, the technology emerges rapidly, new teaching
methods are continuously added and therefore the acquired skills are not
enough. This notion keeps the professional status intact from many out
generated factors as the aforementioned. The developmental process includes all
kinds of knowledge, except for the typical, that an educator acquires from his
systematic work on the adult education field. Those elements are derived mainly
from his participation in the non formal education. Approaching holistically the
professional development of an adult educator incorporating it in the daily life is
a modern tendency. Morphologically, the term is appeared to specific forms as
Training, Post graduate studies on Adult Education, Apprenticeship, Seminars,
Conferences, Lectures, Assessment, and Libraries aiming in self enriching,
cooperation and aspect exchange. Obtaining certain characteristics promotes
cooperation and participation while it is ongoing, it has certain duration, it
promotes self evaluation, critical thinking, reflective skills, it is teacher driven, it
insists on applying the theory to practice and it is part of changing processes.

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80

Among the applied teaching models that support the professional development
in adult education the best known are the critical, the interpretative and the
stochastic one because they focus on instructors‟ personal, educational and
organizational tangible needs being recognized as professional developing
modes. Training and certification are the two principal factors which promote
professional development (Blackman, 1989).

Figure 1. Adult educators’ prerequisites for professional development according to


Jogi & Gross (2009).

Certification of Qualifications and the Greek National Organisation for


the Certification of Qualifications & Vocational Guidance (E.O.P.P.E.P.)
The certification of the qualifications that an adult educator obtains has derived
from the necessity and simultaneously from the absence to recognize officially
the knowledge, the skills and the behaviors that the individuals have achieved in
and out of the educational system in a proper function. The existence of an
established national certification system fosters the financial field (Tsopozidou,
2014). The employment market widens and is more competitive being framed by
highly motivated employees. In Greece, the legislated criteria appeared after the
1990s, when adult education started to gain ground. During the year 1996 the
National Centre for the Accreditation of Lifelong Learning Providers (EKEPIS)
was founded under law and the first adult educators‟ registry became reality but
it was considered mal organized and ineffective.

Progressively, the Greek National Organisation for the Certification of


Qualifications & Vocational Guidance - EOPPEP was founded in 2012 under the
law and the Presidential Decree (EOPPEP, 2012) for the general adult education.
EOPPEP is a Statutory Body supervised by the Minister of Education &
Religious Affairs, Culture & Sports. The first regulated and proven qualifications

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81

of adult educators became a milestone for the professional career because its
mission is to update and upgrade the occupational skills and to link the market
with the personal needs providing at the same time recognition and reliability.
In order for a person to get the certificate, the candidate should form his
personal portfolio and according to the norms to take part in oral and written
examinations. Today the individuals who gained the certification were listed
around 32.000 (EOPPEP, 2012) is organized and linked to the European
standards and policies. Greece appeared to develop an established system later
than other countries. Hence, it is not fully developed. Greek gross domestic
product spent on adult education seems low and it is estimated between 1 to 3
per cent (Tsigarida, 2014).

The case of the Greek Lifelong Learning Centers


Lifelong Learning Centers belong to the non formal education. They were
established under the Greek Law Ν.3879/2010 (Lifelong Learning Centres
[kdvm], 2014). Their principal objective is to promote lifelong learning
completely gratis to any citizen who has turned the age of 18 and wants to
enrich his existing knowledge, to acquire new or basic skills or finally if he
wishes to find or to hold a job.

More specifically, Lifelong Learning Centres are a decentralised form of


Institutes because it is on the municipalities‟ responsibility to perform types of
adult education under the supervision of the Greek Ministry of Education &
Religious Affairs. They are implemented by the National Strategic Reference
Framework (ESPA) conferred by the European Union. They offer two
dimensional classes. The first are the national range programmes which refer to
a vast theme zone: economy, business, life quality, technology, civilization, arts,
history, and foreign languages. The second refer to the local range programmes
that are opted by each municipality according to the local market needs. For the
proper function of these centers more than seven public bodies cooperate.

The target of the Lifelong Learning Centers is to: create positive learning
attitude, flexibility, availability and connection to the market place, familiarize
people with technology, create active citizens, support the free access to
education, upgrade the society, support sex equality, promote educative quality
and certification due to the fact that these centers were recently linked to
EOPPEP.

It is a democratic strategy with social mission for any prefecture which wishes to
organize and materialize programmes adaptable to the needs of the citizens.
Each programme lasts for 25 hours and each group is consisted of 25 persons.
Adult educators who teach in those centers work voluntarily but they get a
working experience certificate.

As far as the Lifelong Learning centers of Evros prefecture are concerned, the
latter founded centers in all municipalities and more specifically in
Alexandroupolis, in Orestiada, in Didimoteichon, in Souflion and in Samothrace.
Due to financial problems the centers which operate are limited to two, fact that

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82

is a confining factor for the present research. Organized adult programmes that
are offered by the two municipalities are related to foreign languages, computer
literacy and agriculture due to the provincial character of the prefecture. Table 1
and table 2 depict the people‟s need to participate in the classes.

Table 1. Completed Programmes in LLC of Alexandroupolis from 2012 to 2016.

Table 1. Completed Programs in


Alexandroupolis 2012-2016

250

200
2012
150 2013
2014
100
2015

50 2016

0
2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

Table 2. Completed Programmes in the LLC of Orestiada from 2013 to 2016.

Table 2. Completed Programs in Orestiada


2013-2016
60

50

40 2013

30 2014
2015
20
2016
10

0
2013 2014 2015 2016

Method
The purpose of the approach was to monitor the educators‟ aspects on several
questions relating to the fields of qualifications, continuous training and its
essentiality, certification of qualifications and professional development. The
data interpretation should respond to the four research questions formed for the
feasibility of the present study. More specifically, the questions dealing with the
topics were the following:
1. What are the basic skills that an adult trainer should possess?
2. Why do trainers are interested in continuing training and certification?
3. Do the programmes the educators’ have attended respond to their needs?
4. Have the programmes affected on the educators’ effectiveness?

The principal aim of this research was to highlight an educator‟s qualifications,


to outline the professional development of the field and to scrutiny the extent

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83

that the educators are trained and certify their skills in terms of the acquired
knowledge. In addition, the objectives of this work were to investigate whether
the trainers consider necessary to participate in training and whether the
programmes they participated in responded to their expectations.

A qualitative research was conducted for the sake of immediacy because such
approaches are not considered to monitor parameters only on the surface of a
theme but it copes with it in detail. Furthermore, clear and special points of view
are expressed and the participants may easily share their personal experiences.
Additionally, the critical thinking arises and it becomes feasible to tackle
overgeneralizations. The reason behind the choice of the Lifelong Learning
Centres of Evros Prefecture was to record if the professional development has an
impact on the provincial areas.

Time and place


The research initialised after official and signed allowances were provided from
each municipality. The interviews took place in the offices of the Lifelong
Learning Centres in order to facilitate the educators‟ access. The research was
conducted on the 23d and the 24th of March 2017 in Alexandroupolis while the
rest of the interviews were taken on the 28th and the 29th of the same month in
Orestiada. The data analysis and de-recording was conducted after the ten
interviews were completed and the oral speech was transferred to written
records. The whole process lasted approximately 3 weeks. Additionally, the
transcription process began after the first interview on 23 March 2017 and was
completed on April 4, 2017.

Sampling
The participants of the research were 10 adult educators of both sexes who were
occupied during the current academic year 2016-2017 in the two Lifelong
Learning Centres. The sample was chosen randomly. Also, it can be referred as
sample of convenience due to the short range of the research. The population
was estimated homogenous by sharing a common characteristic: they were adult
educators. Further endeavors were made to combine a variety of other
characteristics such as the country of origin, the economic level, the teaching
performance and the level of social behavior in order to increase the accuracy
and reliability of the derived data.

Data collection tool


According to the protocols, each participant‟s interview was recorded to a
portable recorder.

The tool was a questionnaire with a unique format, segmented in 5 separate


classes including close and open questions in accordance to the topic while it
was customised to reflect simplicity and preciseness. The interviewing process
lasted from 15 to 25 minutes for each participant.

More specifically, the first question category included close questions in relation
to demographic data referred in the interview format as Class A: Demographic

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84

information, requiring first name, age, marital status, studies, teaching


experience, professional/occupational status, adult education is for you a: A)
exclusive work or B) complementary work (select).

The second category included two open questions in order to introduce the
participants normally to more complex questions or to make them feel
comfortable with the interviewing process. This category was entitled as Class
B: Professional career, asking the individuals to utter to the following:
•Refer to your professional career to adult education?
•What were the reasons that prompted you to become involved in adult education?

The third category challenged the participants to answer by recalling their


knowledge and by expressing their personal cogitations on critical questions
such as to define who is an adult educator, to list his qualifications (typical and
non typical), to comment on the training attendance, to criticise the necessity and
the appropriateness of the training programmes and to refer to their occupation
to the Lifelong Centres. More specifically, the third step was named
Class C: Special Questions:

•Who do you consider as an adult trainer?


•What should be the appropriate training of an adult educator?
•Have you attended a training program? (If so, how much and what, if not justify)
•Do you think that the programs have responded to your needs?
•If your answer was positive: evaluate their effectiveness.
• Do you share the opinion that an adult trainer should attend training programs?

The fourth category monitored if the participants were familiar to the Greek
established certification system EOPPEP, if they obtained a certificate and how
important seemed EOPPEP to their career.
Consecutively, the interviewing questionnaire proceeded in Class D:
Certification:

• Do you obtain adult educator’s certification?


• Do you belong in any registry?
•Express your point of view regarding certification of educational competence. Do you
consider it necessary? State your opinion.

In the last category, the participants were asked to provide information about
the professional development of the examined field and if any chances to
promote professional development existed. Moreover, they were asked to
express their feelings on the adult educator as a separate profession. Finally,
they were challenged to respond if training and certification promote
professional development. This last question category was referred in the
interviewing format as Class E: Professional development:

• Do you think that nowadays an adult educator is considered as a separate profession?


• Do you think adult education provides you opportunities to be professionally
developed? Justify your answer.
• Do you think an adult trainer wishes to be developed in a professional level? Justify

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85

your answer.
• Do you think there are opportunities for professional development for an adult trainer?
Make your references.
• In what way training contributes to the professional development of the field?
• Do you support the aspect that certification of qualifications is a form of professional
development?

Research main Findings


Commenting on the findings it is clarified that they reassure the theoretical
approach. As far as the first category is concerned, it should be mentioned that it
is referred to close questions about demographic data collection. The results
showed that the age of the participants ranged between 29 and 39 years old,
while it was consisted of 5 men and 5 women. The participants to their total held
an undergraduate degree related to their teaching subject. Simultaneously, 2
individuals completed post graduate studies on adult education. All of them had
a significant experience on the field which ranged from 250 hours to 10 years.
The principal results recorded that 10 out of 10 were occupied in the fields of
adult education complementarily while all of them worked voluntarily without
being paid obtaining at the same time their teaching experience certificate.

The second category included illustrative questions on the educators‟


professional progress and tried to explore the reason behind being occupied as
adult educators. The derived data showed that the participants preferred adult
education for a variety of reasons. 3 participants out of 10 expected a better
professional future and as one of them stated "The reason I chose adult education
was to gain teaching experience that would probably lead me to a better professional
future"(Eleni). In addition, for 3 participants out of 10 adult education
constituted a personal option, "I consider it as personal inclination and preference"
(Sotiria). Furthermore, 3 out of 10 chose to work in the field because of the
financial crisis and for gaining an extra income or in order to pass their leisure
time creatively. Quoting on some of the participants‟ utterances: "I started two
years ago, because of the economic crisis. My working hours have reduced and I had to
cover up my free time creatively, even through volunteer work" (Andreas), "The
reasons were highly economic" (Georgios).

The third category tried to specify more deeply and was associated with special
questions on the terms of training and skills. The majority of them (8 people)
participated in a training seminar but they still seemed to hesitate about the
outcome and the benefits that had been provided to them. Attending various
training programmes or seminars appeared to be effective but a significant part
expressed disappointment concerning their appropriateness and adaptation to
real teaching environments. Citing on some remarkable responses, the
individuals were expressed as it follows: "I think the theory is far from the
practice"(George),"The knowledge I received was very important to me"(Sotiria), "The
training programs I attended fulfilled my expectations" (Mary),
"I consider it a waste of time" (Konstantinos). The following table depicts the
training tendency of the ten educators.

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86

The thoughts being expressed on the necessity of the training programs were
in their total positive: "It is necessary for an adult trainer to be trained
continuously because this is how he gets better in his role" (Mary), or "I believe he
should be constantly informed about the new teaching methods" (Konstantinos) and
finally, "It is a great opportunity to be informed, to learn, to revise, to apply and to
experiment in practice what has been taught during the seminars" (Sotiria).
Proceeding to the third category, the participants owed not only to respond to
the two main questions but also to give a definition of who is supposed to be an
adult educator and what qualifications should someone possess. An adult
educator was defined as the person who was occupied to the non formal
education, someone who trained adults, someone who wished to be trained
continuously or someone who had certified his qualifications. "I consider him as
the one who has as his main job to train adults" (George), "An adult trainer is one who
has the appropriate knowledge to teach adults" (Panagiotis), "Whosoever wishes to
teach adults" (Katerina), "The one who has been certified and trained as an adult
trainer" (Andreas), "An adult trainer is a professional who has the qualifications for
pursuing a profession and is able to fulfill his educational goals" (Athanasia). The
answer in the question about the educators‟ qualifications varied while at the
same time brought together typical and non typical skills. An educator appeared
as an informed individual having democratic beliefs, promoting dialogue and
critical thinking. Additionally, he was derived to possessing great
communicational skills and providing motivation to others. He seemed to be an
expertise in his studies. Finally, he appeared equipped with patience managing
to decentralize the role of the typical teacher."I think he should be equipped with
patience and perseverance, he should be continually informed and educated using new
methods and technology as well as relying on dialogue" (Mary), "He should have the
charisma of combining and adapting having a humble character. Trainee adults are very
demanding"(Panagiotis),"Communication is everything "(Konstantinos).
Asking the ten educators if there were existed any parameters that they wished
to evaluate, all of them agreed and expressed ten different aspects "Yes, I would
like to improve the technology involvement in the course"(Christos)," I want to be
exercised on the emotional intelligence" (Athanasia),"Personally, I would like to
improve the part of managing people who create obstacles during the course "(Mary).
Shifting the question on the appropriate studies of an adult educator, 8
individuals uttered that it was essential to hold post graduate studies on adult
education while 2 participants theorized that seminars and training were the key
to success. "The trainer should definitely have a master's degree" (Panagiotis), "I
think he should have higher education and postgraduate studies" (Athanasia),

The fourth category referred on the expressed thoughts on the Greek


certification system. Only 3 out of 10 participants have certified their
qualifications. The main reason that was laid behind the low participation in the
examination was that in the province areas small rates of unemployment or
antagonism were recorded. Simultaneously, both approving and disapproving
points of view were expressed. Certification seemed not to be an important
reason in occupation. Participants claimed that the wrong strategies, the
bureaucracy, the time consuming process and the cost made the organisation
problematic, dysfunctional and not innovative in relation to the knowledge that
was offered. On the other hand, certification constituted the first step for

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87

objectivity in the field of adult education, separating people who really wished
to be professional educators and it was claimed essential for someone who
wanted to reassure his working position. "I consider the obtaining of the certificate
important because through the process it will be clear who is really able to work as an
adult educator"(Mary),

"I think that as long as there are occupational opportunities, it is not so necessary to
obtain it because the working antagonism is not as great as in the big city centers"
(Georgios), "I think it is necessary but it is time-consuming. Only those who own it
should work in as educators"(Christos),"It is essential and very important to highlight
who is an adult trainer. However, the examination seems a bit incomplete and
dysfunctional"(Andreas),"I consider certification a remarkable step for objective
assessment on the qualifications of adult educators, but when I participated in the
examination I noticed many shortcomings referring to the coordination and organization
of EOPPEP. I considered the process of examining micro-teaching unfair"(Eleni).
Asking the part of the participants who did not wish to obtain a certificate on
their skills they responded that there was no further knowledge offered to
acquire while the participation fee was estimated high.

The fifth and last category was consisted of questions about the professional
development of the field. The majority cogitated that adult education was not a
complete or defined profession due to the instability and the complementary
character of the occupation. One participant believed that this occurred because
there were core differences between adult education and typical educational
system. They noticed that there was a tendency for professional development
not only by the side of the educators but also from the one of the Greek state.
Besides, the chances for the educators were not numerous and they were not
being paid properly. The general aspect depicted a strong preference in adult
education because of the financial crisis and due to the fact that Greek adult
education presented potential progress. All respondents replied that they did
not believe that under the existing conditions they could be considered as
professionals, but as complementary or occasional teachers, since they did not
feel stability and security. "I think there is a great difference. Personally, I believe this
happens because it differs from teaching children "(Mary)
"For me an adult educator is not a profession because no one can teach continuously but
only occasionally" (Georgios). In addition, they expressed the opinion that even
though an adult trainer attempted to create a profession there was no special
opportunities for professional development. "I think adult education is growing
rapidly during recent years and the adult trainer has several but not many opportunities
for professional development. There are very good bases for someone who wants to be
developed but I am negative because the chance to work is only for a limited time
period"(Mary), "I think professional development exists because of the crisis, most
people work in the adult education field because they do not have other opportunities like
me. There may be opportunities for professional development because of the huge number
of the training organizations but I think it has an expiring date"(Panagiotis) "There are
opportunities for someone who wants to seize them. The Educators’ Registrer and the
EOPPEP exams are considered to be the first step towards professional development
"(Athanasia),"I do not think there are any remarkable prospects" (Sotiria), I believe
that despite personal study, strong effort and continuous training, the state seems to

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88

ignore the professional development of the sector" (Eleni). Asking the participants if
training contributed to the professional development of the adult educator, the
views expressed by the participants were mostly positive, but some negative
opinions were also heard." It is a personal preference how much and on what each one
will be trained" (Eleni) "Without training there is no growth" (Katerina) finally, on
questioning whether qualification certification was a form of professional
development, the opinions that were stated were diametrically opposed.
Participants did not believe that the aforementioned certification was something
that would contribute to the professional organization while others consider
EOPPEP a prerequisite. "I do not think that certification is yet another skill to prevent
the trainer from losing his job" (Mary),
"It could be considered a form of professional development because candidates will go
through issues that deal with adult education" (Georgios).

Discussion and Conclusion


This study was conducted in order to identify the personal views of the 10 adult
educators and how they were incorporated to the professional development
model. It was estimated that the educators did not possess the typical or the
appropriate skills while the minority certified their qualifications. The
certification concept was characterized ambiguous. A strong aspect that was
derived was that the acquired knowledge should be officially recognized as in
the case of EOPPEP, the Greek qualification certification organisation, but the
educators did not feel the need to certify their skills due to the low competing
rate. In addition, those who experienced the examination process insisted that it
was rather problematic, feeling at the same time reluctant about the offered
benefits. Certifying the existing qualifications proved controversial in this
research. According to the General Secretariat of Lifelong Learning and Youth
“the educational competence is defined as the proven response to professional
examination by confirming existing knowledge, skills and experience as they are
applied on the Certified Professional Outline of Adult Trainers in
correspondence to the framework of educational Trainers” programmes
(General Secretariat of Lifelong Learning [GSLL], 2013). Although the
overwhelming majority regarded educational competence as a necessary skill,
they did not obtain it and did not belong to the Adult Trainer Sub-Register.
Those remarkable conclusions confirmed the necessity to provide quality and
objectivity in Adult Education (Sotiropoulou, 2008). It was admitted that the
participation in training seminars and the presence of certification offered by
EOPPEP updated the trainer to seize the opportunity to be developed
(Tsopozidou, 2014). EOPPEP is the first established and organized effort of the
Greek state being in a developmental stage (Savvaki, 2016). Moreover, obtaining
educational competence prioritized an adult trainer. EOPPEP proved to be the
only organization in our country that promoted professional development, gave
prestige and clarified the different concept of adult education. Certification was
estimated to lead to socio-economic development, making necessary to alter the
underestimated view on adult education due to the existence of unilateral
actions.

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89

The positive aspects about training were encouraging while the sample
appeared rather skeptical on the issue if those seminars addressed their more
and more increasing needs realizing at the same time the difficulties that would
be faced when applied in the class. There was a great disappointment because of
the occupational instability and the economical issues due to the financial crisis
occurring in Greece the last 8 years. Those who attended a relevant programme
admitted that their participation had greatly improved their effectiveness by
making them better adult educators with experience on teaching techniques and
methods while others identified obstacles that they encountered during the
learning process. Citing on Mavrogiorgos‟s view (2009), training on non-formal
education contributed positively and responded to needs by providing to the
trainers the opportunity to renew and to improve their educational and
professional level. Then, it became feasible for the educator, to be updated and
more effective and competitive. According to Giannakopoulos (2015), the factors
that contributed to the effectiveness of the training was the target of realistic
goals, the link of the theoretical knowledge with the practical application, the
possibility of collaborative learning as well as the flexibility of the forms of
learning according to the needs.

Potential dissatisfaction during participation in training programmes is


confirmed by Giannakopoulos (2015) stating that "the results of the training have
not been sufficiently explored in terms of the features that make it effective. The
given impression supported that education was spasmodic and uncoordinated
which is reasonable because „in Greece there is a lack of organized and effective
strategies‟ (Giannakopoulos, 2015, p. 34).

Generally speaking, it was admitted that the adult educator‟s dimensions differ
radically from the theory to the real practice. The qualifications of an Adult
Trainer were not restricted on the high educational level but they appeared as a
constant combination of the characteristics of an individual, the gained
experience and the practical applications of the teaching techniques. The
respondents uttered that those adult educators should have theoretical
knowledge of the subject they teach, transmissibility, adaptability, emotional
intelligence and animosity. On top of that, it proved important not only to be
insistent but also to be familiar with technology and informed about innovative
learning techniques. The list of qualifications of a competent Adult Teacher is
long and combines characteristics from different fields of science such as
pedagogy, sociology and psychology, but according to Pazianou (2007) in many
teaching schools training on sociology and psychology was degraded to
nonexistent. Tsakirides (2016) claimed that the qualifications of an adult trainer
were typically and materially categorized. Regarding qualifications, an adult
educator seems to be a complex character devoted to his job and focused on the
humanized kind of education (Tsakirides, 2016).

Another point that should be mentioned was the dominant notion of the
professional development. In Greek reality the chances for an educator exist but
they are extremely limited. People who wanted to fulfill the role of the
professional teacher were often marginalized without even forming a separate

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90

scientific field. In addition, as far as the professional development of the field is


concerned, respondents believed that it ceased to grow and a respected part of
trainers considered the future to be ominous due to the current financial crisis.
As Tsopozidou (2014) argued, there was a fictitious line of the preconditions of
the professional development on adult educators. According to several
academics, professional development seemed to be linked and influenced not
only by the personal and professional choice but also by the trainer's identity
shaping. These components remained fluid when examining the changing social
economic context, the expectations and the trainers‟ needs.

Additionally, the population admitted that many things should be changed,


developed and revised. Not surprisingly, the educators were familiar with the
fact that adult education was yet an emerging and a very promising field for
someone who wanted to be a professional.

This study is suggested to those who are willing to investigate thoroughly the
reasons and the obstacles of the adult educators‟ professional development
expressing their wish to criticize on the established systems of certifying the
qualifications. The present approach clarifies the problems that are encountered
in Lifelong Learning Centers while it simultaneously enriches the existent
literature offering ideas for further research. A further examination of the issue,
based on the derived data of the present research, is recommended. The sample
should be expanded including participants from a wider variety of centers and
scientific fields from all over the country. Furthermore, the Greek government
and the responsible ministries should be informed about the problems that are
demonstrated during the current research in an attempt to make them aware of
them and lead to their solution. Therefore, it is thought that the present research
could constitute the tinder for the development and the elimination of obstacles
in the fields of Lifelong Learning in Greece.
Furthermore, the under research topics could be conducted in a quantitative
research by distributing questionnaires to adult educators and educational
managers or programme advisors from all the Greek Lifelong Learning Centers.
This could lead to the examination of various hidden fields concerning Lifelong
Learning.

Acknowledgements
The authors would like to thank Mr. Efthymios Valkanos, Associate Professor of
the University of Macedonia and Mr. Iosif Fragkoulis, Professor of Hellenic
Open University for supervising and supporting the present study.

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Sotiropoulou, A. (2008). Incentives for the participation of adult trainers in informal learning
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Tsakirides, A. (2016). Investigating the views of adult teachers of non-formal education on their
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92

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 16, No. 11, pp. 92-115, November 2017
https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.16.11.6

Students’ Loans by Financial Institutions: The


way to reduce a burden for Government
Funding to Higher Education in Tanzania

Veronica R. Nyahende
Department of Allocation and Disbursement,
Higher Education Students’ Loans Board,
Dar es salaam, Tanzania

Abstract. Students’ Loans are Government Loans extended to students


in Higher Learning Institutions (HLIs), these Loans has to be repaid
back on or after expiry of the grace period (HESLB, 2004). The purpose
of this study is to assess the feasibility of engaging financial institutions
to partner with the Government in financing higher education by
addressing the following objectives:(i) to determine whether there is
policy consideration for students’ loans provision by financial
institutions (ii) to examine the readiness of the students in the higher
learning institutions to be financed by financial institutions (iii) to
investigate the readiness of the financial institutions to provide loans to
students of the higher learning institutions.
Data were collected through interviews, review of various documents
and questionnaires in which 90 respondents were obtained 7 from
financial institutions and 83 from higher learning institutions. Software
package for statistical science (SPSS) and content analysis was used to
analyse data, results of the analysis were presented in tabular form,
frequency distribution table and the bar charts.
It was concluded that financial institutions in Tanzania does not have
the policy to support students’ loans provision hence they are not ready,
students’ in higher learning institutions are ready to be financed by
financial institutions. The study recommends that the financial
institutions in Tanzania should establish students’ loans provision
policy in their operations, universities or colleges to include policy
which allows students to seek for alternative funding for their education
other than the Government. Timely repayment among Students for
smooth operation of the financial institutions. Education by HESLB on
the need for alternative funding from financial institutions. Financial
Institutions for Higher Education Financing.

Keywords: Students’ Loans; Financial Institutions; Higher Learning


Institutions; Government; feasibility.

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93

1.0 Introduction
1.1 Students’ Loans and the need for Alternative Funding

Students’ loans are given to students at lower interest rate to pay off their higher
education related expenses such as tuition fees, books and stationeries expenses.
These costs are payable to universities or university colleges (Nyahende, 2013).
According to Chapman & Mathias (2011) higher education is becoming
important in the 21st century to individuals and to the society at large for sake of
economic prosperity, advancement of democracy as well as social justice.
Therefore, the increase in demand for higher education has lead to the increase
of the cost of higher education coupled with the inability of the Government to
fully fund the rising cost of higher education due to its limited budget
(Barr,2009). This situation has lead to a significant growth of students’ loans
schemes all over the world (Ziderman,2004).
In Tanzania, the students’ loans scheme started to be operated in July, 2005
under the Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB). HESLB is a body
corporate established under the Act No.9 of 2004, (as amended) with the
objective of assisting needy Tanzanian students, who secure admission in
accredited higher Education institutions (HEIs). The Board has the task of
advising the Government on matters relating to issuance of loans including
seeking for alternative source of funding (HESLB, 2004).
Demand for higher Education in Tanzania has been increasing as evidenced by
the increase in students’ loans applications annually, this has led to the need for
other source of finance to satisfy the increased demand.

1.1.2 Mismatch between students’ loans application and allocation at HESLB

The increased enrolments in higher learning institutions, as a result of the


increase in Secondary schools following the recently established Ward
Secondary Schools and other Secondary schools, has lead to an increase in
demand for higher education. The same was evidenced by the increase in the
number students’ loans applicants from 49,914 in year 2012/2013 to 55,033, and
62,359 in year 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 respectively. Table 1 shows the trend of
the gap between students’ loans applications and the allocated students or
accepted students under students’ loans scheme.
Table 1: Number of Loan Applications and Allocations
No. of No. of (%Allocated No. of Students
Year not allocated
Applications Allocations students

2012/2013 49,914 29,097 58% 20,817

2013/2014 55,033 33,494 61% 21,539

2014/2015 62,359 29,473 47% 32,886

Total 167,306 92,064 55% 75,242

Source: HESLB (2015a)

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94

Number of Applications No. of Applications No. of Allocations


70,000
60,000
50,000
40,000
30,000
20,000
10,000
0
2012/2013 2013/2014 2014/2015
Financial Year

Figure 1: The Trend of Loan Applications vs Loans Allocations between 2012 and 2015

During the loan allocation process, after means testing some students are left out
even though they are eligible and needy due to the limited amount of fund
available. By partnering with financial institutions, these students will be given
an option to seek for loans from financial institutions under special
arrangements (HESLB, 2017). In that case HESLB is supposed to plays the role of
negotiator on behalf of these applicants so that fair terms and conditions are set
for mutual benefit of students (beneficiaries) and respective financial
institutions.
According to Table 1, number of unallocated student or unaccepted students
after means testing is increasing due to limited fund obtained from the
Government. For three consecutive years, the Board (HESLB) has been receiving
the same amount of money from the Government budget regardless of the
increasing number of students’ enrolments, hence the number of applicants
offered loans has been diminishing annually (HESLB, 2015a).
With such trend, the number of students offered students’ loans is expected to
decrease continuously year after year. Unless strategic interventions are
undertaken, financing of higher education in Tanzania will increasingly
continue to be under critical financial constraints.

1.2 Research Objectives

1.2.1 General Objective

The general objective of this survey was to assess the feasibility of engaging
financial institutions in financing higher education.
Specific Objectives
(i) To determine on whether there is policy consideration for students’ loans
provision by financial institutions

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95

(ii) To examine the readiness of the students in the higher learning


institutions to be financed by financial institutions
(iii) To investigate the readiness of the financial institutions to provide loans
to students of the higher learning institutions.

1.2.2 Research Questions

(i) Is there any policy consideration in the financial institutions regarding


students’ loans provision?
(ii) Are the students ready to be financed by the financial institutions?
(iii) Are the financial institutions ready to engage in students’ loans
provision?

2. Methodology
2.1 Research Design

According to Saunders, Lewis, & Thornhill, (2007), research design is an outline


of how the survey or an investigation will take place. Therefore, in this study
cross- sectional research design was used in data collection, research questions
were used to guide the study also frequency with which something occurred or
relationship among variables were determined. Both desk and field research
were applied

2.2 Area of the Study, Population and Sample Selection

This survey was conducted in the Dar es salaam city. the study was conducted
in seven Universities in which 83 respondents consisting of management staff,
dean of students, bursars, loan officers, and leaders of students’ Organization
were obtained. 4 Financial Institutions were visited too in which response were
from Loan management team, Branch managers and loan officers. The
Universities consists of the Dar es salaam (UDSM), Institute of Finance
Management (IFM), Dar es salaam University College of Education (DUCE),
College of Business Education (CBE), Dar es salaam Institute of Technology
(DIT), Hurbert Kairuki Memorial University (HKMU) and Tumaini University
Dar es salaam Campus (TUDARCO). Financial institutions visited were
Tanzania Women Bank (TWB), Bank M, Tanzania Postal Bank (TPB) and
National Bank of Commerce (NBC).
The researcher obtained the list of Universities from Tanzania Commission for
Universities (TCU) database. List of financial institutions were also obtained
from Bank of Tanzania (BOT) database.
Population of the study consists of Universities Management (22), Dean of
students (7), Bursars (7), loans officers (7), leaders of the students’ organizations,
(40) Loan management team in the financial institutions (4), branch managers (1)
and loan officer (2).
Given the researcher’s knowledge and believe that the selected sample gives the
desired answers, the use of stratified and purposive sampling was relevant in
this phenomenon compared to other sampling techniques. The researcher
needed respondents who are from management levels, leaders in students’

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96

organizations and leaders in loan management who understand the knowledge


and the importance of engaging financial institutions in students’ loans
provision.
A total number of 100 questionnaires were distributed, 90 questionnaires (90%)
were properly filled and returned by the respondents.

2.3 Sample Characteristics

Financial Institution (FI)


Under the financial institutions, the characteristics of the respondents were
categorised in term of the name of the financial institution, the ownership of the
financial institutions, policy for students’ loans considerations and consideration
for gender parity. In order to understand the collected data, the descriptive
analysis was conducted by the researcher. The detailed sample characteristic is
as detailed in Table 2 to 4.

Name of the Financial Institution


Questionnaires were evenly distributed among the four selected financial
institutions. The findings indicate that more than 40% of the respondents were
from NBC followed by TPB which is represented by more than 28% of the
respondents. The remaining percentages was evenly distributed among the
financial institutions. This distribution has been explained more in a percentage
form using the bar chart under Figure 2.

Table 2: Name of the Financial Institution


Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative
Percent

TPB 2 28.6 28.6 28.6


NBC 3 42.9 42.9 71.4

Valid TWB 1 14.3 14.3 85.7


BANK
1 14.3 14.3 100.0
M
Total 7 100.0 100.0

Source: Survey data (2017)

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97

Figure 2: Financial Institution Name

Institution ownership

A Total four financial institutions were visited with different ownership ranging
from private ownership, government ownership and the private- government
(Share) ownership. The results indicate that more than 1/2 of the financial
institutions visited had the shared ownership between the government and the
private, followed by 28% which are government owned, were by private
ownership is formed by only 14%. Researcher expected to find more financial
institutions under the shared ownership between the government and private
compared to government ownership this is due to the recent privatization move
of the public institutions. This distribution has been explained more in a
percentage form using the bar chart under Figure 3.

Table 3: Institution Ownership


Frequency Percent Valid Cumulative
Percent Percent
Private 1 14.3 14.3 14.3
Governmen
2 28.6 28.6 42.9
Valid t
Share 4 57.1 57.1 100.0
Total 7 100.0 100.0

Source: Survey data (2017)

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98

Figure 3: Institution Ownership

Is There Any Policy for Student Loan Consideration?

80% of the respondents from financial institutions indicates that there is no


policy regarding students’ loans provision, while only 14% of the respondents
indicates the presence of the policy considerations for students’ loans provision.
The results represent fairly the population because the researcher expected to
find the same, as most of the financial institutions do give educational loans to
employees in collaboration with the social security schemes which provide
guarantee to the employees. This distribution has been explained more in a
percentage form using the bar chart under Figure 4.

Table 4: Is There any policy For Student Loan consideration

Frequency Percent Valid Cumulative


Percent Percent
Yes 1 14.3 14.3 14.3
Valid No 6 85.7 85.7 100.0
Total 7 100.0 100.0

Source: Survey data (2017)

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Figure 4: Is There any Policy for Student Loan Consideration

Higher Learning Institutions

Under the higher learning institutions the characteristics of the respondents


were categorised in term of Name of the University College, Institution
ownership, Enhancement of more loans to the needy students, University to
surrender certificates of loans beneficiaries, Financial institutions will be allowed
to request for additional securities, is there policies of considering students to
seek loans from financial institutions,, should there be consideration for gender
parity and financial institutions can use beneficiaries certificates as collateral. In
order to understand the collected data, the descriptive analysis was conducted
by the researcher. The detailed sample characteristic is as detailed in Table 5 to
11.

University or College name

A total of 83 respondents were obtained, respondents from UDSM forms 1/5 of


the total population. The researcher expected UDSM to represent a greater
portion of the population because of a big coverage it has a big number of
management team, and leaders of the students’ organization and it is the oldest
compared to other universities in the country, respondents from IFM forms 18%
of the total population, also HKMU was expected by the researcher to form the
least percentages of the respondents (at 5%) because it has less coverage
compared to other universities under the study). Therefore, there were fair
university/college distribution, this is also explained more by the bar chart
shown under Figure 5.

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100

Table 5: University/College
Frequency Percent Valid Cumulative
Percent Percent
IFM 15 18.1 18.1 18.1
CBE 14 16.9 16.9 34.9
DIT 10 12.0 12.0 47.0
UDSM 17 20.5 20.5 67.5
Valid HKMU 4 4.8 4.8 72.3
DUCE 14 16.9 16.9 89.2
TUDARC
9 10.8 10.8 100.0
O
Total 83 100.0 100.0
Source: Survey data (2017)

Figure 5: University or College

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101

Institution Ownership (College/University)

Results of the respondents from Universities/Colleges presented indicates that


more than 80% of the respondents were from universities or colleges owned by
the government, while only 15% of the respondents were from universities or
college which are privately owned. These results were expected by the
researcher because the country has more public universities compared to private
universities. Also, students from low income brackets who are more interested
in students’ loans are found in public universities. Therefore, this implies that
there was a fair institution ownership distribution among the respondents, the
population was represented as anticipated. This distribution is explained more
by the bar chart shown under Figure 6.

Table 6: Institution Ownership


Frequency Percent Valid Cumulative
Percent Percent
Private 13 15.7 15.7 15.7
Governmen
Valid 70 84.3 84.3 100.0
t
Total 83 100.0 100.0
Source: Survey data (2017)

Figure 6: Institution Ownership

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102

Financial institution will enhance more loans to the needy students

The result of the analysis indicates that nearly 1/5 of the respondents were fairly
supportive to the idea of engaging Financial Institution in the students’ loans
provision while 1/4 of the respondents ranks the idea as good and the rest
percentage were evenly distributed among the respondents. This distribution is
explained more by the bar chart shown under Figure 7.

Table 7: FI Enhance more Loans to the needy Students


Frequency Percent Valid Cumulative
Percent Percent
Fair 17 20.5 20.5 62.7
Average 15 18.1 18.1 42.2
Good 20 24.1 24.1 24.1
Valid Very
16 19.3 19.3 81.9
Good
Excellent 15 18.1 18.1 100.0
Total 83 100.0 100.0
Source: Survey data (2017)

Figure 7: Enhance More Loans to the Needy Students

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University or College to surrender certificates of loan beneficiaries to FI

More than 1/4 of the respondents from universities or colleges advocate that
they are ready to surrender their certificates as collateral to financial institution.
24% of the respondents accept that to surrender certificates as collateral to
financial institution is a good idea, 1/5 of the respondents argue that it is fair.
The rest of the percentages were distributed among average responses and
Excellent. This result was expected by researcher because students’ who are
needy are expected to have no other asset to surrender as collateral to the
financial institutions. Therefore, the population was fairly represented by the
sample. This distribution is explained more by the bar chart shown under Figure
8.

Table 8: University to Surrender Certificates of Loan Beneficiaries to FI


Frequency Percent Valid Cumulative
Percent Percent
Fair 18 21.7 21.7 21.7
Average 9 10.8 10.8 32.5
Good 20 24.1 24.1 56.6
Valid Very
23 27.7 27.7 84.3
Good
Excellent 13 15.7 15.7 100.0
Total 83 100.0 100.0

Source: Survey data (2017)

Figure 8: University to Surrender Certificates of Loan Beneficiaries to FI

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FI will be allowed to request for additional securities

A total of 83 respondents were obtained, more than 1/3 of the total respondents
suggest that financial institutions should not be allowed to request for additional
securities more than the certificates which will be surrendered by the
universities/colleges. While only 12% of the respondents accept the submission
of additional securities to the financial institutions. The population was fairly
represented, because needy students were expected by the researcher to have no
more security to surrender other than their certificates. This distribution is
explained more by the bar chart shown under Figure 9.
Table 9: FI will be allowed to request for additional securities
Frequency Percent Valid Cumulative
Percent Percent
Fair 28 33.7 33.7 33.7
Average 16 19.3 19.3 53.0
Good 18 21.7 21.7 74.7
Valid Very
11 13.3 13.3 88.0
Good
Excellent 10 12.0 12.0 100.0
Total 83 100.0 100.0
Source: Survey data (2017)

Figure 9: FI will be allowed to request for additional securities

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105

Is there policy for students to seek loans from FI

More than 60% of the respondents confirm that there is no policy which allows
students to seek students’ loans from financial institutions and about 35% accept
that there is such policy. The sample represents fairly the population, the
researcher expected to find this result because students’ finances through
financial institutions is a new phenomenon in the country therefore it is
expected that most universities/ colleges have not yet incorporated in their
policies. Also most universities are expected to consider only their core business
in their policies, which includes education, research and consultancy, other
issues concerning students’ finances remain solely personal to student him or
herself. This distribution is explained more by the bar chart shown under Figure
10.

Table 10: Is there Policy Considering Students To Seek Loans


Frequency Percent Valid Cumulative
Percent Percent
Yes 29 34.9 34.9 34.9
Valid No 54 65.1 65.1 100.0
Total 83 100.0 100.0
Source: Survey data (2017)

Figure 10: Is there Policy Considering Students to Seek Loans

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FI can use beneficiaries’ certificates as collateral

More than 3/4 of the respondents from universities or college advocate that
financial institutions can use certificates as collateral when giving students’
loans. While 1/4 of the respondents reject the use of certificates as collateral by
the financial institutions. This result was expected by researcher because
students’ who are needy are expected to have no other asset to surrender as
collateral to the financial institutions. Therefore, the population was fairly
represented by the sample. This distribution is explained more by the bar chart
shown under Figure 11.

Table 11: FI Can Use Beneficiaries’ Certificate as Collateral


Frequency Percent Valid Cumulative
Percent Percent
Yes 61 73.5 73.5 73.5
Valid No 22 26.5 26.5 100.0
Total 83 100.0 100.0
Source: Survey data (2017)

Figure 11: FI can Use Beneficiaries Certificate as Collateral

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3. Data collection Methods


In this study, quantitative data were obtained from both primary and secondary
source, Primary data were gathered through the use of structured questionnaires
and interview. Structured questionnaires (Appendix 1) were distributed to the
respondents from the selected universities and financial institutions. In the
primary source the researcher obtained information concerning the terms and
conditions for students’ loans provision if any, the policy and the current
portfolio available in the students’ loans provision, what is the current interest
rate on loan provision, what is the coverage for students’ loans provision
example program to be considered if any, and the gender parity consideration if
any. Also, the researcher obtained information on how respondents from
universities perceived the engagement of financial institution to partner with
HESLB in the students’ loan provision, what are terms and conditions they think
are favourable for loans provision by financial institutions and how they see the
consideration for the financial institutions in using beneficiary’s certificates as
collateral.
Interview on the other hand was conducted with 26 members of management in
both the selected financial institutions and the universities. The researcher
obtained information concerning the actual implementations of the intended
idea i.e. the respondents were asked on how were ready to start implementing
the policy on students’ loans provision, do they have the policy in operation
concerning students’ loans provision.
Secondary data was based on the information concerning the ownership, tenure
of the financial institution or university were obtained by reviewing the policy
document of organization or university with the focus to the students’ loans
provision. Strategic plan was also reviewed to understand the future prospects
of the financial institutions or universities in the students’ loans provisions as
well as the vision and mission. Loan allocation and repayment manual were
reviewed in the financial institution for the researcher to understand the terms
and condition for provisions and repayment of the students’ loans or other loans
managed by the financial institutions.

4. Data Analysis
Analysis of the collected data were made using the Software Package for
Statistical Science (SPSS) and the Content analysis. Results of the analysis from
SPSS were presented and summarised in the frequency distribution table and
the bar charts were also used to explain the results. Documents analysis were
also conducted in which documents were interpreted to give meaning according
to the subject, also documents were incorporated into coding content to give
meaning before being presented into a tabular form. Output for both SPSS and
Content analysis was handled with greater flexibility.

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5. Findings
5.1 Survey Results

In guiding this survey questionnaires were used to assess the feasibility of


engaging financial institutions in financing higher education. These
questionnaires were as mentioned below:
(i) Is there any policy consideration in the financial institutions regarding
students’ loans provision?
(ii) Are the higher education students ready to be financed by the financial
institutions?
(iii) Are the financial institutions ready to engage in students’ loans
provision?

5.1.1 To determine whether there is policy consideration for students’ loans provision by
financial institutions

Data were collected from the selected financial institutions to answer properly
the questions concerning this objective. The results of the analysis indicate that
more than 80% of the respondents indicates that financial institutions do not
have any policy concerning students’ loans provision, while only 14% of the
respondents indicates the presence of the policy considerations for students’
loans provision in the financial institution.
Interview made to Tanzania Postal Bank (TPB) indicates that TPB has partnered
with Public Service Pension Fund (PSPF) to issue education loans to its
members. Most of the loans at TPB are purely issued to support, operations or
development of businesses or projects and others to meet personal pressing
needs. They don’t have specific policy for students’ loans provision. Interview
results from Tanzania Women Bank (TWB) and the National Bank of Commerce
(NBC) also indicates that there is no policy considerations for students’ loans
provision instead available policy is for financing of working capital and
personal loans for salaried workers, in which they have different terms and
conditions from that of HESLB.
Results of the interview made to various universities/ colleges (UDSM, CBE,
and DUCE) regarding policy consideration for students’ loans provision by
financial institutions indicates that financial institutions in the country doesn’t
have any policy to guide provision of students’ loans.
Therefore, there is no policy consideration for students’ loans provision by
financial institutions

5.1.2 To examine the readiness of the students in the higher learning institutions to be
financed by financial institutions

Data were collected from the selected universities or colleges to answer properly
the questions concerning this objective. The results of the analysis indicate that
nearly 1/5 of the respondents rank as fair the concept that engagement of the
financial institutions will enhance more students’ loans to the needy students

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109

while 1/4 of the respondents ranks the concept as good and the rest percentage
were evenly distributed among the respondents.
Also the result indicates that more than 1/4 of the respondents from universities
or college advocate that they are ready to surrender their certificates as collateral
to financial institution. 24% of the respondents accept that to surrender
certificates as collateral to financial institution is a good idea, 1/5 of the
respondents argue that it is fair.
Results indicate that more than 3/4 of the respondents from universities/college
advocate that financial institutions can use certificates as collateral when giving
students’ loans. While 1/4 of the respondents reject the use of certificates as
collateral by the financial institutions.
Also the interview results from UDSM further indicates even though there is no
policy which allows students to borrow from financial institutions still students
have the believe that engagement of financial institutions will bring solutions to
the higher education students’ financing problems.
Therefore, students in the higher learning institutions are ready to be financed
by financial institutions.

5.1.3 To investigate the readiness of the financial institutions to provide loans to


students of the higher learning institutions.

The results from the interview indicates that some financial institutions are
willing to participate in supporting students on the concessional rate below the
rate charged by Banks commercially, on the agreement that the Bank will hold
the original academic transcript and original certificates as collateral together
with the Government guarantee on the difference among the rates.
Results from the interview made at the Tanzania Women Bank (TWB) indicates
that HESLB to continue giving loans to students and only the difference has to
be covered by the financial institutions, this shows that financial institution is
ready to engage partially in students’ loans provision.
Further interview at TPB indicates that financial institutions are not sure of the
repayment because of the unemployment problems facing the country as well as
the Government uncertainties in loan repayment. Also, NBC is worrying about
dropout in case the Government won’t guarantee.
Furthermore, results of the interview from Bank M. indicates that even though
there is no specific lending policy for students, the bank’ credit policy allows
lending to education sector up to 15% of the bank’ portfolio. The interview also
reveals that Concessional rate may be availed depending on negotiation between
lender and borrowers. Key factors involved are: amount of loan, market
conditions such as interest rate, exchange rate, inflation, competition from other
players this indicates that negotiation with the Government on concessional rate
for students’ loans will be possible because they already have the policy.
Therefore, financial institutions are not ready to provide loans to students of the
higher learning institutions.

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6. Conclusions

Engagement of financial institution in the students’ loans provision will reduce


the Government burden and help in financing more needy students, who
otherwise could go without loans due to the limited Government budget.
Therefore, this study concluded that:
Most of the financial institutions do not have the policy for students’ loans
provision, this have been explained by more than 80% financial institutions
which do not have the policy for students’ loans consideration.
It was concluded that most of the financial institutions have the shared
ownership between the government and private, this will result into difficulties
for the government to implement its policy, because the government doesn’t
have control at 100%. Financial institutions will have to implement their
objectives first. The Government cannot implement the policy for students’
lending on its own, it will need to work with the financial institutions in line to
their regulations.
It is concluded that most universities or college do not have policies which allow
students to seek students’ loans from financial institutions because it is a new
phenomenon in the country.
It was also concluded that students’ in the higher learning institutions are ready
to surrender their certificates to the financial institutions as collateral for their
students’ loans hence they are ready to be financed by financial institutions. But
they don’t want to be asked for additional security such as houses etc. because
they said they don’t have any other security to support them.
It was also concluded that by engaging financial institutions in students’ loan
provision it is sure that only the needy students will apply for loan and not like
the way application is mixed-up at HESLB between the needy and not needy,
which call for the need to means tests.
It was concluded that financial institution were suggesting to have an
opportunity to ask for more security, because they said after graduation students
can leave their certificates for a long time without repaying their loan due to the
unemployment and underemployment problem facing the country. In which
this will be a risk to the financial institutions as they will be using other
depositors’ fund to lend to students of higher learning institutions.
It was concluded that most of the financial institutions doesn’t have confidence
on how repayment could be, as they are not sure of how the government
guarantee will cover the risk associated with the loan given hence they are not
ready to engage in students’ loans provision.
Through engagement of financial institutions in students’ loans provision, it is
expected that only genuine students’ loans applicants who are needy will
remain in this loan processing brackets others will drop because of the
procedures. Those students’ applicants who are not needy will be expected to
drop instead they will use their own fund for higher education
It was finally concluded that submission of certificates to financial institutions
will call for non-demand of certificates in some of the employers which may
results into production of fake certificates if the government is not that keen in
checking the authentications of the certificates through universities.

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7. Recommendations
According to the findings and conclusions it is recommended that:
Financial institutions in Tanzania to establish the students’ loan provision policy
to be included in their operation policy as one of their obligations. This policy
should spell out specifically on how to handle repayments in case of dropouts
due to discontinuous, abscondments, postponements. Aptitude test should be
made before loan provision etc.
Financial institutions should be advised to include the clause on gender parity
considerations in their loans provision policy, because women and disabled has
to be taken care due to a long marginalization which was existing in the country,
they need support to catch up with the growing economy.
To educate all the students’ loan beneficiaries to understand the current financial
situation of the Government and the need for alternative financing to ensure
sustainability of the students’ loans scheme. Also, students have to be educated
on the importance of repaying their loans timely to the financial institution after
grace period in order to recover the certificates handled to the financial
institutions as collateral.
Universities or colleges to include policy which allows students to seek for
alternative funding from other sources other than HESLB to finance their
education example seeking loans from Commercial Banks.
The Government to assure the financial institutions on the safety of their loan
provided to students by depositing a substantial amount of money as a
guarantee to ensure the readiness of financial institution in students’ loans
provisions also the Government should increase employment opportunities for
easy implementation especially in assurance of repayment to the financial
institutions against the students’ loans given out.
It is recommended that due to repayment problems experienced at HESLB it is
better to engage financial institutions to partner in students’ loans provision
because, financial institutions are more experienced in loan provision, so it is
easy for them to make follow up on repayment. However, financing of the
higher education by financial institutions is very difficult, because using
certificates as collateral is very risk due to the possibility of having feck
certificates.
HESLB should make arrangement with the Ministry of Education Science and
Technology (MoEST), the Treasury and the Planning Commission to discuss on
how to curtion the difference in interest rate between what will be charged by
the financial institutions and the concessional rate. The Government to give a
confidence to the financial institution as a main guarantor for students’ loans
given, because giving loans is not a complex process as the repayment process.
More researches to be conducted on issues of the students’ loans finances due to
increased challenges brought about by the increased demand for higher
education coupled with inability of the Government to fully fund the higher
education
HESLB to organize a meeting with all the financial institutions in the country, in
which presentations will be made by HESLB on issues concerning the need for
students’ loans support by financial institutions, the benefits, the challenges and
the way forward. Financial institutions should be educated on the inclusion of

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112

the insurance policy regarding all students’ loans given so that to help recovery
of all loans in case of students’ death.

Acknowledgement
My special thanks should go to Mr. Asangye Bangu (The then Director Planning,
Research and ICT), for his guidance and material contribution towards
accomplishment of this work. Mr. Chakaza Cosmas, Mr. Venance Ntiyalundura,
Ms Rose Marwa and Ms Mariam Mshana (My co-workers) deserve special
thanks for their corporation especially during data collection. Also, social
security fund schemes, PPF and PSPF need special mention for the material
contribution during the interview. Finally, I should also thank commercial banks
which were visited TPB, NBC, TWB and BANK M and various Higher learning
institutions for proving me with valuable information through filling of
questionnaires.

References

Bank of Tanzania (2015). List of registered financial institutions, BOT. Retrieved from
http://www.bot-tz.org/Banking Supervision/ Registered Financial Inst.asp.
Barr, N., (2009). Financing higher education lessons from economic theory and reform in
England; A special issue of Higher education in Europe, (34)2, pp. 201-210.
Chapman, B. & Mathias S. (2011). Student Loan Reforms for German Higher Education:
Financing Tuition Fees, Ruhr Economic Papers, No.244.
HESLB (2015a). Report on Local Undergraduate and local Postgraduate Applications and
Allocations, HESLB. Retrieved from the Loan Management System (LMS), on 10 th
June, 2015.
HESLB (2015b). Report on Accepted and Rejected students’ after Means Testing, HESLB.
Retrieved from the Loan Allocation Module, on 10 th July, 2015.
HESLB (2004), Act number 9 of 2004 CAP 178, Dar es salaam, Higher Education Students
Loans Board.
HESLB (2017), Published guidelines and Criteria for granting loans in the academic year
2016/2017, Dar es salaam, Higher Education Students Loans Board.
Nyahende V.R. (2013). The Success of Students’ Loans in Financing Higher Education in
Tanzania. The Journal of Higher Education Studies, 3(3), pp 47 – 61. Doi:
http://dx.doi.org/10.5539/hes.v3n3p47
Saunders, M., Lewis, P., & Thornhill, A. (2007). Research methods for Business students,
Fouth edition. New York: Prentice Hall.
Social Security Regulatory Authority (2015). The social security schemes in Tanzania,
SSRA. Retrieved from http://www.ssra.go.tz on 15th August, 2015.
Tanzania Commission for Universities (2015). The list of higher learning Institutions in
Tanzania based on ownership, TCU. Retrieved from
www.http://tcu.go.tz/Institutions on 15th August, 2015.
URT (2005); Review of Financial Sustainability in Financing Higher Education in Tanzania
MSTHE, Dar es salaam, Government Printing Press.
Ziderman, A. (2004). Policy options for student loans schemes: Lessons from five Asian case
studies. UNESCO Bangkok Publishers. Bangkok, Thailand.

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113

APPENDIX 1
QUESTIONNAIRES
Questionnaire for Financial institutions only
The main aim of this questionnaire is to get information which will help the
Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB) in identifying and subsequent
engagement of the Financial Institution which can be supportive in the Higher
Education Financing. The questionnaire specifically covers the selected financial
institutions and the selected Universities/Colleges in Dar es salaam in which
Management, key Staff in a specific area, and students’ organizations will be
required to fill in the questionnaires. The results of this Survey will be used
solely by HESLB in identifying the financial institutions which will fit the
purpose. You are requested to complete this questionnaire to enable timely
accomplishment of the survey. We would appreciate for your prompt response.

SECTION A: General Information, Please fill in the blank spaces provided/


please circle
(1) Name of the Financial Institution…..……………………
(2) What is the ownership of your Institution?
(a) 100% Private (b) 100% Government (c) Shared between private and
Government

SECTION B: Consideration for Higher Education Students’ Loans Issuance


(1) Is there any Policy for Higher Education Students’ loans Consideration?
(Please Circle)
(a) Yes (b) No
If no, Why …………………………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………………………………………
(2) What are the terms and conditions of the Higher Education students’ loans
issuance? (Mention at least five conditions)
………………………………………………………………………………………
…………………………………………………………………………………………
…………………………………………………………………………………………
…………………………………………………………………………………………
(3) What is the Current portifolio for students’
loans?......................................................is there any plan to increase the
portfolio?................................(Yes/No)
(4) (a) What is the Coverage of the Higher education students’ loans
issuance,(What kind of applicants/ Study program are considered)
……………………………………………………….………………………………
…………………………………………………………………………………………
………………………………………………………………………………………..
(b) Is there any considerations for Gender Parity ( any consideration for a
particular group of people).......................... (Yes/ No)

SECTION C: Modus Operandi for Repayments


(1) What is the conditions for Loans Repayment, (Mention at least five
conditions)
……………………………………………….................................................................

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114

……………………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………………..
(2) (a) What is the current interest rates
charged?.....................................................................
(b) What is time framework ………………………….
(c) Is there any grace period for repayment? ( Yes / No )
(d) What is the opinion in handling the difference in case there is no any
concessional rate?
……………………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………………

Questionnaire for Higher Learning Institutions only

The main aim of this questionnaire is to get information which will help the
Higher Education Students’ Loans Board (HESLB) in identifying and subsequent
engagement of the Financial Institution which can be supportive in the Higher
Education Financing. The questionnaire specifically covers the selected financial
institutions and the selected Universities/Colleges in Dar es salaam in which
Management, key Staff in a specific area, and students’ organizations will be
required to fill in the questionnaires. The results of this Survey will be used
solely by HESLB in identifying the financial institutions which will fit the
purpose. You are requested to complete this questionnaire to enable timely
accomplishment of the survey. We would appreciate for your prompt response.

SECTION A: General Information, Please fill in the blank spaces provided/


please circle
(1) Name of the University/College…..…………………………………………….
(2) What is the ownership of your Institution?
(a) 100% Private (b) 100% Government

SECTION B: Consideration for Higher Education Students’ Loans Issuance by


the Financial Institutions (Please Circle)
1=Fair, 2=Average, 3=Good, 4=Very good, 5=Excellent
(1)Financial institution will enhance more students’ loans to the needy students
Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 To a great
extend.
(2) Universities/ Colleges will surrender the certificates of the students’ loans
beneficiaries, who benefited from the Financial Institutions as collateral to
lenders
Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 To a great
extend
(3) Financial Institutions will be allowed to request for additional securities on
top of the beneficiaries Certificates.
Not at all 1 2 3 4 5 To a great
extent.

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115

SECTION C: Others (Please fill the Blanks)


(1) Is there any Policy (within the university/ College) considering students to
seek loans from Financial Institutions? (Please Circle)
(a) Yes (b) No
If no, Why …………………………………………………………………………..
………………………………………………………………………………………
(2) What do you think should be the terms and conditions of the Higher
Education students loans issuance by the financial Institutions? (Mention at least
five conditions)
……………………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………………
(3) (a) What do you suggest to be the coverage of the Higher education students’
loans issuance by the financial institutions? (What kind of applicants/ Study
program are considered?)
.……………………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………………
……………………………………………………………………………………………
(b) Should there be the considerations for Gender Parity ( any consideration for a
particular group of people).......................... (Yes/ No).

(c) Financial Institutions can use beneficiaries’ certificates as one of the collateral
instruments for Higher education students’ loans. ( Yes / No ).

If No, give explanations.


...................................................................................................................................
..............................................................................................................................................
...............................................................................................................................................

THANK YOU VERY MUCH FOR YOUR CO-OPERATION

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116

International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 16, No. 11, pp. 116-137, November 2017
https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.16.11.7

EducActiveCore: Computational Model to


Educational Personalization Based on Multiagent
and Context-Aware Computing
Fernão Santos
Mackenzie Presbyterian University
São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Pollyana Notargiacomo
Mackenzie Presbyterian University
São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Abstract. With the growth of online courses and, usage of mobile access
allowing students execute educational activities in multiple locales, with
variety of data and media content, new perspectives of educational
support using different computing models can be observed. Some of
most recent evolved computing models stand out in areas like Social
Networks Analysis, Artificial Intelligence, Mobile Computing and
Context-Aware Computing. Understanding the combination of these
computing areas as complementary researches, this work investigates
the applications of these computing technics to modeling an intelligent
computational engine with educational personalization purposes. In this
resume of a research in progress, a reduced implementation prepared as
proof of concept simulating aspects of the target model, operates as
centralized adaptive engine. The implemented engine, applied Artificial
Neural Networks on classification tasks and routing recommendation. A
group of 27 students participated in an experiment interacting with the
adaptive engine using a mobile application provided. The mobile
application allowed tracking of interface during usage flow by students,
and provided to students the adaptive engine recommendation results.
Around 59% of students confirmed the recommendation effectiveness of
adaptive engine. In this experiment, at the end of each participation,
students sent feedbacks about application features. The current results
indicate the viability of computational model related to automation of
classification tasks to environment identification and activity routing
recommendation. In brief, the initial experiment presented encouraging
results, indicating that the continuity of research could result in a useful
tool to online educational platforms.

Keywords: Artificial Neural Networks, Artificial Intelligence, Context-


Aware Computing, Multiagent Systems.

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117

INTRODUCTION
This research investigates the elements of an artificial intelligent model to
support the personalization of educational process. Currently, with growing
mobile computing adoption, students involved in educational process can
perform activities interacting with a variety of application platforms, devices
and physical environments in different locales. Considering the growth of online
curses, this scenario creates an opportunity and a requirement to increase the
availability of educational resources in different locations and appropriate time.
To realize it in a proper manner, educational environments and resources should
be mapped and analyzed to correctly identify and qualify its relevance to
students within learning process. An automated and adaptive computational
model can be applied to perform this process.

The basic behavior expected to this model should vary according to specific
student's needs and experience on each environment accessed and depends on
student's profile interacting with the model. This intelligent computational
model comprehends collect and process information from various student’s
perspectives, including data of urban mobility, social networks, educational
activities, environments frequented and educational resources.

In a concrete example, if a student performs educational tasks interacting with


social networks on a bookstore and change location to a library or university,
this change of location can reflect on type of media provided as content in social
network accessed. Beyond the adaptability of content provided, the model
manages useful information regarding availability of physical resources on a
given environment, like 3D printers and other educational equipment under
reservation or limited usage polices in locations intended to be visited by
students. In current technological scenario, the most common computing
interaction to activate and coordinate similar behavior could be through mobile
and wearable devices connected on wireless networks and in mostly cases
activating different applications. Considering the possibilities of variety models
of applications in student's interaction, the unconnected flow of information and
unmanaged process of activation between these applications, can distract the
student from specific and relevant educational content.

The computational model proposed in this research covers an alternative


approach to support reduction of student time loss on content mapping and
collection. Another aspect of proposed model is automated planning of
educational tasks and its optimized route. The optimized route allows anticipate
technical setup tasks with environments while students moves from a locale to
another.

This article introduces the basic concepts of this work in progress, the research
proposing an adaptive computational model structured to support student’s
interactions with context-aware environments. Considering the research
comprehensiveness, this paper highlights the scope of optimized routing and the
process of context-aware interaction. Results of first experiments involving this
scope are presented. This article summarizes the others complementary concepts

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118

covered by research.

The content of this paper is organized in the following structure: An


introduction to Context-Aware Computing is presented on Section II.
Multiagent Systems and Context-Aware Computing are introduced in a
correlated domain at Section III. A macro view of proposed EducActiveCore
platform and the its principal decomposition and objectives is presented in
Section IV. Initial conclusions and next phases are introduced on Section V.

CONTEXT-AWARE COMPUTING: DEFINITION, MODELS AND APPLICATIONS


A. Definition and Computing Models
Context-Aware computing models can be described essentially by
computational environments that can adapt itself and current context based on
user presence and interactions (Henricksen, et al., 2006), without explicit user
supervision or intervention to this adaptive process (Baldauf, et al., 2007). There
is no a final definition and rigid boundary to specify what compose a context-
aware environment. Authors refer to key characteristics most appropriate to
their research to define resources and services of a context. Some common
descriptions of these resources are presented as information describing and
characterizing a person or object in interaction with computer application
(Abowd, et al., 1999). Beyond the informational aspects, physical elements and
temporality of available resources (Bellavista, et al., 2012) went published as
features that are central to define a context.

Previous researches (Schilit, et al., 1994) resumed the context computing as a


result on combination of three information domains regarding on where
computational resources are, what kind of resources is provided and, who is
using it. Modeling these characteristics in attributes, import and exchange it in
form of relevant information to identify a context is a key process to support the
context computing adaptive process (Makris, et al., 2013). The changing process
of a context started by sensors, network events, mobile device location detection
or the combination of all these examples, provides several new different set of
attributes to describe the context and its related resources.

B. Context-Aware Learning Application


To start the base reference of this research, works on context-aware computing
applications within educational and learning domains, helps to define the
objective and scope of this research central model. Investigations and
development on context-aware applications to support learning process can be
found on domains like language learning (Ogata, et al., 2004), using
environment recognition to apply a compatible vocabulary according to user’s
location, supported by mobile devices and highlighting the importance of
mobile devices to interact with context and evolving the application to detect the
collaborative situational needs (Ingersoll, et al., 1989). Another example based on
context-aware computing implementing an instructional application (Cheverst,
et al., 2000) is built to identify tourist locations, relevant content and help tourist

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119

guides to take decisions considering the best matches for the group of visitors.
Considerations of mobile device relevance within these tourist guide assistant
and how embedding the solution on mobile devices to turn invisible and
accessible to users was introduced. On collaborative learning, previous research
investigates learning environment built on a peer-to-peer architecture (Yang, S.
J., 2006) and demonstrate the applicability of a common protocol (using meta-
data structure) to determine context resources identification, information
extraction and interoperability. The structure of meta-data, proposed in form of
context-aware learning environment ontology, is processed with an adaptive
model to evolve the ontology with aim to expand the interoperability.

MULTI-AGENT SYSTEMS AND CONTEXT-AWARE COMPUTING


Commonly, Context-Aware Computing considers the self-managed
configuration. Previous investigations with Agent systems applied to Context-
Aware Computing, covered e-commerce business domains applying intelligent
negotiation through case base reasoning and context history analysis (Kwon, et
al., 2004). Related to user context personalization, frameworks based on Internet
webservices, Internet address identification and segmentation proposes
frameworks to act on behalf of users on pre-selection and definition of context
content and services before turn it available to users (Kwon, et al., 2005).
References regarding technical aspects to support multiconnected environments
using agent-based model (Soldatos, et al., 2007) helps to establish this work base.
Related researches covering the orchestration needs performed by multiple
agents to process individual tasks adapting it behavior according to a collective
result (Aouatef, et al., 2014) indicates an applicability of the concepts together.
Previous research presented a specific approach proposing adaptive content to
Digital TV environment applying the multi-agent model on personalization of
educational process (Santos, F. R. D., 2010). Diverse domains of applicability
with multi-agent and context-aware computing establish support to this current
research and, mainly, those that directs the investigation to educational models.

EDUCACTIVECORE: ADAPTIVE SUPPORT TO STUDENT'S INTERACTIVITY


WITH CONTEXT-AWARE COMPUTING
Research Proposal and Objectives
The main objective of this research is propose an intelligent computational
model to provide a multimodal tool to support student’s interactivity with
context-aware environments during educational process. The multimodal
concept considered in this research is regarding to student's and educator’s
perspectives attended by this model, named as EducActiveCore.

Observed from the perspective of a tool to education domain experts, this model
has the objective to be an additional tool to acquire information about data
related to learning tasks elaborated by other educators, content recommended to
students through automated process and expert’s designation. As
complementary objective, is to help educators to identify how this content and
the mode of its access impacts and influence the result of learning process

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120

performed by students. Based on shared data, collected and processed by this


model, educators can select elements from shared set of tasks and student's
profiles to reuse or adjust these elements to compose a new task. This new task
composition must be perceived by adaptive model through processing (applying
machine learning process) and, as result of this processing, the model can
suggest to educator a new alternative on task composition.

From the centric perspective on students, adaptive support involving learning


process emerges with the combination of context-aware computing and artificial
Intelligent Agents acting on learn profiling and personalization of student’s
interactions with tasks execution. Observed within this objective, the model
performs a similar usefulness of an analytics system specific to process
educational data. This approach delimits the boundaries of main behavior
proposed: intelligent recommendation, being active and adaptive on student’s
perspective. Active aspects foreseen to this model performs identification on
what learning tasks students are involved, searching and classifying relevant
content and resources to establish and, finally, identify the appropriate approach
to provide it to students. Complementary active aspect is context-aware
interaction. Beyond the actual digital consuming profile of students with multi-
connected and decentralized (Rosaci, D., & Sarné, G. M., 2010) computer
interaction behavior, moving its attention from screens like Smart TVs, using
console games, tablets, smartphones and mobile devices, all those devices
interconnected and providing convergent media content, the wearable devices
and context-aware computing are evolving rapidly.

Adaptive aspect in this model processing, applied in the combination of all these
personal computing technologies makes sense to facilitate the access to
educational resources in right place, time and format aiming fine profile
personalization. It can turn available a new perspective to understand the
student’s learning behavior and allow educators acquire new point of view on
how student’s location moving pattern, device changing and content selection
reflects on learning results. Observing this student’s behavior as an object
containing the perspective of student’s navigation flow, reinforces the need of
fine personalization and characterization like previous researches covered (Silva,
L., et al., 2006).

Connected applications have been developed under convergence perspective of


content and user interface familiarity. Usability and computer human interaction
aspects are constantly reviewed considering multi screen access (Viel, C. C., et
al., 2013), normally covering mobile screens (smartphones and tablets), desktop
and large screens (Smart TVs and digital displays) and, recently, the wareable
devices (smartwhatch and connected glasses). Concerning the learning
application aspects, this variety should be observed in its usefulness and
effectiveness.

Related to this problem, one approach proposed to support this research, is to


perform the observation on how student’s behavior transitioning through
different environments, using devices to access educational content and, moving

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121

from several distinct connected environments, influences on performance


results. The focus on this point considers the environments context-aware
supported. One of the main reasons is the ability to provide connection services
to learners and, hence, interconnection capabilities allowing exchange
information with this proposed platform.

Model Definition and Description


The central point of this research, apply different and complementary
computational models, since Genetic Algorithms to Artificial Intelligent Agents.
Thin boundaries and interoperability needs of the macro components idealized,
leads this research to propose a modular organization (Figure 1), initially
structured by responsibility domains.

Figure 1. Overview of domain composition.

Figure 1 contains an organization of main structural components foreseen. The


short summary of each component and its objective in the research is described.

C. Social Network Processing


Social Network platforms are key facilitators to stimulate learners sharing
(Chow, W. S., & Chan, L. S., 2008) knowledge and interaction within groups.
Aggregated to this view, emerges multiplicity of mobile educational applications
(Ally, M. (Ed.)., 2009) socially connected. The Social Network Processing is
initially proposed as an engine to act as abstraction hub, aggregating the
diversity of attributes regarding student’s collaboration preferences. Different
from the other components of EducActiveCore platform, that are threated as
models, which can be subdivided in several engines or complementary models,
this engine does not predicts evolve by itself. It necessary must attend the
selected social networks to establish interoperability.

D. Collaboration Model
Collaboration Model is defined in the scope of this research as an engine to
manage and promote the process of sharing attributes and metadata of
educational tasks. Being a premise for this research conception, the shareable
characteristic of a given collection of attributes and metadata related to task
composition and performance results, are assembled with a set of additional
attributes indicating the level of readiness to reuse. The importance of this

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122

engine as complement on Educator’s Interaction Model processing is to perform


cyclic analysis on tasks, identifying which group of tasks reach the level of
completeness to compose the result on a query for similarity. With this
additional processing centered in collaboration model, complex filtering
algorithms involving this operation can be modified and evolve the engine
independently from Educator’s Interaction Model.

E. Educator’s Interaction Model


Educator’s Interaction Model manages amount and variability of data collection
generated by observation, interactivity and tracking of student’s activity. It
provides to educator an analytic view, allowing use the result to tracking in fine
granularity level the flow performed by learners as input to create new activities
based on parameters generated from previous tasks. It enables the
computational model to be used as a task templates repository to educators,
allowing starting a new task with reusing the existents through querying or
dynamically recommended. The applicability of Kernel processing is considered
as support on task creation or task template extraction, to help educators reach
the right match for defined purposes.

F. Content Identification and Recommendation Model


As intrinsic part of adaptability and personalization process performed in
conjunction with Kernel and Multiagent Model, is content identification,
filtering and recommendation as main result from these combined process.
Considering the delimited objectives and the modularity proposed to this
research, the model responsible for recommendation can act as complimentary
on overall processing. The interaction between Recommender Model and
Kernel, occurs under a qualitative evaluation of information recommended to
learner. This qualitative evaluation is based on a fit indicator of information
relevance to learner considering a specific domain. An example of evaluation
with fit indicator within a specific domain, can be described by a
recommendation with a set of information mapped in an educational task witch
student’s performance threshold is considered satisfactory. If student’s
performance threshold is not reached and identified as unsatisfactory, the fit
indicator is applied to content indicating a lower priority on reuse for similar
educational tasks.

G. Learner Assistant Model


The main objective of Learner Assistant Model is turn available to students an
interactive tool to receive notifications, improve the dynamic of communication
with other users and adjust personal profile information and preferences of
platform usage. The processing from Kernel and Agent model are presented to
learners as a result from combination of Kernel process synchronized with local
Agent and resulting in a new state for local Agent and an updated state for
notifications, messages and an eventual adjustment of interface that represents
Learner Assistant model.

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123

H. Knowledge Model
Knowledge Model isolates adaptive kernel’s algorithms from operations to
mining data and the data persistence manipulation process, grouping all related
operations into this module. The concepts to persist, search and retrieve the
correct data used in each component in proposed model makes sense to be
reunited in unique model to abstract the complexity from diverse resources used
by the intelligent modules provided and, consequently, its generated data.

I. Adaptive Processing Kernel


This is the main model proposed on this research, containing the collection of
algorithms acting as unique artificial intelligent engine. The aim of this kernel is
identify the proper combination of student’s behavior with computing
interaction and, execute the orchestration of the complementary models to
increase student’s performance results on educational tasks.

Each complementary model proposed to interoperate with the Kernel, can


decrease the algorithm implementation needs on Kernel and allows specific
points of structure evaluation, adjust and replacement according to research’s
evolving and enhancement process.

Figure 2. Processing coordinated by Kernel.

Figure 2 contains an illustration exemplifying the flow of macro interoperability


foreseen between components. In this simple draft, without any precision and
details of all operations expected, the arrows indicate which modules
communicates directly with each other. Observing the illustration, the arrows
indicates interaction flows between Kernel and Multiagent Model, and between
Multiagent Model and Learner Assistant Model. This example indicates that
there is no direct interaction between Learner Assistant Model to Kernel without
Multiagent Model intermediation. Decouple central Kernel algorithms from
operations of complementary components (case of storing and retrieving data
which is an operation of Knowledge Model), contributes to rapidly reorganize
the Kernel algorithms, data flow and evolve it independently of changes on
support modules due to replacement and adjust. This strategy keeps the scope of
Kernel in its boundary that is adaptive and predictive support on learning
process.

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124

Processing the prediction of best match with diverse student’s specific


requirements and interaction elements, technological environment, context
aspects and the frequent changes involved in this process, needs continuous
parameterization and adjustment. With computing models requiring constantly
human intervention or supervision on data and parameter input, this
adjustment process could be inefficient. Starting from initial large amount of
attributes and related values and, determining the coefficients to direct the
processing to appropriate results through interactive process are inherent
characteristics of computing applying machine learning models.

The set of algorithms in this Kernel, is organized to perform precisely mining


and tracking on data collected from the complementary models. Knowledge
Model provides the mining and tracking process, allowing the deep navigation
in data collected, on proper format and structure depending on how the Kernel
algorithms performs the query. This set of algorithms is divided into two
groups of distinct operation; Students Evaluation and Students Personalization.

1) Students Evaluation
Within Student’s Evaluation operation, the algorithms collect student’s data
results related to educational tasks and determine their acceptance according to
specific parameters. These parameters, initially established on Educator’s
Interaction Model, evolve by combination of different computational technics,
highlighting the application of methods adapted from Genetic Algorithms
(Mitchell, M., 1998). Considering application of crossover operation from genetic
algorithms, a sub selection of attributes from a parameter, combined with a
second sub selection of attributes from another parameter, compose the new
resultant parameter. An exhaustive analysis of each attribute contained on a
given parameter to identify throughout comparison steps what could be the best
for this case, possibly decreases the performance and effectiveness of algorithm.
An internal organization for parameters and its classification according
processing objectives, permits an identification of attribute influence due its
labelled mark and position inside parameter.

The parameters, are composed by complex attributes collection (for context-


service representation example). This similar internal organization of parameters
is applied to other parameter classes (student’s profile, path followed to execute
the defined educational task etc.) considering its specific characteristics and
application. To determine the next enhanced parameters in relation to those
covered on previous iteration which global result was indicated as not
compatible with the criteria of acceptance, subsets of attributes from previous
parameters (especially those indicated as locally positive to process) are selected
and combined on a new parameter.

In this scenario, indicate the attribute’s local performance implies to apply a


fitness index to each attribute evaluated (locally and globally) and store this data
to increase the historical knowledge base for intelligent mining and extraction.

Following the example of context-service representation, from student’s

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125

perspective, the usefulness result of this process is provide a new logical and
optimized suggestion on how take advantage of the resources provided by
current context identified or even the location mapped as next destination.
Identifying what is the next location and, hence, context-service available as
other related personal preference anticipation depends on complementary
processing performed by group of personalization algorithms.

2) Students Personalization
The group of algorithms responsible for Student’s Personalization performs its
operation in alternate mode: In Self-operation mode and, in Cooperation mode.
Self-operation mode occurs evaluating and monitoring student’s interaction
behavior on context environments, social networks, content recommendation
and collaboration model, forming a Frame of Student’s Profile.

Figure 3. Process of Frame definition.

Figure 3 illustrates the macro process of Frame definition, considering the


different models foreseen. Attributes of interactions being normalized to weights
and submitted to an evaluation process can indicate which model is
predominant at the instant of Frame composition. In cooperation mode, in
response of Student’s Evaluation process, this mode performs a cycle correlating
student’s task performance with the frame obtained. This scenario is expected
mainly on educational task with incremental evaluation.

Tracking the Frame, allows the evaluation process to identify its recurrence and
variability, hence, the influence on student’s task performance. If evaluation
process detects a Frame recurrence, and correlates it to a task results with lower
performance, this Frame (attributes and predominant configuration) will be
marked with an indicator of performance ranking (lower in this case) and
postponed on the future suggestion on similar cases. The algorithms used to
determine the Frame, are based on Artificial Neural Network models,
specifically a backpropagation model (Basheer, I. A., & Hajmeer, M., 2000). A
crude analogy between artificial neural network models and the cooperation
mode, permits associate the messages received from student’s evaluation
process with neurotransmitter to activate a new iteration to update Frame
identification process.

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126

Is not scope of this research apply integrally and rigorously genetic algorithms
models and operations used as reference (Mitchell, M., 1998) and all artificial
neural networks technics (Basheer, I. A., & Hajmeer, M., 2000). The machine
learning models theory and the algorithms elaborated in this research to
compose kernel’s evolving process, must attend implementation according to
expected operation on research.

J. Intelligent Multiagent Model


To support students in interaction process, a Multiagent Model is proposed to
act as local personalized assistant. For the purpose of this research, as a solution
using context aware computing, becomes useful local processing with the set of
records with last actions executed and, with minimal data used to compute the
current action according to student’s perspective. The concept of local
processing in this scenario, refers to Multiagent operation independent of
interconnection with Kernel. This Multiagent Model is foreseen to frequently
communicate online with Kernel but emerges as necessary due to common
issues related to complementary resources like data repository based on cloud
platforms and its availability (Alshwaier, A., et al., 2012) or while a network
connection is not available for example.

The aim of applying Intelligent Multiagent Model in this research is to simplify


the different local computation models. From student’s utility view, the Agent
Model can be available as embedded application on personal connected devices
searching for available connections and service discovering on a context-aware
environment according to student’s profile and needs.

Figure 4. Multiagent system as protocol interaction

The Figure 4, illustrates the macro view of interaction with a local instance on
embedded application and its remote replica. The same Agent representation
can be transported to an identified context-aware environment (in this case,
acting as a protocol) and perform different computation using local resources
from environment instead of consuming local processing from student’s device.
This strategy reduces the problems related to device’s energy efficiency and
other questions that could affect student’s experience with embedded
application containing Agent Model.

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127

Considering this approach to use the student’s local Agent as a protocol to


communicate with context-aware environments, allows device’s embedded
application to send data related to student’s profile and educational tasks where
this learner is involved, previous activities performed and its results, next
activities and all other necessary data used by local Agent to execute its
processing

Figure 5. Agent Model specialization

An example of differences and specialization levels of each Agent model is


illustrated on Figure 5. This set of data, representing the student’s local Agent,
creates another instance of Agent on context-aware environment. This new
instance, is described in this research as remote Agent, due its additional
behavior to process according to environment model using initial state received
as input parameters. Specialization applied to each Agent model attends the
variability aspects of context-aware environments where some attributes and
behavior related to student’s profile is shared to perform remote Agent tasks
and, considering environment characteristics, specific behavior and attributes
are inherent of processing. Tasks performed by remote Agent on context-aware
environment, return to student’s device as a result to update and merge
behavior with device’s agent instance and reflect its results on Kernel
synchronization and Learner Assistant Model.

K. Context Aware Model - Service Discovery and Resource Identification


Considering the objectives of this research, the basic concept of context aware
model must contain resources provided by a combination of physical location
identification, descriptors and its digital services, observing the student’s profile
and needs. The model composition of services and resources are intrinsically
characteristic to environment accessed by learner. A university laboratory can
provide a 3D printer. A bookstore allows access on its book catalog. A
commercial center indicates the store with specific scholar supplies. These
distinct examples of environment differ on purpose and may differ on its
characterization but they should present similarity with other environments
under same objective classes.

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128

Organizing these different group of environments classes in a common vision,


consolidates the need of an interpretation where a service discovery and
resource identification process must abstract the variability of each class
implementation details from student’s local Agent. Conceptually observing the
local Agent behavior on Service Discovery and Resource Identification
interaction, some common elements from context-aware platforms definition
(Zimmermann, A., et al., 2007) emerges as necessary to insure the abstraction
level and reduced complexity model applied to local Agent.

Figure 6. Context Aware Platform organization

The Figure 6 illustrates this research vision with a macro organization of


components proposed to establish a context-aware computing environment. The
upper layer Context Aware Presentation, communicate with local Agent to
present the service discovery and resource identification. The service discovery,
provides the catalog of available services in environment. Operations operation
of resource identification, permits the compatibility verification with a local
Agent's action intent related to a determined service previously discovered.
Segmentation Model layer contains the management of user adaptability that
control the level of interaction with learner. The context adaptability uses this
level of interaction as parameter to calibration and setup with learner without
interaction history.

In an overall and integrated example, if a local Agent queries and discovers an


available 3D print service, resources engine verifies if the necessary drivers and
supplies are compatible to attend the print request for student’s project. If an
incompatibility between service and requisition is detected, the resources engine
could be update the available drivers to attend the request, if applicable.
Eventually, a request for supplies reposition can be started if it turn insufficient.
In case of impossibility with supplies reposition or driver’s updates, the context
segmentation configures the unavailability of this service specifically to user or
group of users, and reflects it on presentation model to avoid new requests to
same service.

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129

PRELIMINARY EXPERIMENTS AND RESULTS


Introducing the problem and scope of initial experiment
The algorithms regarding Multiagent and Kernel computational models
proposed in this research, interacting with context-aware environment, are focus
of initial feasibility study, and composes the first part of experiment. Due to
expected variability of locales in interaction with students, becomes necessary
identify and classify these locales not only based on their descriptors or
identifiers provided. Given this scenario, an automated process to classify and
recommend the environments mapped by Kernel, where students can access and
perform educational activities, is an interesting point of analysis. A group of
algorithms was elaborated to compose this second part of initial experiment.

Structure of Experiment
Considering the broad effort to implement all necessary algorithms and
infrastructure foreseen in this research, a reduced set of functionalities and
computational resources was combined to simulate a fraction of overall model
described previously. At current stage of this research in progress, the adaptive
computational model proposed has a minimum flow of its logic implemented as
an experimental platform to proof of concept. This flow consists in data
processing to simulate classification tasks related to student’s educational
activities and interactions with context-aware environments: Classification of
Environment and Routing Recommendation to student’s activities. Routing
Recommendation includes the implementation of mobile application to simulate
the basic Multiagent operation.

The research will analyze different intelligent computing architectures. In this


experiment based on classification task, was applied Artificial Neural Networks.
Classification process involves assigning objects into determined groups or
classes based on a number of observed attributes related to those objects. The
objective of experiment as proof of concept is not exhaustively compare the
different architectures of neural networks and its variants (Samarasinghe, S.
2016). A neural network with Multi Layer perceptron (MLP) architecture was
selected to experiment. This type of network is widely used for pattern
classification, recognition, prediction, approximation and problems which are
not linearly separable (Maren, A. J., et al., 2014).

The structure of this experiment consists in a group of algorithms implemented


to establish Kernel classification tasks using MLP Neural Networks. Distinct
implementations of MLPs was used on this classification tasks. The
implementation of MLPs was used to classify locales, and a set of
complementary specific algorithms was implemented to execute routing
recommendation and, to simulate interactivity with context-aware
environments. A group of volunteer’s (university students) from distance
education regular courses were invited to test the platform in parallel with their
real use situations. The tracking of mobile application interface used by student's
during platform tests was collected. The macro description of main process
implemented during experiment are described as follows:

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130

Kernel Classification Task: Determining the class of Locale

The following main steps of MLP neural network implementation and execution
was executed:
A. Obtain/prepare dataset with attributes and records of experiment and test
B. Normalize dataset
C. Select training set to classification tasks
D. Implement neural network to classification
E. Train the networks
F. Test the networks

The primary classification task, will indicate the class of context aware locale in
student’s current interaction where educational activities and their related
contents are accessed and performed. In this initial experiment, the classes of
environments went distinguished in two basic classes: Class of Educational
Environment (EE) and Class of General Use (GU). The EE class refers to locale
with specific educational and research purposes, including schools, libraries,
universities research centers. The GU class, groups other locales with
commercial or public services not specific to educational objectives.

Obtain and Prepare Data Set


An educational attributes collection used as reference was obtained in
http://equipment.data.ac.uk/. This data collection, forms a database aggregating
equipment information across a number of UK universities and contains over
24.000 records and contains 27 attributes. The original set of attributes in this
dataset after pre-processed and filtered to this experiment purposes, was
reduced to following 8 attributes:

1. Type
2. Name
3. Description
4. Related Facility
5. ID
6. Technique
7. Location
8. Contact Name

To elaborate a quality list of real attributes regarding General Use locales that
are compatible and complimentary to attributes previously mapped, the list of
attributes was based on https://www.wbdg.org/space-types/joint-use-retail. This
reference contains structured descriptors to build common spaces and its related
standards of architectures and services. These attributes used in the classification
process are:

9. Entry Display
10. Cashier Counter
11. Display
12. Customer Service

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131

13. Representatives
14. Manager Office
15. Staff Workstations
16. Lavatory
17. Store Room
18. Housekeeping

Considering a data repository that conforms with this list of attributes, the
sample records of this experiment was obtained from https://coworkingbrasil.org.
It is a platform that aggregates information about Brazilian cowering spaces
from diverse finalities and characteristics, including commercial and educational
spaces. Performing queries in this platform for diverse available places, resulted
in approximately 720 records to generate a initial dataset according to attributes
defined. An attribute indicating this previously know class (EE class or GU class)
of records was added indicating its category: 19. Environment.

Normalizing Data Set


Attributes of dataset went normalized in range from 0 to 1 depending on it
completeness and relevance in educational purposes. Considering the attributes
of dataset in priority order, attributes from 1 to 8 has more relevance to
determine if locale belongs to EE class. For example, the attribute ID on this
dataset, contains the URL address of real photo related to equipment/resource
indicated on record. Since this attribute contains verifiable data of resource, it
receives the value 1 in normalization process. If data in attribute points to an
incorrect image or non URL (absence of http prefix or ‘.’indicating a domain, for
example) a lower value than 1 was applied, and if no data available, 0 was used.
With dataset prepared with know sources of records, two output attributes
added at end of dataset indicates the class. This is useful to prepare training data
and validate the network after training process.

Creating Training Set


In this coworking dataset, there is 350 records stablished as a main training set to
this experiment, distributed in 200 records of GU class and 150 records with
educational class (including scholar public spaces).

Training Data distribution


CLASS
Total Records % Training set
EE 150 43%
GU 200 57%

Table 1. Class distribution

Table 1 contains the records distribution of main training dataset. Additionally,


a set of 30 records (15 of each class) was selected to form a Test Set. A collection
of records to validate the MLP neural network after training.

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


132

Implementing Neural Network


To first classification task, a MLP neural network was implemented to attend
attributes mapped as neurons inputs.

Figure 7. MLP Neural Network layers.

Figure 7 illustrates the topology of neurons in this network was distributed in an


input layer with one neuron for each input parameter (attributes from 1 to 18), a
hidden layer distributed in four neurons with randomized weights and two
output neurons as result. This topology was defined after stable processing time
on tests with generic dataset with higher amount of records.

Training Neural Network


The type of training method chosen to this first classification task is Supervised
training, to intend minimize the error of classification through an iterative
process. Supervised training is accomplished by providing to neural network a
sample dataset with the anticipated outputs expected for each record of these
samples. As the process of supervised training proceeds, the neural network is
taken through a number of iterations, until the output of the neural network
matches the anticipated output, with a reasonably small and predefined rate of
error. Error rate we find to be appropriate to make the network well trained is
set just before the training starts. In this classification task, the highest error rate
was defined around 0.010. The target limit defined 0.010 reached nearby 91
iterations and after reduction, keeps in stable converging with Mean Square
Error approximately at: 0.0073344.

Testing Neural Networks


In MLP implemented, all selected test records where identified correctly
validating the training process.

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


133

Test Results
MLP
Total Records Tested % Success
Classification of 15 100%
Environment EE
Classification of 15 100%
Environment GU

Table 2. Result for MLP tests

Table 2 contains the amount of and the result of each class tested. To
environment classification test, 30 records selected from test set was successfully
categorized by MLP, being 15 from EE class and 15 from GU class. With this
process, the minimal Kernel engine becomes able to identify and classify locales.

Mobile Application: Simulator of Multiagent model


The mobile application built, contains the algorithms orchestrating
communication with Kernel engine. Given its reduced functionalities, there is no
interoperability from mobile application with student’s university platform. The
dynamic proposed to participants of experiment, was to indicate on application
what are the next tasks to execute and, point desired resources to be used to
accomplished it.

Figure 8. Mobile Application: routing recommendation interface

Figure 8 illustrates the main activity panel of mobile application. Simulating the
local Agent behavior, this implementation provides the navigation presented
through integration with map services, computing locally the distance and time
to reach next locale. The definition of point B presented on map as
recommended destination, is defined by Kernel and queried by local Agent. This
recommendation is based on a list of activities previously load into platform by

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134

students. The algorithms implemented in Kernel, considers the description of


necessary resources point by students and their current location coordinates. If a
student confirms the start of an activity and confirm the recommendation, the
accept signal of suggestion is collected to rank Kernel process as assertive. The
data of coordinates collected automatically in perimeter of suggested locale,
confirms this process.

Figure 9. Capture of main interfaces

Figure 9 contains, in the sequence, the screens with activity start selection, the
list of student’s activities and the form to indicate a new locale. In the
application interface, an evaluation feedback about the locale and its resources is
available to students and makes part of rank computation. If students decide to
execute the activity in an unknown location, the application provides a form to
describe the new place, added by a check-in process where coordinates of locale
are collected. Other data related to application use by students are collected to
evaluate additional questions regarding time of application use, frequency of use
and operation events like network issues, for example.

RESULTS, CONCLUSIONS AND FURTHER WORK


A detailed analysis on data collected by participants, demonstrates that given
the 35 initial volunteers, 27 students followed the experiment until its expected
ending. Tracking application use and navigation behavior, we identify that 16
students followed the route recommended by Kernel without location changes.
Other 7 students changed the location suggested after issues with target
resources and problems related to infrastructure. A special case of 4 students
performed its activities indicating new locations not previously loaded into
dataset. Without previous knowledge about the overall scope foreseen to this
platform, students sent feedbacks at the end of each participation. They
mentioned the absence of integration between the application provided and
their educational platform, as an important functionality to be complemented. In
these observations collected, students mentioned the effective resources
reservation, and information about related costs if applicable on recommended

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135

locales, as desirable functionality to be added to application. In this group, 16


students suggested an integration between this application with Google Allo
and Apple Siri services. All 27 students pointed this application as a desirable
tool in online education platforms if provided communication with their
teachers.

The feedback collected, reinforces the needs to elaborate the interactivity


between the Kernel and context-aware environments, providing more
information elements to student decisions.

This research, faces challenge related to security, identity and privacy


information management that needs to be covered. Social Networks and
physical places sharing educational content and data related to groups and
individuals, requires a deep and clear view on ethic questions and right methods
to manipulate this information.

The centric propose on this research, using artificial intelligence models to


support the platform, requires an accurate analysis on which model of load,
calibration and criteria of verification will be adequate to determine the
refinement process of computational models proposed.

Technical questions regarding to architecture of platform implementation


constitute an important phase to define the ideal setup to more flexible and
evolve the proposed architecture. For this case, some aspects of reconfigurable
and dynamic architectures will be investigated to improve the model. To
support preserve the extensibility and evolving model as an open platform, a
minimum set of patterns to computational maintenance, manageability and
related aspects will be investigated and adequate to this research on its
implementation process. Addressing points regarding information security and
architectural patterns, the interoperability with educational platforms and
context-aware environment can be stablished.

Context-Aware Computing definition and modeling must conform the target


platform requirements considering the evolutionary environment and, to
support reach this objective, a complementary study of ontology and common
environment description will be covered during this research.

This initial experiment indicates the implementation viability of computational


model proposed in the research. The experimental behavior using the strategy of
separated implementation to process environment classification an activities
routing and recommendation, allows the use of different computational models
(external components or specialized platforms acting as modular services) in
interaction with Kernel processing as proposed in this research conception.

The experiment is not conclusive in relation of definitive neural network


topology and methods and, the better computational intelligence techniques to
be applied on evolving model as its comprehensive form proposed on this
research. The continuity of investigations will cover these theoretical details and

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


136

technical aspects. The complexity of environment attribute identification and


verification presents one of most relevant problems to solve and, consequently,
determine the method to data normalization.

Conclusions initially obtained of current investigations and initial experiment


provides base to evolve the research, considering the direction of educational
platforms moving to cloud environment to attend growing of online courses
and, consequently, the personification as a need in educational process. The
interactive educator's perspective, contemplated in next phase of investigation,
will analyze the approach to intermediate communication between actors
involved in this dynamic. In parallel, points covered at current stage of
investigation, will be improved according to new findings.

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International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research


Vol. 16, No.11, pp. 138-156, November 2017
https://doi.org/10.26803/ijlter.16.11.8

Influence of Management on Quality Assurance


in National Teacher’s Colleges

Josephine Lubwama, David Onen and Edris Serugo Kasenene


College of Education and External Studies
Makerere University, Uganda

Abstract. This study investigated the influence of management on


quality assurance in National Teachers Colleges (NTCs) in Uganda. The
study was prompted by the persistent complaints from key stakeholders
about the deteriorating quality of teacher trainees from the NTCs. The
study used the descriptive cross-sectional sample survey research
design where both qualitative and quantitative approaches to data
collection and analysis were used to gain an in-depth understanding of
the issues that were investigated. Data were collected from 79 lecturers,
three principals, six deputy principals, three academic registrars, and
two officials from the Uganda’s Ministry of Education and Sports. Study
respondents were selected through purposive and convenience
sampling techniques. Data were analysed through the use of
appropriate descriptive and inferential statistics as well as a content
analysis technique. Study results revealed that planning (p=.001<.05),
controlling (p=.047<.05), and directing (p=.000<.05) have statistically
significant influence on quality assurance; meanwhile, organizing
(p=.148>.05) has a statistically weak influence on quality assurance in
NTCs. The researchers thus concluded that management significantly
influences the assurance of quality in NTCs in Uganda, other factors
notwithstanding. It was therefore recommended that periodic audits
and reviews need to be undertaken by managers of NTCs in order to
detect any anomalies regarding quality in their institutions. Besides, the
principles of total quality management need to be incorporated in the
management of quality at NTCs so as to engage all relevant stakeholders
such as students and employees in managing quality at the institutions.
Finally, the managers of NTCs are recommended to benchmark and
adapt best practices of assuring quality from other institutions of higher
education.

Keywords: management; quality assurance; planning; organising;


controlling.

Introduction
World over, the importance of quality education is no longer debatable – more
so – the quality of teacher education. This is because as world leaders and
educationalists often say, there is “no educational system [in the world that] is

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


139

better than [the quality of] its teachers” (UNESCO, 2017, para. 1). As a result, the
issue of assuring quality in teacher education is a matter of grave concern not
only to government and policy-makers but scholars as well. Unfortunately, the
process of assuring quality in teacher education is no easy feat – not even for
developed nations. The case of National Teacher’s Colleges (NTCs) in Uganda is
no exception. In this paper, the researchers present the results of a study that
delved into the influence of management on quality assurance in NTCs in
Uganda. The investigation was prompted by the persistent complaints from key
stakeholders about the deteriorating quality of teacher trainees from these NTCs.

In Uganda, NTCs have a history that dates far back to 1948 when the colonial
government then established the first teacher training college at Nyakasura.
According to Adupa and Mulindwa (1998), the teacher college of the time
admitted students who were holders of ordinary school certificate (O’ level) and
up-graders who held Grade II teacher certificate. The two authors also contend
that for a long time, the teacher training colleges in Uganda continued to
produce teachers of relatively very good quality if compared with the ones of
today. However, the political and economic events of the 1970s and 80s caused
significant damage to the country’s education system leading to a decline in the
overall quality of education – including teacher education.

Several scholars have already delved into the potential causes of the declining
quality of teacher education elsewhere as well as in Uganda. Many such scholars
attribute the decline in the quality of teacher education to the weaknesses in the
quality assurance systems put in place to guarantee quality in the teacher
training institutions. Yet with effective management, it can be hypothesized that
quality assurance should be guaranteed. It is this kind of theorization that
prompted these researchers to look into how the management in NTCs in
Uganda is influencing the assurance of quality in these institutions; thus, the
genesis of this investigation.

Theoretically, this study was modeled on the theory of total quality management
(TQM) advanced in the 1950s by scholars such as Edwards Deming, Joseph M.
Juran, and Armand V. Feigenbaum (Smith, 2011). The theory states that an
organization should involve all its stakeholders especially staff in the day-to-day
management of quality if it is to guarantee the quality of its products and
services. In fact, according to Singh (2011), TQM aims to do the right things,
right the first time, every time. However, for TQM to be successful, quality
management should become the culture of the organisation and the organisation
should commit itself to applying the principles of TQM which according to
Deming (1986), include: commitment by management and employees, meeting
client requirements, improving teams has some systems to facilitate
improvement, line management ownership, employee involvement and
empowerment, recognition and celebration, focus on processes or improvement
plans and specific incorporation in strategic planning (Hashmi, 2017). In this
study, the theory of TQM was opted for because although originally the theory
was applied to manufacturing operations, and for several years only used in that
area, TQM is now a recognized management tool applicable even in the
provision of services in public sector organizations including educational

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140

institutions. The researchers believed that if the NTCs embraced the principles of
TQM in their operations, then quality assurance would be guaranteed.

In the study, there were two main concepts: management and quality assurance.
According to Rodrigues (2001), management is the process of planning,
organizing coordinating, directing, and controlling of resources to achieve
organization goals. But, Mullins (2010) defines management as the process of
getting things done by working both with and through people operating in
organized groups. In this study, the definition of management was borrowed
from the work of Rodrigues. As a result, management was looked at as the
process by which administrators of NTCs in Uganda, plan, direct, control and
organize the quality assurance function of their colleges.

The second key concept in this study was quality assurance (QA). According to
Harman and Meek (2000), QA refers to “the systematic management and
assessment procedures adopted by a higher education institution or system to
monitor performance and to ensure achievement of quality outputs or improved
quality” (p.iv). Harman again defined QA in a more or less similar manner in his
publication of 2000 titled ‘Quality Assurance in Higher Education’. Harvey and
Green (1993) and Harvey (2005) on the other hand defined QA as the means by
which managers satisfy themselves that mechanisms put in place are working to
maintain standards and satisfy all stakeholders that the product meets the
prescribed standards. It is this second definition that was adopted for the
purpose of this study. As a result, QA was looked at in terms of the systems put
in place by the managers of the NTCs to guarantee the production of quality
teacher trainees.

Contextually, this study was conducted in three out of the five public NTCs in
Uganda. This was instigated by the fact that all recent reviews of the NTCs by
the Ministry of Education and Sports have been revealing a decline in the quality
of teacher trainees from these institutions in spite of the substantial investments
that the Ministry has made over the years (Ministry of Education and Sports,
2015). Besides, the organs such as the governing councils and staff committees
that were set up to ensure quality in the institutions were reportedly found to be
rather inert; and according to some stakeholders, these developments were
already beginning to hurt the quality of the products of these institutions since
some employers were already complaining about the quality of the teachers
trained by the colleges. The researchers believed that if the current scenario
persisted, then the graduates of these institutions would eventually be rendered
unemployable and this would lead to the wastage of resources used to train
them. The researchers specifically wondered if management was playing its due
role in guaranteeing quality in the NTCs; thus, the genesis of the study.

Study Objectives. This study was intended to establish the influence of


management on quality assurance in the NTCs. Specifically, it was meant to find
out the influence of: (i) planning; (ii)organizing; (iii)controlling; and (iv)directing
on quality assurance in the colleges.

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141

Methodology
The study employed a descriptive cross-sectional sample survey research design
where both qualitative and quantitative data were collected. The use of both
qualitative and quantitative data collection approaches was aimed at enabling
the researchers to gain an in-depth understanding of the issues under
investigation. The data were collected from 79 lecturers, three principals, six
deputy principals, three academic registrars, and two officials from the
Uganda’s Ministry of Education and Sports using questionnaires (for lecturers
only) and interview guide (for the other categories of respondents. This study
design was opted for because it enabled the researchers to collect data at one
point in time in order to understand the issues that were under investigation
without returning to the field to collect data several times. This implies that the
research design helped the researchers to cut down on costs and to save time
that would be spent in conducting the entire study. In addition, by using the
survey design, it was intended to allow the researchers to generalize the findings
obtained from the sampled population to the entire target population of the
study. The researchers used convenience and purposive sampling techniques to
choose the different groups of study subjects. Convenience sampling techniques
were used to identify the lecturers while the rest of the members of the sampled
population was identified through purposive sampling techniques. These
sampling techniques helped in identifying those who were privy to the kind of
information that the researchers were interested in. It, therefore, helped to cut
down on costs and time that would be wasted trying to gather data from
irrelevant subjects. The data were analysed with the use of appropriate statistical
techniques and well as content analysis method of qualitative data analysis.

Results
The study aimed to determine the influence of management - precisely:
planning, organising, controlling, and directing on quality assurance in NTCs. In
this section, the researchers present the results of the study. The first result to be
presented in Table 1 is on respondents’ background information.

Table 1: Demographic characteristics of the respondents


Variable Attributes Frequency Percent
Sex of respondent Male 54 68.4
Female 25 31.6
Total 79 100.0
Respondent’s roles Subject Head 23 29.1
Departmental Head 16 20.3
Ordinary Lecturer 40 50.6
Total 79 100.0
Respondent’s Bachelor’s Degree 44 55.7
highest academic Master’s Degree 35 44.3
qualification Total 79 100.0
Respondent’s years Less than a year 6 7.6
of service at College Between 1 and 5 years 16 20.3
6 – 10 years 22 27.8
Above 10 years 35 44.3
Total 79 100.0

© 2017 The authors and IJLTER.ORG. All rights reserved.


142

The results in Table 1 show that more male lecturers (68.4%) participated in the
study than their female counter-parts (32.6%). This may suggest that there are
more male lecturers employed in the NTCs than their female counter-parts.
Secondly, the results also show that the majority of the lecturers who
participated in this study were ordinary lecturers; that is, individuals with no
specific assigned administrative or managerial role(s). This means that the views
and opinions they gave regarding how quality is assured in their colleges may
not be biased since they hold no administrative posts in the institutions. This
may help to raise the validity and reliability of the study findings. Thirdly, the
results in Table 1 also indicate that the majority of the lecturers (55.7%) that
participated in the study possess bachelor degrees. This implies that the bulk of
the study participants were knowledgeable about the issues under investigation.
Finally, the results in Table 1 also reveal that the majority of the study
participants (72.1%) have worked in their respective colleges for periods
extending beyond five years. This implies that they are knowledgeable about the
management and the assurance of quality in their institutions. This should also
help to raise the validity and reliability of the study results.

Descriptive statistics on independent and dependent variables


The researchers sought the views of the respondents on each of the study
variables that were investigated. The respondents were given statements with
which they were requested to agree or disagree in order to determine what they
think or feel about the management of their colleges and how it influences
quality assurance. The researchers used a three-point Likert scale ranging from
disagree (D) coded as 1 to agree (A) - coded as 3. The results depicting the
respondents’ views on planning, organising, controlling, and directing are
hereby presented in tables 2 to 5.

Table 2: Respondents’ rating on items related to planning


Questionnaire Item D UD A Mean SD
College plans and services are 12 7 60 2.12 1.084
aligned to institutional mission (15.7%) (8.9%) (76.0%)

College is focused on ensuring 10 7 62 2.33 .0981


quality of its products (12.6%) (8.9%) (78.5%)

Administrators undertake 6 10 63 2.40 .934


College’s SWOT analysis (7.6%) (12.7%) (79.8)

College has institutional plan 74 0 6 1.95 .766


in line with mission (94.7%) (0%) (6.3%)

All staff are engaged in 4 12 63 2.42 .854


preparing institutional plans. (5.1%) (15.2%) (79.8%)

The College has planned/set 74 0 2.5 2.54 .945


communication procedures (93.7%) (0.0) (6.3%)

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College has plan for 6 5 68 2.40 .768


replenishing its staffing levels (7.6) (6.3%) (86.1%)

College has CPD programs for 60 13 6 1.94 .965


its staff (75.9%) (16.5%) (7.6%)
College has plans for its 43 13 23 2.61 1.126
quality M & E (54.5%) 16.5%) (29.1%)

College supports staff in 36 7 36 2.75 1.276


ensuring quality outputs (45.6%) (8.9%) (45.6%)

The results in Table 2 indicate that most of the respondents (60 or 76%) agreed
that their colleges’ plans and services were aligned to institutional vision,
mission, and goals with a mean response of 2.12. However, a total of 10 (13%)
respondents strongly disagreed that their colleges’ plans were aligned with
institutional mission and goals. This implies that some lecturers were not aware
or involved in the planning of activities in their institutions.

The results also revealed that 79.8% of the respondents agreed that the academic
staff of the colleges is engaged in preparing operational plans for their respective
institutions, and this was reflected in the average mean response of 2.42.
However, a total of 19% disagreed that they were not involved in planning for
their institutions. This meant that college administrators hardly involve a section
of their staff in planning for the institutions. This may make it difficult for all
staff members to get involved in assuring quality.

With regard to the procedures of communication used in NTCs, results in Table


2 indicate that most of the respondents (58 or 73%) disagreed with the fact that
their institutions have well-planned communication procedures (mean response
of 2.54). This could mean that there are coordination difficulties when it comes
to implementation of institutional plans as well as in ensuring quality. Some of
the respondents (31 or 39%) strongly disagreed that there were plans to provide
staff with continuous professional development opportunities. Yet, 17% of the
respondents were undecided about the availability of continuous professional
development opportunities in their institutions. This might imply that the plans
to provide staff with continuous professional development are lacking or not
exposed to all the academic staff.

During the interviews, several interviewees expressed different opinions


regarding the planning function in the NTCs. The academic registrars observed
that while the mission, goals, objectives, and rules of the institutions were well-
written and exposed through brochures, notice-boards and other media, the staff
hardly takes the trouble to read and internalize them. In fact, one Academic
Registrar revealed during the interview that:
It is difficult to understand academicians. Once they are given their
appointment letters, they will never bother to look at anything else. I
should tell you that all the appointment letters and other documents of

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144

the College have the College’s mission and vision clearly written on
them.
This could partly explain why some staff members were indicating that their
colleges lack institutional plans, mission, and vision.

The second dimension of management that was investigated in the study was
organizing. In Table 3, the researchers present the views of respondents with
regard to how the organising function in their colleges was handled.

Table 3: Respondents rating on organizing


Questionnaire Item D UD A Mean SD
In our College, academic heads 15 6 58 2.14 1.237
coordinated academic decisions (19.0%) (7.6%) (73.5%)

In our College, lecturer-student 47 10 22 1.15 1.159


ratio is satisfactory (2%) (12.7%) (27.8%)

In our College, support 11 18 50 2.22 1.033


supervision is well offered (13.9%) (22.8%) (63.3%)
In our College, new staff are 66 1 12 2.11 1.152
given good induction (83.5%) (1.3%) (15.2%)

In our College, good staff 52 4 23 2.52 1.309


appraisal is done (65.8%) (5.1%) (29.0%)

In our College, there are 22 2 55 2.14 1.217


departmental budgets (27.8%) (2.5%) (60.7%)

Our college has adequate physical 3 7 69 2.41 .845


infrastructure (3.8%) (8.9%) (87.4%)

Our college has adequate non- 14 19 45 2.87 1.221


phyiscal facilities (17.7%) (24.1%) (57.0%)

Our College has adequate 48 7 24 2.48 1.413


computers and its accessories (60.7%) (8.9%) (30.4%)

In our College there is an effective 42 5 32 2.89 1.132


M & E system (53.2%) (6.3%) (40.5%)

In our College, ICT system is fully 73 4 2 1.65 .752


utilised (92.4%) (5.1%) (2.6%)

The College has sufficient library 19 14 46 2.08 1.269


and its facilities (24.0%) (17.7%) (58.3%)

The results in Table 3 show that 53% of the lecturers agreed that in their
institutions, academic heads coordinate academic decisions as compared to 18%

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145

of them who disagreed. This implies that the academic heads are to a large
extent, responsible for the decisions made regarding academic affairs - including
the issue of quality assurance. The results also reveal that a total of 62% of the
respondents disagreed about lecturers being inducted in their roles, with a mean
response rate of 2.11. However, 13.9% of the respondents agreed that lecturers
were inducted in their roles. This could mean that there is the induction of
lecturers in the colleges, not to all recruited lecturers. That explains why some
lecturers were not aware of the induction programmes in their institutions.
Moreover, it is important to induct all lecturers after being recruited because
they get to learn the culture of the institution and how quality is assured in it.

Further, when respondents were asked if there is a staff appraisal system in the
college and whether timely feedback was given to them, some of the
respondents (43%) disagreed with this statement, with a mean response rate of
2.52. This could have meant that some lecturers were not aware of the appraisal
system in place. Moreover, a yearly appraisal is mandatory.

The results in Table 3 also show that some of the respondents disagreed (33%)
that lecture halls and computer labs were adequate and useful in teaching, with
an observed mean response rate of 2.48. However, 19% of the respondents
agreed with the statement that lecture halls and computer labs were adequate
and useful in teaching. This meant that the staff members were unsatisfied with
the state of facilities in the institutions and regarding the availability of
resources.

During the interviews, several interviewees expressed different opinions


regarding the organizing function in the NTCs. In fact, many principals and
their deputies confirmed that the lecturer-student ratio in their institutions was
not yet satisfactory. One principal observed that:
In this era of universal secondary education where enrolment has been
increasing year after year without additional recruitment of staff, there is
no way how the lecturer to student ratio can be satisfactory. Most often,
we find that our lecture halls are crowded beyond capacity. This is not
healthy for effective teaching and learning.
Therefore, this scenario may account for the deteriorating quality of teaching
and learning in the NTCs. In fact, the results from the interviews corroborated
the quantitative data presented.

Thirdly, the researchers investigated how the controlling function of


management was handled in the NTCs and whether it was influencing quality
assurance in the colleges. The descriptive results are presented in Table 4:

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146

Table 4: Respondents’ rating on Controlling


Questionnaire Item D UD A Mean SD
College has established 7 3 69 2.28 .868
performance standards (8.8%) (3.8%) (87.3%)
Our output is compared 64 1 14 .915
against set goals (81.0%) (1.3%) (17.7%) 2.22
Our performance is 6 18 55 .813
regularly appraised (7.6%) (22.8%) (69.6%) 2.14
We are given periodic 61 7 11 1.97 1.062
support supervision (77.2%) (8.9%) (14.0%)
At College, we do self- 14 0 65 2.29 .930
evaluation (17.7%) (0.0%) (82.3%)
We receive sufficient 21 4 54 2.08 1.023
communication (26.6%) (5.1%) (68.4%)
At College, there is 57 0 22 2.53 1.338
assured funding source (72.1%) (0.0%) (27.9%)
At College, funding 57 4 18 2.24 1.283
goals are clear (72.2%) (5.1%) (22.8%)
Our College has an 55 15 9 2.23 1.154
effective financial system (69.6%) (19%) (11.4%)
NCHE regularly 69 0 10 1.87 .939
monitors our College (87.4%) (0.0%) (12.7%)
Local managers also 64 5 10 1.65 1.063
regularly conduct M & E (71.0%) (6.3%) (12.7%)

The results in Table 4 reveal that most of the respondents (80%) agreed that there
were established performance standards in the colleges with a mean response
rate of 2.28. However, 6.3% of the respondents disagreed with this statement.
This implied that there was a small percentage of lecturers in the NTCs who
were not following the performance standards or were not aware of their
existence. On whether actual performance is compared against set standards,
most of the respondents (66%) disagreed with this statement with a mean
response rate of 2.22; however, 18% of the respondents agreed to the statement.
This implied that actual performance was not compared against the set
standards thereby inhibiting the assurance of quality in the institutions.

The results in Table 4 also revealed that some of the respondents (41%)
disagreed that there were periodic support supervision and evaluation of staff
performance with a mean response rate of 1.97. However, 13% of the lecturers
who participated in the study agreed that the colleges carried out periodic
support supervision. This implied that periodic support supervision and
evaluation of staff is irregularly carried out.

The results in Table 4 also showed that a large proportion of respondents (67%)
disagreed with the statement that the National Council for Higher Education
(NCHE) regularly monitors and evaluates colleges’ activities, with a mean

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147

response rate of 1.87. This meant that the NCHE does not regularly monitor and
evaluate colleges’ activities.

During interviews, several interviewees expressed diverse opinions about the


issue of controlling as a management function in the colleges. One Deputy
Principal observed that:
As a college, we have tried to put in place several control measures.
These include things timetables, budgets, duty Rota, room allocation
committee, academic committee, and so on and so forth in order to help
us enhance quality in the institution. However, these measures
sometimes are not effective in guaranteeing quality due to several
factors. For example, some lecturers do not adhere to the timetables,
thereby causing confusion in the institution. This does not give a good
example to the teacher trainees.
With regards to academic standards, one interviewee observed that:
… everybody in academia circle here knows their performance
standards. They are actually clearly spelt out in one’s appointment letter,
and we just keep reminding ourselves in various fora. But all I can say is
that the staff here is performing averagely well, generally.
While the interviewee indicated that the staff members of this NTC were doing
well, from what was observed, the researchers believed that there were still gaps
in performance that could be filled. In fact, this idea was supported by one
Academic Registrar who said that:
It is the duty of all lecturers to do a self-check on how they are
performing, and although this is not mandatory, we encourage them to
do it. They get feedback from the students in as far as their performance
is concerned. There are reports of improved performance based on
feedback from self-evaluation.
This confirmed that while some managers were satisfied with the performance
of their staff, others were not – implying that there was still room for
improvement in the performance of the lecturers towards ensuring quality in the
NTCs.

Finally, the researchers examined how the directing function of management


was carried out at the colleges and whether it was adequately influencing
quality assurance. The descriptive results are hereby presented in Table 5 below.

Table 5: Respondents Rating on items related to Directing

Item D UD A Mea SD.


n
The administration inspires 12 8 59 2.25 1.255
actions to be taken by others (15.2%) (10.1) (74.6%
Understanding the workers’ 50 5 24 2.56 1.337
(63.3%) (6.3%) (30.4%
The administrators give timely 60 4 15 1.90 1.161
feedback (76.0%) (5.1%) (19%)

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148

Communication channels 5 0 74 2.43 .904


assembly (6.3%) (0.0%) (93.7%
Students are involved in 0 0 79 2.59 .468
academic affairs (0.0%) (0.0%) 100.0%
The library equipped and 24 1 54 2.00 1.43
accessible (30.4%) (1.3%) (68.4%
Multimedia instruction material 66 3 10 1.77 1.085
(83.5%) (3.8%) (12.6%)
The results in Table 5 indicate that majority of the respondents (47%) agreed that
the administration inspires them to take relevant quality assurance actions with
a mean rate of 2.25. This meant that the administration motivates others to take
actions that guarantee quality in the colleges. However, some of the respondents
(13%) disagreed with that statement, implying that there might have been some
lecturers who did not appreciate the administrators’ efforts to inspire them.

In Table 5, the results also show that the majority of the respondents (41%)
disagreed that the college’s leadership understand the workers’ personalities,
values, attitudes, and emotions. This implies that managers of the colleges do
not fully address personal issues of the lecturers and understand them. About
the statement that managers give timely feedback, the majority of the
respondents (53.2%) disagreed with a mean response rate of 1.90. A total of 30
percent of the respondents agreed with the statement that managers give timely
feedback. This could mean that many of the managers in the NTCs hardly
provide feedback to the staff about quality assurance related issues.

During interviews, different respondents expressed diverse opinions about how


directing was carried out in the colleges and how this was contributing to the
assurance of quality in the institutions. One Principal observed that:
As a Principal, I always try my best to lead my staff in a professional
manner. I always encourage them to work hard, remain focused and
ensure that they perform quality work. I have seen many of my staff
inspired and motivated to do quality work. I believe that my other
colleagues are as well doing the same.
Another Principal also said something similar to the first principal cited above;
she reiterated that:
It is not easy today to manage public servants. Many of them have a
negative attitude towards work and their superiors. This makes it
difficult for institutional leaders like me to guide what the staff should do
or not do. In some cases, we clash with some staff members especially on
the issues of professionalism and presentation of shoddy work.
This means that while the quantitative results indicate that many colleges’
leaders inspire and motivate their staff, the leaders themselves express difficulty
in directing the staff as well as the institution.

On the other hand, the researchers also sought the opinions of the respondents
about quality assurance at their colleges. Using 15 questions, respondents were
made to rate the status of quality assurance basing on a 3-point Likert scale

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149

ranging from 1= Disagree (D), 2 = Undecided (UD), and 3 = Agree (A). The
summary of the descriptive results is presented here in Table 6.

Table 6: Descriptive Statistics on Respondents’ Rating on Quality Assurance


Item D UD A Mean SD

There is regular academic staff 30 6 43 2.94 1.497


evaluation (38.0%) (7.6%) (54.4%)
Internal examinations given to 35 11 33 2.84 1.255
students (44.3%) (13.9%) (41.8%)
Continuous assessment regularly 30 5 44 2.87 1.362
conducted (38.0%) (6.3%) (55.7%)
Lecturers use self-evaluation 30 14 35 1.91 1.238
(37.9%) (17.7%) (44.3%)
Structure in place to support 49 17 13 2.00 1.320
internal assessment and records (63.0%) (21.5% (16.5%)
There is a functional academic 47 3 29 2.49 1.739
committee (59.5%) (3.8%) (36.8%)
Approved and disseminated quality 51 2 26 2.23 1.493
assurance policy (64.6%) (2.5%) (32.9%)
Staff obtaining feedback from the 49 2 28 2.43 1.317
stakeholders (62.0%) (2.5%) (35.4%)
College undertakes stakeholders’ 60 2 17 1.94 1.530
surveys (76.0%) (2.5%) (21.8%)
Obtain Feedback to improve the 64 0 15 1.65 1.209
quality (81.0%) (0.0%) (19.0%)
Student assessment procedures are 39 3 38 2.99 1.199
clear (47.1%) (3.8%) (48.1%)
There are mechanisms for 51 2 26 2.75 1.126
monitoring and evaluation (65.2%) (2.5%) 33.0%)

Heads of department share 31 23 25 2.70 1.275


information on quality (39.2%) (29.1%) (31.7%)

Students evaluate lecturers’ 44 2 33 2.57 1.308


teaching (54.5%) (3.8%) (41.8%)
Programs are reviewed regularly 47 6 26 2.51 1.300
(59.4%) (7.6%0) (32.9%)
The results in Table 6 indicate that 44% of the respondents agreed that there was
regular staff appraisal with a mean response rate of 2.94. However, there were
respondents who disagreed (33%) with the statement. This could mean that
some lecturers are not regularly appraised. This may affect the quality of their
performance as well as that of the teacher trainees. On the issue of whether
internal examinations were regularly administered to the teacher trainees in
order to improve their performance, 37% of the respondents agreed with that

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150

statement. However, 25% of the lecturer disagreed with that statement. This
implied that the staff members were not equally keen in the manner in which
examinations are handled in the colleges. This may not augur well with
ensuring the quality of the products from the colleges.

The results in Table 6 also show that 56% of the respondents agreed that
continuous assessment was used during the training of the students with a mean
response rate of 2.87. However, a significant number of lecturers disagreed
(30%) with the same statement; and this could imply that some colleges or
departments do not use continuous assessment during training.

The results in Table 6 further reveal that most of the respondents strongly
disagreed (52%) that there are functional academic committees in place at the
college with a mean response rate of 2.49. However, some few lecturers (13%)
agreed that their colleges had functional academic committees. This could imply
that the committees that are meant to guarantee quality in the colleges are not
vibrant in ensuring quality in their respective institutions.

During the interviews, different respondents expressed different opinions


concerning quality assurance in their colleges. One Principal observed that:
For me as a Principal, I am the chief quality controller in this college. I
chair the academic committee, and I am responsible for ensuring the
vibrancy of its operation. However, the academic committee sometimes
fails to guarantee quality due to several factors including the poor
attitudes of both staff and students. Nevertheless, we continue to guide
both the staff and students to ensure that we produce quality work.
Another interviewee, a Registrar in one of the colleges said that:
As a college, we take the issue of quality seriously. We encourage our
staff to follow the timetables, honor timelines, and give regular
assessments and motivate students in the course of teaching. All these
are geared towards quality assurance. While a few staff members may be
uncommitted to these ideals, the majority of them appear to do a good
job. Overall, the quality of our products is not so bad although, there is
room for improvement.
The interview results indicated that the managers of the colleges are aware of
the challenges they have in guaranteeing quality. They also recognized that the
prevailing quality assurance systems they use are weak and need continuous
improvement.

During the interviews held with the Ministry of Education and Sports’ officials,
the different interviewees expressed diverse opinions about quality and quality
assurance in the NTCs. One of the officials remarked that:
The issue of quality and quality assurance in the NTCs is critical. With
the ever-changing world and changing demands and lifestyles, program

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151

reviews should take precedence in any higher education institution. This


is because there are many things that were taught ten years ago, but they
have become obsolete now. Unfortunately, our lecturers in the NTCs do
not seem to take programs evaluation and reviews seriously. Most often,
they take several years before programs are reviewed; this impact
negatively on the quality of the products from the NTCs.
The results indicated that both the local managers in the NTCs and the officials
at the Ministry’s headquarters recognize the challenges that are associated with
ensuring quality in the NTCs; and the need for continuous improvement in
quality assurance.

Verification of Research Hypotheses


The study aimed at verifying four research hypotheses, namely: H1=Planning
has a statistically significant influence on quality assurance; H2=Organizing has
a statistically significant influence on quality assurance; H3=Controlling has a
statistically significant influence on quality assurance, and H4=Directing has a
statistically significant influence on quality assurance. To verify these
hypotheses, first, the hypotheses were converted into their null form. Secondly,
the researcher generated indices for each of the variables, namely: planning
(plan), organizing (org), controlling (cont) and directing (direct) as well as
quality assurance (qa) using data obtained from the questionnaire. Thereafter,
the hypotheses were tested with the use of the multiple regression techniques.
The results of the tests of the null hypotheses are presented in Tables 7 (a), (b)
and (c).
Table 7(a): Regression Model Summary

Change Statistics
Std. Error
R Adjusted R of the R Square F Sig. F
Model R Square Square Estimate Change Change df1 df2 Change

1 .591a .349 .314 .36242 .349 9.907 4 74 .000

a. Predictors: (Constant), Controlling, Planning, Organizing and Directing


b. Dependent Variable: Quality Assurance

The results in Table 7(a) show that the correlation coefficient between
management and quality assurance is positive with an R value of 0.591 and R
squared of 0.349. These results suggest that a unit change in management leads
to a 0.349 (34.9%) change in quality assurance, other factors held constant. The
observed significance (p) value of 0.000 is lower than the critical significance
value of 0.05. This implies that management has a significant influence on
quality assurance in the NTCs, other factors held constant. However, to
determine whether the overall regression model is a good fit for the data, the
researcher proceeded to perform the F ratio test which results are presented in
Table 7(b).

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152

Table 7(b): ANOVA Table

Sum of Mean
Model Squares df Square F Sig.

1 Regression 5.205 4 1.301 9.907 .000b

Residual 9.720 74 .131

Total 14.925 78

a. Dependent Variable: Qa

c. Predictors: (Constant), plan, org, cont, direct)

The results in the ANOVA table above (F (1.301) =9.907, p< .05) show that the
independent variable (management) significantly predict the dependent variable
(quality assurance); that is, the regression model is a good fit of the data. Finally,
to test for the influence of each independent variable on quality assurance, the
multiple regression analysis was carried out. The results are presented in Table
7(c).
Table 7(c): Multiple regulation results for influence of management on quality
assurance

Unstandardized Standardized 95.0% Confidence


Coefficients Coefficients Interval for B

Std. Lower Upper


Model B Error Beta T Sig. Bound Bound

1 (Constant) 1.832 .609 3.008 .004 .618 3.045

Planning .254 .085 .287 2.977 .004 .084 .425

Organizing -
-.099 .067 -.146 .146 -.233 .035
1.471

Controlling -
-.198 .082 -.238 .018 -.362 -.035
2.414

Directing .461 .113 .388 4.081 .000 .236 .686

a. Dependent Variable: Quality assurance


The multiple regression results in Table 7(c) show that planning, controlling and
directing have p-values of 0.004, 0.018, and 0.000 respectively which are less than
the critical value of p=.05. These imply that planning, controlling and directing
have statistically significant influence on quality assurance in NTCs. Therefore,
the null hypotheses associated with these three variables (planning, controlling

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153

and directing) were rejected and their research hypotheses upheld. However, the
results in the table also show that organizing had a p-value of 0.146 which is
more than the critical value of p=.05 This implies that organizing has no
statistically significant influence on quality assurance in NTCs. Therefore, the
null hypothesis that “organizing has no statistically significant influence on
quality assurance” was accepted and the research hypothesis rejected.

Discussion of Findings
In this study, the researchers aimed at achieving four specific objectives. First,
the study was intended to establish the influence of planning on quality
assurance in NTCs. Study findings revealed that both planning and quality
assurance were weak in the colleges. However, the study also revealed that
planning has a statistically significant influence on quality assurance (p
=.004<.005). The finding that planning is weak in the colleges is in agreement
with the work of a number of other scholars who have generally studied
planning in higher education institutions. For instance, Musaazi (2006) alludes to
the fact that weak planning in many educational institutions arises out of weak
implementation of both strategic and tactical plans. In fact, both strategic and
operational plans of some of the colleges lacked focus on critical issues with
regard to the management of quality in the institutions. In a scenario where
weak planning occurs, it can negatively affect the institutional utilization of
resources since effective planning, according to Ajeyalemi (2013)), is essential for
controlling the use of human and material resources of an institution. But
according to Azikuru, Onen and Ezati (2016) and Becket and Brookes (2008), for
planning to enable the organisation to achieve its goal – say to ensure quality
outputs – the process of planning needs to be more integrated and well-
coordinated. Such is the lesson administrators in NTCs in Uganda can learn.

The second finding that there was a weak quality assurance in the colleges is
also in agreement with the works of scholars such as Rana (2009), and Herman
(2000). According to Rana (2009), higher education institutions in Pakistan for
instance, have weak quality assurance systems. Rana attributes this to a weak
quality assurance framework adopted by the institutions. This is more or less
inconsonant with the findings of this study where the qualitative results
indicated that NTCs in Uganda have weak quality assurance frameworks. This
finding is also in tandem with the work of Herman (2000) who investigated the
development and management of quality assurance in higher education systems
and institutions in Asia and the Pacific and discovered that several higher
education institutions in Asia have weak institutional quality assurance
mechanisms that make it difficult for them to guarantee the quality of their
products and processes. This is not any different with the findings of Ngware,
Ciera, Musyoka and Oketch (2015) who reported that “the average performance
in quality education of African countries appears much poorer than elsewhere in
the world. …One way of improving the quality of education is through quality
teaching” (p.1). However, you can hardly improve teaching without effective
management of the quality assurance processes of an educational institution.
This is yet another lesson that the managers of NTCs in Uganda can learn.

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154

The third and last important finding under objective one had to do with the
influence of planning on quality assurance in NTCs. The finding that planning
has a statistically significant influence on quality assurance is also in consonant
with the work of a few other scholars. For instance, Ajeyalemi (2013) indicates
that planning generally has influence on quality assurance in institutions of
higher education; and in particular, he reveals that planning guarantees quality
assurance because it enables institutional goals to be set prior to institutional
operations. This view is also in congruence with that of Azikuru (2017) who
argues that planning is central in guaranteeing not only the quality of teaching
but the entire output of the higher education system.

Under objective two, two main findings were made. The first finding was that
organizing as a management function was also weak in NTCs. Secondly, the
study also established that organizing has a statistically weak influence on
quality assurance in NTCs (p-value= 0.146 >0.05). The finding that organizing in
NTCs is weak is also in agreement with the work of other scholars. For instance,
Lawler, Mohrman, and Ledford (1992) discovered that organizations that are
effectively organized in terms structure and work roles tend to have a clear span
of control - thereby enhancing individual and teamwork.

Under objective three, two main findings were made. First, the study established
that the control function of management in the NTCs was not very effective.
Secondly, the study also discovered that control has a statistically significant
influence on quality assurance (p-value=0.018<0.05). These findings were also in
agreement with the findings of a few other scholars. For instance, Sanyal (2013)
indicated that among the nine academic assessment control factors, five factors
appeared to influence quality assurance more than others. These include
academic standards of students, teaching standards, student assessment, and
utilization of coursework and test results. The other factors indicated minimal
influential as far as assuring quality is concerned. These include research and
project work. It is important to note that the two control factors that were
regarded as having less influence on assurance quality are aspects that have
been neglected in higher education especially in NTCs in Uganda. Moreover,
these are an important aspect of preparing a teacher to always search for
knowledge (Akiba, LeTendre & Scribner, 2015). The staff control factor that
respondents indicated as being instrumental in assuring quality was carrying
out performance appraisals. Unfortunately, in the study, it was discovered that
performance appraisal takes place only once a year in the NTCs. This
discourages employees’ work effort – thereby affecting the assurance of quality
in the institutions.

Finally, under objective four, two main findings were also made. First, the study
established that the directing function of management in the NTCs was
ineffective. Secondly, the study also discovered that directing has a significant
influence on quality assurance (p=0.000<0.05). These findings were also in
consonant with the work of different scholars. Mande, Nambatya, and Nsereko
(2015) for instance, indicated that directing was a pertinent aspect of quality
assurance in an institution. He explained that a manager's job does not only

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155

include employee management but also inspiring employees to work better for
their personal gain, as well as the gain of the organization. But according to
Adair (2005), directing can be explained in terms of three overlapping and
interdependent circle task, team and individual which form the boundaries of
what a leader must do to be effective, one is to be seen and best seen in action.
The researchers reinforce the subscription of Jeremy that a leader has to define
the task, plans for the best alternatives engaging others in an open minded,
positive and creative way. Has to get the staff informed and motivated.
Encourage them to work together, promote teamwork. The leader should
develop a range of attributes such as demonstrating good work habits;
understanding and evaluating the staff’s work, handling pressure, dearly
demonstrating the values and aims that one holds dear, encourage initiatives
and enthusiasm providing regular considered feedback and listening and
learning. Decisiveness, vision, understanding, and confidence contribute to the
good working environment.

Conclusion
Based on the findings of the study, the researchers concluded that management
indeed significantly influences the assurance of quality in NTCs in Uganda,
other factors notwithstanding. Therefore, if NTCs are to ensure the production
of quality teacher trainees, then their managers must undertake periodic audits
and reviews of their operations in order to detect any anomalies regarding
quality in their institutions. Besides, the managers must apply the principles of
total quality management in order to engage all relevant stakeholders such as
students and employees in managing quality at the institutions. Finally, the
managers of NTCs are recommended to benchmark and adopt best practices of
assuring quality from other institutions of higher education

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