“Teachers’ Perceptions About Their Own and Their Schools’ Readiness for Computer Implementation” by du Plessis and Webb Analysis

Introduction

Researchers use different methodologies when conducting their research based on the nature of their study and other factors. Sometimes researchers select methods that cannot address pertinent issues comprehensively in their area of research. Such wrong moves would result in unreliable data collection or analysis processing; making conclusions invalid. In this study, the researcher’s focus is to conduct a critique of the methodologies used by some selected scholars to determine their effectiveness in addressing the issues they focus on in the field of education.

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The researcher has specifically identified five empirical articles selected from peer-reviewed journals in the field of technology in education to determine the approach they took in addressing their research topics. The researcher will finally redesign the methodology of one of the empirical articles to make its analysis process superior to that used by the concerned researchers.

Literature Review

Researchers du Plessis and Webb (2012) published a case study that had 30 teachers as participants. The research question was to determine why many schools in South Africa were unable to use modern technologies to enhance the learning experience. The research purpose of this study was to identify the difficulties in realizing innovation and technology in six South African schools. Situated in areas that were deficient in the necessary infrastructure, the educational institutions had negligible reserves due to restraints placed on the region by South African apartheid policies.

They realized that Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University provided 20 computers to each of the schools in the form of contributions to help in alleviating this problem. However, this had not created any impact on changing the grim picture for this region. As proposed by Yin (2003a), the researchers used a Likert -type scale poll, a questionnaire, and an interview in collecting the views of the participants on the progress that had been made in this region towards achieving the use of technology in education.

The researchers used 30 participants (subjects) as sources of evidence to discover barriers to adopting technology in this region. The researchers used quantitative methods when analyzing their findings from the field. Despite the preliminary teacher technology training, the researchers found that several barriers still existed, including lack of computer labs, limited time for the trainers, lack of technology administration, and lack of ongoing professional development. In some cases, the schools lacked adequate electricity to power the computer lab consistently. However, 83% of the participating teachers had high scores on positive attitudes toward using computers as an instructional tool.

Based on Ertmer’s extrinsic and intrinsic barrier theories, the authors realized that the positive attitude of teachers helped in minimizing the barriers to technology integration. Rather than focusing on the barriers, the authors recommended a heuristic approach of focusing on the inter-related enablers, such as school organizations and scholastic practices based on the work of Hung and Koh (2004). The first step in this approach was to create a team comprised of community members who believed in the potential of technology (du Pleiss & Webb, 2012). One of the implications of the study was that even in the presence of many extrinsic and intrinsic barriers; teachers could have high scores on positive attitudes towards technology. The researchers identified the main threat to the validity of their research was the skewness in wealth distribution in the country.

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While the schools for the wealthy had modern technological equipment, the poor were leaning in classrooms that lacked basic infrastructure. This made it difficult to generalize the findings. However, given the negligible percentage of the school for the wealthy, the researcher tried to address this threat by treating the rich schools as exceptional cases. The generalization was made from the majority of schools. The researchers made a compelling case about the barriers, such as unreliable electrical power and limited infrastructure that third world teachers experience when attempting to improve the use of technology for their students.

Kurt (2010) focused on technology innovation in an elementary school in the capital city of Turkey. The research question in this study was to determine why technology should be considered a perpetual part of the educational landscape in Turkish schools. The purpose of this research was to determine teachers’ use of technology in Turkish schools and how this impacted the quality of education.

The author asserted that because of the technology investment made in Turkish schools, technology was a perpetual part of the educational landscape. Using a case study approach, the author sought to measure the manner teachers were using accessible technologies in classrooms. The study was conducted in a typical Turkish elementary school to give a general view about the situation of the standard schools in this country (Kurt, 2010). Twenty-nine out of 60 teachers participated in the survey. The author used a mixed-methods approach because of the nature of the data that was to be collected. The information sources included meetings, a survey, observations of classroom lessons, and an investigation of school policies, handbooks, and other pertinent documents (Kurt, 2010).

The analysis of the quantitative data in this study was performed using Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). There was no evidence that the author used any method to address threats to validity in the research. However, it was evident that the data was gathered from one school, posing a threat to his attempt to generalize the findings to all the schools in the region. Some schools are better equipped than others, abasing a conclusion from the findings of just one school may be misleading. The researcher did not address this threat adequately in the paper.

The author stated that the implementation of technology and the accompanying professional development is a challenge to many school districts due to fiscal constraints (Kurt, 2010). Teachers had little professional development in technology integration. Numerous teachers surveyed said that they were unacquainted with the use of computers for instructional purposes. Teachers stated that their predilection was to deliver students to the computer lab for instruction with the technology teacher.

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According to Kurt (2010), most of the teachers surveyed used their computers for administrative tasks and other non-academic purposes. One implication of this study was that teachers were inclined to use simpler and available technologies such as VCRs and TVs (Kurt, 2010). The author made a compelling case, which illuminated the status of technology integration in one Turkish elementary school.

In many European countries, educators are currently focusing on sophisticated technology integration in classrooms. However, Turkish teachers are using simpler VCRs as technology integration tools. The researcher has made a compelling case why technology should be considered an integral part of education. He has explained how teachers can use technological equipment to promote learning at schools.

The research by Peck, Mullen, Lashley and Eldridge (2011) focused on the problems faced by high school staff when undertaking large-scale reforms on technology. The research problem that was addressed in this research was the issues faced by the academic staff in high schools when trying to introduce reforms at school. The purpose of the study was to identify the challenges that these teachers face when taking technological reforms and to come up with a strategy of how they can be addressed effectively. The authors studied a newly constructed, comprehensive high school in the southeastern United States. The researchers concluded that three issues existed that affected the full implementation of technology.

The issues were identified as an inadequate technology support structure that impeded instruction, teachers’ conflicting commitment to support and supervise students’ technology use due to an inadequate firewall and content filter, and insufficient professional development on new hardware and software (Peck et al., 2011). These difficulties hindered the effective application of technology in the region.

Editors of numerous prominent instructional technology journals have commented that school-based research on educational technology reform is uncommon (Schrum et al., 2005). With that in mind, the researchers designed a bounded case study to offer empirical insight into how high school administrators in the southeastern United States were addressing the challenges they faced in technology reform (Peck et al., 2011). The researchers were comprised of college staff with prior K-12 employment experience. The study was non-experimental, comparable in structure to the technology-focused case study in Yin (2003b), and intended to conform to the quantitative methodologies of Cuban, Kirkpatrick, and Peck (2001). To measure the validity of the data, the researchers used member checking based on a predetermined set of frameworks developed by the team.

The research was inclusive of onsite observations of technology use in instructional spaces, including computer labs and classrooms (Peck et al., 2011). The researchers conducted interviews with seven classroom teachers, four technology integration specialists and technical support staff members, and eight students. The researchers examined documents including the long-range technology plan, student and faculty handbooks, and other applicable documents. In this study, the researchers used SPSS software for the analysis of the collected data.

Some of the findings were a need for stronger acceptable use guidelines for students as well as an enhanced system for reporting technical issues. When researchers were on-site, the technical support system was encumbered with 1,400 technical support tickets (Peck et al., 2011). One implication of the study was that teachers could not be expected to encourage students to use technology while at the same time discouraging them because students were easily able to circumvent the content filter (Peck et al., 2011).

Based on the study, the authors could not forecast whether the high school gained from large-scale technological advances. Despite the bleak forecast, the authors made a compelling case for high schools undergoing technology reform to deliver the appropriate amount of professional development and to ensure that the school network is functioning properly.

In 2011, the European Commission Directorate-General Communications Networks, Content, and Technology were authorized to study information, communication, and technology (ICT) in schools throughout Europe. The research problem in this study was to determine how well schools in Europe use technology to enhance learning. The main purpose was to come up with policies that can be used by stakeholders in the field of education to enhance the use of ICT in the education sector. The study was conducted in 27 countries in Europe (Germany, Iceland, Netherlands, and the United Kingdom were excluded due to insufficient response rates).

The authors compiled the data collected from school administrators, teachers, and students in grade four, grade eight, and grade 11 into a report. A two-step clustered analysis method using SPSS software was used to categorize 156,634 responses from students, 24,522 from teachers, and 10,137 from administrators (Wastiau et al., 2013). The authors validated the data by using randomly sampled schools, as well as a process of data ‘cleaning’ against student information records. It was important to validate the responses obtained from the students by identifying and eliminating causes of exaggerations and understatements. Any survey responses not considered plausible were discarded.

A sample of the data collected was on students’ access to educational technology equipment and broadband by country. The authors found that across Europe, 25% to 35% of fourth and eighth-grade students, and approximately half of eleventh grade students were in technologically adequate schools with high-speed broadband (Wastiau et al., 2013). The authors found that the percentages of access to the technology equipment and broadband speed differed substantially across the countries in Europe. Less than 80% of fourth and eighth-grade students had high-speed broadband and technologically adequate schools in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden (Wastiau et al., 2013).

While, less than 20% of fourth-grade students and less than 10% of eighth-grade students are in technologically adequate schools with high-speed broadband in Poland, Romania, and Turkey (Wastiau et al., 2013). A survey of this size and scope has many inferences. The authors’ findings presented a second digital divide, where students who lack access to high-speed broadband lack access to technology equipment as well. The authors made a compelling case for further study of ICT in Europe as they prepare for mobile learning. They believe that further research in this field would help address the current weaknesses experienced in this field. Through this, it would be possible to promote the use of ICT in higher learning institutions in this region.

Crichton, Pegler, and White (2012) studied the implementation of iPods and iPads in Canadian K-12 district schools. The research problem in this study was to determine why some learning institutions find it difficult to use iPads and iPods among K-12 students in Canada. The purpose of the study was to understand the infrastructure needed to support iPods and iPads, understand the opportunities and difficulties that teachers experienced as they use iPods and iPads for instruction, and to understand the support that students needed when given access to iPods and iPads with wireless connectivity in a K-12 school environment (Crichton et al., 2012).

Researchers collected data through a mixed-method approach using materials such as professional development events, curriculum, and classroom observations. Data were collected from 333 participants (teachers and students) in grades K-12. Data analysis tools took a simple descriptive approach where the researcher explained the facts from the field in a tabular form. Researchers argued that elementary students preferred iPods to iPads and high school students preferred the opposite.

This study revealed that the majority of the participants (60%) had never used iPods and iPads before the project. Seventy per cent of the participants estimated that it took less than an hour to become acquainted with the assigned device. All of the teachers and technology staff expressed frustration by the amount of time they spent charging, synching, installing software, and managing the devices.

There was no attempt by the researchers to address threats to validity in this study. However, it was clear that the study faced the threat of personal bias by the researchers because they were very sentimental in some areas of their analysis. The authors reported that the most meaningful finding of the study was that the participants did not find any similarities between devices (Crichton et al., 2012). In their findings, the researchers said that it was important to create a plan of how these devices could be managed properly in schools. In this research, the authors made a compelling case why the implementation of iPods and iPads in Canadian K12 district schools is to be emulated as the best way of promoting learning among pre-college students.

Discussion

To have effective use of technology, teachers need guidance that will enable them to recognize the technologies necessary to support the curriculum, ascertain how technology will meet student needs, empower students to utilize proper technology within all points of learning, and select and use suitable innovations to address needs, take care of issues, and determination issues identified with their practice and development (Cennamo, Ross, & Ertmer, 2010).

In a Turkish elementary school, teachers were at the initial stages of technology integration using TVs and VCRs as vehicles for technology integration (Kurt, 2010). They needed guidance in selecting the appropriate technology for professional development (Cennamo et al., 2010). Teachers were using computers for administrative tasks, such as attendance taking, while students were getting once a week technology instruction in the computer lab (Kurt, 2010). Professional development will assist this group of elementary teachers regarding which technologies can better support their curriculum (Cennamo et al., 2010).

In southwest America, technology issues existed even in newly constructed high schools. However, teachers experienced an insufficient technology support structure that negatively affected technology integration (Peck et al., 2011). Teachers were expected to encourage technology use in students and at the same time regulate its application. Teachers created ad-hoc support structures to integrate technology (Peck et al., 2011). Crichton et al. (2012) noted that one of the findings of a Canadian study on iPods and iPads was that teachers were not as familiar with the devices as the district technology staff thought that they would be. However, Canadian teachers found many deployment issues needed to be addressed before meaningful instruction could begin.

Conducting One Study Differently

The authors of the research articles analyzed above did wonderful work in coming up with a report based on a detailed analysis of both primary and secondary data. The methods they used were appropriate, and that is why their findings have credibility. However, the researcher is interested in proposing an alternative method that can probably be used in one of the articles. The researcher will redesign the study of emergent technology use in a ‘very typical’ Turkish elementary school (Kurt, 2010).

Research Purpose and Research Questions

In this study, the researchers were interested in examining the possible relationship between teachers’ engagement and their attitude towards technology. The researcher will use a mixed-methods approach. According to Greene, Benjamin, and Goodyear (2001), a mixed-method approach often assists in improving practice by offering an increase in program understanding. Although not all situations justify the use of mixed methods, Sammons et al. (2005) justified using mixed methods in school circumstances where multifaceted and varied social connections demand examination that is cultivated by numerous and various viewpoints, in this way proposing that the initiation they can make from the exploration is largely reinforced by the utilization of mixed methods (Creswell, 2012).

For meaningful technology integration and innovation to occur in schools, teachers’ beliefs, attitudes, and requirements need to be considered (Means, 2010). Along the same lines, teachers’ overall attitudes towards technology and their readiness to integrate technology are essential (Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010). The subjects in this study will be teachers and students, just as in the case of the original research. The study will use 250 participants. The researcher will investigate three questions; (a) What is the perceived level of teachers’ knowledge of technology, (b) Which technology do teachers’ prefer to use for educational purposes, and (c) What attitude do teachers have towards computers?

Design and Methods

The researcher created a mixed-method approach to examine the relationship between technology engagement and attitudes towards technology. Qualitative data will be collected from interviews and observations. Interviews will last about 10 minutes and will be recorded and transcribed. A semi-structured interview protocol will be used to guarantee consistency between interviews (Creswell, 2012). Questions will be open-ended to avoid potentially “leading” the interviewees (Lai & Waltman, 2008). Classroom observations will continue for a standard class period, which is 45 minutes. The research will use all 250 subjects targeted in the study. Of this population, 30 teachers will be expected to participate in this study.

All the teachers who will participate in this study will be expected to complete the Computer Attitude Survey (CAS; Loyd & Loyd, 1985). In the survey, teachers will indicate their perceptions towards computers measured by a 5-point Likert scale (from strongly disagree to strongly agree). The CAS identifies three components of computer attitudes. The first component is affective, which consists of five items that measure feelings towards computers. The second component is perceived usefulness, which consists of five items that measure the extent to which the computer can enhance job performance. The third component is perceived control, which consists of eight questions that measure the perceived ease or difficulty of operating a computer (Loyd & Loyd, 1985).

Data Analysis

The survey results from the survey will be allocated numerical values for analysis. Strongly disagree will be assigned a value of 1, while strongly agree will be assigned a value of 5. The researcher will then use a statistical package for social scientists (SPSS) spreadsheet to analyze the data to determine the mean percentage and validity tests. While reviewing and analyzing the data, descriptive statistics, such as frequency, mean, and percentage will be derived. To examine the relationship between technology engagement and attitudes towards technology the researcher will use a correlation analysis. Qualitative data from the interviews and observations will be analyzed to uncover any repetitive patterns or recurring themes. After concluding the interviews, the researcher will review, transcribe, and summarize the data. Classroom observations and interviews will be reviewed and coded. All data will be searched for similarities and differences (Creswell, 2012).

Research Limitations and Validity

In this study, the main limitation is that the survey data is self-reported. As the data is self-reported, participating teachers may provide socially desirable responses. Socially desirable responses are characterized as the inclination to give positive depictions towards oneself (Braun, Jackson, Wiley, & Messick, 2002). Other data collection methods, including classroom observations, may provide additional data about teachers’ technology beliefs.

To address issues of validity, the researcher chose an approach often used in case study research to validate findings by triangulation of data sources. Triangulation is used to corroborate data obtained by observation and interviews with survey data (Bloomberg & Volpe, 2012). The survey results will be analyzed; observation and interview data will be scrutinized to provide triangulation data to support any observed alignments between teacher attitudes and described practices (Creswell, 2012).

Recommendation

Through careful, thoughtful design, a mixed-method approach was chosen to present a viable methodology for the study of technology in the Turkish elementary school. By offering research that allows the flexibility to accommodate selected attributes of this elementary school such as emergent technology use and integration, a mixture of legacy and contemporary equipment, gathering data, trends, and issues with accuracy are possible.

Conclusion

As stated by Kurt (2010), his article was the beginning of understanding the adoption of technology and the integration of technology in Turkish elementary schools. This study may open a dialogue, which will lead to more effective professional development in Turkey. This study proposes further research into this field to broaden the knowledge on the issue of technology integration in learning institutions across the world.

References

Bloomberg, L. D., & Volpe, M. F. (2012). Completing your qualitative dissertation: A roadmap from beginning to end. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Braun, H. I., Jackson, D. N., Wiley, D. E., & Messick, S. (2002). The role of constructs in psychological and educational measurement. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum and Associates.

Cennamo, K. S., Ross, J. D., & Ertmer, P. A. (2010). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Collins, A., & Halverson, R. (2009). Rethinking education in the age of technology: The digital revolution and schooling in America. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

Creswell, J. W. (2012). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

Crichton, S., Pegler, K., & White, D. (2012). Personal devices in public settings: Lessons learned from an iPod touch/ iPad project. Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 10(1), 23-31. Web.

Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H., & Peck, C. (2001). High access and low use of technologies in high school classrooms: Explaining an apparent paradox. American Educational Research Journal, 38(1), 813-834. Web.

du Plessis, A., & Webb, P. (2012). Teachers’ perceptions about their own and their schools’ readiness for computer implementation: A South African case study. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology—TOJET, 11, 312-325. Web.

Ertmer, P. A., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T. (2010). Teacher technology change: How knowledge, confidence, beliefs, and culture intersect. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42, 255-284. Web.

Greene, J. C., Benjamin, L., & Goodyear, L. (2001). The merits of mixing methods in evaluation. Evaluation, 7(1), 25-44. Web.

Hung, D., & Koh, T. S. (2004). A social-cultural view of information technology integration in school contexts. Educational Technology, 44(2), 48-53. Web.

Kurt, S. (2010). Technology use in elementary education in Turkey: A case study. New Horizons in Education, 58(1), 65-76. Web.

Lai, E. R., & Waltman, K. (2008). Test preparation: Examining teacher perceptions and practices. Educational Measurement: Issues and Practice, 27(2), 28-45. Web.

Loyd, B. H. & Loyd, D. E. (1985). The reliability and validity of an instrument for the assessment of computer attitudes. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 45, 903-908. Web.

Means, B. (2010). Technology and education change: Focus on student learning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42, 285-307. Web.

Peck, C., Mullen, C. A., Lashley, C., & Eldridge, J. A. (2011). School leadership and technology challenges: Lessons from a new American high school. AASA Journal of Scholarship & Practice, 7(4), 39-51. Web.

Sammons, P., Siraj-Blatchford, I., Sylva, K., Melhuish, E., Taggard, B., & Elliot, K. (2005). Investigating the effects of pre-school provision: Using mixed methods in the EPPE research. International Journal of Social Research Methods, 8, 207-224. Web.

Schrum, L., Thompson, A., Sprague, D., Maddux, C., McAnear, A., Bell, L., & Bull, G. (2005). Advancing the field: Considering acceptable evidence in educational technology research. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 5, 202-209. Web.

Wastiau, P., Blamire, R., Kearney, C., Quittre, V., Van de Gaer, E., & Monseur, C. (2013). The use of ICT in education: A survey of schools in Europe. European Journal of Education, 48(1), 11-27. Web.

Yin, R. K. (2003a). Applications of case study research (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Yin, R. K. (2003b). Case study research: Design and methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

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