Understanding science teachers‘ use and integration of ICT

Understanding science teachers‘ use and integration of ICT
Understanding science teachers‘ use
and integration of ICT
in a developing country context
by
Kim Draper
Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree
Doctorate in Education
in the Faculty of Education
University of Pretoria
Supervisor: Professor S. J. Howie
Co-supervisor: Professor A. S. Blignaut
August 2010
© University of Pretoria
Acknowledgments
I would like to extend my thanks to my supervisor, Prof. Sarah Howie and co-supervisor,
Prof. Seugnet Blignaut, both of whom played a pivotal role in guiding me through this
study. To both Prof. Howie and Prof. Blignaut, thank you for giving me guidance when I
needed it and for helping me raise my game to a level that I did not think possible. In
particular, I would like to thank you, Prof. Howie, for possibly the most important gift of all,
time and space to complete this thesis.
A special thanks to a ‗critical friend‘ Prof. Tjeerd Plomp (University of Twente), who took
the time, and made the effort to read and constructively critique my work when under no
obligation to do so. Tjeerd, your persistent guidance and encouragement helped to clarify
the conceptual framework for this study.
To another ‗critical friend‘, Prof. Paul Hobden (University of KZN), who believed in me
when I doubted myself. Paul, you were always at the other end of the phone with sound
advice when I felt lost in this journey. Without you, this thesis may never have reached
completion. To you I am forever grateful.
To the most important person who travelled this journey with me, my husband Peter.
Without your support and encouragement, this would certainly not have been possible. You
made the most precious of sacrifices, allowing me the space and time to complete this
journey ahead of you. For that I will always love you.
Finally, a special thanks to the three teachers who allowed me into their sacred space, their
classrooms. Without the willingness of these teachers to share their practice with me,
despite my ‗outsider‘ position, this study would never have happened. To these and other
teachers who open their doors to researchers like me, I am eternally grateful.
Abstract
Information and communication technology (ICT) has infiltrated society to the point of
becoming essential to much of its everyday functioning. People rely on ICT to communicate,
access information, and stay connected in an increasing globalised community. In many
developed countries, ICT is now strongly featured in education for teaching and learning. In
South Africa, as in other developing or partly developed countries, ICT use in education
remains limited. This research was conducted to explore and understand how those South
African science teachers who have access to ICT use it when they teach science. It was done
to explain some of the reasons those teachers use ICT in the ways that they do, and to gain a
better insight into the value that using ICT adds to both teaching and learning science. The
research was designed as a mixed methods study, using both quantitative data collected
from 267 Grade 8 science teachers in South Africa through the SITES 2006 teacher
questionnaire, and qualitative data collected from three science teachers, all of whom taught
science in a context of limited resources typical of a developing country. The data collected
and analysed in this study showed that when science teachers have access to ICT for
teaching and learning in classrooms typical of developing country contexts, they are able to
use that ICT effectively to add value to teaching and learning. The greatest value is added
when the teacher has a high technological pedagogical content knowledge. Secondly, at the
level of the teacher, personal entrepreneurship is a key factor in a teacher‘s ability to use
ICT to add value to teaching and learning and to support the educational objectives based
on 21st century learning objectives. Thirdly, teachers use the available ICT resources in a
variety of ways but it seems that access to a personal computer, either laptop or desktop, in
the classroom is a minimum requirement for ICT use in subject teaching. And lastly, the gap
between ICT policy intentions as outlined in the South African e-Education White Paper
(DoE, 2004b) and ICT practice remains large. There was no evidence from this study to
suggest that the ICT policy intentions influenced practice at classroom level.
Key Words: Information and Communication Technology; Pedagogy; Pedagogical
Content Knowledge; Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge; Science; Teaching;
Learning
TABLE OF CONTENTS
List of Figures
iv
List of Tables
vi
List of Acronyms
vii
List of Appendices
viii
CHAPTER ONE
1
1
Rationale and Background to the Study
1
1.1
Rationale for the study
2
1.2
Background to the study
2
1.2.1
3
International perspective gained through SITES
1.2.2 National perspective
6
1.2.3 South African classroom perspective
7
1.2.4 ICT initiatives across South Africa relevant to this study
15
1.3
Main Research Question
19
1.4
Significance of the study
21
1.5
Brief overview of chapters
21
CHAPTER TWO
23
2
Review of Literature
23
2.1
23
The concept ICT
2.2 Policy perspective on ICT in education
25
2.3 Technologies and their use in education
28
2.4 Technology in the classroom
31
2.5
2.4.1 Learning with technology
32
2.4.2 Accessing teaching and learning resources with technology
35
2.4.3 Assessing with technology
36
The role of ICT in science education
38
2.5.1 ICT and science practical work
38
2.5.2 ICT and conceptual understanding in science
40
2.5.3 ICT and student motivation in science
41
2.6 Obstacles to successful integration of ICT
i
42
2.7
Concluding remarks
44
CHAPTER THREE
45
3
The Conceptual Framework
45
3.1
Examining pedagogical use of ICT in science
46
3.1.1
Patterns of ICT use (SITES-M2)
46
3.1.2 Pedagogical orientations (SITES 2006)
50
3.2 Conceptual framework for this study
55
3.3 Teacher expertise as Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge
57
3.3.1 Pedagogical Content Knowledge
57
3.3.2 Technology integrated pedagogy
59
3.4 Concluding remarks
64
CHAPTER FOUR
66
4
Research Design and Methods
66
4.1
66
Research assumptions
4.2 Pragmatism as a research paradigm
67
4.3 Mixed methods as the research design
68
4.4 SITES 2006
71
4.5
4.4.1 Sampling for SITES 2006
72
4.4.2 The SITES 2006 teacher questionnaire
74
4.4.3 Analysis strategies for SITES 2006
75
4.4.4 The SITES 2006 sub-sample used for this study
76
4.4.5 Analysing the qualitative data
77
The case studies
78
4.5.1 Selecting the cases
79
4.5.2 Data collection - Strategies and procedures
94
4.5.3 Analysis of qualitative data
102
4.6 Concluding remarks
105
CHAPTER FIVE
106
5
106
Pedagogical orientations of South African science teachers
5.1
Pedagogical orientations of South African science teachers
107
5.2
Pedagogical orientations when ICT is used in teaching and learning
122
5.3
Concluding remarks
131
CHAPTER SIX
133
6
133
How teachers use ICT when they teach Science
ii
6.1
Use of learning resources and technology infrastructure
134
6.2 Scheduled learning time and use of ICT
145
6.3 ICT and assessment
153
6.4 Discussion
157
CHAPTER SEVEN
162
7
Why science teachers use ICT in the ways they do
162
7.1
Teachers‘ ICT competence
162
7.2
Students‘ ICT competence
165
7.3
Attendance at ICT-related professional development activities
167
7.4
Obstacles to using ICT
169
7.5
The presence of a community of practice (school support)
180
7.6
TPCK of science teachers
183
7.7
Perceived impact of ICT on teaching and learning
184
7.8 Discussion
193
CHAPTER EIGHT
194
8
Conclusions and Recommendations
194
8.1
195
Summary of the research processes
8.2 Summary of the research findings
196
8.3 Reflection on the conceptual framework
201
8.3.1 The Four in Balance Model in this study
202
8.3.2 Adjusting the Four in Balance Model for use in developing countries 207
9
8.4 Reflection on the design and methods
208
8.5 Conclusions
210
8.6 Recommendations
215
8.7 A final word
218
REFERENCES
220
iii
List of Figures
Figure 1.1: South African overall and science pass rates (2000 to 2008) .............................. 13
Figure 3.1: Basic Elements of the Four in Balance Model (Kennisnet, 2009, p. 13) ............. 56
Figure 3.2: Diagrammatic representation of Shulman‘s conceptualization of PCK .............. 60
Figure 3.3: Diagrammatic representation of TPCK (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p. 1025) ...... 64
Figure 4.1: Local Informal settlement nearby Mr Sogo‘s school ........................................... 82
Figure 4.2: Local township nearby Mr Sogo‘s school............................................................. 83
Figure 4.3: Classroom block at Mr Sogo's school ................................................................... 84
Figure 4.4: Desks and chairs in Mr Sogo's classroom ............................................................ 85
Figure 4.5: Burnt classroom block at Mr Sogo' school ........................................................... 85
Figure 4.6: Science laboratory at Mrs Putten's school ........................................................... 88
Figure 4.7: Local township near Mrs Marley's school............................................................ 89
Figure 4.8: Media centre at Mrs Marley's school .................................................................... 91
Figure 4.9: Posters on wall of Mrs Marley's classroom .......................................................... 92
Figure 5.1: Three highest and three lowest South African science teachers‘ curriculum goals
as ranked mean scores ........................................................................................ 109
Figure 5.2: Average of the mean scores for South African science teachers curriculum goals
contributing to three pedagogical orientations .................................................... 111
Figure 5.3: Three highest and three lowest teacher practice mean scores for South African
science teachers .................................................................................................... 113
Figure 5.4: Average of mean scores for South African teacher practices contributing to three
pedagogical orientation scores ............................................................................. 115
Figure 5.5: Three highest and three lowest South African student practice mean scores ... 117
Figure 5.6: Average of mean scores for South African student practice contributing to three
pedagogical orientation scores ............................................................................. 119
Figure 5.7: Average of mean scores of teacher practice compared to student practice for the
three pedagogical orientations ............................................................................. 121
Figure 5.8: South African teacher practice scores compared to ICT-using teacher practice
scores on 0-100 scale............................................................................................ 124
Figure 5.9: South African teacher practice pedagogical orientations compared to ICT-using
teacher practice pedagogical orientations ........................................................... 126
Figure 5.10: South African student practice compared to ICT-using student practice ........128
Figure 5.11: South African student practice pedagogical orientations compared to and ICTusing student practice pedagogical orientations .................................................130
Figure 6.1: Three highest and three lowest South African learning resources used by
teachers ................................................................................................................. 136
iv
Figure 6.2: Gauteng Online computer room at Mr Sogo‘s school ........................................ 137
Figure 6.3: Teacher desk in Gauteng Online computer room .............................................. 137
Figure 6.4: Second computer room at Mr Sogo‘s school ......................................................138
Figure 6.5: Computer room at Mrs Putten's school ............................................................. 140
Figure 6.6: Student using simulation software at Mrs Putten's school ................................ 142
Figure 6.7: Computer room at Mrs Marley's school.............................................................. 143
Figure 6.8: IWB in the computer room at Mrs Marley's school ........................................... 144
Figure 6.9: Three highest and three lowest South African teacher scores for use of scheduled
learning time and ICT-use in that time................................................................ 147
Figure 6.10: Unused ammeter boxes in laboratory store room at Mr Sogo's school ........... 149
Figure 6.11: Unused equipment in laboratory store room at Mr Sogo's school ................... 149
Figure 6.12: South African science teachers‘ assessment strategies and ICT-use ................ 154
Figure 7.1: South African science teacher mean scores for confidence in technical and
pedagogical ICT use .............................................................................................. 164
Figure 7.2: South African science teachers‘ reported level of Student ICT Competence ..... 166
Figure 7.3: Teacher Participation in Professional Development Activities ..........................168
Figure 7.4: Three highest and three lowest teacher-reported obstacles to ICT use ............. 171
Figure 7.5: Categories of obstacles experiences by South African science teachers in their
use of ICT in teaching ........................................................................................... 172
Figure 7.6: Different Aspects of the presence of a community of practice in schools as
reported by South African science teachers .........................................................182
Figure 7.7: Three highest and three lowest South African science teacher-reported impacts
of ICT-use ............................................................................................................. 187
Figure 7.8: Three highest and three lowest three categories of South African science teacherreported of impacts ............................................................................................. 188
Figure 7.9: Three highest and three lowest South African science teacher-reported impact of
ICT-use on students ............................................................................................ 190
Figure 7.10: Four highest and three lowest categories of South African teacher-reported
impacts of ICT-use on students ........................................................................... 191
Figure 8.1: Model for understanding the value of ICT use for developing country contexts
(adapted from Kennisnet Four in Balance Model) ............................................. 208
v
List of Tables
Table 1.1: Implications of the demands of the global knowledge economy for youths in terms
of required skills and learning strategies (Anderson, 2008, p. 7) ...........................7
Table 2.1: Classification of different IT applications (OECD, 2001, pp. 38-39) .................... 29
Table 3.1: ICT activities within four focus areas (from SITES-M2) ....................................... 46
Table 3.2: Patterns of Innovative uses of ICT (SITES-M2) ................................................... 48
Table 3.3: Pedagogy in the Information Society and in the Industrial Society ...................... 51
Table 3.4: Development of terminology through the three SITES studies, Adapted from
(Voogt, 2009) ........................................................................................................ 53
Table 5.1: Science teachers‘ espoused curriculum goals when they teach science .............. 108
Table 5.2: South African curriculum goals contributing to three pedagogical orientation
scores .................................................................................................................... 110
Table 5.3: Teacher practice scores ......................................................................................... 112
Table 5.4: List of teacher practices associated with the three teacher practice orientations114
Table 5.5: Student activities................................................................................................... 116
Table 5.6: List of student practice items associated with the three student practice
orientations .......................................................................................................... 118
Table 5.7: Teacher practice and ICT use................................................................................ 123
Table 5.8: Teacher practice orientations when ICT is used .................................................. 125
Table 5.9: Student practice and ICT use................................................................................ 127
Table 5.10: South African student practice orientations when ICT is used.......................... 129
Table 6.1 Resources and Technology Infrastructure ............................................................. 135
Table 6.2: Scheduled learning time and ICT use .................................................................. 146
Table 6.3 Three case study teachers‘ patterns of ICT use .................................................... 160
Table 7.1: Teachers‘ self-reported Technical and Pedagogical ICT confidence .................... 163
Table 7.2: Obstacles to ICT use.............................................................................................. 170
Table 7.3: Aspects of Community of Practice ........................................................................ 181
Table 7.4: Impact of ICT on teachers .................................................................................... 185
Table 7.5: Impact of ICT use on Students .............................................................................189
vi
List of Acronyms
Becta
British Educational and Communications Technology Agency
CAT
Computer Applications Technology
Comped
Computers in Education
DfES
Department for Education and Skills
DBE
Department of Basic Education
DoE
Department of Education
ELRC
Education Labour Relations Council
FET
Further Education and Training
GDE
Gauteng Department of Education
HEFCE
Higher Education Funding Council for England
HG
Higher Grade
HSRC
Human Sciences Research Council
ICT
Information and Communication Technology
ICT-TPCK
ICT-Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge
IEA
International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement
IWB
Interactive White Board
MBLs
Micro-based Laboratories
NCS
National Curriculum Statement
NEIMS
National Education Infrastructure Management System
NEPAD
New Partnership for Africa's Development
OECD
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
PC
Personal Computer
PCK
Pedagogical Content Knowledge
PDA
Personal Digital Assistant
PIRLS
Progress in International Reading Literacy Study
SAMS
South African Management System
SITES
Second Information Technology in Education Study
SRN
School Register of Needs
STEM
Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths
TIMSS
Trends in Mathematics and science Study
TLI
Teacher Laptop Initiative
TPCK
Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge
UK
United Kingdom
WCED
Western Cape Education Department
WWW
World Wide Web
vii
List of Appendices
Owing to the length of the data outputs referred to in this thesis, the following appendices
are available on the CD which accompanies this document.
A
Appendix A – SITES 2006 Teacher Questionnaire
B
Appendix B - SITES Infrastructural Checklist
C
Appendix C – SITES 2006 IDB User Guide
D
Appendix D – SITES 2006 Technical Report
E
Appendix E – South African Teacher frequencies
F
Appendix F – South African Teacher mean scores
G
Appendix G - Semi-structured Observation Protocol
H
Appendix H - SA Teacher means score Recoded to 0-100 scale
I
Appendix I - Teacher Interview Protocol
J
Appendix J - Qualitative data Outputs
viii
CHAPTER ONE
1 Rationale and Background to the Study
This study was designed to explore how South African science teachers use ICT when
they teach science, to explain some of the reasons those teachers use ICT in the ways
that they do, and to gain a better insight into the value that using ICT adds to both
teaching and learning science. Information and communication technology (ICT) has
infiltrated society to the point of becoming almost essential to much of its everyday
functioning. People rely on ICT to communicate, access information, and stay
connected in an increasing globalised community. In many developed countries, ICT
is now strongly featured in education and most teachers and students will use
various ICTs for teaching and learning activities (Law, Pelgrum, & Plomp, 2008). In
some countries, such as the Netherlands, this ICT access at school is ubiquitous (Law
et al., 2008) but not so in South Africa. Here, as in other developing or partly
developed countries, it remains erratic. This is not because the value of using ICT in
education is not recognized by policy-makers as South Africa has an e-Education
policy which acknowledges its importance. The reasons for limited access and
successful use of ICT in South African classrooms are complex. This research will
assist in understanding that complexity and in decision-making in respect strategies
for ICT integration in South African schools as well as schools in other similar
developing country contexts.
Defining ICT policy for education is becoming increasingly difficult because of the
many alternatives available. There is growing evidence from large-scale projects that
have lasted for many years, as well as from many small-scale initiatives in both the
developed and developing countries of some successes (and some failures). There is
now sufficient empirical evidence from these initiatives for policy-makers to use in
policy formulation or policy review to ensure that the high cost of ICT
implementation yields real value to the teaching and learning processes in South
1
African schools. If one is to determine the ratio of cost of a planned country-wide ICT
roll-out, to the benefit of doing so, it is imperative that a real evaluation of the value
that ICT adds to teaching and learning is conducted.
1.1 Rationale for the study
Research has been conducted in developing countries as a way to understand and
improve the pedagogical use of ICT in education, for instance in Chile (Budge, 2009;
Hinostroza, Hepp, & Cox, 2009). However it is difficult to find empirical literature on
the implementation of ICT in education in South Africa and where it can be found, it
is most often focused on policy intentions rather than classroom realities (Howie,
2009). While the South African e-Education policy intentions are promising (DoE,
2004b), the challenge remains at the level of classroom implementation where it is
easier to investigate what does not work and why, than to investigate what does
work, and why. A major reason for this is that South Africa has a superfluity of
classrooms in which limitations on resources prevents integration of ICT into subject
teaching. There is little empirical evidence about the ways in which science teachers
use ICT in classrooms with limited resources, i.e. the majority, and this study
addresses this gap. While it may be useful for South African policy makers to take the
lesson of developing countries such as Chile (Blignaut, Hinostroza, Els, & Brun,
2010), empirical evidence from South African classrooms should be more valuable in
influencing and informing the country‘s ICT policy since it is context specific.
1.2 Background to the study
This research is positioned within the already large empirical knowledge-base of ICT
use in education, and came about because of my personal interest and experience in
science education in South Africa. In addition, a large amount of questionnaire data
was collected from science teachers in South Africa as part of the Second Information
Technology in Education Study (SITES) 2006. The section which follows gives a brief
background to the SITES studies and why that particular data was used in this study.
2
1.2.1 International perspective gained through SITES
SITES was conceptualised in the late 1990s as a follow-on to the two Computers in
Education (Comped) Studies in the early 1990s (Pelgrum & Plomp, 1993 in Voogt &
Pelgrum, 2003, p. 1025). The purpose of the SITES studies was broadly to conduct
an international comparative research programme exploring the use of ICT in
education, the central theme of which was to further understanding of how ICT
affects teaching and learning in schools (Pelgrum, 2001). The study consisted of
three separate modules: SITES Module 1 (SITES–M1); SITES Module 2 (SITES–
M2); and SITES 2006, carried out between 1997 and 2008 under the auspices of The
International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).
South Africa participated in all three modules. The three studies are briefly explained
in the section which follows as a way of providing a context for the data that was used
in this study.
SITES Module 1 (1997-1999)
The first SITES module, SITES–M1, was an international comparative study
designed to help countries estimate their use of ICT relative to other countries, and
provided a baseline against which development in ICT use could be evaluated in later
years (Law et al., 2008; Pelgrum & Anderson, 1999). SITES–M1 was an international
cross-section survey of principals and technology coordinators in schools in the
participating countries. Its focus was on ICT resources and the extent to which
schools had adopted and implemented pedagogical practices that are considered
important to education in the information society (Pelgrum & Anderson, 1999). With
regard to the ICT infrastructure in schools, the study examined the student-computer
ratio across countries, which indicated how many students per computer there were
in a school. As expected, significant difference were found between countries ranging
from nine students to one computer in Canada, 12:1 in Denmark and Singapore, and
210:1 in Cyprus (Pelgrum, 2001). When data were collected for the first module, less
than 10% of schools in South Africa had access to computers (Pelgrum, 2001).
SITES–M1 also examined the extent to which schools had access to the Internet for
purposes of teaching and learning. Again there were significant differences with
3
100% of participating secondary schools in Singapore having access to the Internet
compared to less than 10% in South Africa.
One purpose of SITES–M1 was to examine the extent to which countries were
changing their approach to pedagogy, and to look at the contribution that ICT was
making to that change. Principals were asked 11 questions about the type of
pedagogical practices being used in their schools. A factor analysis revealed two
factors (Pelgrum, 2001): emerging practices (with an emphasis on co-operative
project-based learning processes, students responsible for their own learning,
engaged students in the search for information, allowed students to control the pace
of their own learning); and traditional practices (with an emphasis on
development skills, all students working on the same material and at the same pace
with teachers keeping track of their activities and progress). The SITES–M1 study
showed that in the late 1990s, schools in many countries already applied elements of
the emerging pedagogy for the information society.
SITES Module 2 (1999-2002)
The second SITES Module, SITES–M2, focused on the extent to which classrooms
around the world judged to be innovative were engaging in constructivist,
knowledge-building practices that integrated ICT into the curriculum and
assessment (Kozma, 2003). It was conducted between 2000 and 2002 in 28
countries, and used common selection criteria, modified by national contexts, to
identify 174 innovative ICT classrooms. National research teams used a common set
of case study methods to collect data on the pedagogical practices of teachers and
students, the role that ICT played in these practices, and the contextual factors that
supported and influenced them (Kozma, 2003). This research documented the many
ways in which the integration of learning technologies in practice enabled deep
understanding of content, sophisticated pedagogy, and impressive student outcomes
(Kozma, 2003). For module two, South Africa provided case study data for eight
schools, showing exemplary innovations in classrooms across the country. Key
findings from this study indicated that in many instances including South Africa,
technology was supporting significant changes in classroom teaching and learning.
4
In some of these cases, students were actively engaging in searching for information,
designing products, working together with other students or others outside the
classroom, and publishing or presenting their work using word processors and
presentation software (Kozma, 2003). In short, SITES–M2 provided evidence that
pedagogical innovations using ICT in science were possible (Plomp, 2006).
SITES 2006 (2005-2008)
SITES 2006 was an international comparative study of pedagogy and ICT use in
schools. The study focused on the role of ICT in teaching and learning specifically in
mathematics and science classrooms. Data for this the third SITES module, SITES
2006, was collected in 2006 from a total of 22 participating countries (Law et al.,
2008). A research method similar to the first module was used to address research
questions through a survey of schools and mathematics and science teachers in the
form of questionnaires. Teachers‘ pedagogical practices and use of ICT in teaching
lay at the core of this study. In this survey, teachers were asked questions about their
perceptions of important school or system level factors and the current role of ICT in
supporting teaching and learning in their schools. The collective international results
from this module were published in 2008, and revealed that in 2006, South Africa
was not unexpectedly still lagging far behind other countries in terms of ICT used,
with less than 20% of schools using ICT in science education (Law et al., 2008).
Over a period of 11 years, a great deal of data about the education use of ICT has been
collected from more than 20 countries. This data has assisted countries: in
estimating their current position relative to other countries in the educational use of
ICT (SITES M-1); in understanding the pedagogical practices of teachers and
learners, the role that ICT plays in these practices, and the contextual factors that
support and influence them (SITES M-2); and in understanding the role of ICT in
teaching and learning in mathematics and science classrooms (SITES 2006). This
sort of survey data is valuable as a way of getting the ―big picture‖ perspective on the
educational use of ICT but a more local understanding of education in South Africa is
needed to fully understand the context of this study. The South African national and
5
classroom perspective are discussed in the following sections as a way of appreciating
the context.
1.2.2 National perspective
Since the introduction of computers into education, their potential has been
recognized by researchers, policy-makers and practitioners. The potential of ICT to
improve education has a direct influence on policy development, as well as on the
prioritisation of the South African government‘s expenditure on ICT resources in
schools. This perceived benefit of ICT to improve education can be discussed from
several perspectives (Voogt & Knezek, 2008), one such being the generally accepted
belief that society is changing from a predominantly industrial society to a knowledge
society.
The concept of the ―information society‖ was first used in Japan as early as 1968
(Kohyama, p 5 in Anderson, 2008) and by the late 1980s, was being used to capture
the essence of a culture inundated by information and dominated by information
technology. The later concept of the ―knowledge society‖ dominated the 1990s,
referring to economic systems where ideas or knowledge functioned as commodities
(Anderson, 2008). In many instances the concepts of information (intentionally
structured data) and knowledge (the cognitive state needed to interpret and process
information) and the types of societies to which they give their names are used
interchangeably (Anderson, 2008). There are two particular features of the
knowledge society that one should acknowledge: technology makes accessing and
sharing knowledge easy; and knowledge functions as a commodity. In a knowledge
society, schools should prepare students for jobs that might not yet exist, and being
able to use ICT is recognised as one of the core competencies for the twenty first
century. For the purposes of this discussion, the term ―knowledge society‖ presumes
the existence of an ―information society‖ and will be used to refer to the economic
system where ideas of knowledge function as commodities (Anderson, 2008).
The focus of the 1990s was on a heightened awareness of globalisation, rapid change
and information technologies. Policy decision makers in many countries, including
South Africa, began adopting the rhetoric of twenty first century skills. Some
6
educational
outcomes
consistently
emphasized
in
policy
documents
are:
communication; creativity in knowledge generation; collaboration; critical thinking;
ICT literacy; and life skills (Anderson, 2008, p. 10). This has implications for the
skills and learning strategies for students as shown in Table 1.1.
Table 1.1: Implications of the demands of the global knowledge economy for youths in terms of
required skills and learning strategies (Anderson, 2008, p. 7)
Demands from society
Required skills
Learning strategies
Knowledge as commodity
Knowledge construction
Inquiry, project learning.
constructivism
Rapid change, renewal
Adaptability
Learning to relearn, on-demand
learning
Information explosion
Finding, organising, retrieving
information, ICT usage
Multi-database browsing exercises
Poorly organised information
Information management, ICT
utilization
Database design and
implementation
Incompletely evaluated information
Critical thinking
Evaluation problem solving
Collectivisation of knowledge
Teamwork
Collaborative learning
This subscription to a knowledge society perspective has to some extent driven South
African policy on ICT in education with a pressure to put computers in all schools,
regardless of individual teachers‘ needs, priorities or competencies. By equipping
them with ICT, the government aims to develop and produce a pool of ICT-proficient
youth from whom the country can draw trainee ICT engineers, programmers and
software developers (DoE, 2004b).
1.2.3 South African classroom perspective
Even though education in South Africa is the single largest category of the combined
national and provincial government‘s spending, poverty-related educational
challenges persist. In 2005, the Department of Education (DoE) developed the
National Education Infrastructure Management System (NEIMS) to update the 1996
and 2000 School Register of Needs (SRN) databases, which were used to quantify
the physical infrastructure for education in all schools in South Africa. This was
carried out as a planning strategy for spending on education, and based on equity,
7
democracy and justice. The current NEIMS assessment report (DoE, 2007) showed
the results of 25,145 public ordinary schools1 in South Africa.
According to the figures in this report, in Gauteng as many as 72% of the 1,972
schools have classes with 30 to 45 students per teacher, and 5% of the schools have
more than 45 per teacher. Nationally, 57% of the 25,145 schools assessed still have 30
to 45 students per teacher and 5% have more than 45 per teacher. The concept of
―students per teacher ratio‖ is highly contested as ―class size‖ may be a more accurate
measure of what teachers have to deal with. Calculating ―students per teacher‖
includes staff with a teaching qualification regardless of their assignment within the
school. For example, principals, heads of department and other qualified teachers in
a school may not be allocated students and this lowers the ―students per teacher‖
figure. The 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and science Study (TIMSS)
(Martin, Mullis, Gonzalez, & Chrostowski, 2004) reported an average science class
size for instruction for Grade 8 in South Africa of 45 compared to the international
average of 31.
The consequence of these large student numbers is a decrease in available teaching
and learning facilities and resources, as well as overcrowded classrooms2 (Onwu,
1998). Many teachers teach in dilapidated classrooms with insufficient furniture,
space and equipment (Onwu, 1998). The 2007 NEIMS report shows that in Gauteng
Province, 42% of the 1,972 schools have more than 10% of their students without
desks and 49% of schools have more than 10% of their students without chairs. The
national figures are 56% and 58% for desks and chairs respectively. The TIMSS 2003
study showed that in South Africa, 39% of school reported a low availability of school
resources for science instruction, including a lack of science laboratory equipment
and materials, calculators, library materials for science instruction, and audio-visual
equipment for science instruction (Martin et al., 2004). An assessment of the
availability of science laboratories in Gauteng Province in 2007 shows that only 23%
Public ordinary schools refer to schools managed by the state (not independent schools) in which
grades higher than Grade R (reception) are offered to ordinary learners.
2 ―Overcrowded‖ is defined as a classroom in which there is less than 1sqm of floor space per pupil.
1
8
of schools that offer science as a subject have space allocated for science laboratories
or laboratories that are stocked. These figures are lower in provinces such as
Limpopo Province, where as few as 4% of schools have functioning science
laboratories compared to 11% nationally. Such a situation will be the reality for the
foreseeable future, and is a major constraint on effective science teaching in South
Africa and other developing countries (Onwu, 1999).
Lack of culture of learning
The legacy of violent resistance to apartheid, together with the problems of
inadequate resourcing, have led to what is referred to as a lack of a ―culture of
learning‖ which is still evident in many South African schools (Howie, Van Staden,
Draper, & Zimmerman, 2010). Absenteeism, both on the part of teachers and
students, vandalism, gangsterism, rape, and drug abuse in schools remain a problem.
The Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) 2006 (Howie et al.,
2007) with a nationally representative sample, found that 64% of students reported
feeling unsafe at school, and 13% indicated serious problems with safety. One-in-five
schools indicated that drugs were a serious problem and one-in-six considered
vandalism to be a serious problem (Howie et al., 2007).
Technological infrastructure
There is an e-Education policy goal to equip every South African student in the
General and Further Education and Training bands (GET and FET) to use ICT
confidently and creatively. The aim is to help develop the skills and knowledge they
need to achieve personal goals and to be full participants in the global community by
2013. However it is essential that this be seen against the backdrop of the reality in
schools with many classrooms struggling against technological infrastructure
problems, erratic Internet connections, and difficulty affording and maintaining
computers and other ICT technologies (DoE, 2007).
This reality is reported in the NEIMS which shows that while Gauteng Province has
only 2% of schools without any electricity, other provinces have much higher figures,
for example KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) with 28% of schools with no source of electricity
9
on or near the school and the Eastern Cape 21%. While 93% of Gauteng Province
schools have access to a land line connection which allows access to the internet, the
Eastern Cape has only 24%, with 46% nationally. Gauteng Province, probably the
best resourced province in South Africa, has access to computers for learning in 67%
of schools, but only 48% of those have fewer than 100 students per computer.
Limpopo has student access to computers in 18% of its schools and only 10% of the
schools have less than 100 students per computer. A total of 68% of schools
nationally have no access to computers for teaching and learning (DoE, 2007).
Understanding the schools selected for this study
In the 2006 survey (at the time the SITES 2006 data was collected), the DoE
reported the condition of general infrastructure in 58% of the schools assessed as
excellent (DoE, 2007). Teachers in these classrooms were able to provide their
students with an education of a high quality and of a similar standard to that in
developed countries such as the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and the United
States of America. These classrooms are found in independent, special schools, and
government funded schools which were well resourced under the previous
government and reserved for white students during apartheid. These government
funded schools are still loosely referred to as ex-model C schools (or previous model
C schools). In Gauteng Province in 2009, for example, 45% of the schools fell into
this category, but one would expect it to be slightly lower in some other provinces.
These schools have good general infrastructure, such as well-maintained school
buildings, good infrastructure for teaching and learning, such as adequately
equipped science laboratories and libraries or media centres, and good sporting
facilities, such as a swimming pool, tennis courts, and rugby fields. Many of these
schools have managed to maintain high levels of infrastructural resources and high
level of academic achievement in mathematics and science education over a long
period of time.
However, the schools described above are not in the majority. In 2006, 26% of
schools nationally were classified by the DoE as poor or very. In Gauteng Province,
almost 10% of schools fell into the category of poor or very poor. Many of these
10
schools are in remote locations such as rural areas and farms and many do not have
access to basic resources such as electricity or running water. They often have large
student numbers in a single class. Nationally, in 2006, nearly 42% of schools had no
piped running water and just over 30% of those used borehole water. More than 16%
of schools in 2006 had no source of electricity on or near the school (DoE, 2007).
One or all of the following factors could compromise the learning environments in
these very poor schools: lack of physical space for movement due to overcrowding;
diminished opportunities for all students to participate actively in the learning
process; the impersonalising of teaching; teachers resorting to an instructional mode
of predominantly lecture and teacher demonstrations; excessive workload, and a
long homework assignment turnaround time; and limited opportunities to meet
individual student needs for self-activity and inquiry, motivation, discipline, safety
and socialisation (Onwu & Stoffels, 2005). Students in these schools are often
directly affected by the inadequate supply of physical resources such as desks, chairs
and other classroom furniture as well as an inadequate supply of learning materials
and equipment for hands-on learning activities. The effect of limited learning
resources is often exacerbated by the teachers‘ inability to manage those they have.
This is often the case because many teachers are unqualified or under-qualified3, the
Human Resource Development Review in 2003 putting the figure at 22% in 2000
(Crouch & Perry, 2001). While teacher qualifications are not in themselves a
determinant of teacher quality, they may be used as a proxy for a teacher‘s level of
training and pedagogical knowledge (Shindler, 2008).
Other than the two types of schools polarised on either end of the spectrum of
teaching and learning resources described in the previous section, there exist a large
number of schools which serve the majority of students. In Gauteng Province, for
example, this group is represented by nearly 45% of schools, located in urban
townships across the country and populated by black students from the surrounding
areas. They are distinguished from the poor and very poor schools by their access to
An unqualified or under-qualified teacher is regarded as having less than a senior certificate pass and
a three year educator training diploma or degree.
3
11
electricity and running water, however, black students are still typically taught by
unqualified teachers, in over-crowded classrooms, and with insufficient text books
and other learning materials. These schools are targeted by the DoE as suitable
schools for the provision of computer laboratories for tuition, an aspect of ICT use
which features in this study. While the end of apartheid meant an end of the official
policy of segregation and unequal educational provision, the reality is that little has
changed in terms of resources at most of township schools in the 16 years since
democracy.
Many well-resourced classrooms have successfully integrated ICT into the teaching
and learning programmes in ways that improve opportunities for learning (Kozma,
2003). The priority of very poor schools to focus efforts on integrating ICT into
teaching and learning is understandably very low or non-existent, given the lack of
access to electricity. The same cannot be said for the majority of classrooms which
have the limitations on resources described above but do have the will and in some
cases the means to work towards the e-Education policy goal. In order to understand
how teachers use ICT to teach science in this middle group of schools typical of
developing countries, the SITES 2006 data which represented all schooling contexts
in South Africa was re-coded to select and distinguish three levels of resourcing:
well-resourced, poor or very poor, and the middle group of schools. Schools with
access to a swimming pool or tennis court (or both) were coded as well-resourced,
while those without running water or electricity, and no computers available for
tuition were coded as very poor schools. The group of schools most likely to represent
the majority, and characterize a developing country context were those which had
running water, electricity, and computers available for tuition, but no swimming pool
or a tennis court. The methodology behind this recoding and organisation of the
database for analysis is explained in detail in Chapter 4.
It is not pertinent to this study to debate whether meaningful learning takes place in
these contexts, but it is important to show that most classrooms in South African and
in other developing countries have teaching and learning environments that are
12
significantly different from the learning environments in developed countries4. There
is little doubt that the learning environment has an impact on the teaching and
learning that occurs. Consequently, understanding what is happening in these
environments requires in-depth investigation into these classrooms and the ways
teachers use ICT in their teaching of science, particularly when many other negative
factors impact on them.
Overall school achievement in 2006
As of 2001, candidates can obtain a Senior Certificate graded with either a normal
pass (equivalent to an average score of less than 60%), a merit pass (equivalent to an
average score of between 60% and 79%) or a distinction pass (equivalent to an
average score of 80% and more).
100
90
80
80.30
Percentage
70
60
50
71.20
68.70
73.30
62.20
66.60
57.90
54.90
40
28.30
30
20
10
Science Pass %
Science HG Pass %
15.30
14.30
National Pass %
11.60
0
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Year
Figure 1.1: South African overall and science pass rates (2000 to 2008)
It should also be noted that within South Africa, there is a well-developed educational sector which is
represented by the ex-model C and independent school classrooms.
4
13
In 20065, the overall national pass rate in the Senior Certificate examination for fulltime candidates with six or more subjects was 66.6% (Figure 1.1). In that year, 86%,
11.4% and 2.5% of all candidates passed with a normal pass, a merit pass and a
distinction pass, respectively. Just over 7% of the 6 267 schools in South Africa that
offered the Senior Certificate examination obtained 100% passes (DoE, 2008).
In 2006, 71.2% passed science but only 15.3% of those students who wrote it passed
with a Higher Grade (HG) pass. Without a HG pass in science, students are unable to
enrol for further study in science and technology programmes (DoE, 2008). This low
pass rate is hardly surprising given a recent national assessment of the availability of
science laboratories in South African schools that showed that few schools that offer
science as a subject have a qualified science teacher, space allocated for science
laboratories, or laboratories that are stocked.
In 2003, the third large-scale international survey of Grade 8 students, TIMSS6, was
conducted. TIMSS is conducted four-yearly by the International Association for the
Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) and examines students‘ proficiency in
mathematics and science. It tests the extent to which Years 4 and 8 students have
mastered skills in a number of domains, both cognitive and content, common to
mathematics and science curricula throughout the world (Martin et al., 2000). Of the
48 countries that participated in the TIMSS 2003 survey at the Year 8 level, South
African students were positioned last in both mathematics and science (Martin et al.,
2004). This is part of a persistent trend since the first study in 1995 (Howie, 2001).
TIMSS 2003 uncovered striking deficiencies in the state of scientific literacy in South
African students and given that this result was unchanged from the previous 1999
TIMSS survey (Martin et al., 2000), the results have provided the impetus for
discussions on science education and on attempts to improve science teaching and
learning.
Using 2006 is used as the SITES teacher data was collected in 2006
Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, in which 255 South African schools
participated.
5
6
14
ICT infrastructure and access across of South Africa
The Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) report on the access to ICT in South
Africa showed that, in 2007, 13.6% of households in South Africa had access to a
personal computer (PC), with the highest access in the Western Cape at 33.8% and
the lowest in Limpopo Province, as low as 4.4% (Tlabela, Roodt, Paterson, & WeirSmith, 2007). While access to the World Wide Web (WWW) is possible via a range of
networked devices including 3G mobile telephones, personal digital assistants
(PDAs), and desktop and laptop computers, in South Africa Internet access is mainly
obtained through PCs. The figures for Internet access in South Africa in 2007 are
9.1%, again with the Western Cape having the highest percentage access at 23.4%
and Limpopo Province the lowest at 3% (Tlabela et al., 2007).
Many rural areas lag behind in terms of ICT access, a major factor being the low
penetration and quality of fixed line telecommunication services. Although there
have been recent developments and cost reductions in wireless communication
technologies, there is still a cost barrier which will not be easily overcome. Cellular
phone technologies now make it possible to service rural communities at a lower cost
than installing a land line, however the national average percentage of households
with access to cell phones is still low at 33.1%, and less than 50% even for Gauteng
Province (Tlabela et al., 2007).
1.2.4 ICT initiatives across South Africa relevant to this study
A number of important ICT initiatives have been initiated across South Africa,
suggesting that work is being done to provide ICT access to schools. Whilst some of
these are not directly aligned with the e-Education policy and others have lapsed,
their inheritance remains important when exploring ICT use in schools (Blignaut &
Howie, 2009). A number of the initiatives are current or new, and many have not yet
reached every school or district, but even though educators‘ and students‘ access to
ICT is still limited, these initiatives form the basis of the bulk of ICT development
and practices in the country.
15
The majority of ICT initiatives in developing countries focus on ICT resources in
schools, and some aim for capacity building of educators and students. The minority
are successful in enabling educators to integrate ICTs into the curriculum and to
manage this change, South Africa being no exception (Blignaut & Howie, 2009). The
funding provision of large-scale initiatives demands quick-wins to establish return
on investment but the establishment of new computer laboratories in schools earns
more goodwill from donors and is a less demanding target than skilling educators to
integrate ICT into their teaching and learning – a process that may take many years.
The sustainability of ICT initiatives is therefore of utmost importance if they are to
support the long-term goals of the e-Education policy. A full list of these initiatives is
in Blignaut and Howie (2009). Some of these initiatives where evident in the
classrooms I visited as part of this study, suggesting that they are indeed having an
impact. Those initiatives are summarised in the section which follows. The extent of
that impact is discussed in the analysis of the data.
Gauteng Online
Gauteng Online was launched in 2000 (GautengOnline, 2003) as a directorate of the
Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) with the intention of issuing all schools in
the province with a secure computer room equipped with 25 desk-top computers.
The computer room was to be equipped with a broad-band Internet connection, email facilities, and computers for use in curriculum delivery, specifically to: build a
province-wide school computer network; create a strong local IT industry that has
the capacity for IT development and innovation; enhance the efficacy of government
for improved service delivery; position Gauteng Province at the cutting edge of
change through technological innovation; and bridge the digital divide.
Intel Teach to the Future (Intel® Teach Program)
The Intel® Teach Program is aimed at helping teachers to be more effective
educators through professional development focused on how to integrate technology
into their lessons, promoting problem solving, critical thinking and collaboration
skills among their students. This programme is a Global Intel® Innovation in
Education initiative which operates with SchoolNet SA as a local partner, the later
16
having adapted the international version of the curriculum for local interpretations
(Intel Education, 2003). It is an official professional development programme of the
South African Council for Educators that targets educators in all nine provinces with
ICT training funded either by the Provincial Department of Education or by the
school. The Intel® Teach Project is an extensive training programme for educators
to use ICT in the classroom. It aims to enable educators to use ICT in their teaching,
and to engage students to use ICT to conduct research, compile information, and
communicate with others (Intel Education, 2003).
The Khanya Project
The Khanya project, like Gauteng Online, is a provincial initiative operating as a
directorate of the Western Cape Provincial Education Department (Khanya, 2001),
established in April 2001. It services government-funded schools in the Western
Cape with its primary objectives being to:

increase educator capacity and effectiveness by means of technology

harness the power of technology to deliver the curriculum

enhance the quality of the learning experience in the classroom, providing an
opportunity for students to benefit from a variety of learning styles

integrate appropriate and available technology into the curriculum delivery
process as different technologies mature

use technology to assist all disabled students to maximise learning

improve Senior Certificate and FET results, as well as student outcomes in all
grades, in terms of number of passes and quality of results

increase the number of students taking mathematics and science on the higher
grade and those coping successfully

increase the number of students qualified and competent to enter tertiary
education institutions after obtaining their Senior Certificates and FETs

improve numeracy and literacy in lower grades in order to build a stronger
foundation for future matriculants (Grade 12s).
Through the Khanya Project, nearly 1,000 schools in the Western Cape have access
to ICT and educators trained to use it. While the PIRLS 2006 study (Howie et al.,
17
2007) emphasized the importance of educators in laying the foundation for literacy
development amongst primary school students, the Western Cape Education
Department (WCED) has recognized the problem of educator shortages in many of
its schools and set up the Khanya Project on the assumption that technology could
help address the increasing shortage of educator capacity in schools. Its primary goal
was to empower all educators and students in Western Cape schools to develop the
necessary skills to use ICT in support of teaching and learning. The emphasis of the
Khanya Project was on providing computer technology as a teaching aid and
improving curriculum delivery. Two of the project goals worth noting are: to harness
the power of technology to deliver the primary school literacy and numeracy
curriculum; to improve literacy and numeracy results in lower grades in order to
build a stronger foundation for future matriculants. Every educator is to be
empowered to use appropriate and available technology to deliver curriculum to
every student in the province by 2012, with a progressive eradication of the digital
divide, starting with the poorest of the poor schools; and striving to achieve racial
and gender equity (Khanya, 2001).
Teacher Laptop Initiative
In May 2009, the then Minister of Education, Naledi Pandor, announced the Teacher
Laptop Initiative (TLI) as part of a government strategy to improve the integration of
ICT in teaching and learning (DoE, 2009). The initiative, which started in July 2009,
aimed to ensure that every teacher in South Africa owned and used a laptop in their
teaching, as well as for administration. Managed by the Education Labour Relations
Council (ELRC), the TLI was designed to address a need for a quality education
system and forms part of a plan by the Department of Basic Education (DBE) and
other stakeholders to improve the overall quality of education. It aimed to
accomplish this by making resources available to students and teachers in the public
education sector. The ICT packages for teachers consist of a laptop with prescribed
minimum specifications, including software for school administration, the national
curriculum statement documents, as well as Internet connectivity, insurance and
finance, as per the requirements of Government Gazette 32207. Qualifying teachers
will receive a monthly allowance of R130.00 (taxable) and are required to fund the
18
difference between this and the monthly repayments of the package. Most of the
packages from the provisionally accredited suppliers cost between R250.00 and
R390.00 per month and repayments are spread over a period of five years. Despite
the enthusiastic announcements from department officials in July 2009, the TLI only
started gaining momentum in July 20107.
1.3 Main Research Question
Current thinking about ICT in education suggests that while traditionally important
pedagogical practices are still dominant in science education, ICT contributes to
innovative pedagogical practices (Voogt, 2009). The SITES studies from 1998 until
2006 assessed, inter alia, how and to what extent education is responding to the
requirements of the information society, and how ICT is impacting on these changes.
Based on the findings from the three previous SITES modules, when science teachers
use ICT to teach, and understand how to integrate these technologies into their
teaching, value is added to the learning environment and students are afforded the
opportunity to improve their learning (Kozma, 2003; Law et al., 2008; Pelgrum,
2001).
Against the above background, the research question is posed as follows:
What is the value that using ICT adds to the teaching and learning of Science when
teachers use ICT in a context of limited resources, typical of a developing country?
Value is not an easy concept to assess. In the earlier Kennisnet Four in Balance
monitor (Kennisnet, 2007), the term ‗yields‘ was used to explain the increasing
importance of ICT in education. The types of yields from using ICT reported were:
students learn more, learn quicker, and learn more enjoyably; results are better for
both high and low performing students; students are more motivated and have more
self-confidence; and support is provided for several pedagogical approaches, such as
transfer of knowledge, independent studying, and cooperative learning. In a later
version of the Four in Balance Model (Kennisnet, 2009), the term ‗benefits‘ is used as
7
Time was not allowed to analyse the effect of the launch at the time of writing this document.
19
a way of assessing the contribution of ICT to efficient, effective, and interesting
teaching and learning. The monitor illustrates the benefits or value that is added to
education with three examples: ICT is very suited to offering subject matter in
multiple ways, for example visually, with audio, and interactively which helps
students learn more effectively; ICT can assist weaker students to make progress as
the learning material can be directed at the level appropriate for each student; and if
ICT is used, students are more motivated to learn.
For the purposes of this study, the concept of value is associated with three aspects of
teaching and learning i.e. teaching and learning which is: more effective; more
efficient; and more enjoyable. More effective teaching and learning would require a
move away from a predominantly teacher-centre and lecture-style pedagogy to a
more student-centred and activity-based pedagogy in line with current thinking
about how children learn. More efficient teaching and learning would require better
curriculum coverage through access to high quality digital learning materials,
especially in instances where class sizes are large and teachers‘ Subject Content
Knowledge (SCK) and Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) is inadequate. More
enjoyable teaching and learning would require an increase in student participation in
science lessons. This is especially difficult for students who come from poor
communities with little home or community educational support.
As a way of ascertaining the value that using ICT adds to teaching and learning in
South African classrooms, the main research question was operationalized by two
sub-questions:
1. How do science teachers use ICT in a context of limited resources?
2. Why do science teachers use ICT in the ways that they do?
The value added (yields and benefits) by using ICT in South African classrooms was
established through an in-depth exploration of how and why teachers use it in the
ways that they do.
20
1.4 Significance of the study
The experiences of science teachers‘ use of ICT in contexts where resources are
limited are valuable to inform the current and developing knowledge base in this
area of research. How and why science teachers in contexts typical of developing
countries use ICT may assist in filling some of the gaps in knowledge which relate
specifically to classrooms with limited resources. In addition to contributing to the
knowledge base in this area of research, understanding the value that this use of ICT
offers to science teaching and learning will allow us to make a significant
contribution to the current policy debate in South Africa prior to a nation-wide rollout of ICT in schools.
New developments in education show great promise for helping teachers improve
teaching and learning when ICT is integrated into the classroom. It is important to
understand the links between the complex issues faced by teachers which determine
how they are able to use ICT when teaching. This information may be relevant to the
South African DOE in terms of future investments in ICT in education, as well as
contributing to the knowledge base on the complex process of integrating computers
and other communication technology in education in developing world contexts.
Furthermore, the results provide some clues for those countries which are in a
similar position to South Africa, that is where class sizes are large and resources
limited.
1.5 Brief overview of chapters
This thesis is presented in eight chapters. Chapter One gives a brief overview of the
rationale and background, both from an international perspective, giving a summary
of the three SITES modules, and from a national perspective, giving the context of
education in South African science classrooms. It also serves to present the research
question which formed the basis for the thesis and subsequent research design.
Chapter Two begins by defining the concept ICT as it is used in this study, and then
discusses technologies as used in education, from a perspective both of policy and
from the classroom. It also examines some of the current and emerging technologies
21
used in education, reviewing the literature on the role of ICT in science education, in
particular the context for ICT not typical of other school subjects. Lastly, the chapter
looks at current empirical research into the obstacles teachers face in the use of ICT.
Chapter Three places this research in a theoretical context, explaining important
concepts such as PCK and Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK). It
also serves to examine the interpretation of technology-integrated pedagogy used in
the SITES studies such as pedagogical orientations (SITES 2006) and patterns of ICT
use (SITES-M2). The chapter concludes with a discussion about the Four in Balance
Model which was used as a way of structuring the research design and analysis in this
study.
Chapter Four presents and justifies the mixed methods research design and specific
research methods chosen, detailing how the cases were chosen to gather the
qualitative data, and how the SITES 2006 teacher data was organized and used.
Chapter Five uses some of the data generated from the SITES 2006 Teacher
questionnaire to paint the landscape of pedagogical orientations of South African
science teacher and where relevant, compares these to science teachers
internationally. This is done as a way of understanding how the pedagogical
orientation of teachers influences their pedagogical use of ICT and provides the
context for the further data analysis. Chapters Six provides an analysis of the
qualitative and quantitative data collected from South African science teachers in
classrooms with limited resources to show how these teachers use ICT when they
teach science. Chapter Seven provides a similar analysis of the data to explain why
teachers use ICT in these classrooms in the ways that they do. The final chapter,
Chapter Eight, summarises the research findings and provides a reflection on the
conceptual framework which focused the research and the particular research design
chosen. This data is then synthesized to ascertain the value that the use of ICT adds
to teaching and learning in the South African context for teaching and learning
science. Finally, the conclusions and recommendations are presented.
22
CHAPTER TWO
2 Review of Literature
This chapter reviews the literature relevant for this thesis. It begins by discussing
what is probably the most important concept in this study, namely ICT, and explains
the different ways in which it is used in the literature, and pertaining to this thesis
(section 2.1). It examines the background literature on what types of technologies are
currently used in education (section 2.3), particularly from the perspective of ICT
policy (section 2.2), and its use of ICT in education from a classroom perspective
(section 2.4). The argument is then extended to the role and rationale of ICT in
science education in particular (section 2.5), as science education offers possibilities
for ICT use that are unique to that subject.
2.1 The concept ICT
The concept Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is central to this
study and as such, it is necessary to explain how it is understood and used in this
study. On the issue of ICT in the curriculum, three separate aspects can be identified
(Webb, 2002): learning ICT (as a subject); learning through ICT; and using ICT as a
tool for learning. In South Africa, Information Technology (IT) is learnt as a subject
in both the primary and lower secondary school years (grades R-9) and in the upper
secondary school years (grades 10-12). The curricula are presented in the Revised
National Curriculum Statements (RNCS) as ―Technology‖ (DoE, 2002b) for grades R
to 9 and as ―Computer Applications Technology (CAT)‖ (DoE, 2003) for grades 10 to
12, and are examinable subjects. Learning ―through‖ ICT describes situations where
the ICT facility becomes the whole learning environment, providing learning
materials and acting as the tutor and the assessor. This is typical of distance
education using ICT where little or no contact with a teacher is provided. The third
aspect, using ICT such as computers and networked communication to support
teaching and learning, includes a wide range of applications of ICT as a tool for
23
learning e.g. using a word processor, and running simulation tests in science (Webb,
2002), and is the kind of integration of ICT into classroom-based learning envisaged
by the government‘s e-Education policy (DoE, 2004b). This study looks at the role of
ICT from the third perspective i.e. exploring the role of ICT as a tool for learning as
currently used in classrooms. It will not enter into the on-going debate about
whether ICT should be taught as a separate subject, or the extent to which it should
be integrated into other subject areas.
The terminology used in this field of study is often confusing, partly owing to the
rapid technological changes and developments (Voogt & Knezek, 2008). The term
computer technology has been replaced by ‗ICT‘ or ‗information technology‘ (IT) or
simply ‗technology‘. The term IT is often used interchangeably with ICT. ICT refers to
all technologies used for processing information and for communicating, and some
include in the definition those products that have been made to store, access, and use
information and which support the information and communication activities of elearning (Andrews & Haythornwaithe, 2007). The South African White Paper on eEducation (DoE, 2004b) uses the term ICT to represent the convergence of
information technology (the items of hardware and software that allow the user to
access, retrieve, store, organise, manipulate and present information by electronic
means) and communication technology (telecommunications equipment through
which information can be sought, sent and accessed). ICTs are the combination of
networks, hardware and software as well as the means of communication,
collaboration and engagement that enable the processing, management and
exchange of data, information and knowledge (DoE, 2004b).
More recently, new terms came about to indicate computer use in education, inter
alia e-learning (electronic learning), m-learning (mobile learning), web-based
education or learning, multimedia learning, and computer-based learning (CBL). The
term e-learning is used for learning that is facilitated or delivered through the use of
computer or communications technologies, Internet, CD-ROM, and television (Voogt
& Knezek, 2008). A more expanded definition from the Higher Education Funding
Council for England (HEFCE) defines e-learning as the use of technologies in
learning opportunities, encompassing flexible learning as well as distance learning;
24
and the use of ICT as a communications and delivery tool, between individuals and
groups, to support students and improve the management of learning (Andrews &
Haythornwaithe, 2007). The South African e-Education White Paper uses the term elearning to refer to flexible learning using ICT resources, tools and applications
which focus on accessing information, interaction among teachers, students and the
online environment, collaborative learning and the production of materials,
resources and learning experiences (DoE, 2004b).
Similar to e-leaning, the term m-learning emphasizes the facilitation of learning
through the use of mobile computer technology, such as mobile phones, personal
digital assistants (PDAs) and laptop computers. If the WWW is used to deliver
education and/or instruction, the terms Web-based education or Web-based
instruction are also used. The term ‗multimedia learning‘ is often used when a mix of
audio and video technologies are integrated in the learning environment. The most
recent term emerging for computer use in education is ‗ubiquitous learning‘ (Voogt &
Knezek, 2008), which alludes to the ever-presence of computer technology in the
environment and the potential of computer technology to make learning possible at
any time and in any place.
2.2 Policy perspective on ICT in education
The main arguments for a sustained use of ICT in education in both developed and
developing countries at the level of policy can be summarized as:

Like literacy and numeracy, IT is an essential ―life skill‖

IT provides an opportunity for economic development and is a requirement for
employability

IT is a tool for educational management

IT is a tool that can improve teaching and learning (OECD, 2001).
National ICT policies for education can serve important functions and ―provide a
rationale, a set of goals, and a vision for how education systems might be with the
introduction of ICT, and how students, teachers, parents and the general population
might benefit from its use in schools‖ (Kozma, 2008, p. 1084). National ICT policies
25
allow the co-ordination of a country‘s educational goals. While classroom innovation
may occur without a national policy, they are less likely to be sustained without the
guidance of one (Kozma, 2008). Kozma (2008) has identified four rationales which
are used to justify the investment in advancing the use of ICT in education, namely:
to support economic growth; to promote social development; to advance educational
reform; and ICT to support educational management.
These policy rationales are not mutually exclusive and some countries such as South
Africa use two or more rationales to reinforce each other. For example, in promoting
the use of ICT in education to advance educational reform:
Learning through the use of ICTs is arguably one of the most powerful
means of supporting students to achieve the nationally-stated curriculum
goals. It must however be very thoughtfully selected and integrated into
educational planning and management. In particular, the use of ICTs for
learning encourages: learner-centred learning; active, exploratory,
inquiry-based learning; collaborative work among students and teachers;
and creativity, analytical skills, critical thinking and informed decisionmaking (DoE, 2004b, p. 19).
It also focuses on the potential social impact of ICT and justifies its expenditure by a
policy which promotes ICT use to share knowledge, foster cultural creativity, increase
democratic participation, and enhance social cohesion. In articulating the ways in
which educational ICT can support these broad social goals, the policy states:
The lack of developed infrastructure for information and communication
technologies is widening the gap between Africa and the developed world.
In response to this under-development, Africa has adopted a renewal
framework, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD),
which identifies ICTs as central in the struggle to reduce poverty on the
continent. ICTs provide hope for overcoming barriers of social and
geographical isolation, increase access to information and education, and
enable the poor to participate in the making of decisions that have an
impact on their lives (DoE, 2004b, p. 9).
Although this level of strategic articulation may provide a vision of a future in which
policy goals are achieved, and justifies the financial expenditure on ICT
infrastructure, the operational plans of these policies need five specific operational
26
components (Kozma, 2008): infrastructural development (including the budget
allocation
for
technical
resources);
teacher
training
(including
teacher
professional development programmes specifying skills that teachers need to
acquire); technical support (including what hardware and software technical
assistance teachers should get); pedagogical and curricula change (including
the articulation of ICT-related changes in curriculum, pedagogical practices, and
assessment); content development (may include the specifics about the
development of digital content where needed).
In order to craft effective educational ICT policies, Kozma (2008) makes specific
recommendations that can assist policy-makers in national, provincial and local ICT
in education policy construction. Firstly, national ICT policies will be the most
effective if they are aligned with other strategic and operational policies (Kozma,
2008). For example, the goals and rationales of specific ICT programmes and
projects (such as Gauteng Online and the Khanya Project 8), should be directly tied to
the national goals and rationales for ICT in education. Secondly, they are more likely
to be effective if there is horizontal alignment. In other words, ICT in education
policy should be aligned with other policies within the education system. For
example, the e-learning policy in South Africa should be aligned with the specific
goals and rationales of the NCS. Lastly, national policies should be aligned with
provincial policies. For example, the national e-Education policy should provide the
direction and policy goals for the provincial Gauteng Online policy.
There are gaps between policies and the changes in classroom practice the policies
intended to effect. In many instances, policies are articulated but teachers are not
aware of their specifics or goals. A study by Cohen and Hill (in Kozma, 2008)
indicated that policies were more likely to be implemented in the classroom where
the teachers had the opportunity to become knowledgeable with policy-related
materials. Teachers should participate directly in content-specific professional
development programmes aligned to the policy.
These programmes are specifically mentioned here as it is discussed as part of the understanding of
teacher use of ICT in Chapter Six)
8
27
Kozma (2008) further suggests that public-private partnerships are an important
resource in effective policy implementation in countries, a point recognised in the
South African e-Education policy:
Sources of funding will include the following: private sector donations and
support from international development assistance agencies; appropriate
public-private partnerships to ensure the sustainability of the e-Education
policy implementation (DoE, 2004b, p. 36).
Howie (2009) in her work on ICT policies and practices suggests that most of the
discussion on ICT policies in education has been conducted from the context of
developed, and hence well resourced, educational contexts. The challenges presented
by ICT in education in developing countries such as South Africa and Chile need
serious consideration. Some of the conditions making teaching and learning difficult
in developing countries were discussed in section 1.2.2. Given the large investment in
ICT in education, especially in developing countries where huge demands are made
on limited financial resources, policies should offer specific goals for how the
investment in technology can advance economic, social, and educational
development (Kozma, 2008). Beyond the programmes, a policy should clearly
describe how the resources will impact on the education system with measurable
outcomes. The investments should be carefully monitored and programmes
evaluated to provide policy-makers with reliable information to assist them in
revising and refining the policies where necessary. Monitoring and evaluation
programmes are essential to increase the likelihood that ICT policies will benefit
students, schools, communities, and the economy in general.
2.3 Technologies and their use in education
There are a variety of technologies which have different characteristics and educational
applications. A comprehensive, but not exhaustive, summary is given in Table 2.1.
28
Table 2.1: Classification of different IT applications (OECD, 2001, pp. 38-39)
Type of
Application
Examples
Educational use
General Tools
Word-processing, presentation
spreadsheet, multimedia
authoring, including Web
publishing
Becoming more and more important;
require innovative and creative thinking
from the teacher; quality is in the
application, not the tool itself, since such
tools are not dependent on particular
content
Teacher Tools
On-line lesson outlines; computerprojector systems; interactive
whiteboards
Lesson preparation; whole class teaching
with shared view of screen; interaction
managed by teacher
Communications
e-mail, e-learning; videoconferencing, Internet browsers
Require a view of education as reaching
beyond school, for which they offer huge
potential; familiar in the out-of-school
context
Resources
Especially Web-based, whether
general of specifically educational
Used according to availability, in whatever
way wished; for resource-based, skills
oriented learning
Computer-Assisted
Instruction (CAI)
Drill-and-practice, related to a
certain kind of content and
relatively unsophisticated
Offers individual learning opportunities
without expensive development; appears to
fit well with transmission models of
teaching and learning
Integrated Learning
Systems (ILS)
Individualized task assignment,
assessment and progression,
including CAI, with recording and
reporting if achievement
They appear to sit outside teacher-led
instruction and learning, but are only truly
effective as an integrated part of the
learning process, which may have to be rethought
Computer-based
assessment Tools
Examination boards are
developing computer-based
examinations, which attempt to
mimic paper-based tests
Components give advantage to the
computer literate; teachers will need to
incorporate some elements of similar tasks
in their teaching, to prepare students
adequately
Management Tools
Classroom procedures
School administration
Students‘ progress, deficiency analysis, etc
Financial, personnel and educational
resources
Parents, governors, inspectorate, general
public
e.g. school to home and vice versa
Publication of results
Communication
New and emerging technologies are constantly explored to improve or create new
teaching and learning opportunities. Hinostroza et al. (2008) suggest that emerging
technologies can be grouped, based on its intention, into one of three groups:
29
1. Expanding learning opportunities (learn anywhere and anytime) based largely on
mobile technologies (cell phones being one example)
2. Creating new learning scenarios in traditional contexts (tools for students focused
on improving learning in schools)
3. Improving teaching and learning processes (tools for teachers focused on
improving teachers‘ classroom teaching)
There is a recent focus on the use of digital technologies, such as the interactive white
board (IWB), as a way of improving learning (Hinostroza et al., 2008). IWBs are a
pedagogic tool for promoting interactive whole class teaching. IWBs are not new but
their increased use in schools can expand and make better use of resources available
to teachers. Emerging literature on the main benefits for teaching and learning of an
IWB are that it:

provides versatility with applications for all ages (no keyboard necessary making
it user-friendly for younger children)

allows more opportunity for interaction and discussions in the classroom

increases lesson enjoyment and motivation

encourages spontaneity and lesson flexibility

enables teachers to save and print what is on the board and to share and re-use
materials

is easy to use so inspires teachers to use more ICT

allows more opportunities for participation and collaboration

allows different learning styles to be accommodated in a single class.
Students on the whole are enthusiastic about particular aspects of IWBs, such as
their versatility in the classroom, multimedia capabilities and the fun and enjoyment
they bring to learning (Hall & Higgins, 2005). It has also been suggested that while
increased student motivation is certainly worth investigation, it may be somewhat
overstated (Torff & Tirotta, 2010). Some studies show positive gains in literacy,
mathematics and science achievement in primary school children, especially in
average or above average achievers (Lewin, Somekh, & Steadman, 2008) but other
studies are sceptical about the ability to accurately measure an increase in
30
attainment (Smith, Hardman, & Higgins, 2006). When the impact of IWBs on
students was investigated in South African classrooms, the ICT literacy of the teacher
using the interactive technology seemed to be a key factor in its success, or lack of
success (Slay, Siebörger, & Hodgkinson-Williams, 2008a, 2008b). Teachers in South
African studies reported technical difficulties which prevented the optimal use of the
interactive technology such as difficulties with: calibration and infrastructural issues;
hardware and software; training and support; timetabling; and portability (Slay et
al., 2008a). As with many other technologies, when investigating the value of IWBs
the findings suggest that such technology by itself will not bring about fundamental
change in the traditional patterns of whole class teaching (Smith et al., 2006).
2.4 Technology in the classroom
Perhaps the most important purpose of formal schooling is to assist students to
achieve their fullest learning potential. The type of learning that focuses this study is
the learning that takes place in classrooms with technology. As such, this section will
provide a summary of current research on learning, learning with technology,
accessing teaching and learning resources using one particular technology, the
Internet, and using technology to assess the learning of students when they also use
technology.
Current thinking about formal school learning
How students learn at school has been the focus of a great deal of research over the
past few decades with much that is known about learning brought together in the
seminal work of Bransford et al. (2000) with the National Research Council. More
than just learning, it is learning with understanding that is the ultimate goal of
formal education. The early work of Piaget (1978) and Vygotsky (1978) has led to an
acknowledgment of pre-existing knowledge (prior knowledge, skills, and beliefs) of
students, as well as the need to address their incomplete understandings, false beliefs
and naive formulations of concepts as part of the process of teaching.
This current understanding of learning has implications for education (Bransford et
al., 2000). Firstly, teachers should understand that students come to their classroom
31
with preconceptions about how the world works. If the teacher is unable to engage
the students‘ initial understanding of concepts, students may maintain their
incorrect understanding of them and may even be able to learn the ‗correct‘ answer
for the purposes of assessment whilst maintaining their prior understanding when
they leave the classroom. Secondly, if students are to develop competence in an area
of inquiry, they must have a good foundation of the factual knowledge, understand
the evidence and ideas in the context of a conceptual framework, and be able to
organize their knowledge in ways that allow them to retrieve that knowledge and
apply it in different situations. Thirdly, if a teacher adopts a ―meta-cognitive‖
approach to teaching, students are more likely to be able to take control of their own
learning by defining learning goals and monitoring their own progress in learning.
These principles of learning have profound implications for teachers and teaching
(Bransford et al., 2000). More than understanding the pre-existing ideas of students,
teachers should know how to address and work with these pre-existing
understandings. This requires that they themselves should have a depth in subject
content knowledge as well as pedagogical content knowledge. In order to achieve this
sort of teaching and learning, firstly classrooms should be student-centred and
teachers should pay close attention to the knowledge, attitudes and skills that
students bring into the classroom. Secondly, teachers should give careful attention to
what is taught (subject content knowledge), why it is taught (understanding), and
what mastery or competence looks like. Thirdly, teachers should know how to assess
that mastery through formative and on-going assessment strategies. Good formative
assessment allows both students and teachers monitor progress and learning. Lastly,
teachers should understand that learning is influenced by the context in which it
takes place. This is particularly important in the developing country context as many
students (including those in this study) live in poor and very poor communities
which are often unable to support the learning that occurs in the school.
2.4.1 Learning with technology
Attempts to use computers and other technologies to improve student learning at
school began many years ago (Bransford et al., 2000). Since the early days, the
32
presence of computers in schools has increased dramatically, mostly in classrooms in
developed countries. It is now widely accepted that computers and other ICTs play a
significant role in providing interconnectivity in a globalised world (Pelgrum &
Plomp, 1993). There is a growing appreciation for the role that ICT can play in
changing the way people learn, not only in preparing school leavers for an
information society, but also in the teaching and learning processes (Kozma, 2003).
Therefore, we should move beyond teaching about computers and how to use them
(computer literacy), to teaching and learning with computers.
A number of features associated with new technologies hold promise for change in
education. The data emerging from the SITES-M2 case studies indicate key aspects
for change (Kozma, 2003):

technology has the potential to bring exciting curricula, based on real-world
problems, into the classroom

the interactive nature of technology is a key feature that gives students
immediate feedback on their performance and allows them to reflect on their
ideas and revise their understanding

networked technologies allows teachers and students to build local and
international communities that connect them with interesting people and extend
their opportunities for learning.
Other research suggests that technology can allow increased access to authentic data
through the Internet (Osborne & Hennessy, 2003). Technology in itself does not
improve student achievement, but research is helping educators to understand how
technology creates circumstances and opportunities for improving learning (Gibson,
2001).
In 2005, as part of the focus on ICT and educational change, the Department for
Education and Skills (DfES) in the United Kingdom (UK) launched its e-strategy
setting out six priorities for the implementation of ICT in education, one of which
focused on transforming teaching and learning through the development of a
collaborative approach to personalised learning activities. Some key elements of this
33
priority are to embed technology across the curriculum and extend the curriculum
with a special focus on ―information age‖ skills and new forms of pedagogy which
focus on flexibility and personalisation (Twining et al., 2006). The British
Educational and Communications Technology Agency (Becta) reviewed the extent to
which educational change had indeed been successful in the DfES report
―Educational Change and ICT‖ (Twining et al., 2006). Their research found, among
other things, that: the key to successful implementation of any e-learning strategy or
policy involves the effective management of educational change, which is primarily
about people rather than about technology; for technological change to be
incorporated into education, there should be a buy-in at all levels in the system;
leadership is vital for effective educational transformation; support in the forms of
technical infrastructure, technical support to teachers when they need it, and
continuing professional development for teachers using technology is essential; and
there should be a shared vision informing use of technology in education. Indeed, in
terms of the workload of teachers, there has been no evidence to suggest that it will
diminish the role of the teacher if a serious attempt to exploit technology is made
(Noss & Pachler, 1999). The research of Noss and Pachler (1999) has suggested that
teachers need to spend a great deal of time monitoring, directing and assisting in the
learning process when using technology. Teachers will continue to play a key role in
learning with technology.
The enthusiasm surrounding the potential of ICT to have a role in educational
change (Baggott La Velle, McFarlane, & Brawn, 2003) comes with a caution, as
significant improvement in student attainment is not consistently measured at
classroom level (Baggott La Velle et al., 2003; Becta, 2002; McFarlane et al., 2000;
Twining et al., 2006). This is despite many years of ICT use in education in many
different settings (Jakobsdottir, 2001) but hardly surprising given the lengthy timescales needed for impacts to become measurable, and the mismatch often found
between the methods of assessment being used and the changes made possible by
ICT (Becta, 2002). The weak correlation between ICT and student attainment is
explained by McFarlane et al. (2000), not in terms of lack of learning, but rather in
34
terms of the need to reconceptualise our notion of attainment to identify learning not
measured by large-scale quantitative studies with content-orientated measures.
Fuchs and Woessmann (2004) used data from the Programme for International
Student Assessment (PISA) to analyse the relationship between student availability
and use of home and school computers and educational achievement. When they
controlled for family background and school environment, they actually found a
negative correlation between the availability of computers at home and student
attainment in mathematics and reading. Their paper suggests that the mere
availability of computers at home for student use may actually distract from learning
(Fuchs & Woessmann, 2004). While their analysis of the data is descriptive rather
than causal, there does seem to be a need to make sense of this sort of contradictory
evidence about the use of ICT in education to improve student learning.
2.4.2 Accessing teaching and learning resources with technology
Perhaps one of the greatest values of ICT in education lies in the Internet and how it
allows access to information resources on the Web. The Internet is a global system of
interconnected computer networks that use communication protocols to serve
billions of users worldwide. It is a network of networks that consists of millions of
private, public, academic, business, and government sites that are linked by
electronic and optical networking technologies. Information resources on the
Internet include documents on one computer that can be linked to documents on
another by means of hyperlinks. The Internet is a data communications system,
while the Web is a collection of interconnected documents which can be
communicated via the Internet. In terms of educational value, Kuiper et al. (2005)
have identified and summarized four characteristics of the WWW which include (1) a
huge scope containing up-to-date written sources of information which offer both
general and specialized information, (2) easy access by students who are both
information consumers and providers of information, (3) a hypertext structure which
allows text, opinions and ideas to be linked to one another and, (4) a visual character
in the form of videos, music clips and audio recordings.
35
All of these aspects make access to the potential of the Internet a great affordance in
project-based learning (Mistler-Jackson & Songer, 2000). The Internet provides
students with authentic data and enables them to collaborate with peers and
scientists (Mistler-Jackson & Songer, 2000). With email and video-conferencing,
there is no longer a need for teachers and students to coincide in time and location
(Noss & Pachler, 1999). Electronic communication enables students to become part
of a community of learning (McFarlane & Sakellariou, 2002; Songer, 2003) and
provide opportunities for collaboration with peers and professional scientists from
outside the classroom and the school (Mistler-Jackson & Songer, 2000; Noss &
Pachler, 1999; Songer, 2003).
2.4.3 Assessing with technology
Despite many years of research into the relationship between the use of digital
technology and learning, the ways in which the use of digital technology shapes
assessment in schools is still not well understood. Some of that research is focused
around the use of technology to replace conventional assessment methods, that is,
testing the same thing in a different way. Raikes and Harding (2003) argue that
using a computer-based assessment will deliver tests at a lower cost, allow greater
flexibility regarding administration of the test, allow instant scoring and feedback,
reduce the possibility of errors, and allow for better targeted test items through the
use of adaptive testing. Despite the obvious advantages of this sort of computerbased testing, not all schools have equal access to technology and not all students
had equal prior computer experience, which may impact on the validity of the test
scores (Russell, Goldberg, & O'Connor, 2003). To be fair to all students, regardless of
the level of technology available, Raikes and Harding (2003) suggest that there
should be a period of transition to prevent discrimination and recommend that
computer-based
tests
and
conventional
pen-and-paper
tests
run
parallel.
Notwithstanding the benefits, attention should be paid to ensuring that there is
equivalence in the paper-based and computer-based assessments and that the
hardware and software are reliable and resilient.
36
There are three broad categories of technology and assessment that are addressed
here (McFarlane, 2003). Firstly, computers can be used to assess the same thing in a
different way. Here, the computer assessment simply replaces traditional assessment
strategies. In this sort of computer use, the assessment criteria for the assessment
remain unchanged, tending towards the automation of objective tests, the most
obvious being multiple-choice items.
Secondly, in addition to the use of computer-based assessment which simply assesses
the same thing in a different way, computers can be used to assess skills and
knowledge which are difficult of even impossible to test using the conventional penand-paper method. In these instances the assessment criteria are different from
those of traditional pen-and-paper tests. The 21st century skills with new educational
goals and supported by an increased use of technology are difficult to assess in
traditional ways and it is argued that there now should be assessment criteria
different from traditional assessment criteria when computer-based testing is used
(McFarlane, 2003; Ridgway & McCusker, 2003). Computers are well suited to the
assessment of process skills such as discovering rules and finding relationships by
the use of simulations and interactive games. In science, students can work with
complex and real datasets which would not be possible without technology (Ridgway
& McCusker, 2003). When Writh and Klieme (2003) looked at problem solving, they
suggested that at least two aspects of competence be distinguished, the one focusing
on analytical aspects where the goal is well defined, and all relevant information is
either explicitly given or can be inferred by reasoning, and the other on dynamic
aspects if relevant information is not available or directly deducible. The dynamic
feedback which the computer-based test can provide to students when assessing the
dynamic aspects of problem solving cannot, according to Writh and Klieme (2003),
be given by traditional paper-based assessments.
Thirdly, computer-based assessment should also be examined in the context of using
it to measure the outcomes of computer-based learning. In other words, assessing
37
learning with computers rather than assessing learning with computers9. Here the
distinction is made between learning about technology and learning with technology.
Using the seven clusters of ICT-use and the learning characteristics associated with
each suggested in the SITES-2 framework and outlined in section 3.1.1 (Kozma,
2003), the implications for testing to assess the aspects of learning with computers is
addressed. These authors contend that 21st century assessments should incorporate
the explicit examination of technologies in supporting, extending, and transforming
student learning.
2.5 The role of ICT in science education
Research has not been able to provide conclusive evidence of positive impact on
student achievement (Balanskat, Blamire, & Kefala, 2006; Harrison et al., 2002).
Some promising findings of positive impact come from home language in primary
education and science (Balanskat et al., 2006), although there are still conflicting
findings on improved attainment in science (Webb, 2008).
The differences of specific roles of ICT in science education from other subject areas
were explored in this study. Themes that arose in this exploration included the role
of ICT in practical work (simulations, data logging tools), the role of ICT in
developing conceptual learning in Science, and the role of ICT in motivating students
to continue with science beyond the early school grades. The literature addressing
these three themes is presented here and will be referred to later in the analysis.
2.5.1 ICT and science practical work
Research focused around ICT in science education centres predominantly around the
use of technology to support practical work (Becta, 2004), in particular, the use of
simulations and data-loggers as tools to assist in the practical investigations unique
to science.
9
The italic is needed to show the correct emphasis.
38
Simulations
The use of digital simulations as a specific application of ICT has received much
attention in science education, the obvious benefits to school science being that they
enable students to explore and investigate phenomena not possible in the classroom.
For example, investigations of phenomena which are too difficult or too dangerous
(using toxic chemicals), too large or small (cosmic or molecular reactions), or too fast
or slow for direct observation (McFarlane & Sakellariou, 2002; Webb, 2008).
Some studies on the use of ICT in science simulations have focused on the most
difficult aspect of science teaching, developing students‘ conceptual understanding of
difficult science topics. McFarlane and Sakellariou (2002) argue that using ICT
either as a tool or as a substitute for the laboratory-based elements of an
investigation can aid theoretical conceptual understanding in some topics in the
science curriculum (McFarlane & Sakellariou, 2002). Some experimental studies
have shown that computer simulations can be as effective as the real activity in
teaching science concepts and improving scientific understanding across a variety of
topics (Baxter & Preece, 2000; Huppert, Lomask, & Lazarowitz, 2002; Trindade,
Fiolhais, & Almeida, 2002; Zacharia, 2005). Students in ICT-supported science
classrooms also benefit from the instant feedback from experiments, as well as from
the chance for more independent and self-directed learning (Baggott La Velle et al.,
2003).
In summary, there is evidence that focusing on specific areas of difficulty in science
and addressing those with carefully designed ICT-based simulations can lead to
productive learning (Webb, 2005, 2008). However, sacrificing the ―hands-on‖ aspect
of learning science is not without criticism. Simulations as a tool for practical work
completely remove any mechanical manipulation of equipment, thus eliminating
experimental error. ―Sanitized‖ data produced by simulations may serve to reinforce
misconceptions (Osborne & Hennessy, 2003).
39
Data loggers
Another application of IT in science practical work is the use of data loggers (Webb,
2008), also called Micro-based laboratories or MBLs, that allow students to collect,
record, and store data collected experimentally in the field or classroom for more
accurate results. They can provide quicker and more accurate collection of data,
saving lesson time and giving more accurate results (Osborne & Hennessy, 2003)
while reducing the mechanical aspects of practical work and allowing students to
concentrate on interpreting and analyzing data (McFarlane & Sakellariou, 2002).
Research into the value of MBLs in terms of science learning has produced varying
results. Linn and Hsi (2000) found that students were much better at interpreting
their experimental findings when they were able to use real time data-collecting
strategies. Newton‘s (2000) small-scale qualitative study showed that while there
was a considerable potential contribution of data-logging to learning science, its
successful implementation depended on a number of factors, including the
availability of resources and the skills of the teachers.
2.5.2 ICT and conceptual understanding in science
Linn and Hsi (2000) report on a collaborative project that has investigated
pedagogical issues for science education in classrooms that use ICT and produced a
list of ―pragmatic pedagogical principles‖ for conceptual understanding in science.
The principles were to: encourage students to build on their scientific ideas as they
develop increasingly powerful and useful pragmatic scientific principles; encourage
students to investigate personally relevant problems that revisit their scientific ideas
regularly; scaffold science ideas so that students participate in the inquiry process;
model the scientific process of considering alternative explanations and diagnosing
mistakes; scaffold students‘ feedback to explain their ideas; provide multiple visual
representations from varied media; encourage students to listen and learn from each
other; design social activities to promote productive and respectful interactions;
scaffold groups to design criteria and standards; employ multiple social activity
structures; encourage students to reflect on their scientific ideas and on their own
progress in understanding science; engage students as critics of diverse scientific
40
information; engage students in varied sustained scientific project experiences; and
establish an inquiry process which can be generalized and is suitable for diverse
scientific projects (Linn & Hsi, 2000). One key idea in these ―pragmatic pedagogical
principles‖ is understanding or identifying the thinking processes of students,
especially when using new technologies as ways of learning (Cox et al., 2004).
When trying to understand science concepts and processes, understanding can be
aided by visual modes of presentation. Trindade et al. (2002) developed a 3-D virtual
environment for studying particular aspects of physics as a way of catering for the
different learning modes of their students. Their research suggests that using a
virtual environment may help students with high spatial aptitude to acquire better
conceptual understanding. Osborne and Hennessy (2003) review the impact of ICT
use on the science curriculum, pedagogy and learning and show that there are
various ways of linking ICT use to existing classroom teaching, either supporting or
replacing it (Osborne & Hennessy, 2003). They conclude, however, that evidence of
ICT transforming education is only found in isolated pockets as it is not yet
entrenched in the teaching practice of many science teachers.
2.5.3 ICT and student motivation in science
Trends across developed and developing countries show a drop in interest and takeup of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) subjects
(European Union, 2004; National Science Board, 2008). The TIMSS 2003 study
reported that 16% of South African Grade 8 general science students answered
―disagree‖ to the statement ―I enjoy learning science‖, as did 33% of Australian
students, 49% of Chinese Taipei students, and 62% of Korean students (Martin et al.,
2004). Some researchers are hoping that ICT might provide the motivation required
to keep young students interested in science beyond the primary school years. One
factor attributed to this decline in interest (and achievement) in the STEM subjects is
the change in children and the way they think and learn. This change is brought
about when children grow up with technology in their everyday lives (Jukes & Dosaj,
2006; Prensky, 2001). Today‘s students, those growing up with access to technology
on a daily basis, are referred to as Digital Natives. In OECD countries, this
41
phenomenon of young people who experience access to digital technologies in this
way is almost universal (OECD, 2008). They think and process information
fundamentally differently from the past generation of students, known as Digital
Immigrants. Teachers who have not grown up with technology typically fall into this
group. Students of these teachers are easily bored when work is presented as
―lectures, step-by-step logic and ‗tell-test‘ instruction‖ (Prensky, 2001, p. 3). Using
ICT integrated into the teaching of science may be the only way to motivate this
generation of Digital Native students.
Most teachers report a motivation effect of ICT when teaching science (Betts, 2003;
McFarlane & Friedler, 2003; Mistler-Jackson & Songer, 2000; OECD, 2006, 2008).
In the most recent SITES 2006 study (2008), when science teachers were asked
about their curriculum goals for using ICT, the response ―to increase learning
motivation‖ as a curriculum goal was unanimous across all countries (Law & Chow,
2008). Students may be motivated to learn science because using ICT may give them
opportunities to have more control over their own learning by allowing them to study
the topics they are interested in and that are relevant to their own lives (Osborne &
Collins, 2000). The results from Betts‘ study (2003) suggested that ICT can motivate
students and enhance the quality of learning where its use is tailored to lesson
objectives and the specific needs of the students. McFarlane & Friedler‘s study
(2003) of the motivational effect of portable computers showed a positive effect on
student motivation. However, they caution that despite teachers‘ perceptions about
the motivational effect of ICT it alone cannot sustain the motivation to use
computers. Rather it is the teacher use and integration of ICT into the curriculum
that plays a pivotal role in keeping students motivated (McFarlane & Friedler, 2003).
2.6 Obstacles to successful integration of ICT
When trying to understand the role of ICT in school education, attention should
focus on factors that prevent successful integration of ICT in education. These
obstacles, or barriers, could be related to resources, the skills and levels of training
available to teachers who use ICT, personal beliefs of teachers who use ICT in their
42
teaching, institutional and cultural factors, as well as other factors which may
influence the use of ICT in education.
The summary of research on this topic by Becta suggests four categories of factors:
resource-related; those associated with training, skills, knowledge and computer
experience; attitudinal and personality; institutional and cultural (Becta, 2003).
According to Pelgrum (2001), the highest rated barrier to the use of ICT in teaching
is the lack of resources. In the recent SITES 2006 study (Law et al., 2008), teachers
were asked about the barriers to using ICT in teaching and the results were slightly
different from Pelgrum‘s findings of 2001 (Pelgrum, 2001). Teachers were asked to
categorise their personal perceptions about the possible obstacles to ICT use. Schoolrelated obstacles (including availability of resources both in and out of school, and
lack of flexibility) were rated lowest and teacher-related obstacles (including lack of
skills, knowledge and time) were rated highest (Law & Chow, 2008). Teachers in
South Africa put student-related obstacles (including lack of ICT skills, and lack of
access to ICT outside the school) as high as 70% (the highest score rated).
Time, for both formal training and self-directed exploration features in the literature
as barriers to ICT use (Becta, 2003). Managing ICT in teaching means that teachers
have to find the time to source, test and evaluate software for use in their specific
teaching environment. Cuban et al. (2001) gathered evidence from interviews with
teachers, students and school staff, surveys, and classroom observations that pointed
to the limited time, together with the difficulties in finding suitable training in ICT
use as barriers. In the SITES 2006 study, science teachers in South Africa reported
an attendance at ICT-related professional and technical development activities as low
as 8% (scoring lowest of the 22 countries in the study). It is suggested that the low
attendance is as a result of lack of availability, rather than an unwillingness to attend,
as South African teachers also rated among the highest in ―desire to attend‖ in the
same survey (Law & Chow, 2007).
A significant determinant in a teachers‘ willingness to use ICT is their level of
confidence in using ICT (Pelgrum, 2001). This may be an actual barrier if the teacher
has insufficient training or experience or a perceived barrier as some teachers may
43
carry the perception that computers are complicated and difficult to use
(Drenoyianni & Selwood, 1998; Jakobsdottir, 2001; Molefe, Lemmer, & Smit, 2005)
and hence lack the self-confidence to use ICT. In the data from the SITES 2006
study, South African science teachers rated their own ICT competencies and were
positioned lowest for general ICT competence and second lowest for pedagogical
competence of the 22 countries in the study (Law & Chow, 2008). Science teachers‘
confidence in using ICT in science education should be seen against the backdrop of
the low levels of subject content knowledge and certification. Jita and Ndlalane
(2005) investigated the subject matter knowledge of teachers and teacher leaders
participating in a professional development programme and concluded that the
subject content knowledge of science teachers was inadequate for mastery of these
some science curriculum topics.
2.7 Concluding remarks
A number of technologies have made their way into education. Apart from the
popular word-processing, presentation and spreadsheet tools, a number of tools
specifically designed for teaching, such as the interactive white board, are making
their way into classrooms. In addition, on-line web-based resources are also
becoming increasingly popular for accessing information useful in the classroom
setting. The range of tools and their application for education were presented in
section 2.3. It is argued that a sustained use of technology in education is sufficiently
important to warrant attention in education policy. It is through effective policy
development that ICT can be effectively and efficiently integrated into education in
ways that improves teaching and learning. It is also argued that there is great
potential for teaching and learning when technology is effectively integrated into the
classroom, both as teaching and learning tools and as assessment tools. Many of the
features associated with new technologies hold promise for change in education in
line with the demands of the 21st century. Technology in science education has a
unique role to play in helping to meet the demands of practical work and the
development of conceptual understanding in a conceptually difficult subject. In
summary, the literature supports the integration of technology in education in
general and science education in particular from a variety of different perspectives.
44
CHAPTER THREE
3 The Conceptual Framework
The knowledge base of teaching with technology is often criticised for a lack of theory
and conceptual frameworks to inform and guide research in the field (Angeli, 2005;
Angeli & Valanides, 2005; Mishra & Koehler, 2006; Zhao & Frank, 2003). More
recently, attempts have been made to develop frameworks to assist in this regard.
The pedagogical use of ICT in education has been examined in a number of studies
through a variety of conceptual frameworks. Two of these ways of examining the
pedagogical use of ICT, namely the patterns of ICT use (SITES-M2) and pedagogical
orientations (SITES 2006), are discussed in the first part of this chapter (section 3.1).
The second part of this chapter then discusses the conceptual framework which was
used in this study, namely the Four in Balance Model, formulated to investigate the
value of the pedagogical use of ICT (section 3.2). It provides the lens for this research
which was designed to address the research question: What is the value that using
ICT adds to the teaching and learning of Science when teachers use ICT in a context
of limited resources, typical of a developing country? The last part of the chapter
unpacks one aspect of the Four in Balance Model, teacher expertise, by showing the
development of a more explicit conceptual understanding of teacher expertise when
teaching with technology, the concept of Technological Pedagogical Content
Knowledge (TPCK). The discussion shows how the concept of TPCK (Angeli &
Valanides, 2009) was developed over a number of years, building on previous
concepts such as Content Knowledge (CK), Pedagogical Knowledge (PK), and finally
Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) (Shulman, 1986). The development of these
has led to a better understanding of how to understand teachers‘ use of ICT in their
teaching practice.
45
3.1 Examining pedagogical use of ICT in science
Pedagogical use of ICT has been investigated in a number of studies using different
conceptualizations of pedagogy and of use. The SITES-M2 study has articulated a
framework for patterns of ICT use, and the SITES 2006 study has a particularly
useful conceptualization of pedagogical orientations, both of which were useful for
this study.
3.1.1 Patterns of ICT use (SITES-M2)
As part of understanding the relationship between the use of ICT and classroom
practices, the SITES-M2 study sought to differentiate between various uses of ICT
and their associated patterns of teacher and student practices in the 174 cases from
28 participating countries, including South Africa (Kozma, 2003). The SITES-M2
study focused on innovative pedagogical practices and the analysis focused on codes
generated from the analysis related to teacher practice, student activities, ICT
practices, and the technologies used. These four focus areas were derived from the
activities listed in Table 3.1 (adapted from Kozma, 2003, p. 49).
Table 3.1: ICT activities within four focus areas (from SITES-M2)
TEACHER PRACTICE
STUDENT PRACTICE
ICT PRACTICES
ICT USED
Lecture
Conduct research
Tutor
Laptop
Advise
Search for information
Communicate
LAN
Create Structure
Solve problems
Search for information
e-mail
Design materials
Analyze data
Create products
Web resources
Monitor
Publish results
Collaborate
Productivity tool
Collaborate with students
Create products
Simulate/research
Web design tools
Collaborate with colleagues
Collaborate with others
Monitor
Collaborative environment
Collaborate with outside
Collaborate with outside
Plan
Multimedia
Drill and practice
Assess themselves
Simulations
Pick own tasks
Tutorials
Course management
46
Through a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods, the SITES-M2 study
examined the similarities across cases and across countries to identify patterns of
innovative pedagogical practices. Seven different patterns of practices emerged as a
result of cluster analysis, each of which is summarized in Table 3.2 (adapted from
Ainley, Banks, & Fleming, 2002, p. 77; Quellmalz & Kozma, 2003).
47
Table 3.2: Patterns of Innovative uses of ICT (SITES-M2)
Pattern
Summary of Characteristics of the Cluster
Tool use
A strong emphasis on the extensive use of technology
tools, such as e-mail and productivity tools, to
communicate, to search for information and to create
products. These tools include word processing.
Student
Collaborative
research
These cases were characterized by students working
collaboratively in pairs or groups to conduct research,
less frequently to collect and analyse data. Information
and communication technologies were used to conduct
research or create a presentation on the group’s ideas
or their solution to a problem.
Information
Management
The primary use of information and communication
technologies in this cluster was for the purposes of
searching for – organizing, managing and using –
information for teaching and learning purposes. Some
use of productivity tools was apparent, particularly for
the purposes of presenting information gleaned from
information searches.
Teacher Practices
Student Practices
ICT Use
Students often collaborated
with each other to search for
information and create
products
Students and teachers in this
group were most likely to use
e-mail and other productivity
tools. They used multimedia
tools and web resources. They
used technology to create
products, search for
information, and communicate.
Teachers in this cluster were
most likely to give lectures and
provide structure for students.
They provided advice and
monitored student activities.
They often designed materials.
Students in this cluster were
most likely to collaborate with
other students to conduct
research and analyse data.
They also search for
information and solved
problems
Students and teachers in this
group were most likely to use
Web design tools, multimedia,
e-mail, laptops, and LANs. They
were most likely to use
technology to simulate
research and collaborate. They
also used Web resources and
productivity tools. They used
technology to communicate,
search for information, and
create products
Students in this cluster
were most likely to acquire
new ICT, problem-solving,
and collaboration skills.
Teachers acquired new
pedagogical skills. The
curriculum and class day
was more likely to be
reorganised.
Teachers in this group most often
designed materials and created
structure for students. They often
provided students with advice
and monitored their progress.
They often collaborated with
colleagues.
Students in this cluster were
most likely to search for
information, solve problems,
publish results, and access
their own work and that of
others. They also collaborated
with other students to conduct
research and create products.
Teachers in this group were
most likely to use course
management tools and to use
technology to plan instruction
and monitor student progress.
Teachers and students were
most likely to use Web
resources to search for
information and productivity
tools to create products. They
also used multimedia, LANs,
and email to communicate.
Students were more likely
to acquire ICT skills,
communication and
collaboration skills, and
information handling and
problem solving skills.
Teachers acquired new
pedagogical skills. The
curriculum was more likely
to be reorganised.
48
Combined Outcomes
Pattern
Summary of Characteristics of the Cluster
Teacher Practices
Student Practices
ICT Use
Combined Outcomes
Teacher
Collaboration
Emphasis on teacher collaboration with both students
and other teachers often for the purposes of designing
instructional materials or activities.
Teachers in this cluster were
most likely to collaborate with
colleagues, students, and outside
actors. They also designed
materials, created structure for
students, provided them with
advice, and monitored their
progress.
Students in this group were
most likely to pick their own
tasks. They also collaborate
with each other and others
outside the class to search for
information, created products,
and publish results.
Teachers and students in this
group were most likely to use
technology o create products
and to use simulations. They
also used productivity tools,
multimedia, and email. They
used the Internet to search for
information and communicate
with others.
Teachers acquired new
collaborative skills.
Outside
Communication
Characterized be the tendency for student to make use
of communication technologies such as e-mail, the
Internet, conferencing software or listservs to work
with other students outside of the classroom
environment
Teachers often created structure,
advised students, and monitored
their progress. They also
collaborated with colleagues.
Students in this cluster were
most likely to collaborate with
others outside the class. They
also collaborated with other
students to conduct research,
search for information, create
products, and publish results.
Students and teachers in this
group were most likely to use
collaborative environments
and were amongst the most
frequent email users. They
most often used technology to
communicate. They used Web
resources to search for
information, and they used
productivity tools.
Product creation
The primary use of information technology in this
cluster was to facilitate the design and creation of
digital products using software packages
All teachers in this cluster created
structure and advised students.
Students in this cluster were
most likely to create products.
They also collaborated with
each other to search for
information and publish
results.
Students and teachers in this
group were among those who
most often used technology to
create products. They also used
Web resources to search for
information and used
productivity and multimedia
tools.
Tutorial Projects
Characterized by the use of tutorial or drill-andpractice software to allow students to work
independently, to receive feedback on their
performance and to refine their skills.
Teachers often designed
materials, frequently in
collaboration with colleagues.
Students in this group were
most likely to engage in drill
and practice.
All the students in this group
used tutorial packages.
49
Each of the seven patterns illustrates a different way in which ICT was used to
facilitate learning or instruction in the classroom and was used to focus the analysis
of teacher use of ICT in the three case studies in this research.
3.1.2 Pedagogical orientations (SITES 2006)
Through the three SITES studies, the concept of pedagogical practice paradigms has
evolved to a point of being a useful and valuable way in which to frame other studies
in ICT in education.
Traditional and emerging pedagogical practices paradigms
As a result of the SITES-M1 study, the International Association for the Evaluation of
Educational Achievement (IEA) developed a conceptualization called the ―Emerging
Pedagogical Practices Paradigm‖ (EPPP) (Kozma, 2003; Law et al., 2008; Pelgrum &
Anderson, 1999). This concept of emerging pedagogical practice orientation was
developed to capture the changes occurring in classrooms internationally that align
with what is believed to be learning outcomes for the knowledge society. For the first
SITES module, the traditionally important pedagogical paradigm was established to
encompass the traditionally important pedagogical practice orientation established
in the industrial society (Law et al., 2008; Pelgrum & Anderson, 1999). The SITESM1 study investigated, inter alia, the balance between the two different pedagogical
practice orientations in classrooms internationally. The implications for pedagogy in
the information society different from the industrial society are summarised in Table
3.3:
50
Table 3.3: Pedagogy in the Information Society and in the Industrial Society
Aspect
Less or lower (pedagogy in an
industrial society)
More (pedagogy in the
information society)
Active
Activities prescribed by the teacher
Whole-class instruction
Variation in terms of activities
Programme-determined pace
Activities determined by students
Small groups
Variety of activities
Learner-determined pace
Collaborative
Individual
Homogeneous groups
Likelihood of everyone for him/herself
Working in teams
Heterogeneous groups
Supporting one another
Creative
Reproductive learning
Application of known solutions to
problems
Productive learning
Finding new solutions to problems
Integrative
Linkage between theory and practice
Separate subjects
Discipline based
Individual teachers
Integration of theory and practice
Relationships/connections between
subjects
Thematic
Teams of teachers
Evaluative
Teacher-directed
Summative
Student-directed
Diagnostic
(Voogt, 2003 in Voogt, 2009, p. 326)
Voogt and Pelgrum (2003, p. 83, in Plomp, 2006) summarized these ‗emerging‘
pedagogical practices for the information society as:

The new goals that reflect the demands of the information society imply the need
for students to become competent in information management, communications
and collaboration, and meta-cognition.

Less structured sources of information will become important as learning
materials.

The traditional boundaries between subjects need to be bridged. Content should
not be divided into isolated facts and topics but offered in an integrated way. In
addition, students need to be able to understand relations between concepts
instead of being able simply to reproduce facts.

The current gap between discipline-related content taught in schools and the
application of knowledge in real life also should be bridged. The curriculum
should be centred on authentic problems parallel to those in real world settings.
51

The boundaries between the school and the outside world should fade. It is
expected that students will spend less time in the classroom and the school.
Moreover, instruction in the classroom should move from an approach focused
on teaching 30 children to one focused on meeting the needs of individual
students.
The SITES innovative pedagogical orientation
The SITES-M2 case studies, through their reporting of innovative classroom practice,
focused on innovative pedagogical practices, with evidence that some of these
practices provided students with opportunities to take responsibility for their own
learning, to identify their own learning needs and strategies, and to develop
collaboration, inquiry and communication skills (Kozma, 2003; Law et al., 2008).
From the SITES-M2 study, an important dimension of connectedness with peers and
experts beyond the classroom was identified. There was evidence of students
collaborating with outside peers and experts in their field to create products and
publish results (Law et al., 2008).
When the third module, SITES 2006, was designed, the indicator for the emerging
pedagogical practice orientation was replaced with the more refined indicators of the
connectedness orientation and the lifelong learning orientation (Law et al., 2008).
Table 3.4 summarises the development of terminology in the three studies (Voogt,
2009).
52
Table 3.4: Development of terminology through the three SITES studies, Adapted from (Voogt,
2009)
Study characteristics
Terminology used for
education associated
with the industrial
society
Terminology used for
education associated
with the information
society
SITES M-1
Survey for principals and
technical co-ordinators
Traditionally important
practice paradigm
(traditional pedagogy)
Emergent paradigm
(emerging pedagogy)
SITES M-2
Case studies
—
Innovative pedagogical
practices using technology
(innovative pedagogy)
SITES 2006
Survey for principals,
technical co-ordinators,
and maths and science
teachers
Traditionally important
practice orientation
Innovative practice
orientation (lifelong
learning orientation plus
connectedness orientation)
Voogt and Pelgrum (2003) argue that for many education systems around the world
to adapt to the information society, it is necessary that they substantially change
their curricula so that students are able to develop competencies that are not
addressed in traditional curricula. This means acquiring such key skills as digital
literacy and teamwork, problem-solving, and project management, referred to as
lifelong learning competencies. The concept of lifelong learning as an educational
strategy emerged about three decades ago through the efforts of Organisation for
Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Educational
and Scientific Council (UNESCO) and the Council of Europe (OECD, 2004). It
emerged to challenge the idea that while individuals continue to learn throughout
their lives, formal educational opportunities were only being offered in the early part
of life, typically about 12 years and usually through formal schooling. Lifelong
learning refers to all learning throughout an individual‘s life, not just formal
programmes of adult education (OECD, 2004). The concept, as articulated by the
OECD has four main features:

A systemic view – the lifelong learning framework views the demand for, and
supply of, learning opportunities, as part of a connected system covering the
whole lifecycle and comprising all forms of formal and informal learning.

Centrality of the learner – learning must meet students‘ needs.
53

Motivation to learn – attention must be given to developing the capacity for
‗learning to learn‘ through self-paced and self-directed learning.

Multiple objectives of education policy – a student‘s objectives such as personal
development, knowledge development, economic and social objects, may change
over a lifetime.
There are a number of important socio-economic forces pushing for lifelong learning,
notably the increased pace of globalisation and technological change, the changing
nature of work and the labour market, and the aging populations among them
(OECD, 2004). There is a need in the new global community to continue to upgrade
work and like skills throughout life. Individuals are now more likely to experience
frequent changes in jobs over their working life. For the individual, lifelong learning
emphasizes creativity, initiative, and responsiveness (OECD, 2004). In 2006, the
European Union (EU) outlined eight key competencies for lifelong learning, those
which all individuals need for personal fulfilment and development, active
citizenship, social inclusion and employment (OECD, 2006). They are:
1. Communication in the mother tongue
2. Communication in foreign languages
3. Mathematical competence and basic competencies in science and technology
4. Digital competence
5. Learning to learn
6. Social and civic competencies
7. Sense of initiative and entrepreneurship
8. Cultural awareness and expression.
Each of these is considered to be equally important because of its contribution to a
successful life in a knowledge society. Lifelong learning as an emerging educational
paradigm is ambitious and can only realistically be achieved over a long period of
time. In South Africa, the concept has been adopted both at a political and policy
level. In defining e-Education, the White Paper (DoE, 2004b) articulates the
challenges of an education system that equips people with the knowledge, skills,
ideas and values needed for lifelong learning. The DoE believes that the development
54
in ICT in education creates access to learning opportunities, redresses inequalities,
improves the quality of learning and teaching, and delivers lifelong learning (DoE,
2004b). ICT in education is seen by many countries, including South Africa, as
among the most effective ways of increasing and widening participation in lifelong
learning, while keeping down costs to an affordable level.
3.2 Conceptual framework for this study
The Dutch have been monitoring ICT use for some time to see where and how
computers are used in their primary and secondary schools (Kennisnet, 2009). They
are interested in finding out what works as regards ICT in schools, and perhaps more
importantly, why it works. The conceptual framework used in this study is informed
by the Four in Balance Model, a scientific approach to the introduction of ICT in
education (Kennisnet, 2009) that is used in the Dutch schools. The model proposes
that the effective long-term use of ICT in teaching requires the balanced deployment
of four basic elements: vision (overall view), expertise, digital learning materials,
and ICT infrastructure. Two types of building blocks: educational software and ICT
infrastructure, comprise the technical building blocks, while vision and staff
competencies comprise the social building blocks (Plomp, 2006). When these four
elements are in balance, ICT adds value to the teaching and learning process. The
following is a brief explanation of these four basic elements (Kennisnet, 2009, p. 12):
• Vision: the school‘s view of what constitutes good teaching and how the school
aims to achieve it. This involves the school‘s objectives, the role of the teachers and
students, the actual teaching content, and the materials that the school uses. The
vision adopted by the school‘s managers and teaching staff determines both the
school‘s policy and the design and organisation of its teaching.
• Expertise: teachers and students need to have sufficient knowledge and skills in
order to utilise ICT to achieve educational objectives. This involves not only basic ICT
skills such as the ability to operate a computer, but pedagogical ICT skills are also
necessary if ICT is to be used to help design and organise learning processes. These
additional skills therefore specifically concern the use of ICT to achieve educational
objectives.
55
• Digital learning materials: all digital educational content–both formal and
informal–constitutes digital learning material. This includes computer programmes.
• ICT infrastructure: the availability and quality of computers, networks, and
Internet connections constitute infrastructure facilities. In addition to this traditional
definition, electronic learning environments and the management and maintenance
of the school‘s ICT facilities are also taken to be part of the ICT infrastructure.
Although teachers play a role in this, individual teachers cannot create this cohesion
all by themselves, so collaboration and support from the school‘s managers
(Principals and Heads of Department) is necessary. It is up to these managers to
provide leadership in this process and create conditions for support and
collaboration with other professionals. Figure 3.1 shows the basic elements as they
relate to one another.
Figure 3.1: Basic Elements of the Four in Balance Model (Kennisnet, 2009, p. 13)
The Four in Balance Model provided a starting point for exploring and
understanding ICT use South African teachers, albeit that the context of teaching and
learning is significantly different. Amongst other things, the four aspects presented
in the model (vision, expertise, digital learning materials, and ICT infrastructure), as
well as the other components, were examined by using the data from the South
African science teachers collected using the SITES 2006 teacher questionnaire,
56
together with the qualitative data collected from three science teachers in the case
studies. The Four in Balance Model was developed and is used to monitor the value
of ICT use in the Netherlands, a developed country with a high level of ICT
infrastructure in schools. South Africa provides a significantly different context, one
in which the majority of teachers teach in classrooms with limited infrastructural and
technology resources (discussed in section 1.2.3). There is no equivalent model for
examining the value of ICT in a developing country context. For this reason, the Four
in Balance Model provided a good starting point for this study. Part of the
intellectual contribution of this study is the examination of the robustness of the
Four in Balance Model, and the subsequent adjustment of the model to make it of
use in a developing country context such as South Africa. This contribution is
discussed in the Chapter 8.
3.3 Teacher expertise as Technological Pedagogical Content
Knowledge
One aspect of the Four in Balance Model was of particular importance to this study,
that of teacher expertise. Teacher expertise in ICT use was a theme that emerged
through the in-depth case studies as an important aspect of teacher use of ICT. The
model articulates teacher expertise as the knowledge and skills needed for the
pedagogical use of ICT. Mishra and Koehlar (2006) argue that the pedagogical use
technology requires the development of a complex form of knowledge that they refer
to as Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK). TPCK attempts to
capture some of the essential qualities and complexity of teacher knowledge required
to integrate ICT in teaching and is thus more explicit that the use of expertise
presented in the Four in Balance Model. The development of their concept TPCK is
discussed in the following section.
3.3.1 Pedagogical Content Knowledge
Within the context of teaching policy, teacher education, and educational reform,
Shulman has been credited with advancing thinking about teacher knowledge,
through his model of Pedagogical Reasoning (Shulman, 1987) which provides a
detailed description of educational processes that can also provide a basis for
57
examining the issues and problems associated with teaching and learning ICT
(Webb, 2002). Shulman‘s (1987) model focuses on the processes involved in
teaching, including the transformation of knowledge so that it can be taught.
Through his research with experienced and novice teachers‘ teaching practices,
Shulman identified the sources, suggested outlines of the teacher knowledge-base,
and identified the types of teacher knowledge and skills that would be needed by
teachers in order to teach well. Schulman (1987) argues that teaching is often
trivialised and the complexities often ignored, and proposes that there exists an
elaborate knowledge base for teaching.
This formulation of a teacher‘s capacity to teach, in its simplest articulation, requires
that the teacher understand what is to be learnt and how it is to be taught (Shulman,
1987). Teaching then proceeds through a series of activities in which students are
given specific instructions and opportunities to learn. The learning, however,
ultimately remains the responsibility of the student. A teachers‘ knowledge base
would at least fall into the following categories: content knowledge; general
pedagogical knowledge (with special reference to those broad principals and
strategies of classroom strategies of classroom management and organisation that
appear to transcend subject matter); curriculum knowledge (with particular grasp of
the materials and programmes that serve as ‗tools for the trade‘ for teachers);
pedagogical content knowledge (that special combination of content and pedagogy
that is uniquely the territory of teachers, their own special form of professional
understanding); knowledge of students and of their characteristics; knowledge of
educational contexts; knowledge of educational ends, purposes, and values, and
their philosophical and historical grounds (Shulman, 1987, p. 8).
Shulman (Shulman, 1987) considers pedagogical content knowledge of special
interest because it identifies the special body of knowledge for teaching and
represents the coming together of content and pedagogy into an understanding of
how particular topics are organised and presented for effective teaching. Other
researchers have adopted the term pedagogical content knowledge and defined it for
particular subjects such as science. For example Linn and Hsi (2000) state that:
58
Pedagogical content knowledge refers to knowledge about a topic that
enables improved teaching of that discipline. In science such knowledge
involves an understanding of the ideas students bring to class, the context
in which students apply their science knowledge, and the multiple models
of the same topic used by students and experts in the various contexts of
application (Linn & Hsi, 2000, p. 337).
Shulman (1987) identifies four sources of the teaching knowledge base: scholarship
in content disciplines; materials and setting of the institutionalized educational
process (such as curricula, textbooks, school organisations); research on schooling,
social organisations, human learning, teaching and development, together with the
other social and cultural phenomena that affect what teachers can do; and the
wisdom of practice. He used his research with student-teachers to understand the
complex process of teaching through the processes of pedagogical reasoning and
action. He emphasized the process of teaching as comprehension and reasoning, and
as transformation and reflection (Shulman, 1987), identifying aspects of pedagogical
reasoning when he put forward his Model of Pedagogical Reasoning and Action
(Shulman, 1987, p. 15). The model, summarised in brief, includes aspects of
pedagogical reasoning such as: Comprehension (the need to understand before being
able to teach); Transformation (the transformation of ideas in some way before being
taught); Instruction (observable acts of teaching); Evaluation (checking for
understanding and misunderstanding); Reflection (reflection on teaching and
learning that has occurred); and New Comprehension (comprehension adjusted
based on reflections).
3.3.2 Technology integrated pedagogy
Shulman (1986) did not explicitly discuss technology and its relation to content,
pedagogy and students, and thus his original concept PCK did not specifically explain
how teachers use the affordances of technology to transform content and pedagogy
for students (Angeli & Valanides, 2009). Mishra and Koehler (2006) argued that
Shulman‘s construct of PCK needed to be revisited and proposed a conceptual
framework for educational technology by building on his formulation of ‗‗pedagogical
content knowledge‘‘ and extending it to the domain of teachers integrating
technology into their teaching practice. The basis for the framework developed by
59
Mishra and Koehler (2006) is the understanding that teaching is a highly complex
activity, drawing on many different types of knowledge articulated by Shulman in his
framework. There are clearly many knowledge systems that are fundamental to
teaching, including knowledge of student thinking and learning, and knowledge of
subject matter. Shulman advanced the argument by suggesting that PCK lies at the
intersection of content and pedagogy. Successful teachers have to confront both
issues (content and pedagogy) simultaneously and PCK is a conception now widely
used in the area of science education (Hewson & Hewson, 1988; National Science
Teachers Association, 2003) and valued for teacher education programmes. A
diagrammatic representation of Shulman‘s PCK is shown in Figure 3.2.
Pedagogical Content Knowledge
CK
PCK
PK
Figure 3.2: Diagrammatic representation of Shulman’s conceptualization of PCK
Although Shulman did not discuss technology and its relation to pedagogy, Mishra
and Koehler (2006) suggest that it was not that he thought technology to be
unimportant, rather the sorts of technologies present when he developed his
framework, such as text books, overhead projectors, and typewriters, were
commonplace in the classroom so did not receive special attention. The presence of
these technologies in classrooms was standardised and fairly stable, and teachers
could focus on content and pedagogy in the assurance that the context would not
change too dramatically over their teaching career. However, since the 1980s a new
range of digital technologies has become available, namely information and
communication technologies, which have come to the forefront of educational
discourse. The rapid evolution of these technologies means that they cannot be easily
60
overlooked, and teachers will frequently have to learn new techniques and skills as
old ones become obsolete. Technology has become an important aspect of teacher
knowledge.
In the same way that knowledge of content and knowledge of pedagogy were
considered separate aspects of teacher knowledge prior to Shulman‘s work,
knowledge of technology is often considered to be separate from knowledge and
pedagogy (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). Technology, according to Mishra and Koehler
(2006) is viewed as constituting a separate set of knowledge and skills that has to be
learned and the relationship between these skills is commonly considered to be
relatively simple to acquire and implement. In their opinion, the relationship
between content, pedagogy, and technology should be seen as complex and nuanced.
Mishra and Koehler (2006) have developed a conceptual framework that emphasises
the connections, interactions, affordances, and constraints between and among
content, pedagogy, and technology. Understanding all three of these aspects of
teacher knowledge is important for developing good teaching. Mishra and Koehler‘s
framework of teacher knowledge for technology integration emphasises the complex
interplay of these three parts of knowledge. Other scholars have argued that
knowledge about technology cannot be treated as content-free, and that good
teaching requires and understanding of how it relates to the pedagogy of content.
What sets their work apart from others is their specific articulation of the
relationships between content, pedagogy and technology (Mishra & Koehler, 2006),
a relationship discussed further in the following section.
Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge
Mishra and Koehler (2006) look at the three components in pairs: pedagogical
content knowledge (PCK); technological content knowledge (TCK); and technological
pedagogical knowledge (TPK). Finally, all three are taken together in a developing
concept TPCK, a comprehensive term that has prevailed in current literature. They
suggest three pairs of knowledge intersection and one triad as the elements and
relationships of knowledge that they suggest are important in their framework.
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Content knowledge (CK) as articulated in Shulman‘s work (1986) is knowledge about
the actual subject matter that is to be learned or taught. Clearly, teachers must know
and understand the discipline that they teach, including knowledge of central facts,
concepts, theories, and procedures within a given field; knowledge of explanatory
frameworks that organize and connect ideas; and knowledge of the rules of evidence
and proof. Teachers must also understand the nature of knowledge and inquiry in
different fields. Pedagogical knowledge (PK) is deep knowledge about the processes
and practices or methods of teaching and learning and how they encompass, among
other things, overall educational purposes, values, and aims (Mishra & Koehler,
2006). This is a generic form of knowledge that is involved in all issues of student
learning, classroom management, lesson plan development and implementation, and
student evaluation. It includes knowledge about techniques or methods to be used in
the classroom; the nature of the target audience; and strategies for evaluating
student understanding. A teacher with deep pedagogical knowledge understands how
students construct knowledge, acquire skills, and develop habits of mind and positive
dispositions toward learning. As such, pedagogical knowledge requires an
understanding of cognitive, social, and developmental theories of learning and how
they apply to students in their classroom (Mishra & Koehler, 2006).
Mishra and Koehler‘s (2006) idea of pedagogical content knowledge is consistent
with, and similar to, Shulman‘s idea of knowledge of pedagogy that is applicable to
the teaching of specific content. This knowledge includes knowing what teaching
approaches fit the content and knowing how elements of the content can be arranged
for better teaching. PCK is concerned with the representation and formulation of
concepts, pedagogical techniques, knowing what makes concepts difficult or easy to
learn, knowledge of students‘ prior knowledge, and theories of epistemology. It also
involves knowledge of teaching strategies that incorporate appropriate conceptual
representations in order to address students‘ difficulties and misconceptions and
promote meaningful understanding.
Technology knowledge (TK) is knowledge about standard technologies, such as
books, chalk and blackboard, and more advanced technologies, such as the Internet
and digital video (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). This involves the skills required to
62
operate particular technologies. In the case of digital technologies, it includes
knowledge of operating systems and computer hardware, and the ability to use
standard sets of software tools such as word processors, spreadsheets, browsers, and
e-mail. TK includes, amongst others, knowledge of how to install and remove
peripheral devices and software programs, and create and archive documents. Since
technology is continually changing, the nature of TK should also shift with time. The
ability to learn and adapt to new technologies irrespective of what the specific
technologies are is important.
Technological content knowledge (TCK) is knowledge about the way in which
technology and content are equally related (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). Although
technology constrains the kinds of representations possible, newer technologies often
afford newer and more varied representations and greater flexibility in navigating
these representations. Teachers need to know not just the subject matter they teach
but also the manner in which the subject matter can be changed by the application of
technology.
Technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK) is knowledge of the existence,
components, and capabilities of various technologies as they are used in teaching and
learning settings, and on the other hand, knowing how teaching might change as the
result of using particular technologies (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). This might include
an understanding that a range of tools exists for a particular task, the ability to
choose a tool based on its fitness, strategies for using the tool‘s affordances, and
knowledge of pedagogical strategies and the ability to apply those strategies for use
of technologies.
TPCK is a developing form of knowledge that goes beyond all three components,
content, pedagogy, and technology (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). This knowledge is
different from knowledge of a disciplinary or technology expert and also from the
general pedagogical knowledge shared by teachers across disciplines. Using Mishra
and Koehler‘s (2006) model, TPCK is the basis of good teaching with technology and
requires an understanding of the representation of concepts using technologies;
pedagogical techniques that use technologies in constructive ways to teach content;
knowledge of what makes concepts difficult or easy to learn and how technology can
63
help redress some of the problems that students face; knowledge of students‘ prior
knowledge and theories of epistemology; and knowledge of how technologies can be
used to build on existing knowledge and to develop new epistemologies or strengthen
old ones. TPCK is represented graphically in Figure 3.3 (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p.
1025).
Pedagogical Content
Knowledge
CK
Technological Content
Knowledge
PK
TK
TPCK
Technological Pedagogical
Knowledge
Figure 3.3: Diagrammatic representation of TPCK (Mishra & Koehler, 2006, p. 1025)
The central argument of the TPCK framework presented by Mishra and Koehler
(2006) is that there is no single technological solution that applies for every teacher.
Teachers should rather draw on a particular technology solution for their specific
context and then adjust it to develop their own nuanced understanding of complex
relationships between technology, content, and pedagogy. They should then develop
their own strategies appropriate to their classroom context.
3.4 Concluding remarks
The field of ICT in education is anchored in theories of pedagogy (PCK) and the more
recent technology integrated pedagogy (TPCK). This chapter provided a review of the
some of those theories, showing how the concepts have developed over time. It also
gives a summary of the Four in Balance Model used in this study to understand and
64
ascertain the value that the pedagogical use of ICT in South African schools adds.
Chapter Four discusses the mixed methods research design for the study as well as
the particular methods of collecting both the quantitative and qualitative data for this
study to answer the main research question (section 1.3).
65
CHAPTER FOUR
4 Research Design and Methods
This research was designed to answer the main research question: What is the value
that using ICT adds to the teaching and learning of Science when teachers use ICT
in a context of limited resources, typical of a developing country? This chapter
provides an argument for my pragmatic approach to the particular research design
(section 4.2), for my choice of a mixed methods approach to collecting data to answer
my research question (section 4.3), for how the SITES 2006 survey data was used to
understand the landscape of ICT use in South Africa science classrooms (section 4.4),
and for the selection of three cases to gain a more in-depth understanding of how
and why teachers are using ICT (section 4.5). This chapter also outlines the specific
research methods including the specific instruments chosen for the different phases
of the research, the sort of data that each instrument allowed me to gather, and how
that data was managed and analysed. Where appropriate, the limitations inherent in
this particular research design and choice of data collection strategies, as well as
factors which enhance the study‘s credibility and trustworthiness are discussed.
4.1 Research assumptions
Personal philosophical assumptions influence a researchers stance towards the
nature of reality, how a researcher knows what s/he knows, the role of values in the
research, the language of the research, and the methods chosen in the research
process (Creswell, 2007). I came to this study with a set of beliefs, assumptions, and
perspectives about the nature of teaching and learning, particularly of science, and
the use in it of ICT, all of which influenced what I chose to study, the research design,
and data collection methods. The perspectives on teaching and learning and science
education developed through many years of teaching school science, working as a
teacher educator, and developing materials for use by science teachers in their
classrooms. These perspectives were sharpened by following debates in the literature
66
on learning (Bransford et al., 2000; Driver, 1990, 1994; Driver, Asoko, Leach,
Mortimer, & Scott, 1994) and through participation in academic conferences. My
perspectives developed more recently through my work with the data on science
teachers‘ pedagogical orientations in the SITES 2006 study as part of my recent
employment, and my attendance at the IEA International Conference (Taiwan,
2008), and the e-learning in Africa Conference (Senegal, 2009). Some of my
personal perspectives informed by current research literature on the topic and
relevant to this study are:

Teachers‘ pedagogies and pedagogical reasoning influence their pedagogical use
of ICT. This is a perspective in line with the SITES 2006 study and had an
influence on my choice of research focus. This study is grounded on a view that
without a good understanding of how learning occurs, it would be difficult for a
teacher to use technology effectively to support the learning process. This
assumption was explored in depth in this study and one of the research
conclusions presented in the final chapter supports it.

ICT in itself does not support learning but only when it is integrated into a
learning environment is the full potential realized. This is also a perspective in
line with the SITES 2006 study.
4.2 Pragmatism as a research paradigm
The research design process in social science research begins with philosophical
assumptions, and is further shaped by the researcher‘s inquiry paradigm (Denzin &
Lincoln, 2003; Mertens, 1998) or worldview (Creswell, 2007). As such, researchers
bring their own worldviews or sets of beliefs to the particular project (Guba, 1990).
Two original paradigms defined by Lincoln and Guba (2003), positivism and
naturalistic inquiry (later known as constructivism) were expanded in their later
work to five paradigms, which also included critical theory, post-positivism, and
participatory research (Denzin & Lincoln, 2003). Creswell (2009) adopted the term
―worldview‖ rather than ―paradigm‖ to define the basic set of beliefs that guide the
research. It defines the general orientation of the world and the nature of the
research that the author of the research hold (Creswell, 2009, p. 6). Creswell suggests
67
four possible worldviews: positivism, constructivism, advocacy and participatory,
and pragmatism (Creswell, 2007, 2009).
The legitimacy of mixing worldviews in the same study, namely the more positivist
view of being able to objectively measure student ability (quantitative), and the more
constructivist worldview of a more subjective assessment of reality through the lens
of the researcher (qualitative), formed the basis of research debates through to the
early 1990s. The objective reality seemed to be incompatible with the subjective
reality. Since then, pragmatism has arisen as a worldview different from worldviews
held by positivists or constructivists. Pragmatists, such as myself, believe
philosophically in selecting the research method that works for a particular research
problem (Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003, 2009). Pragmatism, the worldview which
shaped the research design for this study, allowed me to focus on the actions,
situations, and consequences of the inquiry (Creswell, 2007). Pragmatism allows
freedom of choice when choosing methods, techniques and procedures of research to
best answer the research question (Cherryholmes, 1992), and to look to a mixed
methods approach when collecting and analysing data, rather than focusing on one
single approach, ether quantitative or qualitative. This view is gaining support
(Maxcy, 2003; Tashakkori & Teddlie, 2003) with an argument for a pragmatic
approach as a popular guiding paradigm in social science research methods. It was
particularly appropriate to use of variety of research methods to understand broadly
how teachers use ICT, why they use it in the ways they do, and what value this use
adds to teaching and learning.
4.3 Mixed methods as the research design
As a pragmatic researcher, I focused on 'what' I wanted to know, and 'how' I was
going to find out (Cherryholmes, 1992). The design was influenced by the main
research question: What is the value that using ICT adds to the teaching and
learning of Science when teachers use ICT in a context of limited resources, typical
of a developing country? In this section I argue for a mixed methods approach,
allowing for an appreciation of the broad trends that the quantitative data can
68
provide (numbers) as well as the individual experiences of teachers (words) that
emerge from the qualitative data (Mason, 2006).
The initial interest in mixing forms of quantitative data collection can be traced back
to the late 1950s, but it was only since the 1970s that there emerged a real interest in
collecting both quantitative and qualitative data for the same research question
(Creswell, 2002). Since the 1980s there has been a growing acceptance of combining
worldviews and methods and the interest in mixed methods procedures is rapidly
growing to address complex questions. However, it is only since the early 1990s that
there has been widespread support for a distinct mixed methods design (Creswell,
2002), a design suitable to answer the research question for this study, and argued in
this chapter.
The statistical SITES 2006 survey was an efficient way of collecting a large amount of
data on ICT use from a large sample of South African Grade 8 science teachers. The
data from the SITES 2006 survey was used to contribute to a landscape view of
teachers‘ use of ICT in science classrooms in South Africa. The data collected from
the SITES 2006 survey is valuable but the reliability of the data, as in all surveys,
depends on the teachers‘ motivation and ability to respond accurately to the
questions asked in the Teacher Questionnaire. Some teachers may not have been
motivated to give entirely accurate answers, and may more likely have been
motivated to give answers that present themselves in a favourable light. My initial
interaction with teachers who had completed the SITES 2006 Teacher Questionnaire
suggested to me that this might be the case. Credibility was added to the SITES 2006
findings by a more in-depth exploration of teachers‘ use of ICT in their classroom or
computer room through the case studies. It was by visiting the classrooms, speaking
to the teachers and hearing their stories about practice that I better understood what
it meant to be teaching science to students using ICT in South African classrooms.
This justified my decision to integrate quantitative data from a survey with
qualitative data from three case studies.
An inquiry of this nature should guard against presenting a one-sided view of a
particular phenomenon. This was done by ensuring triangulation in data collection.
Triangulation, a term originally drawn from naval military science, is now applied to
69
research and allows researchers to improve their inquiries by collecting and
integrating different kinds of data bearing on the same phenomenon (Creswell,
2002; Denzin & Lincoln, 2003). Collecting survey interview, observation, field notes,
and document data allowed me to combine the strengths of one kind of data
collection method to counterbalance the weaknesses of another. A survey, for
example, can provide generalizable results while a case study can reveal the teachers‘
point of view not captured through a questionnaire. Triangulation thus provides a
strong case for a mixed methods design.
Data collection and analysis for this study
There are many different conceptions about mixed methods as a choice of research
and the data collection procedures and analysis for such a design. My personal
conception is influenced by the argument suggesting that we should think in terms of
‗meshing‘ or ‗linking‘ methods (Mason, 2006). Mason makes a convincing argument
for thinking in terms of multi-dimensional research strategies that transcend the socalled qualitative-quantitative divide, arguing that mixing methods allows the
researcher to think laterally. Mixing methods in this study helped to supersede the
micro-macro dichotomy and integrate different forms of data and knowledge.
The SITES 2006 data was collected 2006, a year before this research study was
conceptualised. The broad focus area of SITES 2006 ―pedagogy and ICT use‖
provided a conceptual starting point for this study and helped to focus the main
research question (Law et al., 2008). Although the SITES 2006 study was designed
for a different purpose, the data available was suitable to be used in answering the
research question pertaining to this study. The mixed methods design, or two-phase
model of this study, consisted of a sequential collection of quantitative and
qualitative data, but a concurrent analysis of the two types of data. The concurrent
analysis of the two forms of data meant that themes which emerged from the analysis
of the case studies influenced the selection of the relevant SITES 2006 questionnaire
data, and vice versa. I was able to integrate the qualitative and quantitative data and
capture the best of both sources of information (Creswell, 2002), using an in-depth
qualitative exploration together with descriptive statistics and a secondary analysis.
70
This two-phase model is typically labour-intensive and time-consuming. It was made
possible in the limited time period of this study because the secondary statistical
analysis of the South African data presented in the study was performed using the
quantitative data already collected in the international SITES 2006 study. One key
aspect supporting the choice of this particular design was that while there is
sophisticated secondary analysis using the survey data collected in the SITES 2006
study, as well as some reporting of individual cases of ICT use in South African
schools, there has yet to be a linking of a qualitative understanding with the
quantitative data of teachers using ICT in science education in South Africa in a
mixed methods study.
The sections which follow describe and discuss the collection and analysis strategies
for the quantitative survey data, followed by that for the qualitative case study data.
4.4 SITES 2006
The SITES 2006 database formed the basis for the quantitative data used in my
study. The IEA is vastly experienced at large international survey studies with
student achievement surveys such as the Progress in International Reading Literacy
Study (PIRLS) (Howie et al., 2007) and TIMSS (Reddy, 2006), both of which
included South Africa. Using the SITES 2006 data generated from the SITES 2006
teacher questionnaire allowed me to access high-quality data about ICT-use in South
African science classrooms on a scale that I could not hope to replicate first-hand.
The technical expertise of the IEA DPC in developing good surveys and datasets
means that the data presented in this study is of a high quality and available at no
cost. While my research questions and conceptual framework are different from
those in the SITES 2006 study, the overall purpose of the SITES 2006 study is
similar, making my use of the data valid and reliable.
Principal, teacher, and technical coordinator questionnaires were taken to a sample
of 500 schools in South Africa (section 4.4.1), and just over 600 science teacher
questionnaires were returned. In all cases, missing data was excluded before
analysis. In all of the education systems in the study except South Africa, the
percentage of schools with computers for Grade 8 students was between 95% and
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100% (Law et al., 2008). South Africa reported the lowest percentage access of 38%.
An underlying assumption of the SITES 2006 study was that teachers‘ decisions on
what ICT to use in their teaching and how to make use of it depends on the nature of
the subject, in this case science, and on the characteristics of the students in their
class (Law, 2009). Hence, in designing the questionnaire, it was considered
important that when teachers answer the questions they think specifically about a
single Grade 8 science class in which they used ICT to teach science, the target class.
The low ICT access in South African science classes made selecting the target class
and completing the questionnaire inappropriate in many instances, and should be
considered a limitation in the data presented in Chapters 5-7.
4.4.1 Sampling for SITES 2006
The school population for the SITES 2006 study was defined as all schools where
students are enrolled in the grade that represents the eighth year of learning. In the
case of South Africa, this was Grade 8. If a school did not have a Grade 8 science
class, it was excluded from the study sample. The science teacher target population
for the SITES 2006 study was defined as all teachers teaching science (or natural
science in the case of South African teachers) to Grade 8 students.
While all participating education systems were encouraged to provide complete
national coverage in their target population, the research team at the Data Processing
Centre (DPC) recognised that political, organisation, and/or operational reasons
could make it extremely difficult for some systems like South Africa to meet this
objective. For this reason participating systems were permitted to remove a
geographical region, an educational sub-system, or even a language group. In the
case of South Africa, it was well known that access to ICT in schools was limited and
not uniform across the country and the NRC requested that while all nine provinces
are included in the South African data base, the sample be weighted more heavily in
the two provinces Gauteng Province and the Western Cape. These two provinces
were more likely to have a greater percentage of computer use in school than other
provinces as each of these had well established ICT in education programmes,
Gauteng Online in Gauteng Province (GautengOnline, 2003), and the Khanya Project
in the Western Cape (Khanya, 2001). South Africa also requested that the very small
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farm schools be excluded from the sample as they were geographically inaccessible,
typically extremely small in size, and unlikely to have access to electricity, thus
making ICT use almost impossible in this group of schools.
For international surveys, first a sample of schools is selected from a complete list of
schools containing the population of interest i.e. Grade 8 science teachers. In South
Africa, this list of about 8000 schools was compiled from the Education Management
Information System (EMIS) database (DoE, 2004a) and the National database on
schools as at the time of the survey, the DoE did not have a single reliable database
with all ICT using schools. Typically a simple random sample of students, classes or
teachers is drawn from the selected schools in a two-stage sampling process. Broadly
speaking, schools can be selected with equal or unequal probabilities. For the SITES
2006 study, selecting schools with equal probability would have given every school
the same chance to be included in the survey. However, because SITES 2006 selected
a small number of teachers within sampled schools, selecting those with equal
probability would have generated a large variability in the selection probability of the
teachers. Within a sampled school, the probability of selection of a teacher at a school
with 20 science teachers would be five times smaller than the probability of selection
of a teacher in a school with four science teachers. This sort of variability in the
probabilities results in less accurate estimates of statistics for the intended target
population i.e. the teachers.
As a solution to the limited accuracy of the simple two-step sampling process, the
SITES 2006 study made use of a probability proportional to size (PPS) design
(Carstens & Pelgrum, 2009), which made a school with 20 science teachers five times
more likely to be selected than one with four science teachers. But within a sampled
school, the probability of a teacher being selected is inversely proportional to the
number of teachers. Therefore, selecting schools with probabilities proportional to
their size and selecting a fixed number of teachers with equal probabilities within
sampled schools minimizes the variability of the total selection probability of the
teachers.
A PPS design would be appropriate for SITES 2006 if the project focused on the
teacher population alone. However, because SITES 2006 collected and reported data
73
at two levels, school and teacher, a PPS sample design would have generated a large
variability of the school selection probability and, consequently, a large and
undesirable, variability of the school weights.
To meet the conflicting requirements of a school survey and a teacher survey, the
SITES 2006 research team implemented a sample design that involved the following:

Stratifying the school sample frame according to the school size (very large,
large, medium, small, very small)

Selecting, within an explicit school-size stratum, schools with an equal
probability of selection

Selecting, within sample schools, teachers with an equal probability of selection.
A more detailed explanation of the sampling design can be found in the SITES 2006
Technical Report (Appendix D) (Carstens & Pelgrum, 2009).
4.4.2 The SITES 2006 teacher questionnaire
The target population for the SITES 2006 study was the school populations (through
a principal questionnaire and a technical coordinator questionnaire), and the teacher
populations (through a teacher questionnaire) (Carstens & Pelgrum, 2009). Of the
three instruments developed for the SITES 2006 study, only the data generated
through the Teacher Questionnaire was used for this study. The SITES 2006 teacher
questionnaire (Appendix A) was divided into eight parts, each focusing on different
aspects of ICT use:
Part I: Information about the Target Class (questions 1-7)
Part II: Curriculum Goals (question 8)
Part III: Teacher Practice (questions 9-15)
Part IV: Student Practice (question 16)
Part V: Learning Resources and Tools (question 17)
Part VI: Impact of ICT Use (questions 18-20)
Part VII: Information about You and Your School (questions 21-36)
Part VIII: Specific Pedagogical Practice that Uses ICT (questions 37-41).
74
Information generated through this questionnaire was used to support the data
gathered in the case studied where relevant and applicable (section 4.5). Not all
questions were included as data. In total, the SITES 2006 South African sample
contained 500 schools. The number of South African science teachers who
participated in SITES 2006 was 622.
4.4.3 Analysis strategies for SITES 2006
To support and promote secondary analyses, the IEA made the SITES 2006
international database and accompanying Analyser User Guide (Appendix C)
available to researchers, analysts, and public users (Brese & Carstens, 2009). The
IEA IDB Analyser was developed by the IEA Data Processing and Research Center
(IEA DPC). It is a stand-alone software package that operates in conjunction with the
Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS, 2008). The IEA IDB Analyzer
enables users to combine SPSS data files from IEA‘s SITES 2006 study and to
conduct analyses using SPSS without actually writing syntax code. The IEA IDB
Analyzer generates SPSS syntax that takes into account information from the
sampling design in the computation of statistics and their standard errors.
The IEA IDB Analyzer consists of two modules, the merge module and the analysis
module, which are executed as independent applications. The merge module is used
to create analysis datasets by combining data files of different types and from
different education systems, and selecting subsets of variables for analysis. The
merge module was not used for any analysis in this study as only the South African
dataset was accessed. It was not necessary to merge this data with that collected from
any other countries. The analysis module provides procedures for computing various
statistics and their standard errors for variables of interest. These procedures were
applied for the South African education system and for specific subgroups within it10.
For a more detailed explanation of how to use the and the sorts of analyses possible using the IDB
Analyser, refer to the IDB Analyser User Guide (Brese & Carstens, 2009) in Appendix C.
10
75
4.4.4 The SITES 2006 sub-sample used for this study
Of the 500 South African schools sampled in the SITES 2006 study, 267 schools were
selected as those which best represented the developing country context (discussed
in detail in chapter 1), and make up the majority of schools in South Africa. These
were selected by sorting the data to remove those schools which would be considered
well resourced and serving the middle to upper income population in the country and
those which would be considered very poor and lacking adequate infrastructural
resources to successfully integrate ICT in teaching and learning. In summary, the
well resourced schools were those which had good infrastructural resources such as a
swimming pool and/or tennis court. The very poor schools were those which had no
access to running water and/or electricity, and in addition had no computers
available for instruction.
The group of teachers in the 267 schools sample, discussed above, consisted of 367
science teachers. The majority were in the age group 30-39 (42%) with few below 25
or above 60. The gender split was almost equal with 51% of the teachers‘ being male.
About half of the teachers had a teaching diploma, less than 5% had only a high
school certificate, and just over 13% had a Master‘s degree or higher. Less than 19%
had a bachelor‘s degree in science and nearly 90% had a teaching certificate. The
greatest portion of teachers (41%) had between 10 and 19 years of teaching
experience. Just over 53% responded that they had access to a computer at home.
More than 57% of those who did have a computer at home reported that they used it
for teaching related activities and just over 26% reported that the computer at home
had access to the Internet.
According to the data gathered from the 367 South African science teachers selected
for this study, the average class size was just over 6511, and nearly 90% of those
classes were made up of a mix of boys and girls. More than 95% of those classes were
The figure is probably inflated as 29 of the teachers reported class sizes of 100 or more. While in the
South African context this may be possible, it may also be a result of teachers misinterpreting the
question and giving the number of learners in the Grade 8 group rather than in the individual target
class.
11
76
academic as opposed to vocational. Nearly 74% of the schools reported that
absenteeism was low at less than 5% per day, while just over 2% reported that more
than 20% of the students were absent each day. Nearly 30% of the classes had more
than 90% of students in the class speaking the language of instruction, i.e. English,
and more than 56% of the classes had less than 50% English First Language
speakers. The majority of classes (just over 46%) spent between 2 and 4 hours on
science instruction per week, a small percentage (just over 8%) spent more than 8
hours a week, and a smaller percentage (just over 2%) spent less than 2 hours on
science instruction per week.
4.4.5 Analysing the qualitative data
In most questions on the SITES 2006 teacher questionnaire, teachers were asked to
rank their responses on a 4-point Likert scale. Examples of these scales are: 1=not at
all, 2=a little, 3=somewhat, 4=very much; or 1=never, 2=sometimes, 3=often,
4=nearly always; or 1=not at all, 2=a little, 3=somewhat, 4= a lot. In each of these
cases, the mean of the responses using the sampling weights added to the database
(Carstens & Pelgrum, 2009) was used to describe teacher responses. Descriptive
statistics were generated including percentages, frequencies, means, and standard
errors (Appendices E and F). In some instances, mean scores on a 4-point Likert
scale were recalculated to a score out of 10012 to allow mean scores to be compared to
percentage scores. Exploratory analyses were first conducted in SPSS and this was
followed by using the IDB analyser to generate more precise results.
Together with the mean teacher scores reported, the standard error is indicated in
brackets after the mean (Appendix F). Precise percentages to two decimal places with
standard errors were calculated for all categories of responses but such detail was
deemed unnecessary for the purposes of reporting the data. For ease of
interpretation a decision was made to combine the first two responses (for example
―not at all‖ and ―a little‖) and the last two responses (for example ―somewhat‖ and ―a
One on the Likert scale was re-coded to zero, two was re-coded to 33.33, three was re-coded to 66.66
and four was re-coded to 100. For the 2-point Likert scale, one as recoded to zero and 2 was re-coded
to 100.
12
77
lot‖) and report them in two columns instead of four. When this was done, the two
percentage responses were conflated and rounded off. New standard errors were not
calculated. The detailed percentage responses with standard errors (Appendix E),
and mean responses with standard errors (Appendix F) are available as Appendices.
4.5 The case studies
This phase of the research adopted an interpretive case study strategy, drawing in
particular on the work of Creswell (2007), Stake (1995), and Yin (2003). The case
study as a research method ―is the study of particularity and complexity of a single
case, coming to understand its activity within important circumstances‖ (Stake, 1995,
p. xi). Although Stake (1995) does not use the term ―methodology‖ when referring to
case study research, it is widely accepted as a methodology by other authors
(Creswell, 2007; Denzin & Lincoln, 2005; Yin, 2003). In this study, I explored the
bounded system of teacher practice in three individual teacher cases with one single
issue, teacher use of ICT. Each of these three cases were selected provided an insight
into significantly different use of ICT in science teaching and consequently each case
highlighted different perspectives on the same issue (Creswell, 2007). The outcome is
a rich and detailed description of events blended with an analysis from each case
which has contributed to the knowledge base of teacher use of ICT. These three cases
were suitable for this study both for their commonality (Cohen, Manion, & Morrison,
2003; Stake, 1995) and specific incidents that were unique to each case. A more
detailed explanation of case selection can be found in section 4.5.1.
One of the most significant contributions of the three individual cases selected for
this study is that they allow a nuanced understanding of both how and why teachers
use ICT in teaching science in the ways that they do (Cohen et al., 2003). This was
achieved by observing the use of ICT in the real classroom context, unique to and
dynamic in each individual case. It was also achieved by designing this part of the
study as interpretive case studies, allowing me to develop conceptual categories
inductively to examine my initial assumptions (Merriam, 1988), without evaluating
or judging. This is noteworthy in answering the ‗why‘ questions that arise in this
particular study.
78
4.5.1 Selecting the cases
The principle criterion in school selection was not so much about representing the
totality of schools in South Africa with limited resources, but rather about selecting a
variety of schools which would best provide an understanding of how teachers are
able to use ICT in teaching science, the difficulties facing them in schools with
limitations on teaching and learning resources, and the value that such ICT use may
add to the teaching and learning experience of the teachers and students in these
schools. Having the SITES 2006 national data as a starting point for this study, I was
guided by the individual responses to the teacher questionnaire in selecting suitable
cases for a more in-depth exploration.
The SITES 2006 data for the 489 secondary schools in South Africa was obtained in
‗raw‘ format as an SPSS file, which lists all the schools that were surveyed in the
SITES 2006 study. I used this dataset to select schools which might be suitable for
my cases. In addition to the questionnaires completed by schools, the National
Research Centre (NRC) collected demographic data in the form of an Infrastructural
Checklist (Appendix B) on the schools visited during fieldwork. Each fieldworker
completed the checklist giving valuable information such as school access to
electricity, numbers of classrooms, percentage of black students in the school, access
to computers for administration, access to computers for tuition, access to the
Internet and e-mails. This data was invaluable in selecting schools that matched my
criterion of being poorly resourced. The province of the school in the SITES 2006
database was not recorded on the questionnaire but as I was the only researcher for
this study and ease of access a consideration, it was preferable that the schools
selected be in the Gauteng Province region. In order to prioritise Gauteng Province
schools in the selection, I used the national schools data base to obtain the latitude
and longitude of all the schools in the SITES 2006 study. In some instances, the
school names were spelled differently from those in the national database, making
matching them a difficult and time-consuming task. Using the co-ordinates of the
489 SITES 2006 schools obtained by matching those with the national schools
database, I mapped the SITES 2006 schools using GPS software. This gave me a map
of the positions of all the SITES 2006 schools in the country.
79
Using the same GPS software programme and the co-ordinates, I selected only those
SITES 2006 schools that were in the Gauteng Province region then used the original
data to select only those schools which, according to the survey data, had access to
computers for tuition. This gave me a total of 45 schools, from which I eliminated
those that had less than 50% black students (data taken from the demographic
questionnaire) and schools that were independent. This left 28 possible schools in
Gauteng Province that reported having access to computers available for tuition. The
schools were considered suitable sites for the case studies if the following criteria
were met: The science teacher has access to a computer and the Internet to access
teaching resources (either at school or at home); the students had access to a
computer and the Internet for purposes of learning science (either in a laboratory or
in the classroom); both the teacher and the students were reasonably proficient in
computer and Internet use. I accessed the original survey scripts of these 28 schools
with the teachers‘
names and questionnaire answers. Finally, from the
questionnaires I selected three schools which best suited my purpose of exploring
how teachers use ICT in teaching science in Gauteng Province.
Selecting suitable cases for investigation proved to be far more difficult than I had
anticipated. The first school selected from the SITES 2006 data as discussed above
was about 60 kilometres south of Pretoria, and catered for approximately 1,500
students in Grades 8 to 12 from the nearby township. The surrounding community
comprises black lower income families. According to the principal who has been at
the school for more than 20 years, and held the position of principal for more than 10
years, attendance is good with less than 5% of students absent from school on a daily
basis. The principal was friendly, made me welcome in the school, and introduced
me to the computer technician. The school had electricity, running water, flushing
toilets, was well maintained and reasonably clean. There was evidence of a timetable
and students moved to classes in an orderly fashion after break. The principal‘s office
showed signs of a well organised school with photographs of all the students (in
classes) on the wall of his office.
I visited the computer room which had been set up as part of the Gauteng Online
project and contained 25 computers in a well secured computer room. Not all the
80
computers were in working order and there were no chairs. I was told that about 50
students used the computer room at any one time so they shared a computer and
brought their own chairs. Each class, I was told, was allocated a period on the
timetable in which they visited the computer room. According to the technician,
students were accompanied by their teacher (different subjects) and assisted with
subject-specific computer work. There were no students in the computer room when
I visited. I arranged a follow-up visit to meet specifically with the science teachers
who had completed the SITES 2006 teacher questionnaire in the 2006 study. During
this visit, the two teachers I met with said that there had been a misunderstanding.
They did not actually use the computer room for science lessons, despite the fact that
the SITES 2006 questionnaire that the one teacher had completed indicated that he
did use the computers to teach science. The computer room was not functional as
they were waiting for Gauteng Online to come and repair the faulty computers which
had been offline for some time. As my visit was not evaluative, I did not feel
comfortable interrogating the teachers on their obviously inaccurate completion of
the questionnaire. The first of my three cases selected from the SITES 2006 data
proved to be unsuitable.
Selecting the first case
I contacted the second school from the three selected by telephone. The principal
indicated that while they did have a computer room fitted with computers by
Gauteng Online, they were not functioning and the science teacher had never used
them. The principal I telephoned from the third school suggested I visit as the
science teacher used a computer when teaching science and the school was willing to
assist me in my study. The science teacher at this school had completed the SITES
2006 teacher questionnaire and this provided a point of entry into the school. This
teacher became Mr Sogo (a pseudonym) of my three cases.
Mr Sogo
Mr Sogo has been teaching for more than thirty years at the school and is considered
to be very experienced as a teacher. He had a post-secondary Teaching Diploma as
well as many certificates obtained through short courses. At the time of the study he
81
was enrolled at the local university doing an Advanced Certificate in Education
(Information Technology). He started his teaching career as a Biology (now Life
Sciences) teacher in Grade 10 with a Teaching Diploma. In 1983 the school needed a
Grade 8 Natural Science teacher and as a result, he moved into the Natural Science
department at the school. Once in the position of Natural Science teacher, Mr Sogo
extended his teacher training and qualified as a Senior Phase Natural Science
Teacher by studying part-time at the nearby teacher training college.
Mr Sogo’s school
Mr Sogo was teaching at a school which served about 900 students from the local
informal settlement and from the nearby township. Most students at this school were
considered very poor and came mostly from families with a low socio-economic
status. The school was part of the government-funded feeding scheme and
approximately 200 students took advantage of the free cooked lunch each day, for
many the only meal of the day. The school was one of a few schools in the province
that received a donation of school uniforms in 2005. All of the students were given
one full uniform which most subsequently left for other students when they left.
Figure 4.1: Local Informal settlement nearby Mr Sogo’s school
82
Figure 4.2: Local township nearby Mr Sogo’s school
General infrastructure at Mr Sogo’s school
The school was managed by the GDE and functioned as a Section 21 School. The
South African Schools‘ Act 84 of 1996, created two categories of public schools:
Section 20 and Section 21 schools ("South African Schools' Act," 1996). Section 20 of
the Act lists a range of functions that the governing bodies of all public schools must
undertake. Section 21 listed further functions that may be allocated if the school has
shown that it has the capacity to perform such functions effectively. The term
―Section 21 Schools‖ is regarded as synonymous with self-managing or self-reliant.
There is less top-down control by the DoE and much less bureaucratic involvement.
For this school, being a Section 21 School means that they can purchase the
textbooks that they want rather than being provided with books and other resources
that they do not need.
The school was not well maintained. The grounds were littered and while there was
an allocated cleaner, the mess remained throughout the day. The school did have a
fence and security gate with a security guard controlling access but there were many
83
places where the fence was broken. Truancy was a problem. According to Mr Sogo,
the fence was in place both to keep students in as well as undesirables out.
Figure 4.3: Classroom block at Mr Sogo's school
Vandalism at the school had been a problem for many years and two years prior to
my visits the computer room had been ―cleaned out‖ with all 25 computers stolen.
According to Mr Sogo, the local Internet cafés had been the market for the stolen IT
equipment. At the time of my visits, many of the classrooms were in a state of
disrepair, some without desks or chairs. Most of the classroom walls were devoid of
posters or other educational materials.
84
Figure 4.4: Desks and chairs in Mr Sogo's classroom
The school had a section of four classrooms which had walls but no roof. This section
of the school had been built more than twenty years prior to my visits to
accommodate a growing number of students. Upon completion of the classroom
block, there was an electrical fire which resulted in it being burned. The DoE and the
Department of Public Works had been unable to agree on responsibility for repairs,
and the buildings remained incomplete and unusable.
Figure 4.5: Burnt classroom block at Mr Sogo' school
85
The school has a science laboratory but it was not used as one, instead having been
converted to a classroom to fit groups of 60 students at one time13. The laboratory
store room has a large amount of science equipment, some still in unopened boxes,
and some in a state of disrepair.
Selecting the second case
Owing to the difficulties experienced in selecting the first case from the SITES 2006
database, I sampled the remaining cases purposefully by asking around for contact
details of teachers who might be suitable participants in my study, even if they had
not been a participant in the SITES 2006 survey. A prominent science education
researcher informed me of a science teacher who used computers in her science
teaching at a mission school. This school met the criteria discussed in section 1.2.2.
Being in a rural area, the school was quite far from the University. I travelled to the
school and spent a day with the teacher. Data that was not collected from the teacher
on the day of the visit was collected via e-mail over the following few weeks. This
teacher became Mrs Putten (a pseudonym) of my three cases.
Mrs Putten
Mrs Putten taught science at a school located on a mission station in a rural area
serving the surrounding rural community. She had been teaching science for fifteen
years as was considered a very experienced and competent teacher. Mrs Putten had
attended the same school as a student, as her family had lived on the mission station.
She had been a top achieving student and had starting teaching at the school as soon
as she finished her Grade 12 year. She was highly qualified in her subject area
science, and all her tertiary education (undergraduate and post-graduate degrees)
had been completed through correspondence courses. Mrs Putten‘s undergraduate
degree had been in Biology (now Life Sciences) but an enthusiastic and gifted student
This conversion of laboratories into classrooms is not uncommon in township schools, making
laboratory practical work impossible.
13
86
inspired her to teach science. At the time of the case study, she had just completed a
post-graduate degree, a piece of action research on her own use of computers in her
teaching practice. Mrs Putten taught English and Science for both the senior and FET
phases at the school.
Mrs Putten’s school
Mrs Putten taught at a mission school which began in 1986. The school was strongly
Christian-based and aimed to provide students with a good academic and valuebased education. The school catered for the students in the surrounding rural area
and could accommodate about 300 students, mostly in the secondary school. Almost
all those in the primary school travelled to school but there were boarding facilities
that catered for most of the secondary school students. The students come from
different socio-economic backgrounds, and while they mostly lived in basic rural
accommodation, some families had moved from cities and chosen that lifestyle to
assist the mission. Others came from poor families with little or no formal education.
General infrastructure at Mrs Putten’s school
The school was funded by a small fee contribution from the students but was also
heavily subsidized by funds raised through the mission. The school was well
maintained and neat and there was no litter around the premises. In addition to a
new administration block, there were thirteen classrooms, a media centre, and a
recently constructed science laboratory.
87
Figure 4.6: Science laboratory at Mrs Putten's school
The school had the resources to make teaching and learning possible, such as regular
and consistent electricity (supplied by a generator), running water and well
maintained classrooms. The school had no sports fields and extramural activities at
this school were limited. Parts of the school were upgraded or improved when money
became available, and this accounted for the relatively new computer room and
science laboratory.
Selecting the third case
The third case was also selected on the basis of a referral from a colleague in the field
of ICT in education. She was recommended as an enthusiastic user of ICT. This
teacher became Mrs Marley (a pseudonym) of my three cases.
Mrs Marley
Mrs Marley had 8 years of teaching experience but that had been spread out over a
longer period of time. She was a passionate teacher and spoke frequently of her love
for teaching and for the subject she taught. She had qualified as a teacher with a
Teaching Diploma but had spent some of her working life in industry and had
88
returned to teaching two years prior to the study. She had not participated in any
additional courses since qualifying with her diploma.
Mrs Marley’s school
Mrs Marley taught at a school in a township reasonably close to the University of
Pretoria campus, thus meeting the criteria outlined in section 1.2.2.
Figure 4.7: Local township near Mrs Marley's school
Her school had 43 teachers (including three temporary teachers), two deputy
principals, and one principal. The school was relatively new (opened in 2007), the
need for an additional secondary school in the area having been identified in the
early 2000s. The school was part-government funded and part-private funded as a
part of a public-private partnership initiative co-ordinated by the GDE. A local IT
company sponsored the school computer laboratory including the technology
infrastructure in the school. Despite this additional source of funding, Mrs Marley
described the school as ―normal‖ and it did appear to be a ―typical‖ township school.
The school catered for approximately 1,300 students in 24 classrooms from the
surrounding township. According to Mrs Marley, the school would like to have a
student to teacher ratio of forty to one. However, pressure from the GDE meant that
89
in some classes there were as many as 65 students in a class. In 2009, the first cohort
of Grade 12 students completed their National Senior Certificate at the school.
Demand for a place at the school is high, as the community is well aware that the
school is well run and managed. Some families have reportedly moved from other
provinces such as Limpopo Province to send their children to this school. Because of
the high demand for a place, the school is able to institute selection criteria for Grade
8 students, based on their Grade 7 school reports. According to Mrs Marley, the
school selection board looked very carefully at the applicants‘ reports from previous
schools to ensure that those selected were reported as being well behaved. They
wanted to select children who were disciplined and committed to working hard. The
school is managed by the GDE and parents pay approximately R150 per year for their
children to attend14.
General infrastructure at Mrs Marley’s school
The additional funding from the public-private partnership arrangement at the
school meant that additional infrastructure, not typically available to township
schools, was available. This additional infrastructure included a wall around the
school, covered parking for teachers‘ cars and a football field.
The wall surrounding the school limits access and a large gate is supervised by a
security guard throughout the day as the only means of access. The school gardens
are well kept, the corridors are clean, and the toilets and other facilities well
maintained. The management of the school was very proud of their achievements
and posters of academic success were displayed in the foyer at the main entrance to
the school.
The teachers at this school were supported in terms of access to textbooks, student
workbooks, photocopy equipment and other resources to assist them as teachers. In
some instances parent were expected to buy additional text books for the students in
14
At the time of writing, the cost of a loaf of bread was about R8.
90
some subject areas and according to the teacher interviewed, the parents are
generally willing and able to assist in this way. The school had a media centre but
which Mrs Marley said was not used as one as it had been converted into a
classroom. The shelves in the room did not contain many books and had been
pushed to one side. The room was filled with desks and chairs as the GDE had,
according to Mrs Marley, decreed that the school fit in more students by converting
the media space into an additional classroom. This was not a situation unique to this
school.
Figure 4.8: Media centre at Mrs Marley's school
The school had a science laboratory which was also used as an additional
classroom15. I asked Mrs Marley what she meant by ―we don‘t have a lab‖ to which
she replied that the laboratory was used as a Grade 12 classroom, not as a science
laboratory. They did not have any chemicals or other science equipment in the
laboratory and the store room was used as a teacher‘s office and was not available for
15
This was the same situation as Mr. Sogo‘s school, and as mentioned earlier, not uncommon in
township schools.
91
me to see during my visits to the school. The students at the school had textbooks for
all their subjects and the school had a policy of lending the books to the students for
the year, after which they were expected to return them.
Mrs Marley‘s classroom had adequate desks and chairs but very few other resources.
The walls were bare except for a few posters which Mrs Marley had made herself and
a copy of the periodic table issued by the GDE.
Figure 4.9: Posters on wall of Mrs Marley's classroom
Organisation of technology instruction at the three schools
All three of the schools selected offered Computer Applications Technology (CAT) to
their students. While all three schools had a dedicated computer room, only those of
Mrs Putten and Mrs Marley were functional. In these two cases, the computer rooms
were used for CAT lessons. CAT lessons are on the school timetable where students
learn how to use computers. In South African schools, technology is learnt as a
subject in both the primary and lower secondary school years (Grades R-9) and in
the upper secondary school years (Grades 10-12). The curricula are presented in the
Revised National Curriculum Statements (RNCS) as ―Technology‖ (DoE, 2002b) for
92
Grades R to 9 and as ―Computer Applications Technology‖ (DoE, 2003) for Grades
10 to 12, and are examinable subjects.
CAT is a new relatively subject in the South African curriculum, drawing from
subjects such as Compu-typing and Computer Studies. According to the curriculum
statement (DoE, 2003), CAT equips students with knowledge, skills, values and
attitudes to create, design and communicate information in different formats. It also
makes it possible for students to collect, analyse and edit data and to manipulate,
process, present and communicate information to different sectors of society. CAT
involves learning about and working with ICT and using it in an end-user
environment to solve problems relating to the processing, presentation and
communication of information. The subject has three Learning Outcomes:
Operational
Knowledge
of
Information
and
Communication
Technologies;
Integrated End-user Computer Applications Skills and Knowledge in Problem
Solving; and Information Management, none of which are subject-specific. The
computers in computer rooms at schools are provided primarily for the students of
CAT and while subject teachers may access to the computer room for subject
teaching, CAT lessons and all CAT activities take priority.
Summary of the three cases
From the variety of contexts representing limited resources typical of a developing
country, I was able to explore the uniqueness of dissimilar uses of ICT, as well as to
formulate an understanding of the similarities between the teachers, without going
beyond three cases. The contrast of these three teachers allowed me to understand
and interpret how these teachers were able to use ICT in teaching science, the
difficulties facing them in schools with limitations on teaching and learning
resources, and the value that such ICT use may add to the teaching and learning
experience of these teachers and students in these and possibly other schools with
similar contexts and issues.
93
4.5.2 Data collection - Strategies and procedures
The qualitative data were collected using interviews, observations, photographs, field
notes, and documents. As a case researcher, my role of researcher was that of
interpreter (Stake, 1995). In the three cases investigated, I was able to identify a
variety of issues, study them, and connect them with information gathered through
an extensive knowledge of the current literature on ICT in education. This study
involved uncovering new issues, exploring these issues in detail, and using the data
gathered to describe teachers‘ use of ICT based on the different contexts in which
they found themselves in each case. In addition, it aimed at finding new connections
between the issues already known and understood.
Interviews
Interviews were a very important part of the data collection in the three cases. They
are an effective way of obtaining perspectives from teachers on the ways in which
they used ICT, as well as why they used ICT in that particular way. Conducting
interviews with the teachers allowed me to get information about events that I knew
were not going to be observed in the classroom observations, as well as how the
individual teachers interpreted their own pedagogical practices (Merriam, 1988). As I
was the only researcher in the study, I conducted the interviews with the three
individual participants, which meant that I was able to formulate questions with the
second and third teachers based on what I had experienced in the interviews with the
first teacher. Communication with the second teacher through e-mail was effective
and I was able to ask additional questions of her after completing my initial round of
data collection with her. Unfortunately, communication with Mr Sogo was not as
reliable and I was unable to establish an open line of discussion with this teacher
after leaving the school. I was unable to return to Mr Sogo after the initial data
collection visits as he was not available to receive me. My attempts to communicate
with him through e-mail later in the year failed and there remained some issues I was
unable to explore further with him. Additional questions raised with Mrs Marley
were not initially addressed with Mr Sogo.
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The interview setting
As the interviewer, my role was to put the interviewees at ease by explaining the nonevaluative structure of the research. I did this by first visiting the teachers at their
schools to introduce myself and explain the purpose of my research. The physical
organisation of the interview setting was an important part of the interview process
(Wilkinson & Birmingham, 2003). The more formal approach of sitting at the
opposite side of a desk can be intimidating and the interviewer may appear
confrontational. A less formal seating arrangement of two chairs facing each other at
a slight angle off-centre was used to make the interviewee relaxed and at ease with
the situation. The digital audio recorder was placed on a nearby table so that it would
record the interview clearly but not appear intrusive. I relied on the recorder to
capture what was said so as not to distract the teacher being interviewed or slow
down the conversation (Wilkinson & Birmingham, 2003). On my initial meet-andgreet visit with each of the teachers I had explained my research and did not repeat
this information at the start of each interview. I also made it clear that their
anonymity would be maintained. Each of the teachers knew that I had previously
been a science teacher and I used this deliberately to set up the interview style as one
teacher talking to another. My experience as a teacher allowed me to identify with
the difficulties that these three teachers experienced with teaching on a daily basis
and allowed them to trust me, first as a fellow teacher, then as a researcher.
Besides the first meet-and-greet visit in early 2009, I had visited the first teacher, Mr
Sogo, on three separate occasions, each visit lasting between one and two hours. I
first sat with Mr Sogo in the computer room, having specifically asked to speak to
him in this venue as I felt it would provide a suitable environment for our discussion
about his use of computers in science teaching. The room was quiet, which allowed a
discussion without interruptions. I tried to convey an impression that the interview
was important but informal. I saw having a large desk between myself and this
teacher as confrontational so chose instead to sit in similar relaxing chairs with no
desk in between. The digital audio recorder was placed so as to be as discreet as
possible, yet close enough to ensure good quality recording. The interviewee was
aware that the interview was to be recorded and had agreed to the use of the
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recorder. I returned to this school on two other occasions and interviewed Mr Sogo
in his classroom. The teacher used his laptop and data projector in the classroom
when teaching so it was a suitable place to hold the interviews. On both of these
occasions, I spoke to Mr Sogo with no students present, once after school and once in
one of his free lessons. On all three occasions, the teacher was relaxed and willing to
talk to me about his ICT use.
I visited the second teacher, Mrs Putten, for an entire school day, speaking to her
throughout the day and recording three separate formal interviews. This teacher was
far from the University of Pretoria and only one visit was possible. For two of the
interviews, we sat in her classroom while her students were supervised in the nearby
computer room by another teacher. These interviews were semi-structured. The
teacher knew that I was visiting for the day and had made arrangements to be free to
talk to me. The third interview was unstructured in nature and was conducted in an
informal setting over lunch. Questions that were unanswered by the teacher during
my visit were asked by e-mail and the responses were captured and analysed in the
same way the interview data was analysed.
I visited the third teacher, Mrs Marley, on four separate occasions, each time after
school hours as this was the only time the teacher was available to talk to me. Each
lasted between 30 minutes and one hour and we sat in the small office at the back of
the computer room. The CAT teacher walked in and out during the interviews but did
not disturb us in any way as the interviewee was relaxed. Each of the interviews took
place after school hours but on all four occasions, there were a few students in the
computer room working on their assignments or other class work. The CAT teacher
was always available for these students to assist them if they needed help. I sat
opposite the teacher and conducted the semi-structured interview with her in a
relaxed environment.
The interview protocol - semi-structured interviews
On the continuum from highly structured interviews with predetermined questions
and question ordering, to unstructured interviews with a more conversation format
with open-ended questions, my interviews were semi-structured (Appendix I). Using
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a highly structured interview for this study, rigidly adhering to a predetermined set
of questions would not allow me to access the teachers‘ perspectives and
understandings of how and why they use ICT (Merriam, 1988). Using a semistructured format for the interviews meant that while I had a list of questions, the
exact wording and question order was not predetermined and I could probe with
additional questions when unanticipated issues emerged during the interview.
The interview protocol was arranged into four focus areas: general information about
the school and the access to learning and infrastructural resources; information
about the technology resources available to teachers and students; use of ICT in
teaching and learning in general; and use of ICT specific to science (Appendix G).
While this sort of interview protocol provided less flexibility than unstructured
interviews, it allowed me to direct the conversation more closely and ensure that the
questions I wanted answered were discussed (Merriam, 1988; Watkins & Mortimore,
1999). I wanted the interviewee to feel at ease yet it was important that the issues
important to my research questions were not overlooked in the interview. In the
cases of Mr Sogo and Mrs Marley I knew that I would have the opportunity to return
and ask questions that had not be fully answered, but I wished to avoid this situation
arising more than necessary as I was aware that the teachers were busy and it was
difficult for them to give up their time.
I was afforded the opportunity to conduct an unstructured interview with Mrs Putten
as I was spending a greater length of time with her. This flexible approach
(Wilkinson & Birmingham, 2003) allowed the interviewee to guide the discussion
and as the teacher was a well-qualified teacher involved in post-graduate research
herself, she was familiar with the issues of teachers‘ use of ICT from her own
research. This meant that the teacher was well-informed and knowledgeable on the
topic and could raise interesting issues on the topic in an informal setting.
I was aware that I might not get through all the questions on the first visit and knew
that I would get an opportunity to return (in the case of Mr Sogo and Mrs Marley)
and adjusted the interview protocol on each visit to reflect the questions that I did
not ask in the first visit. A revised interview protocol was developed for each
subsequent visit. In line with the semi-structured format, I deviated from the
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protocol on many occasions, following a line of discussion raised either by the
teacher or by me when the opportunity arose. This is an interview technique in line
with semi-structured interviews as part of qualitative data collection strategies
(Creswell, 2003; Yin, 2003).
All interviews were recorded using a digital voice recorder, ensuring that everything
said was preserved for transcription and later analysis. During the interviews I took
notes but tried to maintain a balance between listening and note-taking so as to
remain focused on the conversation. The transcribed interviews meant that every
word was preserved. In addition, brief notes taken during the interview ensured that
additional visual components of the interview, such as the body language and
emotions of the interviewee, were recorded during the interview, as well as my
thoughts on additional questions to ask that were not on my original interview
protocol.
Observations
Observations were chosen as a research method in an attempt to understand how
these three teachers interpreted and understood their role in the classroom when
using ICT to teach science (Wilkinson & Birmingham, 2003). It allowed me to move
beyond data based on perceptions, i.e. the sort of information gathered in interviews,
to access the personal knowledge of the teachers (Cohen et al., 2003). In addition, it
allowed me to better understand the complex reality of the classroom, or computer
room in two of the cases, which I could not have achieved by simply interviewing the
teachers or asking them to complete a questionnaire. For example, I knew that one
teacher in particular felt very frustrated by the frequent interruptions to the Internet
which affected her lesson planning but it was only when I saw the expression on her
face with yet another Internet failure that I began to appreciate the disappointment
she felt. The teacher had tried so hard to ―showcase‖ some of the features about
which she spoke enthusiastically and could not hide her disappointment at being
interrupted.
Another reason for choosing observations as a research method was to corroborate
some of the information the teacher had provided in the interviews. One teacher in
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particular spoke passionately about her students and their enthusiasm for lessons
using the computer, and part of my observation focused on what the students were
doing while the teacher was talking, their attitude to the computer lesson, how
enthusiastic they appeared and whether they did indeed know which keys to use on
the computer to access the information the teacher wanted them to access.
On the continuum of observations, from highly structured, knowing exactly what to
look for, to unstructured, being responsive to what is observed, my observations fell
somewhere in the middle and were semi-structured (Cohen et al., 2003). This semistructured format (Appendix G) meant that I had some level of preconceived
categories for my observations, but left room to generate hypotheses rather than test
them (Cohen et al., 2003). Similarly, on the continuum between complete participant
in the observations, a strategy where the observer becomes completely involved in
the activities and becomes both a participant and an observer, to complete observer,
a strategy where the observer is fully detached and remains as unobtrusive and
detached as possible, my role fell somewhere in the middle (Bogdan & Biklen, 1992;
Cohen et al., 2003; Merriam, 1988). As observer-as-participant, I was able to balance
my involvement in the activities in the classroom and still remain detached, making
no attempt to influence proceedings in any way. All three of the teachers were
interviewed before being observed as talking to the teachers first allowed me to build
a suitable rapport with each, facilitating my choice of role as observer-as-participant.
It also helped my selection of semi-structured observation strategy and allowed me
to focus observations on particular aspects that had been raised in the interviews.
For all of the observations, I requested the teachers to invite me to what they
considered to be a ―typical‖ lesson using the computer. I was fully aware that a
teacher may use a computer differently on different occasions but in each of these
instances the teachers were satisfied that they were showing me what use they made
of the computer when teaching science. All other possible uses of the computer not
evident in the observed lessons were discussed in detail with the teachers during the
interviews.
On my three separate visits to Mr Sogo, I made one informal observation while
walking around the school grounds. During this time I had an informal conversation
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with the teacher about the school in general and also made two formal classroom
observations of science lessons. Both of these observations took place in the teacher‘s
classroom while the teacher used the computer as a teaching tool. The students did
not have access to a computer during the lessons. On the single visit to Mrs Putten I
observed one of her lessons, again one the teacher described as a ―typical‖ lesson
using the computer. The lesson was held in the computer room and the students
were sitting, each with individual access to a computer. The programme they were
using was loaded onto each of the computers and the students worked at their own
pace. On the four visits to Mrs Marley, I observed two of the lessons, one during
school hours and one after school hours. For the second of these observations, the
teacher had asked the students to remain after school for an extra lesson so that I
could watch. The students seemed amenable to this request and the teacher
convinced me that this was not an unusual request in the context of the school ethos.
Both of these lessons were about forty minutes long.
Photographs
Photography is closely aligned with qualitative research and can be used in many
different ways. Photographs used in qualitative research can be separated into two
categories, those that others have taken and those that the researcher has taken
(Bogdan & Biklen, 1992). Perhaps the most common use of photography in social
science research is in conjunction with participant observation, most often used as a
means of remembering and studying detail that might be overlooked if the
photographs were not available for reflection. There is some controversy over the use
of photographs in the early stages of research as the use of the camera may
emphasize the researcher‘s role as an outsider (Bogdan & Biklen, 1992). This may be
a particularly pertinent issue in the context of classroom research in South Africa as a
history of classroom ―inspection‖ may leave the teacher with the sense that the
researcher may actually be an evaluator, judging the teacher‘s performance.
Conversely, it has been suggested that the camera can provide the researcher with a
legitimate purpose in the setting, in the case of education research, the classroom or
school (Bogdan & Biklen, 1992).
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Photographs were taken at each of the three schools. They were taken of the school
buildings, showing the general conditions of teaching and learning, the room or
laboratory which served at the computer room, as well as any other aspects of the
school which was deemed worth recording. Ethical issues were considered, and no
photographs were taken of the teachers or students which showed faces which may
have allowed them to be identified. The camera was used as a tool in this study as a
means of capturing the school and classroom context in which the computer is used,
for reflection to assist in the process of analysis. In all cases, the teachers were asked
if they were comfortable with my taking photographs and in each case assured that
the faces of neither the teacher nor the students would not be used in such as way
that they could be identified by anyone reading a written report of the study. In all
cases, teachers were comfortable with the camera as a tool. Between twenty and fifty
photographs were taken at each of the three schools, some of which have been used
in the data sections of this thesis.
Field notes
Field notes, written both in situ as well as away from the school or classroom, form a
vital data collection strategy for qualitative research (Cohen et al., 2003). Field notes
were used extensively during the observations as a way of keeping a record of
activities during the class time, as well as a way of formulating my personal ideas and
hypotheses regarding them. I used the field notes to clarify some issues I had thought
about as well as to remind me of questions to add to future interviews with the
teacher. In making field notes I was recording what I observed as well as processing
and analysing the data at the same time (Silverman & Marvasti, 2008).
Field notes played an important part of the data collected at the schools. I made
notes while walking around each of the schools on my first visit to each one. I also
made notes during the classroom observations so as to record what was happening
during the lesson, my interpretations of those events, as well as notes to myself
which needed to be followed up on with the teacher. Some of those follow-up notes
became part of future interview questions and some I simply asked the teacher about
informally. The field notes, supplemented by the photographs, formed the basis of
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much of my analysis of the data collected. The field notes also served as an important
component of the triangulation of data.
Documents
Of the three major types of documents, public records, personal documents, and
physical materials (Merriam, 1988), only physical materials were collected from the
teachers. I attempted to collect a copy of each teacher‘s school policy on ICT. I
managed to collect from Mr Sogo and Mrs Marley but Mrs Putten was not able to
provide me with the school policy on ICT.
4.5.3 Analysis of qualitative data
The conceptual framework was used to focus the analysis of the data around the
aspects suggested by the Kennisnet model (section 3.2) which contribute to
understanding the value that the use of ICT added to teaching and learning in the
three different schools: vision; expertise; digital learning materials; and ICT
infrastructure. These aspects of the use of ICT were analysed in relation to the role of
leadership in providing both technical and pedagogical support to teachers, and
creating a culture of collaboration within the schools.
The first stage of my data analysis was data reduction (Miles & Huberman, 1994).
Reduction, which forms part of the analysis, refers to the process of selecting,
focusing, simplifying, abstracting, and transforming the data appearing in notes
written in the field and the verbatim transcriptions of interviews with teachers (Miles
& Huberman, 1994). This started during field work and continued up until the time
of report writing. For this data, my primary methodological dilemma was deciding
how to summarise and synthesize this diverse and disparate information into a
consistent, yet still information-rich format. The challenge was overcome by using
the qualitative data analysis software Atlas.ti. The use of this particular computer
software assists in the process of exploring the data with the easy retrieval of data
files and the inspection of memos on the screen replaces the time consuming cutting,
pasting, photocopying, and colour coding of manual analysis. Atlas.ti allows for the
analysis of textual, graphical and audio data (Willig, 2001), although for this study it
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was only used for the textural data. Beyond simple coding and retrieval of codes
typical of cutting and pasting using paper-based analysis, Atlas.ti has several
additional features of analysis such as the display of hierarchical relationships
between codes and the construction of diagrams and networks (Willig, 2001). In
addition, Atlas.ti allows for the use of direct quotations to enrich the presentation of
the data, a task which is difficult when dealing with large amounts of unstructured
text material, as in the case of this study.
Qualitative data is typically coded using inductive or deductive coding, or a
combination of both. Deductive coding implies that the codes would be predetermined by prior knowledge on the subject then allocated to particular parts of
the transcribed text. The extensive literature review allowed me to derive some
general themes before analysis and others were added as the study progressed.
Inductive coding on the other hand means that codes are developed as the
information is presented. Data obtained from the field in the form of words based on
observations, interviews, and documents required processing before sense could be
made of it.
The recorded interviews were transcribed verbatim by me and one other person
employed to transcribe. The transcriptions were all checked for precision of
transcription. In a few places the speech was inaudible to the transcribers, and is
clearly indicated in square brackets in the transcript. Each interview transcript, field
note and observation sheet was typed up for later incorporation in the data analysis
phase. Teachers‘ names and schools were changed to maintain anonymity.
The interviews for each of the teachers were loaded into Atlas.ti. A number of
anticipated codes were generated deductively before analysis began and others were
added inductively as the coding process proceeded. These two coding processes
resulted in 185 codes being generated in total, 24 of those codes had zero grounding
generated from deductive coding, and the code with the highest grounding had 16
quotes attached to it. The codes with zero grounding were deleted and some merged.
This process resulted in a final code count of 145 codes (Appendix J).
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For the case analysis, a family was made with all the documents per school, resulting
in three families called Mr Sogo, Mrs Putten and Mrs Marley. Some of the codes were
unique to a single case as the teachers each used ICT in different ways and the
software and hardware that was available to one teacher was not necessarily available
to the others. Mr Sogo had 85 of the codes with quotes attached, Mrs Putten 106, and
Mrs Marley 50 (Appendix J).
The second stage of data analysis involved the display of the data (Miles &
Huberman, 1994), a condensed presentation of data that allowed me to use it to draw
conclusions. The codes were sorted into two main families, the first comprising those
codes which would identify data to assist in answering the first operational research
question. All the codes which would identify data which would assist in answering
the second operational research question were grouped into a second family of codes.
The data was displayed in the form of matrices and networks, both designed to make
the information easily accessible so that it could be used to understand what was
happening and draw conclusions.
The third stage of the analysis was drawing conclusions and verification of
conclusions drawn (Miles & Huberman, 1994). This verification was done by sending
all the selected quotes and corresponding codes from one of the teachers, together
with my analysis of the data for this teacher, to a education specialist colleague who
acted as a ―critical friend‖, looking at the data with an unbiased eye to determine
whether his conclusions from the data were the same or similar to mine. My
interpretation of the data matched his. I continued with my analysis, I noting
regularities, patterns in the data, and made assertions based on the available data.
While some conclusions emerged during the data collection part of the study, final
conclusions could not be made until data collection was over. The audit trail
maintained throughout the data collection assisted in verifying findings. While a
summary of this analysis has been presented as three distinct stages, all three were
continuous throughout the study and should not be seen as linear in sequence.
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4.6 Concluding remarks
This study sought to understand the value of using ICT in South African science
classrooms. The research question was operationalized by two sub-questions:
1. How do science teachers use ICT in a context of limited resources?
2. Why do science teachers use ICT in the ways that they do?
The quantitative data collected from South African science teachers in the SITES
2006 study, together with qualitative data from three science teachers, provided the
basis for the analysis to answer these two sub-questions. The data collected in
answering these two questions allowed for an interpretation of qualitative and
quantitative data to address the main research question: What is the value that using
ICT adds to the teaching and learning of Science when teachers use ICT in a context
of limited resources, typical of a developing country? This chapter provided the
details of each method chosen to collect both the quantitative and qualitative data as
well as the details of each specific strategy selected. It explained each limitation
where relevant and how the limitation was overcome through the study.
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CHAPTER FIVE
5 Pedagogical orientations of South African
science teachers
The SITES 2006 study examined how science teachers and students used ICT, and
whether it contributed to learning activities geared towards the development of 21st
century skills. The findings from the study showed that across 22 countries, mostly
developed, science teachers‘ use of ICT in their teaching practice was influenced to
some degree by their general pedagogical orientation. The impact of ICT use on
students was highly dependent on the teaching approaches adopted when ICT was
used and that students were more likely to adopt skills in line with 21st century goals
when their teachers provided a more student-centred approach to teaching (Law et
al., 2008). In order to establish the pattern of ICT use in a science education in a
developing country such as South Africa, a similar analysis was conducted using the
data from the South African sample as discussed in section 4.4.4. Questions 8, 9, 14,
and 16 on the SITES 2006 Teacher Questionnaire (Appendix A) provided data to
understand the sampled South African science teachers‘ general and ICT-using
pedagogical orientations. The data are presented as descriptive statistics in this
chapter to establish the landscape of ICT-use in science classrooms in South Africa
which may in turn assist in understanding the context of ICT-use in similar
developing countries16. Secondary analysis of the data, similar to that done in the
main SITES 2006 study, showed a strong traditional pedagogical orientation in
South African science teachers with very low adoption of 21st century skills. It is the
21st century pedagogical orientation which the South African Department of
Education hopes to promote through the e-Education policy (DoE, 2004b). This
A full print-out of the percentage and mean scores for the selected South African science teachers is
available in Appendices E and F. All data presented in tables and graphs in this chapter (and the
following two chapters) were obtained from those Appendices.
16
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finding is likely to be similar for other developing countries in which access to
technology resources is low.
5.1 Pedagogical orientations of South African science teachers
The SITES 2006 science teacher questionnaire data was used to explore South
African teachers‘ pedagogical orientation when they teach science in a context of
limited resources. The teachers were asked about their personal curriculum goals
(question 8), their own teaching practice (question 14), and the learning practices of
their students (question 16). As discussed in Chapter 2, pedagogical orientations are
conceived and conceptualised in the SITES studies and categorized broadly into
traditionally important, referring to teaching practices characteristic of classrooms
in the industrial society, and 21st century, referring to those conducive to developing
learning outcomes important for the knowledge society. Twenty-first century
pedagogical orientations are further divided into lifelong learning orientation and a
connectedness orientation17.
The SITES-M2 findings indicated that the curriculum goals of teachers and the roles
played by teachers and students in the learning process were the three aspects most
indicative of the pedagogical approach or orientation of the teacher (Law et al.,
2008). From this, three sets of core indicators of pedagogical orientation, namely the
curriculum goal orientation, the teacher‘s role orientation, and the student‘s role
orientation, were developed (Law et al., 2008). These indicators were constructed on
the basis of teachers‘ responses to questions on the relative importance of a range of
curriculum goals and the relative frequency of occurrence of a range of teacher
activities and student activities. These indicators are presented in Table 5.2, Table
5.4, and Table 5.6.
17
Chapter Two gives a more detailed explanation of the concepts.
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South African teachers’ curriculum goals
As a way of understanding the extent to which the sampled South African science
teachers‘ pedagogical practice is predominantly traditional, orientated towards
lifelong learning or towards a connectedness orientation, teachers were asked to rate
the importance of achieving particular curriculum goals with their Grade 8 science
students. The responses are presented in Table 5.1 (Appendices E and F).
Table 5.1: Science teachers’ espoused curriculum goals when they teach science
In your teaching of the target class in this school year, how important is it
for you to achieve the following goals?
Somewhat
OR Very
Much (%)
Mean
Score
(SE)
A
To prepare students for the world of work
88
3.59 (0.05)
B
To prepare students for upper secondary education and beyond
97
3.78 (0.02)
C
To provide opportunities for students to learn from experts and peers from
other schools/countries
83
3.40 (0.05)
D
To provide activities which incorporate real-world
examples/settings/applications for student learning
90
3.58 (0.04)
E
To improve students‘ performance in assessments/examinations
98
3.86 (0.02)
F
To increase learning motivation and make learning more interesting
98
3.82 (0.03)
G
To individualize student learning experiences in order to address different
learning needs
87
3.47 (0.05)
H
To foster students‘ ability and readiness to set their own learning goals and to
plan, monitor and evaluate their own progress
89
3.49 (0.04)
I
To foster students‘ collaborative and organizational skills for working in teams
94
3.64 (0.04)
J
To foster students‘ communication skills in face to-face and/or online situations
89
3.51 (0.05)
K
To satisfy parents‘ and the community‘s expectations
90
3.55 (0.04)
L
To prepare students for competent ICT use
61
2.58 (0.08)
M
To prepare students for responsible Internet behavior (e.g., not to commit mailbombing, etc.) and/or to cope with cybercrime (e.g., Internet fraud, illegal
access to secure information, etc.)
49
2.44 (0.08)
There were very high responses to increasing learning motivation (98%), to
improve students’ performance in assessments/examinations (98%), and to prepare
students for upper secondary education and beyond (97%). More than a third of the
teachers (39%) did not think that it was important for them to use ICT as part of
their normal curriculum goals to prepare their students for competent ICT use, and
more than half (51%) did not think that it was important for them to use ICT in their
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teaching to prepare students for responsible Internet behaviour. This is not
surprising as most of the computer use in South African schools is still done as a
separate subject, Technology (Grades 8-9) and Computer Applications Technology
(CAT) (Grades 10-12), and it is reasonable for teachers to expect the Technology or
CAT teacher to deal with those particular issues. The teacher-reported curriculum
goals have been ranked, using the mean scores on a 4-point Likert scale, from
highest mean score to lowest, as shown in Figure 5.1. The three highest scores are
shown in red and the three lowest in green.
4.00
3.86
3.82
3.78
3.40
Mean score
3.50
3.00
2.58
2.50
2.44
2.00
1.50
1.00
Science Teacher Curriculum Goals
Figure 5.1: Three highest and three lowest South African science teachers’ curriculum goals as
ranked mean scores
The South African science teachers reported the three curriculum goals: to improve
students’ performance in assessments and examinations (3.86); to increase
learning motivation (3.82); and to prepare their students for upper secondary
education and beyond (tertiary education) (3.78), with the highest mean scores. All
were ranked with high mean score close to the maximum of 4.00. The mean scores
for assessments and examinations is indicative of the examination driven curriculum
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experienced by South African teachers in general, with added pressure for student
achievement in Science (and Mathematics) over the past few years. Internationally,
teachers assigned similar importance to these curriculum goals (Law et al., 2008). It
is interesting to note that science teachers ranked the goal to provide opportunities
for students to learn from experts and peers from other schools/countries as
relatively not important, with a mean below 3.00 in all other education systems
participating in the study except South Africa (Law et al., 2008). South African
teachers ranked that curriculum goal with a mean of 3.40 (Table 5.1).
Responses to Question 8 in the teacher questionnaire (Appendix A) were used to
provide indicators for the curriculum goal orientation (Law et al., 2008). Three
indicators were computed: Traditionally important (questions 8B, 8E and 8K),
Lifelong Learning (questions 8D, 8G, 8H and 8I) and Connectedness (questions 8C,
8J and 8M) shown in Table 5.2. Details of how these scales were developed as well as
a discussion about their reliability can be found in the Technical Report (Appendix
D) (Carstens & Pelgrum, 2009, p. 96).
Table 5.2: South African curriculum goals contributing to three pedagogical orientation scores
Curriculum goal
orientation
Specific curriculum goals included in the scales*
Ave
Mean*
(B) To prepare students for upper secondary education and beyond
Traditionally
important
(E) To improve students‘ performance in assessment/examinations
3.73
(K) To satisfy parents‘ and community expectations
Lifelong learning
(D) To provide activities which incorporate real-world
examples/settings/applications for student learning
(G) To individualize student learning experiences in order to address different
learning needs
(H) To foster students‘ ability and readiness to set their own learning goals and
to plan, monitor and evaluate their own progress
3.55
(I) To foster students‘ collaborative and organizational skills for working in
teams
Connectedness
(C) To provide opportunities for students to learn from experts and peers from
other schools/countries
(J) To foster students‘ communication skills in face-to-face and/or online
situations
3.12
(M) To prepare students for responsible Internet behaviour
* The Average of mean scores are arithmetic means of the scores for the respective items of the 4-point Likert scale.
110
When the average arithmetical mean for the sampled South African science teacher
scores for each category are calculated and plotted on a graph (Figure 5.2), the
traditionally important curriculum goal orientation (3.73) is ranked highest, and the
connectedness pedagogical orientation (3.12) lowest. When comparing the South
African data to the international data, a similar trend of the traditionally important
orientation (ranging from 3.02 to 3.75) being the strongest and the connectedness
orientation (ranging from 2.39 to 3.18) being the lowest mean score is evident (Law
Average mean score
et al., 2008).
4.00
3.73
3.55
3.50
3.12
3.00
2.50
2.00
1.50
1.00
Traditionally
important
Life-long Learning
Connectedness
Curriculum goal orientation
Figure 5.2: Average of the mean scores for South African science teachers curriculum goals
contributing to three pedagogical orientations
Internationally, there were a few exceptions to this trend where some systems
reported higher mean for the lifelong learning goals than for traditionally important
(Law et al., 2008). This data confirms what might have been anticipated, that is that
South African science teachers, like many others internationally, still have teaching
goals which are traditional in nature.
South African teacher practice
As a way of understanding the pedagogical practice orientations of science teachers,
teachers were asked what sorts of teaching activities were conducted in their science
classes during the year. Teaching practices that are traditionally important are well
111
aligned in terms of helping students attain the traditionally important curriculum
goals described in the previous section. The teacher responses to questions about
their practice are listed in Table 5.3 (Appendices E and F).
Table 5.3: Teacher practice scores
In your teaching of the target class in this school year, how
often do you conduct the following?
Often OR
Nearly
Always (%)
Mean
Score (SE)
A
Present information/demonstrations and/or give class instructions
83
3.27 (0.05)
B
Provide remedial or enrichment instruction to individual students
and/or small groups of students
66
2.90 (0.04)
C
Help/advise students in exploratory and inquiry activities
78
3.05 (0.05)
D
Organize, observe or monitor student-led whole-class discussions,
demonstrations, presentations
75
3.03 (0.05)
E
Assess students' learning through tests/quizzes
85
3.24 (0.04)
F
Provide feedback to individuals and/or small groups of students
82
3.22 (0.04)
G
Use classroom management to ensure an orderly, attentive
classroom
93
3.56 (0.04)
H
Organize, monitor and support teambuilding and collaboration
among students
86
3.26 (0.04)
I
Organize and/or mediate communication between students and
experts/external mentors
54
2.64 (0.06)
J
Liaise with collaborators (within or outside school) for student
collaborative activities
46
2.47 (0.06)
K
Provide counselling to individual students
66
2.71 (0.05)
L
Collaborate with parents/guardians/caretakers in
supporting/monitoring students‘ learning and/or in providing
counselling
51
2.62 (0.90)
More than 90% of South African science teachers in the sample reported that they
often or nearly always used classroom management to ensure an orderly, attentive
classroom for science lessons (Table 5.3). This finding is in line with what one might
find in the predominantly teacher-centred classrooms in South Africa (Howie et al.,
2010). More than 80% of the sampled South African science Teachers often or nearly
always
assess
students'
learning
through
tests/quizzes
(85%),
present
information/demonstrations and/or give class instructions (83%), and provide
feedback to individuals and/or small groups of students (82%).
112
The teacher practice scores have been ranked, using the mean scores on the 4-point
Likert scale, from the highest to lowest. The graph (Figure 5.3) shows the three
highest (red) and three lowest (green) ranked mean scores.
Mean score
4.00
3.56
3.50
3.27
3.26
3.00
2.64
2.50
2.62
2.47
2.00
1.50
1.00
Teacher practice
Figure 5.3: Three highest and three lowest teacher practice mean scores for South African science
teachers
The highest self-reported practice was to use classroom management to ensure an
orderly, attentive classroom (3.56), in line with a teacher role traditionally prevalent
in classrooms since the early 20th century, if not earlier, and is the role of the teacher
one would typically encounter in South African science classrooms. In contrast, the
teacher practice with the lowest importance among the sampled South African
science teachers was to liaise with collaborators (mean of 2.47), a teacher practice
strongly associated with the connectedness pedagogical orientation and not a
practice one would expect to find as commonplace in South African classrooms.
Using Q14 on the teacher questionnaire (Appendix A), three indicators were
computed (Law et al., 2008): Traditionally important (questions 14A, 14E and 14G),
113
Lifelong learning (questions 14B, 14F, 14K, 14C, 14D and 14H) and Connectedness
(questions 14I, 14J, and 14L). Details of how these scales were developed as well as a
discussion about their reliability can be found in the Technical Report (Appendix D)
(Carstens & Pelgrum, 2009, p. 97). The specific teacher practices forming these
scales are presented in Table 5.4.
Table 5.4: List of teacher practices associated with the three teacher practice orientations
Teacher practice
orientation
Teacher practices (roles of the teacher)
Traditionally
important
(A) Present information/demonstrations and/or give class instructions
(E) Assess students' learning through tests/quizzes
Ave
Mean*
3.36
(G) Use classroom management to ensure an orderly, attentive classroom
Lifelong learning
(B) Provide remedial or enrichment instruction to individual students and/or
small groups of students
(F) Provide feedback to individuals and/or small groups of students
(K) Provide counseling to individual students
(D) Help/advise students in exploratory and inquiry activities
Connectedness
(C) Organize, observe or monitor student-led whole-class discussions,
demonstrations, presentations
(H) Organize, monitor and support team-building and collaboration among
students
(I) Organize and/or mediate communication between students and
experts/external mentors
(J) Liaise with collaborators (within or outside school) for student collaborative
activities
(L) Collaborate with parents/guardians/ caretakers in supporting/monitoring
students‘ learning and/or in providing counseling
3.03
2.61
* The Average of mean scores are arithmetic means of the scores for the respective items of the 4-point Likert scale.
The first set of teacher roles are well aligned in terms of helping students attain the
traditionally important curriculum goals described above. The six roles which fall
within the lifelong learning orientation depict more facilitative roles for the teacher
that are suited to achieving lifelong learning goals, such as tailoring instruction,
providing advice and feedback to suit individual needs, and guiding and monitoring
open-ended inquiry, collaboration, and team building. The third set of indicators
which fall under connectedness orientation relate to providing opportunities for
teachers to work with and learn from peers and experts, both locally and
internationally. This group requires teachers to extend their own connectedness,
changing from working primarily within the confines of their own classroom to
establishing relationships with peers and experts both locally and internationally.
114
4.00
Average mean score
3.50
3.36
3.03
3.00
2.61
2.50
2.00
1.50
1.00
Traditionally
important
Lifelong Learning
Connectedness
Teacher practice peagogical orientation
Figure 5.4: Average of mean scores for South African teacher practices contributing to three
pedagogical orientation scores
When the average arithmetical mean for the South African science teacher scores for
each category are calculated and plotted on a graph (Figure 5.4), the traditionally
important curriculum goal orientation (3.36) is ranked highest, and the
connectedness pedagogical orientation (2.61) lowest. When comparing the South
African data to the international data, a similar trend of the traditionally important
orientation being the highest and the connectedness orientation being the lowest
mean score is evident (Law et al., 2008).
South African student practice
Contemporary theories of learning from a constructivist perspective attribute
considerable importance to students‘ involvement in the learning process (Driver,
1990, 1994; Driver et al., 1994; Duit, 1994). This is considered essential for deep and
meaningful learning. As such, the roles played by students in their learning arguably
provide the most important information about the pedagogical orientation of any
teaching and learning situation (Law et al., 2008). Teachers were asked about their
students‘ engagement in a number of activities and their responses are shown in
Table 5.5 (Appendices E and F).
115
Table 5.5: Student activities
In your teaching of the target class in this school year (a) How often do
your students engage in the following activities?
Often OR
Nearly
Always (%)
Mean
Score
(SE)
A
Students working on the same learning materials at the same pace and/or
sequence
55
2.71 (0.06)
B
Students learning and/or working during lessons at their own pace
56
2.67 (0.06)
C
Complete worksheets, exercises
75
3.05 (0.05)
D
Give presentations
53
2.69 (0.06)
E
Determine own content goals for learning (e.g., theme/topic for project)
67
2.27 (0.06)
F
Explain and discuss own ideas with teacher and peers
52
2.75 (0.05)
G
Collaborate with peers from other schools within and/or outside the country
22
1.87 (0.06)
H
Answer tests or respond to evaluations
81
3.19 (0.05)
I
Self and/or peer evaluation
54
2.63 (0.05)
J
Reflect on own learning experience review (e.g., writing a learning log) and
adjust own learning strategy
37
2.27 (0.06)
K
Communicate with outside parties (e.g., with experts)
26
2.03 (0.05)
L
Contribute to the community through their own learning activities (e.g., by
conducting an environmental protection project)
23
1.95 (0.05)
More than 80% of South African science teachers reported that their students often
or almost always answered tests or responded to evaluations of some sort. This
response is in line with the high reported curriculum goal of improving students‘
performance in assessments and examinations (section 5.1). These teachers also
reported that for only 22% of their time, their students engaged in collaborating
with peers from other schools within or outside the country often or nearly always.
This figure somewhat contradicts the teachers‘ high response to the curriculum goal
to provide opportunities for students to learn from experts and peers from other
schools/countries (83%) shown in Table 5.1.
The student practice scores have been ranked, using the mean scores on the 4-point
Likert scale, from the highest to lowest. The graph (Figure 5.5) shows the three
highest (red) and three lowest (green) ranked mean scores.
116
4.00
Mean score
3.50
3.00
3.19
3.05
2.75
2.50
2.03
2.00
1.95
1.87
1.50
1.00
Student practice
Figure 5.5: Three highest and three lowest South African student practice mean scores
The two most frequently practiced student activities as reported by science teachers
in South Africa (Figure 5.5), were answering tests (mean score 3.19), and completing
worksheets/exercises (mean score of 3.05). These are activities that are commonly
found in traditional classrooms and the findings are compatible with the earlier ones
that teachers valued the traditionally important curriculum goals most highly and
played traditionally important roles most frequently. The two least popular student
activities as reported by science teachers in South Africa, were contributing to the
community through their own activities (mean score 1.95), and collaborating with
peers from other schools (mean score 1.87), both of which can be associated with the
connectedness orientation (Law et al., 2008). These low mean scores indicate that
students rarely engage in collaboration or communication with outside parties, if at
all.
The responses to Question 16 on the teacher questionnaire (Appendix A) were used
to compute three indicators for the student-practice orientation (Law et al., 2008):
117
Traditionally important (questions 16A, 16C and 16H), Lifelong learning (questions
16B, 16E, 16F, 16D, 16I and 16J) and Connectedness (questions 16G, 16K, and 16L).
Details of how these scales were developed as well as a discussion about their
reliability can be found in the Technical Report (Appendix D) (Carstens & Pelgrum,
2009, p. 97). These are shown Table 5.6:
Table 5.6: List of student practice items associated with the three student practice orientations
Student
practice
orientation
Student practices (activities)
Traditionally
important
(A) Working on the same learning materials at the same pace and/or
sequence
(C) Complete worksheets, exercises
Ave
Mean*
2.98
(H) Answer tests or respond to evaluations
Lifelong learning
(B) Students learning and/or working during lessons at their own pace
(E) Determine own content goals for learning (e.g., theme/topic for
project)
(F) Explain and discuss own ideas with teacher and peers
2.55
(D) Give presentations
(I) Self and/or peer evaluation
(J) Reflect on own learning experience
Connectedness
(G) Collaborate with peers from other schools within and/or outside
the country
(K) Communicate with outside parties (e.g., with experts)
1.50
(L) Contribute to the community through their own learning activities
(e.g., by conducting an environmental protection project)
* The average mean of scores are arithmetical means of the scores for the respective items of the 4-point Likert scale.
When the average arithmetical mean for the South African student practice scores for
each category are calculated and plotted graphically (Figure 5.6), the traditionally
important pedagogical orientation is ranked highest (2.98), and the connectedness
pedagogical orientation lowest (1.50).
118
Average Mean score
4.00
3.50
3.00
2.98
2.55
2.50
2.00
1.50
1.50
1.00
Traditionally
important
Lifelong
Learning
Connectedness
Student practice orientation
Figure 5.6: Average of mean scores for South African student practice contributing to three
pedagogical orientation scores
Activities listed within the lifelong-learning orientation require students to play a
much more pro-active and responsible role in their own learning than has
traditionally been the case in South African classrooms. These sorts of practices
include being able to determine their own content goals for learning (e.g. theme or
topic for project), being able to explain and discuss their own ideas with their teacher
and peers, and being able to give presentations. Some of these activities require deep
cognitive engagement, such as self-evaluations and reflections on one‘s own learning.
Giving students a more responsible role in facilitating their own learning may help
them to develop the lifelong-learning skills typically valued for functioning effectively
in the knowledge society.
When comparing the South African data to the international data, a similar trend of
the traditionally important orientation being the strongest and the connectedness
orientation being the lowest mean score is evident (Law et al., 2008). South African
science teachers are similar in their low connectedness pedagogical orientation to
those in other education systems. Surprisingly, South African science teachers report
the second highest connectedness pedagogical orientation (behind Thailand) as
119
reflected in their curriculum goals and student practice, and the highest
connectedness pedagogical orientation as reflected in science teacher practice among
the 22 systems. This is despite having the lowest level of actual connectivity among
the 22 participating countries and reporting only 38% of schools with actual
computer access for their students.
The pattern showing the traditionally important orientation as the highest and the
connectedness orientation as the lowest in South Africa and in other participating
systems indicates that teaching and learning practices used by the surveyed science
teachers are predominantly traditional, with learning goals focused on the mastery of
predefined content goals. In this paradigm, teachers play the role of expert instructor
and assessor while students follow instructions and complete assigned close-ended
tasks (Law, 2009). A closer examination of these findings by Law (2009) shows
important differences across the three sets of indicators. For the curriculum goals,
the international average mean lifelong learning orientation is only slightly lower
than the international average mean traditionally important orientation, indicating
that in general, teachers consider the development of students‘ lifelong learning
skills, such as collaborative inquiry and self-directed learning ability to be almost as
important as achieving traditionally important goals such as doing well in
assessments. On the other hand, average mean connectedness goals were considered
to be much less important, indicating that teachers in general did not perceive the
provision of opportunities for students to learn with and from peers and experts
outside of the school, or the development of communication skills to be high priority
curriculum goals (Law, 2009).
Comparing teacher-practice and student-practice pedagogical
orientations
When teacher-practice mean scores are compared to student-practice mean scores,
for all three pedagogical orientations, the latter are lower than the former (Figure
5.7). This trend was similar to the scores in the other education systems
internationally (Law et al., 2008) and it may be interpreted as an indication that
teachers are more likely than students to engage in pedagogical activities. The
interpretation is in line with a recent study of FET science teachers in schools in
120
South Africa (Howie et al., 2010). All the science teachers showed a strong teachercentred approach to science teaching, dominated by ―chalk-and-talk‖ teaching with
very little evidence of learner-centred strategies (Howie et al., 2010).
The difference between teacher-practice orientation and learner-practice orientation
(Figure 5.7) also increases from the traditionally important orientation (mean
difference of 0.38), lifelong learning orientation (mean of difference 0.48), and
connectedness orientation (mean difference of 1.11).
Average Mean score
Teacher Practice
Student Practice
4.00
3.50
3.00
3.36
3.03
2.98
2.55
2.61
2.50
2.00
1.50
1.50
1.00
Traditionally
Important
Lifelong Learning Connectedness
Pedagogical orientations
Figure 5.7: Average of mean scores of teacher practice compared to student practice for the three
pedagogical orientations
This could point to a developmental trajectory in pedagogical innovation which starts
with a change in aspired curriculum goals, followed by a change in teacher practice,
and finally a change in student practice.
121
5.2 Pedagogical orientations when ICT is used in teaching and
learning
The previous section showed the data collected to gauge the sampled South African
science teachers‘ pedagogical orientations as reflected by three sets of indicators
namely teachers‘ curriculum goals, teacher practice, and teacher-reported student
practice as conceptualised in the SITES 2006 study. The SITES 2006 Teacher
Questionnaire explored the impact of ICT-use on pedagogical practice. In other
words, do teachers pedagogical orientations in South African science classrooms
differ whether ICT is used or not? For this section, the teacher responses to questions
about their teaching practice and the learning practices of their students when they
used ICT to teach science are reported.
Teacher practice and ICT use
To answer this question, teachers were asked whether they used ICT for the different
practices that they had reported on in the previous section. The teacher responses to
these questions allow us to examine the pedagogical orientation of South African
science teachers‘ ICT-using practices and compare them to their overall pedagogical
orientations. As a way of comparing the teacher practice mean scores on the 4-point
Likert scale to the percentage of teachers who responded that they use ICT for the
particular practice indicated, the mean scores have be converted to a score on a 100point scale and are reported in Table 5.7. (Details of this conversion are discussed in
section 4.4 and raw data are shown in Appendix I).
122
Table 5.7: Teacher practice and ICT use
In your teaching of the target class in this school year, how often do
you conduct the following?
Mean
%
% using
ICT
A
Present information/demonstrations and/or give class instructions
75
14
B
Provide remedial or enrichment instruction to individual students and/or
small groups of students
64
13
C
Help/advise students in exploratory and inquiry activities
68
16
D
Organize, observe or monitor student-led whole-class discussions,
demonstrations, presentations
68
12
E
Assess students' learning through tests/quizzes
75
14
F
Provide feedback to individuals and/or small groups of students
74
13
G
Use classroom management to ensure an orderly, attentive classroom
85
11
76
10
54
14
49
12
H
I
J
Organize, monitor and support teambuilding and collaboration among
students
Organize and/or mediate communication between students and
experts/external mentors
Liaise with collaborators (within or outside school) for student
collaborative activities
K
Provide counselling to individual students
57
10
L
Collaborate with parents/guardians/ caretakers in
supporting/monitoring students‘ learning and/or in providing
counselling
54
12
The sampled South African science teachers reported very low ICT-use for all aspects
of Teacher Practice. Lack of access to ICT resources for teaching and learning is an
issue that is raised later in this chapter when discussing teacher-reported obstacles to
their use of ICT when teaching science (section 7.4). The teacher-reported TeacherPractice and ICT-use for that Teacher Practice has been ranked in order of
decreasing ICT-use, and shown in Figure 5.8.
123
Teacher Practice
ICT-using Teacher practice
100
85
90
75
80
Percentage
70
76
75
68
57
60
50
40
30
16
20
14
14
11
10
10
10
0
Teacher Practice Activities
Figure 5.8: South African teacher practice scores compared to ICT-using teacher practice scores
on 0-100 scale
The three highest ICT-using teacher practices, use ICT to help/advise students in
exploratory
and
inquiry
activities
(16%),
use
ICT
to
present
information/demonstrations and/or give class instruction (14%), and use ICT to
assess students' learning through tests/quizzes (14%) (Table 5.7) are associated with
the traditionally important orientation for teacher practice. The lowest reported ICTusing teacher practices were organize, monitor and support teambuilding and
collaboration among students and provide counselling to individual students (both
10%).
124
Table 5.8: Teacher practice orientations when ICT is used
Teacher
practice
orientation
Teacher practices (roles of the teacher)
Traditionally
important
(A) Present information/demonstrations and/or give class
instructions
(E) Assess students' learning through tests/quizzes
Lifelong
learning
78
(G) Use classroom management to ensure an orderly, attentive
classroom
(B) Provide remedial or enrichment instruction to individual
students and/or small groups of students
(F) Provide feedback to individuals and/or small groups of
students
(K) Provide counselling to individual students
(D) Help/advise students in exploratory and inquiry activities
Connectedness
Ave of
mean*
%
(C) Organize, observe or monitor student-led whole-class
discussions, demonstrations, presentations
(H) Organize, monitor and support team-building and
collaboration among students
(I) Organize and/or mediate communication between students and
experts/external mentors
(J) Liaise with collaborators (within or outside school) for student
collaborative activities
(L) Collaborate with parents/guardians/ caretakers in
supporting/monitoring students‘ learning and/or in providing
counselling
68
52
* The scale ratings are arithmetical means of the scores for the respective items of the 4-point Likert scale.
When an average for the different teacher practice and ICT-using teacher practice
scores are plotted (Figure 5.9), one can see that the highest ICT-using teacher
practice orientation is still associated with the traditionally important orientation,
suggesting that even when teachers use ICT, their pedagogical practice remains
traditional.
125
Average mean score (0-100)
Teacher Practice
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
ICT-using Teacher Practice
78
68
52
13
13
12
Traditionally
Important
Life-long Learning
Connectedness
Teacher-practice orientations
Figure 5.9: South African teacher practice pedagogical orientations compared to ICT-using
teacher practice pedagogical orientations
There is a very small spread between the different orientations, most likely as a result
of the very low ICT usage by South African science teachers.
Student practice and ICT use
The use of ICT for learner-practice is not surprisingly even lower than that of
teacher-use. Schools in South Africa are often supplied with a single computer,
mainly for administrative purposes before being provided with computers for
student use. Teachers often share a computer to type notes, set tests and
examinations and other similar activities rather than using computers for learning
activities. As a way of comparing the Student Practice mean scores on the 4-point
Likert scale to the percentage of teachers who responded that their students use ICT
for the particular practice indicated, the mean scores have been converted to a score
on a 100-point scale (details of this conversion are discussed in section 4.4 and raw
data are shown in Appendix I)
126
Table 5.9: Student practice and ICT use
In your teaching of the target class in this school year, how often do
your students engage in the following activities?
Mean %
% using
ICT
A
Students working on the same learning materials at the same pace
and/or sequence
57
12
B
Students learning and/or working during lessons at their own pace
56
10
C
Complete worksheets, exercises
68
13
D
Give presentations
56
11
E
Determine own content goals for learning (e.g., theme/topic for project)
42
9
F
Explain and discuss own ideas with teacher and peers
58
9
G
Collaborate with peers from other schools within and/or outside the
country
29
8
H
Answer tests or respond to evaluations
73
11
I
Self and/or peer evaluation
54
9
J
Reflect on own learning experience review (e.g., writing a learning log)
and adjust own learning strategy
43
7
K
Communicate with outside parties (e.g., with experts)
34
10
L
Contribute to the community through their own learning activities (e.g.,
by conducting an environmental protection project)
32
8
When South African science students are able to use ICT to learn Science (Table 5.9),
the highest reported use is for completing worksheets and exercises (13%) and
working on the same learning materials at the same pace and/or sequence (12%).
The teacher-reported Student Practice and ICT-use for that Student Practice has
been ranked in order of decreasing ICT-use, as plotted on Figure 5.10.
127
Percentage
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Student Practice
ICT-using Student Practice
73
68
57
43
32
13
11
12
29
8
8
7
Student Practice
Figure 5.10: South African student practice compared to ICT-using student practice
The top three teacher-reported student practices using ICT are associated with the
traditionally important learner-practice orientation (Table 5.10). This confirms the
strong traditional orientation in student practice in South African science classrooms
and is not surprising, given the strong traditionally orientation of teacher-practice in
South African science classrooms.
128
Table 5.10: South African student practice orientations when ICT is used
Student practice
orientation
Student practices (activities)
Traditionally
important
(A) Working on the same learning materials at the same pace
and/or sequence
(C) Complete worksheets, exercises
Ave Mean
%*
66
(H) Answer tests or respond to evaluations
Lifelong learning
Connectedness
(B) Students learning and/or working during lessons at their own
pace
(E) Determine own content goals for learning (e.g., theme/topic
for project)
(F) Explain and discuss own ideas with teacher and peers
(D) Give presentations
(I) Self and/or peer evaluation
(J) Reflect on own learning experience
48
(G) Collaborate with peers from other schools within and/or
outside the country
(K) Communicate with outside parties (e.g., with experts)
32
(L) Contribute to the community through their own learning
activities (e.g., by conducting an environmental protection
project)
* The average mean are arithmetical average of the mean scores for the respective items of the 100-point scale.
When the average scores for the traditionally important, lifelong learning and
connectedness learner-practice orientations are calculated and represented
graphically (Figure 5.11), the trend is evident.
129
Average
ICT-using Average
100
Average mean score (0-100)
90
80
70
66
60
48
50
40
32
30
20
12
9
10
9
0
Traditionally
Important
Lifelong Learning
Connectedness
Learner-practice orientations
Figure 5.11: South African student practice pedagogical orientations compared to and ICT-using
student practice pedagogical orientations
As with the teacher-practice scores, the highest reported Learner Practice scores are
for the traditionally important orientation (12%) and the lowest learner-practice
scores are for the connectedness orientation (9%).
The overall use of ICT by the sampled South African science teachers is low, with an
average ICT use of only 13%. The highest reported activity for which teachers used
ICT was to help/advise students in exploratory and inquiry activities at 16% and the
lowest reported use was for providing counseling to individual students at 10%
(Table 5.7). ICT use reported for student activities was lower still with an average
South African science student use of nearly 11%. The highest reported use was for
students working on the same learning materials at the same pace and/or sequence
at nearly 13% and the lowest reported use for reflect on own learning experience
review (e.g., writing a learning log) and adjust own learning strategy at 7% (Table
5.9). While the international averages may appear high in comparison to the South
African student use of ICT with an average student use of 62% (Law, 2009), the
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consensus is that given the almost 100% student access to ICT in the other
participating systems, this figure is low.
5.3 Concluding remarks
The first part of this chapter focused on teachers‘ personal curriculum goals
(question 8), their own teaching practice (question 14), and the learning practices of
their students (question 16) as a way of determining the South African science
teacher pedagogical orientation when they teach Science. It showed that the vast
majority of South African science teachers adopt a traditional pedagogical
orientation when teaching Science. There is little evidence of a connectedness
pedagogical orientation. This low connectedness orientation is, amongst other
things, the result of limited technology resources (the Internet in particular). This
was similar to the pedagogical orientation of most other countries that were part of
the SITES 2006 study. The higher teacher lifelong learning and connectedness
orientation, when compared to those of the student, suggests that teachers are more
likely to make the shift from a traditional pedagogical orientation to a pedagogical
orientation in line with 21st century goals before students are ready and able to make
that shift.
When asked about their teaching practice and the practices of their students when
learning Science, the analysis showed low pedagogical orientations for all three:
traditional; lifelong learning; and connectedness. This could be due to the low ICT
usage among South Africa science teachers in general. This low ICT use is perhaps
one of the important justifications for the mixed methods design, which allowed a
more in-depth and hence better understanding of South African science teachers‘ use
of ICT where this ICT use is taking place on a regular basis.
The analysis of the SITES 2006 data for the sampled South African science teachers
suggests that when the relationship between ICT use and pedagogical practice is
examined, adopting ICT in teaching in science education does not necessarily
contribute to pedagogical change and innovation in favour of 21 st century pedagogy.
While ICT may be considered a lever for change, given the right conditions, it is not
the catalyst that will necessarily bring about those changes (Law, 2009). The ICT131
using teacher and student practices analysed in the sampled South African science
teachers tend to be less strongly oriented towards the traditionally important
pedagogical orientation when compared to general teacher and student practices. It
has been suggested (Law, 2009) that this indicates a higher probability of success in
levering the use of ICT for strengthening 21st century goals if ICT use by teachers and
students is encouraged.
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CHAPTER SIX
6 How teachers use ICT when they teach
Science
Teachers‘ use of ICT in teaching Science lies at the core of this study. Both
internationally and for the purposes of this study, the key concern driving policy and
research interest in the integration of ICT in education is the premise that ICT is
important for bringing changes to the classroom teaching and learning to develop
students‘ 21st century skills (Law et al., 2008). These skills include the ability of
graduating students to become lifelong students within a context of collaborative
inquiry, and the ability to work and learn from experts and peers in a connected
global community, referred to as 21st century skills. Understanding how science
teachers use ICT will allow an assessment of the extent to which 21st century skills are
being realized in classrooms. This use of ICT has been reported for teachers
internationally (Law et al., 2008) and this chapter uses the South Africa data SITES
2006 to report how teachers use ICT in South Africa. This distinction is necessary as
teachers in South Africa teach in a very different context to most of those in the
SITES 2006 study.
This chapter provides a focused discussion of the data collected to address the first
sub-question of the study: How do science teachers use ICT in a context of limited
resources? The question is answered by using a descriptive integrated approach to
data presentation that combines the quantitative data collected using the SITES
2006 Teacher Questionnaire and the qualitative data collected from the three
individual case studies. This chapter addresses teachers‘ use of ICT using three
themes: the use of learning resources and technology infrastructure (section 6.1);
scheduled learning time and use of ICT in that learning time (section 6.2); and use of
ICT for assessment of students (section 6.3). A discussion of the findings, summary
of the evidence, and research claims are made at the end of the chapter, together with
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a comparison of the South African science teachers to science teachers
internationally using the Patterns of ICT framework developed in the SITES-M2
study.
6.1 Use of learning resources and technology infrastructure
There are a large variety of learning resources and technology tools available for
teachers and students. In many developed countries, these tools are widely available
to teachers for use on a daily basis. In South Africa, however, this is not the case and
learning resources and technology infrastructure is limited. The data gathered
through the SITES 2006 teacher questionnaire allows some insight into the level of
access available to South African teachers and the first part of this section presents
this data giving the landscape of technology use across the country. The second part
of this section explore what access to technology the three case teachers had for
teaching Science.
Teachers were asked: How often do you incorporate the following in your teaching
of the target class in this school year? Teachers responded to this question on a 4point Likert scale (1=never, 2=sometimes, 3=often, 4=nearly always). In the case of
South African science teachers, a response of ―never‖ when asked if they
incorporated the particular resources into their teacher could either mean, ―I have
access but never use it‖, but is more likely to mean ―I never use it because I do not
have access to it.‖ This section in the SITES 2006 teacher questionnaire received the
lowest response from South African science teachers. Responses are shown in Table
6.1 (Appendices E and F).
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Table 6.1 Resources and Technology Infrastructure
How often do you incorporate the following in your teaching of the
target class in this school year?
Often OR
Nearly
Always (%)
Mean Score
(SE)
A
Equipment and hands-on materials (e.g., laboratory equipment,
musical instruments, art materials, overhead projectors, slide
projectors, electronic calculators)
30
2.11 (0.05)
B
Tutorial/exercise software
17
1.54 (0.05)
C
General office suite (e.g., word-processing, database, spreadsheet,
presentation software)
5
1.25 (0.03)
D
Multimedia production tools (e.g., media capture and editing
equipment, drawing programs, webpage/multimedia production tools)
4
1.26 (0.03)
E
Data-logging tools
3
1.17 (0.03)
F
Simulations/modeling software/digital learning games
4
1.21 (0.03)
G
Communication software (e.g., e-mail, chat, discussion forum)
5
1.21 (0.03)
H
Digital resources (e.g., portal, dictionaries, encyclopedia)
13
1.59 (0.04)
I
Mobile devices (e.g., Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), cell phone)
8
1.39 (0.04)
J
Smart board/interactive whiteboard
9
1.32 (0.03)
K
Learning management system (e.g., web-based learning environments)
3
1.22 (0.03)
The highest teacher response to using the particular resource or technology
infrastructure was for experiment and hands-on equipment with a response of 30%.
Only 3% of teachers responded that they often or nearly always used learning
management systems such as web-based learning environments (Table 6.1). When
the mean scores on the 4-point Likert scale for the use of the various resources or
technology infrastructure are ranked and plotted (Figure 6.1), the very low scores
across all technologies are clear. The three highest scores are shown in red and the
three lowest in green.
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4.00
Mean score
3.50
3.00
2.50
2.11
2.00
1.59
1.54
1.50
1.21
1.21
1.17
1.00
Learning Resources and Technology Infrastructure
Figure 6.1: Three highest and three lowest South African learning resources used by teachers
South African science teachers were not able to incorporate the suggested learning
resources and technology infrastructure into their teaching in the majority of cases.
Access to these learning resources and technology infrastructure was explored with
the three teachers. Mr Sogo was at a school which had a newly installed computer
room, secured with a large steel vault door. The computer room was part of the
Gauteng Online Project and contained 25 new computers, all still with plastic
packaging on the keyboards (Figure 6.2).
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Figure 6.2: Gauteng Online computer room at Mr Sogo’s school
None of the computers were connected and the teacher‘s desk did not have the
computer installed (Figure 6.3).
Figure 6.3: Teacher desk in Gauteng Online computer room
The room had been connected previously but each computer had been serviced by its
own hard drive. The project personnel were in the process of reorganising the
laboratories in Gauteng Province by installing a new ‗networked‘ system in all
computer rooms. All computers were supposed to operate off one single hard drive.
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The computers in the room had been unconnected for a few months and despite Mr
Sogo‘s persistent calls to the GDE, the computer room remained dysfunctional. I
phoned Mr Sogo a year after visiting the school and the situation remained
unchanged.
The school had retained the computer hard drives that the department had removed
from the revamped Gauteng Online computer room. The school was able to source
monitors for the 25 hard drives and these were set up as a second computer room.
Figure 6.4: Second computer room at Mr Sogo’s school
None of these computers were connected. Mr Sogo was quite enthusiastic about
having the second computer room but was waiting for these computers to be
connected. Once connected, use would still be hampered by all the computers
requiring programmes to be loaded individually. The issues around moving between
the computers with a memory stick, loading each one individually with the work to
be done, had not been overlooked by the teacher.
In addition to the school infrastructure, Mr Sogo had a laptop he had received as a
prize for his provincial presentation entitled Learner-centred Learning instead of
Teacher-centred Approach as part of a provincial e-Learning Showcase (2008). He
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also had a data projector which he used in conjunction with the laptop. His system
was fully portable and he kept both devices locked in his car boot when not in use. He
had a small digital dictionary which he allowed the students to use. The laptop had
standard proprietary word processor, spreadsheet, and presentation software loaded.
Mr Sogo did all his marks using the spreadsheet software, his notes were typed using
the word processing package, and his lessons were presented using the presentation
software.
Mr Sogo used the presentation software extensively for his lessons and his home
access to the Internet to gather information, download pictures, or research topics
for his lessons. He was also able to use his personal digital camera to take pictures
which he used in his lesson presentations. His main motivation for this system of
presenting the subject content knowledge was that preparation was easier.
It‘s less work because I do my preparation… I prepare and then after
preparing, I take everything that I am going to talk about onto the
computer. It becomes easier for me just to show them on the data screen.
Let‘s say, maybe a plant cell …. I‘m talking about plant and animal cells …
it would be difficult for me just to draw a plant and animal cell and
explain, rather than downloading it from the Internet, and then taking it
on the data projector and explaining. It becomes easier for me (extract
from interview with Mr Sogo)
The second teacher, Mrs Putten, was at a school which had a small newly constructed
computer room which could accommodate 25 students. The computer room had a
teacher‘s desk with a computer which was networked to all the other computers in
the room. When the students worked in the computer room, each had access to their
own computer.
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Figure 6.5: Computer room at Mrs Putten's school
Mrs Putten had her own tablet laptop, a presenter mouse which could alternate
between a mouse and a presenter, using remote access technology, a data-projector,
and a cellular phone which allowed her to access the Internet from home, a digital
camera and a digital video camera. Mrs Putten had purchased all of the technology
resources herself as she considered having unrestricted access to the technology
important. She did not like the idea of having to share her resources, and by her own
admission, was a ―bit of a techie‖.
Mrs Putten had access to standard proprietary word processor, spreadsheet, and
presentation software, in addition to numerous free programmes that she had
downloaded from the Internet, including movie-making programmes. Mrs Putten
made use of all of her available hardware and software in innovative ways and her
extensive knowledge of technology gave me insight into how ICT can be used for
teaching Science. Mrs Putten integrated ICT into her teaching in a sophisticated way.
Her curriculum for the lower grades was dominated by project-based learning.
One example was a project she developed for her students called ―Race in Space‖ in
which her students had to decide which planet was the best planet to host a Space
Olympics. They did this through a series of investigations, research, and calculations.
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The module required the students to use the Internet to research issues such as
gravity on different planets, its impact on their space race, and distances to each
planet from the Earth. The information about the different planets was used to make
calculations and draw graphs. Over years of developing this sort of research-based
project, Mrs Putten found that the students became bogged down with the
calculations and graphs and were distracted from the main project focus. In the past,
they spent a great deal of time drawing lines and measuring distances. To overcome
this, her students used the calculation and graphing functions of the computer
programme to generate data and plot the graphs with variables input by the students.
Finally, they presented their findings and answered the investigation question:
Which planet is the best planet to have the Space Olympics on? using presentation
software.
Mrs Putten showed a good understanding of strategies for learning with technology
and recognized that in some instances, inappropriate uses of technology can hinder
learning. This is a finding similar to that of Bransford, Brown, & Cocking (2000).
Mrs Putten‘s view was that if students spent most of their time picking fonts and
colours for their presentations, they would waste valuable learning time that could be
spent on planning, writing, and revising their ideas. To ensure that her students
remained focused on the task and to ―direct them away from silly animations,” she
has developed templates for presentations. In the past, her students were unable to
justify their choice of planet sufficiently so she included in her template some
guidance: ―I force them to list criteria of what a good place would be like, why that is
important, and then places that fit the criteria.‖
In addition to the computer-based project, Mrs Putten had developed a book and CD
which accompanied the lessons so that her students could refer to the work on paper.
In this way, she made sure that they got the relevant content knowledge in
conjunction with the hands-on activities. The CD had hyperlinks which allowed the
students to access documents and other information related to the project from a
main page. Through project-based learning, Mrs Putten‘s reported improved student
skills such as researching and presenting information. They learnt how to use
spreadsheets and presentation software packages, and strategies for linking
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information through hyperlinks. Mrs Putten also developed ―lecture-style‖ lessons
using open-source downloadable software which allowed her to take digital
photographs and turn them into a video by adding interesting transitions. She also
developed videos of lessons using screen-capture technology.
Mrs Putten found simulation software to be a powerful teaching and learning tool,
especially for practical investigations not possible to witness in the school laboratory.
One example Mrs Putten showed me was her use of computer simulations when
teaching chemical reactions and factors which affect the rates of the reactions. Using
the simulation software, her students were able to alter the concentrations of
reactants, and see the changes in the rate of the reaction displayed on the monitor.
She showed me how she used simulation software to teach physics concepts such as
friction. When students manipulated figures to represent a change in the friction of a
surface, the programme showed how the movement of an object changed as the
forces on an object moving across the surface changed. In the photograph below
(Figure 6.6), the student was able to predict what would happen to an object‘s
movement if conditions of friction changed, then use the simulation software to
make those changes, finally watch the movement of the object when the simulation
was run to check if her prediction was correct. This is in line with the principles a
teaching strategy known as Predict, Observe, and Explain (POE) commonly used in
science lessons.
Figure 6.6: Student using simulation software at Mrs Putten's school
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Simulations were very useful but Mrs Putten was often not able to use them with her
classes as the slow Internet connection would not allow for online manipulation of
variables. To overcome this, she used open-source screen capture software to capture
photographs of different parts of the simulations, added a voice-over to explain what
was happening, and then presented these to the students. These sorts of lessons were
watched frequently by students after classes as revision lessons. This use of screen
capture software was one example where Mrs Putten overcame obstacles that
prevented her from implementing ICT in the way that she would have liked to. Her
innovative solutions show behaviour in line with that of personal entrepreneurship,
teacher characteristics discussed in section 8.5.
The third teacher, Mrs Marley, was at a school which had a computer room funded
and managed by private sponsorship as part of the public-private partnership
arrangement at the school. It had 40 desktop computers positioned in rows and a
teacher‘s desk with the main computer, a printer, and data-projector connected to
the teacher‘s computer. The computer room had an Internet connection which
allowed each computer to access the WWW (Figure 6.7).
Figure 6.7: Computer room at Mrs Marley's school
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There was an IWB at the front of the classroom (Figure 6.8). Mrs Marley, together
with the CAT teacher at the school, had given a presentation showcasing their use of
ICT at a similar provincial competition as in the case of Mr Sogo. Their use of ICT
and presentation was rewarded with a prize of the interactive whiteboard. During my
time at the school, the interactive whiteboard was never connected but was instead
used as a data projector screen.
Figure 6.8: IWB in the computer room at Mrs Marley's school
The subject areas of Science and Mathematics at the school were supported by a
microchip manufacturer that had provided software and technical support for
proprietary curriculum-based educational software. That proprietary software was
the basis for use of the computers in the subjects, Mathematics and Science.
According to Mrs Marley, that software was a fundamental part of her teaching
resources and it formed the major part of her ICT use with her science students. The
software had subject content and learning activities addressing most of the
Mathematics and Natural Sciences curricula. The science teacher had been trained in
the use of the software by a company representative. While much of the curriculum
was covered, Mrs Putten was anticipating the parts not covered to be updated when
they became available. In addition, the computers were loaded with a proprietary
encyclopaedia which allowed Mrs Marley to research information for topics to be
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covered as part of the learning programme. The third and final application she used
was a widely used Internet search engine which she used as a research tool to get
information on different sections not covered by the other programmes. As in the
cases of the other two teachers, Mrs Marley had her own personal computer at home,
and used her home or school Internet connection to access and download
information. She had a laptop computer and a cellular phone.
6.2 Scheduled learning time and use of ICT
Even in cases where teachers have access to few technology resources, as in the three
cases discussed in the previous section, some teachers are able to use those resources
in ways that extend the curriculum with their learners. In addition to finding out
what technology infrastructure they had available to teachers, it was important to
find out from teachers how they used their time and whether they were able to use
ICT in that time. The mean scores on the 4-point Likert scale for scheduled learning
time have been re-coded and converted to a score out of 100 (as discussed in section
4.4.5). This allows a comparison of the mean score for how the scheduled learning
time is used and the use of ICT reported as a percentage during that scheduled
learning time.
When the data was collected from the sampled South African science teachers asking
them to indicate how often they used 13 possible teaching and learning activities, the
highest response was for short-task projects. Responses are shown in Table 6.2
(Appendices E, F, and I).
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Table 6.2: Scheduled learning time and ICT use
In your teaching of the target class in this school
year, (a) How often is the scheduled learning time
used for the following activities? (b) Do you use ICT?
Often OR
Nearly
Always
(%)
Mean Score
%* (SE)
% using
ICT (SE)
A
Extended projects (2 weeks or longer)
31
40 (1.95)
15 (2.12)
B
Short-task projects
62
58 (2.09)
15 (1.94)
C
Product creation (e.g. making a model or a report)
34
42 (2.04)
14 (2.03)
D
Self-accessed courses and/or learning activities
46
47 (1.97)
9 (1.67)
E
Scientific investigations (open-ended)
47
48 (2.01)
16 (2.17)
F
Field study activities
25
34 (1.74)
11 (1.94)
G
Teacher‘s lectures
58
58 (2.09)
17 (2.32)
H
Exercises to practice skills and procedures
60
58 (2.00)
5 (2.27)
I
Lab experiments with clear instructions and well-defined
outcomes
32
36 (2.06)
10 (1.59)
J
Discovering mathematics principles and concepts
46
49 (2.01)
9 (1.71)
K
Studying natural phenomena through simulations
46
46 (2.03)
14 (1.96)
L
Looking up ideas and information
61
58 (2.24)
21 (2.24)
M
Processing and analyzing data
52
51 (2.23)
18 (2.45)
* This conversion was made so that the mean score could be compared to the percentage of ICT use.
Some 62% of South African science teachers responded that they often or nearly
always spent their lesson time for short term projects. There was also a high
response to using class time for looking up ideas and information (62%), and for
lecturing (58%). This response confirms the high teacher response to present
information/demonstrations and/or give class instructions indicative of the
traditional pedagogical orientation of South African science teachers. Only a small
number of teachers (25%) reported that they spent a lot of their teaching time
outside the classroom on field trips, and lab experiments with clear instructions and
well-defined outcomes (32%). The low response to conduct laboratory experiments
with clear instructions and well-defined outcomes was expected as access to stocked
and functioning science laboratories in South African schools is limited. In instances
where schools have science laboratories, teachers often lack sufficient training and
confidence to conduct practical investigations with their students.
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The responses have been ranked from the highest ICT use to the lowest as a way of
better understanding what teachers use ICT for when they are able to use it. The
three highest and three lowest responses for ICT-use in the scheduled learning time
are plotted on a graph (Figure 6.9).
Percentage
Use of scheduled learning time
100
90
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
58
ICT-use
58
51
49
47
36
21
18
17
10
9
9
Activities in scheduled learning time
Figure 6.9: Three highest and three lowest South African teacher scores for use of scheduled
learning time and ICT-use in that time
Only 21% of teachers were able to use ICT for looking up ideas and information, and
less than 10% of science teachers responded that they used ICT for self-accessed
courses and/or learning activities, for laboratory experiments with clear
instructions and well-defined outcomes, and discovering mathematics principles
and concepts.
When exploring the scheduled use of ICT with the three teachers, it was difficult to
obtain detailed schedules of their specific ICT practices for an entire year. It was,
however, possible to get an overview of their ICT-using practice from short, in-depth
visits to the schools. The snap-shot of teaching and learning activities obtained
during the time spent observing each teacher were enhanced through the interviews,
which helped me to understand how they each used ICT when teaching Science.
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In the times that I spent with Mr Sogo and through the interviews I had with him, I
was able to gain some insight into how he spent his teaching time with his class. Mr
Sogo spent a lot of his teaching time ―teaching‖ his students where ―teaching‖
indicates a teacher-centred, lecture-dominated delivery of subject content
knowledge. Since the first uses of ICT in education, it has offered opportunities for
students to control their own learning. ICT can provide students with greater
flexibility in terms of learning time, location, and pace of content delivery. At the
level of the classroom, this involves students having access to computers beyond the
scheduled learning times to practice skills such as writing chemical formulae,
balancing chemical equations and such drill-and-practice exercises. This aspect of
self-regulated learning was a strong feature of Mrs Putten‘s teaching. Mr Sogo, on the
other hand, tended to stay in control of the learning environment, leaving little room
for student initiative. While Mr Sogo described his teaching style as ―learnercentred,‖ his use of PowerPoint presentations to deliver the curriculum content
suggested otherwise.
To deliver this content knowledge, Mr Sogo developed PowerPoint presentations
covering the subject content and then used the presentations in a lecture-style
format. His chalkboard in the class had been covered by an ordinary whiteboard (not
interactive) which he used as his projector board on a permanent basis. He did allow
for interactions with his students and encouraged them to ask questions throughout
the lesson. He addressed questions to the students but stayed focused on the lesson
content and was guided by his presentation. His teaching style of talking, asking
questions of the students to see if they understood the work, and answering
questions that the students may have on the topic was what he understood as
―learner-centred‖.
The classroom in which he taught appeared to be a science laboratory but the limited
equipment that was in his classroom was broken, as were some of the desks and
chairs. The science laboratory had been converted into a classroom and science
practical work was not a significant part of his teaching strategy repertoire.
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Figure 6.10: Unused ammeter boxes in laboratory store room at Mr Sogo's school
Figure 6.11: Unused equipment in laboratory store room at Mr Sogo's school
When asked why he did not use the science laboratory for practical work he replied
―Yes, we do have a science laboratory but it is empty [laughs].” When I asked about
the equipment and chemicals in the store room (Figure 6.10 and Figure 6.11), he
responded ―We do have a few chemicals, just to show students the reaction of
chemicals‖. This response is typical of many science teachers in South Africa. A
recent study of 18 schools in Gauteng Province found that science teachers in some of
those schools also reported having no equipment for science practical work, despite
the school having a well-stocked laboratory. The reasons for this sort of response
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from Mr Sogo are complex. One possible interpretation could be that the unopened
and unused equipment is indicative of a lack of skills or confidence to perform
practical work. This sensitive issue was not explored further with Mr Sogo as firstly,
his use of science practical equipment was not the focus of my study, and secondly, I
was aware that I had been invited into his classroom. To maintain a good
relationship with Mr Sogo, I did not want to ask him questions which may have made
him feel uncomfortable or threatened in any way.
Mrs Putten had a large repertoire of teaching strategies, for most of which she used
and integrated ICT. Short and long-term projects featured strongly with her projectbased learning style. Here is one of our discussions about how Mrs Putten‘s students
spent their class time during a short-term project.
What they have to do is they have to plan a diet. The diet must be
balanced, they have to show that it is, and it has to be under a certain
amount, financially [reasonable]. They‘ve got to work that out. But then to
get the syllabus [content] across, they‘ve also got to learn about the
digestive system. So that is pointing on the liver [showing me a picture of
the liver on the screen] and you‘ve got to write [type] there that the organs
name is liver. It [feedback from the computer] tells you if you are right or
wrong. [She had learnt the hyper-linking at a course she had attended]
This is using comments [showing me another part of the programme].
They have to write [type] notes about the oesophagus. Then they save it on
the network [intranet] and I go and access it. So you can navigate through
the whole thing [using hyperlinks]. They have to write notes about the
digestive system and answer questions which they get feedback for. Then
we get to this thing … they have to design this diet. So they write what food
type it is and how much each one is going to eat and then they look on the
label how much protein [it contains]. Now this then will work out
automatically. And there is a comment, if they don‘t know what it is, then
it [the name] pops up like that. There are equations in here [referring to
the spreadsheet]. Then from that they can see if it‘s [the diet] balanced or
not, and it also draws a graph. It gets the percentages and then it [the
spreadsheet software] draws a graph for you. From that they‘ve got to
decide if it‘s balanced or not. So what they do is they manipulate their diet,
―No we‘ve got to give them more of this and less of that‖ in order to get it
balanced. I allowed them to discuss with one another, to help one another,
but each one had to do it individually. Some are faster, there‘s a big range
of ability and speed with the computer and so on, so I then also had this
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extension thing where they have to put their thing-a-ma-jiggy [foodstuff]
and then also the price, the cost, and the total cost. Now here there are no
formulae so they have to calculate it. What I found they would do is that
they go to the previous one and they look at the formulae, how I worked it
out, how these calculations work and that way they also learn how to work
in excel. So actually I found that almost all of the children, although it‘s an
extension, almost everyone did it because then they helped one another.
Then at the end there‘s the rubric that I mark on. This also has a hard copy
book as well, all about food (extract from an interview with Mrs Putten).
She encouraged frequent use of presentations by students as a way of getting them to
report on their research and investigation work. Scientific investigations also
featured as dominant in the scheduled learning time for her students. Mrs Putten
was a keen advocate of using scientific investigations in science and had written an
activity-based book on investigations in the curriculum which she had published and
sold to other teachers. Mrs Putten‘s school had recently upgraded the science
laboratory and it was reasonably well stocked, thus allowing her students to do the
prescribed practical work specified in the science curriculum. Typically, the
outcomes were well defined by Mrs Putten and given her highly organised projectbased and learner-centred teaching style, I was intrigued by her answer to the most
obvious question: so do you ever just teach?
… sometimes I've wondered, spending so much time on project-based
learning, and especially with ICT and whether they actually learn as much
content as they should. Sometimes I think that I should rather just teach
them straight. I don‘t know. But that‘s why in FET, I do basically just
teach them all the time. Not only, but I do a lot of just lecturing there, but
then they use the computer more for just reinforcement (extract from
interview with Mrs Putten).
Mrs Marley, like Mr Sogo, had a more teacher-centred approach to teaching. She
relied on access to the computer room to use any ICT in her teaching, so her
traditional teaching practice was supplemented with the use of technology. When she
was able to plan ICT use in scheduled learning time, she worked with the students on
the curriculum-driven software. For this sort of work, she moderated the activities,
guided students by telling them what to click on next, and made sure that they
remained focused on the task. Her position in the class was very authoritarian and
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she kept very firm control of what the students did throughout the lesson. Her
students were also expected to use the available technology to look up ideas and
information and present the findings in the form of a report. These reports were
typed and submitted for assessment purposes. She had high expectations of quality
assignments and was extremely proud of the products created by her students using
the computer. She too spoke about the short-term projects that her students did.
… we were doing fossils. Most unfortunately we don‘t have that in the
Learn Things Programme. But then we took them out to Sterkfontein
caves. They were studying archaeopteryx. It was a research project so they
came here [computer lab] to do that research, and to get pictures and all
that…. They do their researches so good … most of their work is typed
(extract from interview with Mrs Marley).
… like this one [showing example of student work], they were doing HIV
and AIDS, they go in there [computer room], some of them even type it,
you know…. when I say for example, medication, ARV‘s and all that, they
know, even the dosages. I‘ll also do the research. There is no way that a
student can come and say, ―Yes, you take one, AZT‖. They have to give the
proper doses, you know. So that after writing this research, they know
everything about HIV and AIDS, the side effects and everything and.
[They get the information] from the Internet, magazines. I give them two
weeks to complete this. [Shows me a file] …even the graphs were typed.
We were doing the skeleton and they have to get students [classmates],
take their measurements, to see if their schoolbags are very heavy for their
backs, you know. What effects does it have, how can a parent see if their
children are carrying heavy schoolbags. The Grade 8s, Grade 9s, how
many Grade 8s feel comfortable and all that (extract from interview with
Mrs Marley).
The SITES 2006 data suggested that scheduled learning time was spent lecturing to
their students, giving them exercised to practice skills and procedures (worksheets),
and looking up information, but ICT use for these activities was low. When the
scheduled learning time of the three teachers was explored, a similar pattern was
found in the cases of Mr Sogo and Mrs Marley. Mrs Putten showed evidence of high
use of ICT for science investigations, and studying phenomena using simulations,
two activities not well represented in the SITES 2006 data. The relatively high
percentage reported for ICT use for lectures (17%) can possibly be explained through
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Mr Sogo‘s use of ICT as presentations. His use of the laptop and data-projector
offered his students a teaching experience very similar to that if an overhead
projector or traditional chalk-board had been used.
6.3 ICT and assessment
Assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning in the South African
curriculum. The National goals for assessment with ICT outlined in the e-Education
Policy
are to provide teachers and students with immediate feedback on their
learning, identify areas of weakness and design necessary and appropriate support
systems, and to increase the administration of assessment (DoE, 2004b, p. 20). The
policy document is not specific about the sorts of ICT-based assessment methods to
be used by teachers. The SITES 2006 teacher data was used to understand the extent
to which a variety of assessment methods are used in science education.
As with the teaching strategies, the questionnaire data collected allows the different
methods of assessment to be categorised into three orientations: traditionally
important assessments (written tests/examinations, written tasks/exercises);
products (Individual oral presentation, Group presentation, Project report and/or
(multimedia) product); and reflection or collaboration (Students' peer
evaluations,
Portfolio/learning
log,
Assessment
of
group
performance
on
collaborative tasks) (Law et al., 2008). In order to ascertain the assessment
orientations of the South African science teachers, they were asked to respond to
question 15 on the teacher questionnaire: In your teaching of the target class in this
school year: (a) Do you use the following methods of assessing student performance?
(b) Do you use ICT to carry out these assessments? Teachers were asked to respond
―yes‖ or ―no‖ to each of those questions (Figure 6.12). The responses have been
plotted on the graph below showing the types of assessment methods used by the
sampled South African science teachers (red bar Figure 6.12) and their use of ICT for
those methods of assessment (blue bar Figure 6.12).
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% Using ICT
Written test/examination
21
Written task/exercise
Methods of assessment
Assessment method
99
21
Project report and/or product
99
18
Group presentation
86
17
Portfolio/learning log
94
17
Individual oral presentation
92
16
86
Assessment of group performance
15
Students' peer evaluations
93
14
0
87
10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
Percentage
Figure 6.12: South African science teachers’ assessment strategies and ICT-use
The most used methods of assessing students were written tasks or exercises and
written tests or examinations, both being reported by nearly 100% of teachers. ICT
use in these activities was low in all, with the highest ICT use of just over 21% being
reported for written tests or examinations. Not unsurprisingly, the traditionally
important assessments were used by nearly all South African science teachers.
Perhaps less expected is the high reported use of other forms of assessment by South
African science teachers such as group presentations (just over 94%), portfolios (just
over 92%), and the assessment of a group performance on collaborative tasks (just
over 93%). Perhaps this is an indication of the assessment strategies of the NCS
(DoE, 2002a) filtering into schools.
The three individual cases allowed more insight into how South African science
teachers use ICT for assessment. All three of the science teachers in the case studies
used ICT for assessment with their students and this categorisation was valuable in
understanding how each of the three teachers used ICT for assessment. Mr Sogo had
154
a strong traditionally important orientation and while his students did not have
access to computers at the time of the study, he was learning how to use a freely
available programme which allowed teachers to set up simple multiple choice
questions for the different sections of work. The teacher could use the programme
and set up all the questions with possible responses. Mr Sogo anticipated that once
he had the necessary knowledge about the programme and once his students had
access to the computers in the computer room, he would find such an assessment
strategy very useful for his students. Mrs Marley had a functioning computer room
and her students had access to the propriety software loaded on the computers. The
software was designed for interactive use and at the end of each section of work there
was a short multiple choice test which allowed students instant feedback on what
they knew about the content. While Mrs Marley found this use of the computer
valuable, it remained informal as there was no way of printing out the computerbased tests for marking and filing. In addition, the programme was set up to give
instant feedback for self-assessment. Both Mr Sogo and Mrs Marley used ICT to
replace conventional testing in a way that did not change the assessment criteria in
any way. They were able to assess learning using ICT and not assess learning with
ICT.
Mrs Putten had the most sophisticated use of ICT for assessment as she was able to
design her own assessment tools using software such as Microsoft Excel and
PowerPoint. Her advanced level of technical skills with the computer allowed her to
use ICT for assessment for all the examples suggested in the SITES 2006 Teacher
questionnaire (traditional use, generating products, and reflection or collaboration).
Mrs Putten did use simple drill and practice assessment with her students, simply
replacing traditional assessment with the use of a computer but was also able to use
ICT to assess aspects of learning that would not have been possible without the use of
technology, such as that described below
[using a camera and Photostory for assessment] What they do is, they
have to plan, so it‘s also trying to teach them self-direction. I give them a
Photostat of a recipe of an experiment. Then they have to plan exactly
what they need and where they‘re going to get it, and they must make
sense of it and know how they are going to go about it. They work in pairs.
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…. Then they give that in to me, and they say what they already know
about the topic and what they need to know in order to be able to explain
it fully. Then I mark that section and give them a list of what topics they
need to research because otherwise they end up just floating. At the
moment… they're on the Internet and in the library and on Encarta… so
that they‘ll understand why the experiment results are as they are. Then
on Friday, we are going to go to the [science] lab, and I'm going to bring
my digital camera, and they have to bring all that apparatus. I mark them
also, while they are doing it, did they bring all the apparatus, did they
plan, were they prepared to be able to do it? Then they actually set it up
and I photograph it as they do it. They tell me ―I want a photograph now‖,
and so on. Then I put it on the intranet and they can take their pictures.
Then they put it in Photostory… it‘s very easy to make movies with, you
take still images, then you can add text, you can speak to it, you can put
music on, you can bring about transitions and so on, so then they make a
movie of that. So it‘s like a teaching video saying what happened in their
experiment and why it happens. Last year, I compressed it so that it can go
on a phone so I don‘t know if you are going to see it very well. I've got a
section where they assess one another on their final movie, so then I gave
each of them a few movies they have to watch and then they have to tick
that. Then I took the average for each child, it‘s quite complicated… so this
is the part that I assess, whether they can plan the apparatus, say what
they know at the beginning and what questions need answering, what
resources they should use and then how they process the information,
they‘ve got to select the information, the key words, then make it into a
mind map and then re-write in their own words (extract from interview
with Mrs Putten).
Teacher guided peer assessment also featured in Mrs Putten‘s teaching strategy as
can be seen from the extract below
… this part, if they want they can do it on the computer but mostly I found
them just doing that on paper. … but then here we start with the ICT stuff,
while they're working on the production, I look at how they do it and then
this here is the presentation itself [shows me an example of a
presentation]. So I don‘t really give marks for whether it‘s flashy or
whatever but rather the content of how they speak [present]. But when
they speak, their assessment of one another will be affected by flashy
things because they have got to say whether it is interesting, and I suppose
it‘s more likely to be interesting if it is flashy, maybe. So it does come in a
bit in their peer assessment. But generally I tend to downplay appearance
and look at the content (extract from interview with Mrs Putten).
156
Mrs Putten understood what aspects of the assessment using ICT were simply
replacing traditional methods and what aspects enhanced her assessment strategies.
6.4 Discussion
The quantitative data from the SITES 2006 survey and the qualitative data from the
case studies were integrated to address themes around teachers‘ use of ICT in
Science. The combined data provides evidence of the limited extent to which South
African science teachers in general are able to effectively incorporate 21st century
pedagogical practices in their teaching. The observed teacher practice together with
the teacher responses on the SITES 2006 Teacher Questionnaire provided evidence
that the sampled South African science teachers showed a predominantly
traditionally orientation in their teaching practice. Even when they were able to
adopt ICT in their practice, their ICT-using pedagogical orientation remained
predominantly traditional.
A very small percentage of science teachers in South Africa have access to technology
infrastructure, and even when they do, their use of that technology is limited. Only
one of the three teachers in the case studies was able to use a full repertoire of
technologies and use them in a way that added to and extended learning beyond the
requirements of the curriculum. Her students experienced a level of integration of
ICT into their learning which provided opportunities for learning that would not
have been possible without access to ICT. For the other two teachers, the use of ICT
remained at a level of supplementing the curriculum.
Each of the three teachers highlights different levels of availability of technology
resources combined with varying level of expertise in the use of those resources. Mr
Sogo had access to the most basic level of technology resources (laptop, dataprojector, digital camera, electronic dictionary), but his students did not have access
to a functioning computer room and were not able to use the computers themselves.
However, they were exposed to teaching using ICT and the teacher‘s use
supplemented the curriculum. Mrs Marley also had access to a limited number of
resources (laptop, and data-projector) but a functioning computer room for students
with curriculum-supporting software allowed her students to use ICT for learning.
157
Mrs Marley used ICT to supplement, enrich, and reinforce the existing curriculum.
Mrs Putten used her personal experience and interest in computer technology to
capitalize on the potential of technology to take students beyond the curriculum
through her use of ICT in her project-based learning activities. Her use can be
described as sophisticated and innovative.
The very low use of web-based learning environments, data-logging tools, and multimedia production tools reported by the teachers in the SITES 2006 study (Table 6.1)
supports what was observed with the three teachers. The surprisingly low use of a
General Office Suite (word-processing, spreadsheet, presentation software) was,
however not a finding that was supported by the three cases as all three teachers
were proficient at these applications. Even Mr Sogo, the teacher who showed the
simplest level of ICT use reported using a word-processing and presentation package.
Like most other science teachers in South Africa, none of the three teachers in the
case studies had access to data-logging tools or an IWB (Mrs Marley had an IWB
which was not connected). Only Mrs Putten was able to use simulation software in
her teaching and only Mr Sogo had access to and used a digital dictionary.
South African science teachers generally used a wide variety of assessment strategies
in their teaching, and this is testimony to the success of a new assessment policy
which has a component of continuous assessment. This was evident in the three
individual teachers as well as the teacher population in general. However, there was
very little evidence of use of ICT for those assessment strategies. To the extent that
teachers were able to use ICT for assessment, drill and practice and self-assessment
dominated. Lack of technical support and connectivity problems prevented even the
most sophisticated ICT user of the three teachers from using ICT for assessment in
any significant way.
South African science teachers’ use of ICT compared to other science
teachers internationally
The SITES-M2 framework was developed by looking at teacher ICT practice in the
174 innovative uses of to identify seven patterns of ICT use (section 3.1.1).While the
cluster analysis in the SITES-M2 study created distinction among groups of cases,
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there was a great deal of commonality among them. The major finding of the SITESM2 study was that in a large majority of cases in all countries in the study, teachers
engaged in a common set of innovative pedagogical practices (bearing in mind that
these pedagogical practice were reported in classrooms in which access to technology
resources was not limited). In almost all the cases, the teachers acted as student
advisors, created structure for student activities, and monitored and assessed
progress, rather than adopting the traditional role of knowledge provider. In many of
the cases, the ICT-supported practices allowed students to work with each other on
collaborative projects which cut across subject areas, and allowed teachers in the
same school to collaborate with each other. There were, however, few cases in which
teachers and students collaborated with others outside the classroom and very few
examples of innovative ICT use involved teachers or students collaborating with
scientists, professors or business people (Kozma, 2003). The findings reported in the
SITES-M2 study provided an interesting point of comparison between those cases
and the three explored in this study. From the three teachers observed in this study,
there was no evidence of their collaborating with other teachers, even in the same
school and each of the three cases acted as isolated users of ICT in their schools. Only
one of the three teachers in this study (Mrs Putten) acted in a less traditional
teacher-centred role, and acted more as a facilitator of learning.
159
Tool use
A strong emphasis on the extensive use of technology tools, such as
e-mail and productivity tools, to communicate, to search for
information and to create products. These tools include word
processing.
Student
Collaborative
research
These cases were characterized by students working collaboratively
in pairs or groups to conduct research, less frequently to collect and
analyse data. Information and communication technologies were
used to conduct research or create a presentation on the group‘s
ideas or their solution to a problem.
Information
Management
The primary use of information and communication technologies
in this cluster was for the purposes of searching for – organizing,
managing and using – information for teaching and learning
purposes. Some use of productivity tools was apparent, particularly
for the purposes of presenting information gleaned from
information searches.
Teacher
Collaboration
Emphasis on teacher collaboration with both students and other
teachers often for the purposes of designing instructional materials
or activities.
√
Outside
Communication
Characterized be the tendency for student to make use of
communication technologies such as e-mail, the Internet,
conferencing software or listservs to work with other students
outside of the classroom environment.
√
Product
creation
The primary use of information technology in this cluster was to
facilitate the design and creation of digital products using software
packages
Tutorial
Projects
Characterized by the use of tutorial or drill-and-practice software to
allow students to work independently, to receive feedback on their
performance and to refine their skills.
√
Mrs Putten
Characteristics
Mr Sogo
Pattern
Mrs Marley
Table 6.3 Three case study teachers’ patterns of ICT use
√
√
√
√
√
√
√
√
√
√
The characteristic of Mr Sogo‘s ICT use was dominated by Tool Use (Table 6.3)
although the use was not considered to be ―extensive‖. Mr Sogo did use productivity
tools such as word processing and presentation software packages for Product
Creation (Table 6.3) to deliver his lessons. To a limited extent his teaching reflected
some level of Information Management as he was able to use the Internet as a
research tool to supplement the content knowledge for his lessons. His teaching
practice would most likely have been dominated by Tutorial Projects if his computer
160
room had been functioning. Mrs Putten, meanwhile, had an extensive repertoire of
ICT use and her teaching included aspects of each of the possible patterns of ICT use
identified in the SITES-M2 study. It is not possible to select a single aspect of her ICT
use as dominant in her teaching. Mrs Marley, like Mr Sogo, had one dominant
pattern of ICT use, Tutorial Projects, which characterised her teaching. Her practice
included some level of Tool Use, Information Management, and Product Creation.
One of the most significant findings of the SITES-M2 study was that in less than 20%
of the 174 international cases, both the goals and content of the curriculum changed,
and ICT added value to these changes (Kozma, 2003). In these cases, the curriculum
change was most often related to achieving new goals or offering existing content in a
different way. This was only apparent in one of the three cases in this study (Mrs
Putten). In the 174 SITES-M2 cases, one of the primary impacts of the innovative use
of ICT was the increase in student and teacher ICT skills. In all three of the cases in
this study, the teachers were long-time users of ICT and none of them reported that
their use of ICT in their science lessons had improved their ICT skills. The students
of Mr Sogo were not able to use the computers themselves and Mrs Marley felt that
her students were adequately skilled at using ICT. Mrs Putten felt that her students‘
ICT skills improved during the year as they spent an increasing amount of time using
the computer. Her initial frustration at having to teach the students how to
manipulate the mouse eased as the year progressed and they spent more time in her
science classes.
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CHAPTER SEVEN
7 Why science teachers use ICT in the ways
they do
There are a number of factors which influence the ways teachers use ICT and can be
used to predict differences between teachers who successfully integrated computer
technology from those who do not (Mueller, Woods, Willoughby, Ross, & Specht,
2008). Some of these are extrinsic factors such as access to resources and school
environment, while others are intrinsic, such as teachers‘ personal ICT competence
and their attitudes and beliefs to teaching with technology. This chapter explores
some of those factors as a way of understanding the reasons that South Africa science
teachers use ICT in the ways that they do, providing breadth and depth of
understanding in the South African context. As in Chapter 6, this chapter brings
together the quantitative and qualitative data collected in this study. An analysis and
interpretation of both data-sets is used to answer the second sub-question: Why do
science teachers use ICT in the ways that they do? The question is answered by
bringing both sets of data together, analysing the data, and making interpretations
based on the evidence presented in this chapter. A summary of the findings are
presented in the final part of this chapter.
7.1 Teachers’ ICT competence
A teacher‘s technical and pedagogical ICT competence is a key factor in whether or
not a teacher uses ICT on their practice (Law et al., 2008). This was explored with
South African teachers through the questionnaire and the case studies. Science
teachers were asked to indicate how they perceived their level of competence in the
general and pedagogical use of ICT. The results are presented in Table 7.1
(Appendices E and F).
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Table 7.1: Teachers’ self-reported Technical and Pedagogical ICT confidence
To what extent are you confident in accomplishing the following?
Somewhat
OR a Lot (%)
Mean
Score
(SE)
Technical Use of ICT
A
I can produce a letter using a word-processing program
54
2.67 (0.07)
B
I can e-mail a file (e.g., the notes of a meeting) to a colleague
37
2.16 (0.07)
C
I can take photos and show them on the computer
31
1.96 (0.07)
D
I can file electronic documents in folders and subfolders on the computer
43
2.33 (0.08)
E
I can use a spreadsheet program for budgeting or student administration
40
2.24 (0.08)
F
I can share knowledge and experiences with others in a discussion
forum/user group on the Internet
30
1.95 (0.07)
G
I can produce presentations with simple animation functions
27
1.92 (0.07)
H
I can use the Internet for online purchases and payments
25
1.84 (0.07)
Pedagogical Use of ICT
I
I can prepare lessons that involve the use of ICT by students
28
1.88 (0.06)
J
I know which teaching/learning situations are suitable for ICT use
30
1.93 (0.06)
K
I can find useful curriculum resources on the Internet
34
2.05 (0.07)
L
I can use ICT for monitoring students' progress and evaluating learning
outcomes
33
1.97 (0.07)
M
I can use ICT to give effective presentations/explanations
31
1.94 (0.07)
N
I can use ICT for collaboration with others
29
1.90 (0.07)
O
I can install educational software on my computer
29
1.89 (0.07)
P
I can use the Internet (e.g., select suitable websites, user groups/discussion
forums) to support student learning
31
1.95 (0.07)
Some 54% of South African science teachers reported that they were somewhat or
very confident at word-processing. However, only 28% felt confident in their ability
to prepare lessons that involved the use of ICT with their students. When the
technical and pedagogical competencies for the South African science teachers are
plotted graphically in decreasing order of mean score (Figure 7.1), most of the
technical competencies (red) ranked higher than the pedagogical competencies
(blue).
163
4.00
Mean score
3.50
3.00
2.50
2.67
2.33 2.24
1.89 1.88 1.84
2.00
1.50
1.00
Technical and Pedgogical use of ICT
Figure 7.1: South African science teacher mean scores for confidence in technical and pedagogical
ICT use
The sampled South African science teachers reported the most confidence in their
word-processing ability (mean of 2.67), filing electronic documents (mean 2.33),
and e-mailing a file (mean 2.24) and least confident about using the Internet for
preparing lessons that involved the use of ICT with their students (mean 1.88) and
using the Internet for online purchases and payments (1.84). The average mean for
competence in technical use of ICT (2.14) is higher than the average mean for
competence in pedagogical use of ICT (1.94), showing higher competence in skills
such as word-processing and the use of spreadsheet and presentation software, than
the use of ICT is a way that integrates it into teaching and learning. This was the case
in most education systems internationally, with the mean for teachers‘ self-perceived
general ICT competence reported as higher than the respective mean for pedagogical
ICT competence (Law et al., 2008).
While great variations existed across different systems internationally, South African
science teachers had the second lowest confidence in the technical use of ICT (behind
164
the Russian Federation) and the lowest confidence in pedagogical use of ICT (Law et
al., 2008). The systems with the highest reported general ICT competence are not the
same as those having the highest reported pedagogical ICT competence, which
indicates that higher general ICT competence alone is not sufficient to build up
teachers‘ pedagogical ICT competence.
Technical and pedagogical ICT competence was a theme common to all three
teachers in the case studies but each showed competence to varying degrees. All
three teachers had produced electronic presentations showcasing their use of ICT
with their students. All three had been the recipients (together with others in their
schools in the case of Mr Sogo and Mrs Marley) of a reward or prize for their
presentations. They all used a spreadsheet to record their students‘ assessment
marks. Mrs Putten, unlike the other two teachers, was competent in online
discussions and forum discussions, which were a feature of her daily ICT use. She
was also competent in the use of ―wikis‖, websites that allow several users to easily
add, edit and remove content in a collaborative way (Cych, 2006). The main learning
opportunity of wikis is that ―each person shares a part of what they know to construct
a whole – in another form of peer-to-peer constructivist learning‖ (Cych, 2006, p.
35). Although the other two teachers said that they could use wikis, there was no
evidence that they used them as part of their teaching. In all three cases I was able to
communicate with the teachers, although somewhat erratically with Mr Sogo and
Mrs Marley, using e-mail and cellular phone communication.
7.2 Students’ ICT competence
Teachers‘ ability to use ICT effectively with their students depends to some extent on
their students‘ competence with ICT applications. ICT competence of students was
very low across all competencies. Teachers were asked to respond to the question:
What proportion of students in your class has competence in the following? In
terms of perceived student ICT competence, the teacher responses are indicated in
Figure 7.2 (Appendices E and F).
165
Word-processing
ICT Competencies
Graphic calculator
Data-base software
Multi-media
The Majority or Nearly All
Spreadsheet
Nearly none or some
Don't know
Internet
Presentation software
Data-logging tools
E-mail
0
20
40
60
80
100
Percentage
Figure 7.2: South African science teachers’ reported level of Student ICT Competence
The graph shows how the teachers reported the ICT competencies of their students,
ranked from highest competency to lowest. The most likely ICT competency, wordprocessing, was ranked as the highest level of student competency, yet only 13% of
science teachers reported that the majority or nearly all of their students were
competent in word-processing. Data-logging tools, a technology which many South
African science teachers do not know, was not surprisingly ranked as lowest with less
than 2%. Competency in the use of the Internet was also ranked low with less than
3% of teachers reporting that the majority or nearly all of their students were
competent. This low competency is more likely owing to low Internet access, than
low Internet ability.
The low ICT use for student activities can perhaps be better understood when
combining that data with the data which indicates very low student ICT competence.
Even when teachers have access to ICT for tuition, there is a very limited ICT use
possibly as a result of very low reported ICT competence. The evidence presented in
166
this study appears to show that low student ICT competence affects to some extent a
teacher‘s ability to successfully integrate ICT into teaching and learning practices.
Despite the Gauteng Online computer room at Mr Sogo‘s school, his science students
did not have an opportunity to use the computers owing to connection problems. It
meant that the level of ICT competence of the students at this school was very
limited. The school timetable did have a CAT lesson scheduled for the students in
Grades 9-12, but during these lesson times, the students filed into the computer
room and sat at the computer stations with the computers in plastic (Figure 6.2),
effectively making it a ―free‖ lesson. They were supervised by the CAT teacher but no
work was done, a situation which had persisted for some time prior to my visit.
The students of Mrs Putten also had varying levels of ICT competence but generally
improved over the years spent with her. She raised the issue in an interview:
When they come to us they can‘t even use a mouse. So they are very slow.
It is incredible how difficult it is to use a mouse [laughing]… the class I‘ve
got now, the weaker ones they are very slow. It does definitely limit what
you can do (extract from interview with Mrs Putten).
The students of Mrs Marley had frequent access to the computers in the computer
room, both as CAT students learning skills such as word processing and presentation
skills, and as science students, navigating through the curriculum-based software
package that formed the basis for the science lessons.
7.3 Attendance at ICT-related professional development
activities
Providing professional development activities to improve teaching practice is a
strategy commonly advocated by the DoE. Such activities which focus on teachers‘
competence and confidence at using ICT in their teaching may need to receive
departmental attention as data collected in this study suggests that teachers have
very low attendance at ICT-related professional development activities. The SITES
2006 data shows that the professional development activity which had the highest
attendance among South African science teachers was introductory courses for
Internet and general ICT applications (22%). Overall, South Africa reported the
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lowest attendance (8%) in pedagogical ICT-related and technical ICT-related
Professional Development Activities
activities of all the participating systems (Law et al., 2008) (Figure 7.3).
Introductory Internet
Technical
Advanced applications
Subject-specific
Multimedia operations
Pedagogical issues
Advanced Internet
0
20
40
60
80
100
Percentage
Yes I have
No (don't want to)
Would I if could
Figure 7.3: Teacher Participation in Professional Development Activities
The desire to participate in these professional development activities was, however,
the highest (together with the Russian Federation) of all the participating systems.
This suggests that teachers‘ low attendance at professional development activities
was more a consequence of access than of desire.
Attendance at ICT-related professional development activities was a theme that
emerged with two of the three teachers in the case studies. Both Mr Sogo and Mrs
Putten had been actively involved in a variety of professional development activities.
In addition to his teaching diploma, Mr Sogo had taken an additional course in
Information Literacy [InfoLit] as well as qualified as a teacher-trainer in IT. The
programme was intended to allow teachers like Mr Sogo to teach computer literacy
skills to members of the local community. Insufficient funding meant that the
programme was no longer financially viable and training at his school had ceased.
When describing his level of qualification, Mr Sogo said ―I still have only the diploma
… but so many other courses‖. When I met Mr Sogo, he had just begun an Advanced
168
Certificate in Education (ACE) in Educational Computing (2 years part-time). The
ACE was funded by the Department of Education.
Mrs Putten had voluntarily participated in a variety of ICT training courses. She had
enrolled for a month-long Intel Teach course in which she developed her skills in
using ICT for project-based learning, and had participated in courses run and
sponsored by a computer company in which she trained as an ICT teacher-trainer.
She was a frequent participant and presenter at education conferences where she
disseminated her personal work as a teacher and shared the lessons she had learnt
with other teachers. She was a highly motivated student and teacher in many matters
relating to the educational use of ICT, and was strongly influenced in her practice by
her attendance at workshops, conferences, and courses. All of the professional
development activities she attended had two noteworthy features: they were
voluntary; and they had a strong emphasis on pedagogical use of ICT, rather than on
technical use. The influence of what she learnt was clearly evident in her teaching
practice.
Mrs Marley was less active in the area of professional development. The school had
been the recipient of an IWB but during the time I spent at the school, it was not
connected or used. The reason for this was that the training that had been scheduled
was postponed then cancelled and neither Mrs Marley nor any of the other staff at
the school knew how to connect or use the IWB. Instead, it was used as a white dataprojector screen. One year after leaving the school I enquired about the board and
was told that training had still not occurred and the very expensive piece of
technology remained unused because of lack of skills on the part of the teacher and
training from the service provider.
7.4 Obstacles to using ICT
Even when teachers recognise the importance of integrating technology into their
teaching, successful implementation is often hampered by obstacles, which have
been the focus of research for many years (Becta, 2003; Cox, Preston, & Cox, 1999;
Jones, 2004). As outlined in section 2.6, a summary of research on this topic
conducted by Becta suggests four categories of obstacles: resource-related factors;
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factors associated with training, skills, knowledge and computer experience;
attitudinal (including beliefs about teaching and learning) and personality factors;
institutional and cultural factors (including policy) (Becta, 2003). The teacher
responses on the SITES 2006 teacher questionnaire where organized along the same
four themes discussed above. Table 7.2 shows the responses to the question about
obstacles they experienced to using ICT in their teaching. Twelve were listed and
teachers were asked to respond using ―yes‖ or ―no‖ to the list of obstacles. The mean
scores were calculated on a 2-point Likert scale (Appendix F).
Table 7.2: Obstacles to ICT use
% Yes
(SE)
Mean
Score
(SE)
77 (2.51)
57 (3.29)
1.60 (0.03)
1.57 (0.03)
77 (2.72)
1.77 (0.03)
66 (2.64)
1.67 (0.03)
(C) Lack of ICT-related skills
60 (3.17)
1.60 (0.03)
(D) Lack of ICT-related pedagogical skills
66 (2.86)
1.67 (0.03)
(I) Unable to identify which ICT tools will be useful
56 (2.87)
1.56 (0.03)
(F) Students do not possess the required ICT skills
75 (2.76)
1.75 (0.03)
(E) Insufficient confidence to try new approaches alone
40 (3.23)
1.40 (0.03)
(H) Lack of time to develop and implement ICT-using
activities
36 (3.07)
1.36 (0.03)
(A) ICT is not considered to be useful in my school
26 (2.60)
1.26 (0.03)
(K) I do not have the flexibility to make my own
decisions when planning lessons with ICT
53 (3.42)
1.53 (0.03)
Category of
Obstacles
Specific obstacle included within each category
Resources
(J) My school lacks digital learning resources
(L) I do not have access to ICT outside of the school
(G) Students do not have access to the required ICT
tools outside of the school premises
(B) My school does not have the required ICT
infrastructure
Skills and
Training
Attitudes and
Beliefs
Institutional
Not surprisingly, the obstacles that the sampled South African science teachers rated
as greatest related to resources and access to ICT. The greatest reported obstacle was
a lack of student access to ICT outside of school (77%), a lack of digital resources at
school (77%), and a lack of student ICT skills (75%). Figure 7.4 shows how the
teachers ranked the issues which they perceived as obstacles to their use of ICT in
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teaching and learning (Appendices E and F). The three highest scores are shown in
red and the three lowest in green.
100
90
80
77
77
75
Percentage
70
60
50
40
40
36
26
30
20
10
0
Obstacles
Figure 7.4: Three highest and three lowest teacher-reported obstacles to ICT use
When the mean scores on the 2-point Likert scale of teacher responses to questions
about obstacles to their own ICT use are grouped into categories that corresponded
to the themes emerging from the case studies, the relative value ascribed to each
category can be better understood. The average mean for each category of obstacle is
calculated and plotted in decreasing order of response, as shown in Figure 7.5 to
show how the teachers rate the significance of the obstacles.
171
Mean score
2.00
1.80
1.67
1.65
1.60
1.40
1.38
Institutional
Attitudes and
Beliefs
1.40
1.20
1.00
Resources
Skills and
Training
Categories of Obstacles
Figure 7.5: Categories of obstacles experiences by South African science teachers in their use of
ICT in teaching
On average, South African science teachers rated resource and skills and training
obstacles as the most significant. This is most likely owing to the low percentage of
South African schools in general with access to ICT for pedagogical use. The science
teachers rated obstacles related to their institution as well as obstacles related to
their personal attitudes and beliefs as least significant (Figure 7.5). Obstacles related
to resources i.e. school infrastructure, availability of digital resources, and access to
ICT outside school are all perceived as being very significant obstacles to ICT use by
the three South African science teachers in the individual cases as well.
These four themes were explored with the three teachers. Each experienced the
obstacles differently and to different degrees.
Resource related obstacles
All three teachers had access to their own ICT resources outside of school, and all
had their own laptop computer loaded with word processing, spreadsheet, and
presentation software which they used to support their teaching. Mr Sogo did not
have access to a computer room and depended entirely on using his laptop and dataprojector. Mrs Marley had access to a well-equipped computer room but it was set
primarily for CAT, which was scheduled on the time-table. These lessons took
priority and if Mrs Marley wanted to use the computer room, she needed to work
172
around the CAT timetable and book the computer room in periods that it was free,
which she did in the afternoons after school. Mrs Putten had the most flexibility with
the computer room. While it too was available to all teachers, ―… well in the case of
the [computer] lab, I just by default have it. If other people want it, they book it.‖ All
three teachers felt that their schools lacked sufficient technology infrastructure. Mr
Sogo said that getting the computers in the computer room connected and
functioning would help a lot as the students would then be able to use them. Mrs
Putten had everything she needed in terms of resources but still felt that additional
resources would be favourable, albeit not a great obstacle to her use of ICT if she did
not have them.
… it would be nice for the children to be able to write as well. So with the
smart board [IWB] they can actually go and plot points or whatever. They
can do simulations and adjust things… I suppose… it‘s more of an
interactive feel, especially with the children… I've never worked with a
smart board really, but I've just heard that it is nice (extract from
interview with Mrs Putten).
While Mrs Marley felt that she had the necessary resources, her greatest frustration
(one also felt by Mr Sogo and Mrs Putten) was the lack of a fast and reliable Internet
connection. All three teachers were visibly frustrated by the lack of access to the
Internet. In the case of Mr Sogo, the collaboration with a partner school in the UK
had been terminated owing to the lack of a reliable Internet connection. Mrs Putten
felt that she was significantly hampered in getting her students to use ―blogs‖ (web
logs on which individual regularly post their opinions) and ―wikis‖ because of the
slow and erratic Internet connection.
… and there‘s a teacher [from another school], he was one of them, there
were four of them that won the innovative teachers award [Microsoft],
and there are no barriers because they just do everything because their
Internet connection is so fast. So they use blogs, wikis all the time. They
use Google Earth and stuff that we just can't. But I think that is the way to
go (extract from interview with Mrs Putten).
One year after the last visit to the schools, Mr Sogo reported that the Gauteng Online
computer room that was ―almost complete‖ when I visited the school was still not
functioning. Despite being promised by the e-learning directorate, no progress had
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been made and it still could not be used for teaching and learning. All three of the
teachers used what they had access to, but all three felt that they could do more if
they had more resources at their disposal. The evidence from this study suggests that
teacher access to a personal computer, either a desktop or laptop computer is a key
factor in successful teacher ICT-use.
Training and skills as obstacles
All three of the teachers were skilled at using their available ICT and used PCs for
typing notes, recording student marks and researching subject content knowledge on
the Web. This was not the case with other teachers in the schools of their three
teachers. Mr Sogo attributed the low ICT use of the other teachers in his school to
low ICT skills.
You know I was shocked yesterday. A teacher came to ask me to help her
type a letter using ‗Word‘ [word-processing software]. I said, ‗don‘t you
know how to use these programmes? You can type your own letter‘. Then
she said ‗no, I can‘t type, so can you please type for me because when I
type I mix small letters and capital letters‘. Then I said ‗OK, I‘ll help you‘
and I showed her (extract from interview with Mr Sogo).
Mrs Putten thought that a certain level of technical expertise was essential for
effective ICT use and that a lack of expertise was a barrier to many teachers:
I dislike paper very much, so I thought this is my opportunity to go
electronic. I set up all my files [mark sheets] electronically and I asked the
rest [of the teachers] ―would you like to also, I‘ll set up a generic thing for
you and then you just have to make alterations‖. So I spent hours doing
that where all they [the teachers] needed to do was just alter something.
Everything was hyperlinked as well. All they needed to do was go in there,
there was a header, and just type their things [marks]. I made it available
on the intranet for everybody. The mark sheets were also set up with the
calculations done. Except for a few who are very good with computers, it
was a bit of a flop because they [the teachers] don‘t work with computers
every day. So then they don‘t know where they put this thing. With the
marks it was really dreadful because they had to make some adjustments
because it was just a generic thing and they had to tailor make it [to their
own needs/requirements]. That messed up the calculations, so I don‘t
know… I don‘t know if really using a computer for admin if you don‘t
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really know how to use it is a good idea. It seems to me not (extract from
interview with Mrs Putten).
This teacher saw the importance of technical skills but had not been successful in
convincing the other teachers at the school that technology could assist them in basic
administrative tasks:
… computer-use is optional and dependent on the teacher, and not
stipulated by any policy. I must just add that I have been pushing for all
teachers - or at least some - to do the Intel Teach course, and have offered
my services to do the training. I've been making this request over the past
two years. The principal is very eager and so are some of the staff
members. However, it is just never happening. I think there are three
problems: One, teachers just don't have 4 days to set aside for it; two,
many of the teachers aren't computer literate enough for it and three,
since I'm not some amazing speaker coming from somewhere else for a
limited period of time, paid dearly for my services, there's just no urgency
about the matter - so it can always be postponed (e-mail communication
with Mrs Putten).
Lack of ICT technical expertise proved to be a problem for one teacher in particular.
Mrs Marley did not have the technical skills to solve any of the technical difficulties
which arose in the computer room. Her frustration lay in the way in which the
technical support was organised in the school. The management and technical
support for the computers and the computer room had been outsourced. The private
company that had funded the computer room took full responsibility for maintaining
the computers and other infrastructure. All technical faults were reported to them
and the time delay between reporting the fault and getting it fixed proved to be an
on-going frustration:
We cannot get a proper reason for us being offline, because our computers
are actually from Oracle and they are the one that is responsible to. They
send their technicians here and as a licensed educator, they are not at a
level where I can ask them what the problem is. But CAT educators can do
that, but still, because if I‘m frustrated, obviously I would want to find out
from them what the problem is and it seems to me that they actually don‘t
know. It means the guy who services the computer cannot just say to
them, this is the problem. You know, he was here last week. He has been
servicing these computers from last year December and he was here last
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week. I think there‘s a bit of a problem. I don‘t know why, because he
cannot actually say what the problem is… he does come and try and fix it,
but still it will run for some time and then one day there‘s no Internet and
then when you go there, it shows that you are connected, but then you
cannot actually get into the Internet (extract from interview with Mrs
Marley).
An exploration of the experiences of the three teachers, and some cases the other
teachers at their schools, suggests that even when teachers have a reasonable level of
ICT skills, the lack of sufficient technical skills can be an obstacle to ICT use.
Attitudes and beliefs as obstacles
Teacher beliefs are significant determinants in explaining why they adopt computers
in the classroom (Hermans, Tondeur, van Braak, & Valcke, 2008). According to
Hermans et al. (2008), constructivist teacher beliefs were found to be a strong
predictor of classroom use. In some instances, where there are conditions for
successful integration of technology, including access to technology, training, and a
favourable policy environment, high level technology use remains surprisingly low.
In these cases, it may be that additional barriers, specifically related to teachers
pedagogical beliefs may affect the level of ICT integration (Ertmer, 2001, 2005;
Ertmer, Addison, Lane, Ross, & Woods, 1999). Examining the relationship between
teachers‘ pedagogical beliefs and their technology practices may assist in
understanding to some degree why they use ICT in the ways that they do. It is not an
area that is well understood and was only explored to a limited extent in this study.
There was a strong belief from Mrs Marley that the computer was a stand-alone tool
as a substitute for the teacher, a belief which directly contradicts current researchbased thinking about the value of ICT in teaching and learning:
You know when they use the computer, they work on their own but I give
them instructions. I explain wherever necessary because the computer
actually does the job. I‘m just there to monitor. When they click on the
cell, it says ―cell wall, made of cellulose, gives shape…‖ I‘m just there to
monitor… all the learning comes from the computer programme, so I can
actually stand there and not do anything, unless they have got questions
(extract from interview with Mrs Marley).
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In some instances, teachers‘ beliefs about classroom technology use did not always
match their classroom practices (Ertmer, 2005). Despite all three teachers describing
themselves as having teaching philosophies in line with constructivist philosophies,
even the teacher who used ICT in the most sophisticated way, used technology that
might best be described as representing a mixed approach, at times engaging her
students in authentic, project-based work, but at other times asking them to
complete tutorials, practice skills, and learn isolated facts. This inconsistency was
most noticeable with Mr Sogo, who showcased his e-Learning approach at the school
in a presentation entitled ―e-Learning: Learner-centred instead of teacher-centred‖,
yet described the learner-centred approach as one in which a teacher‘s job was to
make sure that the students understood the work:
You see in the old education, it wasn‘t learner-centred because a teacher
would take a textbook and read to the students… whether they understand
or not, it wasn‘t his business or her business as a teacher. So it wasn‘t
learner-centred. But with e-Learning, with e-Learning here it‘s learnercentred… In e-Learning, students are our clients, in fact. Students are our
clients so we must make sure that whatever we give to them, they
understand fully… [we know they understand fully] by giving them
homework, controlling the homework. Giving them feedback. Because
those time [old education], they never gave us feedback. We give them
[students] feedback. They go through their feedback and see where they
went wrong. That is why I said it‘s learner-centred. It‘s a learner-centred
approach instead of a teacher-centred approach. Those days, eish… you‘d
be just given a chapter and be told go and read chapter 5. We are writing a
test. Teachers would do that. But now we can‘t do that. [Now] the students
who didn‘t achieve, you would go to them, trying to find out what was the
problem. They tell you the problems and then you try to solve the
problems, and assist them in achieving (extract from interview with Mr
Sogo).
Explanations for these inconsistencies included references to contextual constraints,
such as a content-dominated curriculum, or resource constraints such as lack of
access to adequate technology. Although all these teachers experienced obstacles to
integrating ICT into their teaching, they each responded differently, in part
depending on their individual beliefs about what constitutes effective classroom
practice.
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Institutional and cultural related obstacles
It was clear for all three teachers that the schools in which they taught were very
supportive of their use of ICT and to the use of ICT in the school in general. They
were able to make their own decisions about the use of ICT for their teaching. With
the framework for analysis of ICT policies in education by Kozma (2008) discussed
in 2.2, I was particularly interested in the role the school ICT Policy together with
National e-Education Policy (DoE, 2004b) played in guiding the teachers‘ use of ICT
in Science.
The school ICT policy of Mrs Marley lacked policy strategic-operational alignment
(not aligned with national e-Education policy), horizontal alignment (not aligned
with other policies in education system), and vertical alignment (not aligned with
provincial e-learning policy), diminishing the likelihood that the policy goals would
be achieved. Mrs Marley‘s school ICT policy lacked detail which might commit the
school to meaningful integration of ICT into teaching and learning as specified by the
national policy. The policy vision for the school was ―ICT is aimed at all students
when they leave the school should be computer or ICT literate. All educators and the
school staff benefit from the ICTs” [extract from school ICT policy document]. Most
of the policy detail referred to the use and management of ICT resources, including
the strict monitoring of ICT access for inappropriate use. The focus on control
dominated the policy. The policy lacked any articulation of ICT-related changes in
curriculum,
pedagogical
practices,
and
assessment
strategies,
most
likely
diminishing its usefulness in actively directing ICT integration into teaching and
learning.
The school ICT policy of Mr Sogo‘s school was quite the contrary and strongly
aligned with parts of the national e-Education policy. The policy was guided by a
template that the GDE had given the school from which it could write it. This school
ICT vision was ―to provide Educators, Students and Members of the community an
opportunity to achieve excellence in Academic and Computer skills for future
benefit‖, which would be achieved by ―promoting the culture of learning and
teaching and offering quality and balanced computer skills amongst all stake
holders‖ [extracts from school ICT policy document]. The school‘s use of ICT would:
178

Promote active and autonomous learning in students;

Provide students with competencies and technological skills that allow them to
search for, organize, and analyse information, and communicate and express
their ideas in a variety of media forms;

Enable teachers, students, and their parents to communicate and share
information on-line;

Engage students in collaborative, project-based learning in which students work
with other classmates on complex, extended, real-world-like problems or
projects;

Provide students with individualized or differentiated instruction, customized to
meet the needs of students with different achievement levels, interests, or
learning styles; and

Allow teachers and students to assess student and peer academic performance.
Despite the stronger strategic-operational policy alignment, there was an obvious
mismatch between the policy and practice at the school as the key element, the
Gauteng Online computer room, was not functional and none of the policy goals
could be achieved with the ICT set-up which Mr Sogo used.
Policies with too little detail (as in the case of Mrs Marley) do not guide teachers
enough in aspects of integration but rather focus on management of ICT resources,
and policies with ideals that are too ambitious (as in the case of Mr Sogo) set
standards which can never be met. None of the three teachers made any reference to
the national e-learning policy in our discussions and none knew the details of the elearning policy or had a copy on hand. Mrs Putten summed up the general attitude to
the school policy for all three teachers. When I asked if her school had a policy on
ICT use she replied ―Yes, there is somewhere in one of the files [laughs]‖. When
asked if her school had developed that policy with reference to the e-Education White
Paper she replied ―probably, I don’t know [laughs]‖. Each of the school ICT policies,
while perhaps not an overt obstacle to ICT use in the schools, did not act as the
enabler that ICT policy is intended to be.
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7.5 The presence of a community of practice (school support)
The presence of a community of practice is often considered to be an important
enabling factor in supporting pedagogical innovation and change in schools. The idea
underpinning this concept is that teachers work with colleagues in a school context
and that the beliefs and practices of teachers are strongly influenced by the cultures
and practices of the school within which they operate. Four key aspects were
identified in the SITES 2006 study pertaining to the presence of a community of
practice for teachers, namely (i) whether there is a shared vision among teachers and
the leadership in the school, (ii) whether teachers have opportunities to take part in
the decision making of the school, (iii) whether there is the presence of a strong
culture for professional collaboration and in the case of ICT implementation, (iv) the
availability of technical, administrative and infrastructural support (Law et al.,
2008). When these four aspects were explored with South African science teachers,
school vision was felt most by the majority of teachers (Appendices E and F).
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Table 7.3: Aspects of Community of Practice
Aspects of a
community of
practice
Specific statements listed
School vision
Decision making
Professional
collaboration
Support
Somewhat
OR a lot
%
Mean
Score
(SE)
Teachers discuss what they want to achieve through their
lessons
Teachers are constantly motivated to critically assess
their own educational practices
Teachers are expected to think about the school vision
and strategies with regard to educational practices
84
3.37 (0.05)
82
3.33 (0.06)
87
3.47 (0.05)
Teachers can influence the development of the school
innovation implementation plans
When implementing innovations, the school considers
teachers‘ opinions
Teachers are able to implement innovations in their
classrooms according to their own judgment and insights
77
3.09 (0.05)
78
3.15 (0.06)
86
3.38 (0.05)
Teacher co-teaches with colleagues
83
3.26 (0.06)
Teacher discusses problems experienced at work with
colleagues
Teacher works with teachers in other schools on
collaborative activities
Teacher work with teachers in other countries on
collaborative activities
93
3.58 (0.04)
79
3.19 (0.06)
13
1.68 (0.07)
Teacher receives sufficient technical support from the
school/region/state
Students can access computers easily outside scheduled
class time without the teacher‘s help
Administrative work arising from ICT use in teaching is
easy to do
30
1.89 (0.06)
12
1.38 (0.04)
18
1.59 (0.06)
The low mean score for I work with teachers in other countries on collaborative
activities (1.68) is consistent with low mean score for Liaise with collaborators
(within or outside school) for student collaborative activities (2.47) reported as
Teacher Practice and low mean score for Collaborate with peers from other schools
within and/or outside the country (1.87) reported as Student Practice. These three
aspects reported on the teacher questionnaire make for a consistently low
connectedness orientation of ICT use in the South African landscape. The four
aspects of community of practice are presented on Figure 7.6:
181
4.00
Mean score
3.50
3.39
3.21
2.93
3.00
2.50
2.00
1.62
1.50
1.00
School Vision
Decision making
Professional
Collaboration
Support
Aspects of a Community of Practice
Figure 7.6: Different Aspects of the presence of a community of practice in schools as reported by
South African science teachers
Of the four aspects of a community of practice, South African science teachers scored
the presence of school vision as highest with an average mean score of 3.39,
suggesting that teachers felt as though they were working within a community with a
vision that is shared among the teachers (Figure 7.6). The teachers however, felt that
there was little support, with an average mean score of 1.62. This perceived lack of
support may be a significant contributing factor to the low ICT use by South African
science teachers.
These four aspects of a community of practice were explored with each of the three
teachers to understand their experiences of each. It was of particular interest that
each of the three teachers worked within schools that at one level supported their use
of ICT in their teaching practice but on the other hand, left them to practice as
isolated islands of ICT use. Other than CAT, in all three cases, these teachers were
the sole users of ICT in subject teaching. Mr Sogo had offered the laptop to other
teachers but found that the interest waned after a few weeks. The equipment was
available for all teachers to use but none took up the offer. Mrs Putten was the only
teacher in the school who used the computer room for subject teaching, as was the
case for Mrs Marley.
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7.6 TPCK of science teachers
The pedagogical use of ICT was the focus of the SITES 2006 study but the concept
TPCK was not specifically addressed in the questionnaire. It was, however, a theme
which featured strongly in the three case studies as contributing to the reasons that
teachers use ICT in the ways that they do. TPCK (section 3.3.2), is the basis of good
teaching with technology. Each teacher who uses technology may do so in a different
way to achieve different learning objectives (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). Each teacher
is different and should develop their own understanding of the relationship between
the content they teach, the pedagogy they use to teach, and the technology which
supports the teaching appropriate to their students and specific classroom context.
Neither Mr Sogo, nor Mrs Marley displayed an understanding of connections,
interactions, affordances, and constraints between and among content, pedagogy,
and technology sufficient to use it in a way that would add value to their teaching.
This claim is supported by teacher comments such as:
Ay, really I don‘t know. But it [the computer] does add something. And I
can feel it that it does add something. My students, when I use the
computer ……they grasp what I am talking about easily. Unlike when I am
using the [chalk] board and writing. I just also want to find out, what
makes them to understand what makes them understand better when I
use the computer, unlike the chalk and the board. My feeling is…I feel they
do understand better, when I use the computer and the whiteboard. But I
still have to find out …what makes them …what is it that is different? I
don‘t what make them… (extract from interview with Mr Sogo).
With a limited understanding of child-centred learning (section 7.4), together with a
low TPCK, Mr Sogo was unable to fully integrate ICT into his teaching practice and
uses ICT to supplement the existing curriculum. This was similar in the case of Mrs
Marley. Mrs Putten, on the other hand, had a much greater knowledge of the
research literature on the subject of how to use ICT in education, the value that it
added, as well as possible issues which still form part of the current debates in the
field of research:
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But what I've also got from reading in preparation for writing that chapter
[for a book], is that apparently there is very little evidence that using
computers actually improves education, except with higher order
thinking, yes, and with collaboration. So they [researchers] say actually
sometimes it‘s better if you don‘t have enough computers so that people
have to share. That‘s what they [researchers] say. Now I find it difficult to
believe that it [using computers] doesn‘t help with lower order things such
as drill. Because I know myself that computers helped a lot with drill
(Extract from interview with Mrs Putten).
Judging from the large variety of ways in which Mrs Putten was able to use ICT in
teaching Science, she had a high TPCK and was able to use ICT successfully to extend
the teaching and learning in her class beyond the current curriculum. Part of Mrs
Putten‘s high TPCK was as a result of her being best being described as a ‗Digital
Native‘ (section 2.5.3). The interview with Mrs Putten suggested that she was a
―native speaker‖ of the digital language of computers (Prensky, 2001). This situation
provides an interesting scenario as the digital divide between the Digital Natives and
Digital Immigrants is usually used to describe the divide between teachers
(Immigrants) and students (Natives), not the other way around. Yet the students in
Mrs Putten‘s classes, although from a younger generation than hers, had not grown
up immersed in digital technology and were shaped by the predominantly text-based,
simpler, predictable, relatively stable, low-tech world in which they grew up. Mrs
Putten used technology in her teaching in the way that she does because she is a
Digital Native. She had a computer for as ―long as I can remember‖ and had learnt
her typing skills on a computer programme written for her by her father.
7.7 Perceived impact of ICT on teaching and learning
In most cases, teachers use ICT because they believe that its use will have an impact
on either their ability to teach, or for their students to learn more effectively. The
teacher questionnaire was designed to elicit some understanding of how teachers saw
the impact of ICT when they were able to use it. Teachers were first asked if they used
ICT with their science class for teaching and learning. More than 85% of the sampled
South African science teachers answered ―no‖ to this questions. This South African
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response was the lowest in all 22 systems participating in the survey (Law et al.,
2008). This result is not unsurprising as it is reasonable to expect that the level of
ICT infrastructure available within a system will influence the extent to which
teachers adopt ICT into their pedagogical practice. The 15% of science teachers who
answered ―yes‖ answered the questions about the impact of using ICT on their
teaching practice and on their students.
Impact on teachers
Teachers who indicated that they had used ICT when teaching Science were asked to
indicate the extent to which they perceived that ICT use had impacted on 12 specified
aspects related to themselves and their teaching. The responses are indicated on
Table 7.4 (Appendices E and F).
Table 7.4: Impact of ICT on teachers
Somewhat
OR A lot
(%)
Mean
Score (SE)
51
53
2.55 (0.12)
2.49 (0.12)
46
2.36 (0.11)
(C) Provide more individualized feedback
49
2.49 (0.11)
(E) Monitor more easily students‘ learning
progress
57
2.62 (0.12)
(G) Collaborate more with colleagues
60
2.71 (0.11)
(H) Collaborate more with peers and
experts outside school
49
2.55 (0.12)
ICT-skills
(A) Improved ICT skills
42
2.40 (0.12)
Administrative
efficiency
(I) Able to complete administrative tasks
more easily
54
2.64 (0.12)
Negative impacts
(J) Increased workload
(K) Increased work pressure
49
53
2.50 (0.12)
2.53 (0.12)
(L) Have become less effective as a teacher
22
1.74 (0.10)
Kind of Impact
Specific Impact
Empower teaching
(D) Incorporate new teaching methods
(B) Incorporate new ways of organizing
student learning
(F) Access more diverse/higher quality
learning resources
Better
monitoring/feedback to
students
Enhance collaboration
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The highest reported impact with a response of 60% was for collaborating more with
colleagues within my school. None of the three teachers in the case studies felt that
using ICT resulted in an increase in collaboration with their colleagues. In fact, all
three operated largely as islands of ICT use within their schools. I monitor more
easily students’ learning progress was also perceived to have impacted on teachers
with a positive response of 57%. This is perhaps indicative of the limited instances in
which teachers do have access to ICT, and is typically used to keep track of student
marks though DoE issued software, such as the South African Management System
(SAMS). All three of the teachers in the case studies used some sort of spreadsheet to
keep a record of student marks and all felt that this was a valuable aspect of ICT use.
When the mean scores of teacher perceived impacts are ranked from highest to
lowest and plotted, the spread is quite small (from 2.71 to 2.36) suggesting that
teachers don‘t feel the impact of ICT use in one particular area of their teaching
practice significantly more than another. Except for a few cases, the mean impact lies
between ―a little‖ and ―somewhat‖ on the 4-point Likert scale indicating that teachers
experienced some, if limited, extents of impacts as a result of ICT use, when they
were able to use it. When the highest three mean scores (red) and lowest three
(green) mean scores of the teacher perceived impacts are ranked and shown
graphically (Figure 7.7), the low spread is noticeable. The three highest scores are
shown in red and the three lowest in green.
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4.00
Mean score
3.50
3.00
2.71
2.64
2.62
2.40
2.50
2.00
2.36
1.74
1.50
1.00
Impacts of ICT
Figure 7.7: Three highest and three lowest South African science teacher-reported impacts of ICTuse
These 12 aspects can be categorised into six categories to give six impact indicators
(Law et al., 2008). The average mean score for each of these categories was
calculated, ranked and plotted graphically (Figure 7.8), the three highest in red and
the three lowest in green. The highest perceived impact was for the category of
increasing administration efficiency (2.64) and the lowest was for the category of
negative impacts (2.26). The three highest scores are shown in red and the three
lowest in green.
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Categories of impact on teachers
Admin Efficiency
2.64
Monitoring/feedback
2.63
Collaboration
2.53
Empower Teaching
2.47
ICT Skills
2.40
Negative Impacts
2.26
1.00
1.50
2.00
2.50
3.00
3.50
4.00
Average mean score
Figure 7.8: Three highest and three lowest three categories of South African science teacherreported of impacts
Negative impacts obtained the lowest response indicating that when teachers were
able to use ICT in their teaching they generally saw the impact as positive.
All three teachers in the case studies experienced a positive impact on their teaching
when able to use ICT. They had a high personal motivation to use ICT in their
teaching practice. Different aspects of ICT use motivated each of these teachers. Mr
Sogo saw ICT as tool which made his preparation and day-to-day teaching easier. He
accessed
information
and
pictures
from
the
Internet,
made
PowerPoint
presentations of the lesson topics in the same way that one might make overhead
projector slides of the lesson content, and then taught the lesson as a presentation.
For this teacher, using the computer made his preparation easier, he could re-use the
lessons year after year instead of having to write and re-write the lesson content on
the board, and he could show the slide show to those students who had missed the
lesson or needed to see it again.
188
…the motivational thing I got in England. When I went into their
computer room, I found that they have got everything. They have got
whiteboards, they‘ve got smart boards. Then I became interested. I talked
to the educator who was responsible for that, and I saw that it was easier
for him making things (extract from interview with Mr Sogo).
Impact on students
Teachers who indicated that they had used ICT when teaching Science were asked to
indicate the extent to which they perceived that ICT use impacted on 15 specified
aspects related to their students.
Table 7.5: Impact of ICT use on Students
Increased
a little OR
a lot %
Mean Score
(SE)
(A) Subject matter knowledge
60
3.68 (0.10)
(N) Assessment results
45
3.79 (0.10)
(C) Information-handling skills
63
3.78 (0.09)
(D) Problem-solving skills
62
3.77 (0.09)
(E) Self-directed learning skills
59
3.68 (0.09)
(F) Collaborative skills
58
3.69 (0.09)
(G) Communication skills
62
3.77 (0.09)
ICT skills
(H) ICT skills
58
3.61 (0.10)
Self-paced learning
(I) Ability to learn at own pace
61
3.72 (0.09)
(B) Learning motivation
63
3.80 (0.09)
(J) Self-esteem
66
3.87 (0.10)
(L) Time spent on learning
58
3.64 (0.10)
(M) School attendance
58
3.67 (0.10)
Achievement gap
(K) Achievement gap among students
59
3.69 (0.10)
Socioeconomic divide
(O) Inequity between students from different
socio-economic backgrounds
49
3.42 (0.11)
Type of impact
Traditionally important skills
Inquiry skills
Collaboration
Affective impact
Specific impact
South African science teachers responded that the greatest impact on their students
was an increase in their self-esteem (66%) while the lowest impact was on
assessment results (45%). In each case, a small group of teachers reported that their
use of ICT actually decreased the time their students spent on learning (13%), their
learner‘ subject matter knowledge (10%), student school attendance (10%), and ICT
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skills (10%). Figure 7.9 shows the spread of teacher responses. The three highest
scores are shown in red and the three lowest in green.
100
90
80
Percentag
70
60
66
63
63
58
49
50
45
40
30
20
10
0
Impact on Learners
Figure 7.9: Three highest and three lowest South African science teacher-reported impact of ICTuse on students
These 15 aspects were categorised into eight categories to give eight impact indicators
(Law et al., 2008). In this instance, the teachers responded using a 5-point Likert
scale (1=decreased a lot, 1=decreased a little, 3=no impact, 4=increased a little,
5=increased a lot), not a 4-point scale as in other questions. When the average mean
scores on the 5-point Likert scale of these eight categories was calculated and plotted
in rank order of teacher-reported impact (Figure 7.10), it is evident that the range of
average mean scores is small (between 3.74 and 3.42) suggesting that South African
science teachers do not feel that their students‘ use of ICT impacts on one aspect of
teaching and learning significantly more than any other. The four highest scores are
shown in red and the three lowest in green.
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Categories of impact
Inquiry skills
3.75
Traditionally imp skills
3.74
Collaboration
3.74
Self-paced learning
3.73
Achievement gap
3.72
ICT skills
3.69
Socioeconomic divide
3.61
1.00
2.00
3.00
4.00
5.00
Average mean score
Figure 7.10: Four highest and three lowest categories of South African teacher-reported impacts
of ICT-use on students
The high collaboration category is perhaps surprising as teachers reported low scores
for two similar aspects of student-practice, namely to collaborate with peers from
other schools within and/or outside the country and to communicate with outside
parties (Table 5.9).
The case studies allowed for an in-depth exploration into the three teachers opinions
on the impact of ICT use on their students. Perhaps the most controversial area of
impact of ICT lies around the issue of improved achievement and this was a theme
that was explored with each of the three teachers to ascertain their own perceptions
of this sort of impact on their students. There was no attempt in this study to gather
quantitative evidence for improved student achievement or otherwise but rather, the
perceptions of the individual teachers were explored. Mrs Marley was convinced that
learning through using a computer would improve student achievement, although
her evidence was anecdotal:
Normally when you assess, lessons that were done on the computer, they
get very high marks. They enjoy that. The lessons which were done… [not
using the computer], they still perform well but when you compare, you
actually pick up [an improvement]… [if you could compare a class using a
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computer and one which didn‘t]… The marks of the computer class would
be higher (extract from interview with Mrs Marley).
Ironically, the teacher with the most sophisticated use of ICT and had successfully
integrated the ICT into her project-based teaching style had the least confidence in
the contribution of her use of ICT to student achievement. She felt strongly that when
it came to the important FET years of the science curriculum, reverting to a more
traditional teacher-dominated and content-driven approach was necessary. In an email communication with this teacher, she deliberated over whether her students
learnt more when using technology:
Yesterday I got 'blasted' because the Grade 10s, who came from doing
Natural Science with me since Grade 7, and with whom I've done the most
project-based learning, most being ICT-integrated, don't know basic
knowledge like what a tap and adventitious root is. So, back to your
question of whether they learn… well I don't know. Maybe more direct
instruction and knowledge drill is the wiser 'root'! (E-mail communication
with Mrs Putten)
The strongest theme emerging from the interviews with teachers was around student
motivation. Mr Sogo was in a school which had a history of poor student attendance
and high truancy rate typical of many township schools. He showed me where the
school had reinforced the perimeter fence to prevent the students from ‗escaping‘
from school:
[when I use the computer]… they never forget. We talk about different
planets. And when they see this [referring to his lesson notes on the
PowerPoint presentation] these small children, they never, they don‘t
forget. When you give them a test, most of them get more than 50%. They
enjoy coming… they‘re never [his emphasis] absent themselves from
coming to my class. They can bunk other classes but when it‘s my period,
they come (extract from interview with Mr Sogo).
Mrs Marley had an opinion similar to that expressed by Mr Sogo. She too felt that the
students were more motivated to learn when they had access to the computers:
… the thing is they get very bored. This morning they were here [in the
lab]. They get very excited now. Tomorrow they will still want us to come
back [to the lab]. … So tomorrow if I have to teach them without showing
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them, they will be bored. They will be forced to learn with or without the
computer, but they enjoy it [computer work] most (extract from interview
from Mrs Marley).
A teachers‘ belief that ICT will improve their teaching and the learning of their
students is key to their use of ICT. It is unlikely that a teacher will take on the
additional work load associated with integrating ICT into practice if they do not
perceive there to be benefits, even if those benefits are only their personal motivation
and that of their students.
7.8 Discussion
An important influence on the use of ICT in subjects such as science is the amount
and range of ICT resources available to the teachers (Cox et al., 2004). Where there
are limited numbers of computers, a limit to the Internet access and other technology
resources, the impact of ICT on teaching and learning is limited. While the level of
access to technology resources differed in each of the three cases, the teachers in this
study were all constrained to some degree by their limited access to digital resources.
More than simply access to resources, a teachers‘ ability to use the resources depends
on that teachers‘ confidence and competence at using that resource. In the case of
Mrs Marley, access to an interactive white board, a resource that Mrs Putten had on
her wish-list of technology resources, remained unused during the time of the case
study owing to her lack of competence in whiteboard use. She thought that it would
be very helpful in her teaching but did not know how to operate it so it remained
unused.
The use of ICT has a low impact on teaching and learning where teachers fail to
appreciate that interactivity requires a new approach to pedagogy, lesson planning
and the curriculum. Some teachers reorganise the delivery of the curriculum, but the
majority use ICT to add to or enhance their existing practices. Teachers need to
employ proactive and responsive strategies in order to guide, facilitate and support
appropriate learning activities.
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CHAPTER EIGHT
8 Conclusions and Recommendations
Science learning over the past few decades has been recognized as the social
construction of knowledge of meaning in context (Driver et al., 1994; Duit, 1994).
During the time in which an understanding of science learning has developed, there
has been a rapid advance in technology and its use in education. There is now a
wealth of research on the effects of technology on learning, as well as on the contexts
in which it is of the greatest benefits. This research is summarized in Chapter Two.
The purpose of this study was to gain insight and understanding of the value that ICT
adds to the teaching and learning processes in Science, given the context of limited
resources in most South African classrooms. As a means of understanding the value
that ICT adds to science teaching and learning, this study explored the ways in which
South African science teachers used ICT when they taught Science (Chapter Six), and
some of the reasons that they used ICT in the ways that they did (Chapter Seven).
This chapter begins by giving a summary of the research process and the mixed
methods design chosen to best address the research question: What is the value that
using ICT adds to the teaching and learning of Science when teachers use ICT in a
context of limited resources, typical of a developing country? It serves to consolidate
the findings from the data presented using the Four in Balance Model as a way of
understanding the evidence as a whole, rather than as a collection of unrelated
findings. In addition, the chapter presents four conclusions inferred from the data
presented about the value of the pedagogical use of ICT in developing countries such
as South Africa. It discusses five specific areas of ICT use explored in this study
which add value to the teaching and learning process in developing country contexts
such as South African science classrooms. These areas include the development of
ICT skills, computer-supported curriculum coverage and teacher and student
motivation. Computer-supported cognitive development through the use of
computer simulations, while limited to only one teacher in this study, still has the
194
potential to add value to teaching and learning in the context of developing countries
such as South Africa.
Lastly, based on the evidence presented in this thesis, the chapter concludes by
making recommendations to inform future policy debates and discussions about how
best to use limited financial resources to add value to science teaching and learning
through the investment in technology resources in South African school.
8.1 Summary of the research processes
This study was designed as a mixed methods study, combining the quantitative data
collected from 267 South African science teachers in the SITES 2006 Teacher
Questionnaire and qualitative data collected from three science teachers in three
separate cases. The questionnaire data was collected from South Africa science
teachers in 2006 and the case study data was collected from the three teachers
during a number of visits to classrooms in 2009, one of whom also participated in
the SITES 2006 study. For both the quantitative and qualitative data, those teachers
who taught in classrooms with limited access to resources were identified and
purposefully selected for the study (section 4.4.4). Secondary analysis was done
using selected data from the SITES 2006 questionnaire data to highlight some of the
ways in which science teachers in South Africa use ICT when they teach Science, as
well as some of the possible reasons their particular use of ICT. These data were
integrated with the interview and observation data collected from the three case
study science teachers (Chapters Six and Seven). The quantitative questionnaire data
allowed a landscape view of ICT use among South African science teachers and the
qualitative case study data allowed a more nuanced understanding of how and why
teachers use ICT in the ways that they do. The Four in Balance Model (section 3.2) of
assessing the value that ICT adds to education used in the Netherlands proved a
valuable initial framework for this study. It allowed me to identify particular aspects
which influence ICT use (vision, expertise, digital learning material, ICT
infrastructure) within a context of leadership and support, and to explore the value
that ICT adds to teaching and learning Science in South Africa.
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8.2 Summary of the research findings
Despite the low availability of ICT infrastructure in schools in South Africa, when
teachers do have access to ICT resources, either through their own personal
acquisition or through the resources available through government funding, they are
able to use those resources in their subject teaching. In some of those instances,
teachers are able to use the resources available to them in ways that provide their
students with opportunities to learn that would otherwise not be possible, and in a
way that adds value to teaching and learning in those classrooms. As value is not an
easy concept to access, the research question of this study was operationalized
through two sub-questions: How do science teachers use ICT in a context of limited
resources? addressed in Chapter Six and, Why do science teachers use ICT in the
ways that they do? addressed in Chapter Seven. Both of those chapters synthesised
and analysed the quantitative and qualitative data collected in this study. A summary
of that analysis is given here to answer the overall research question by discussing
the ways in which the use of ICT in South African classrooms adds value to teaching
and learning Science.
The value of using ICT in science teaching and learning in developing
countries
The evidence collected and analysed in this study showed that South African science
teachers in the majority of schools have a very traditionally orientated practice when
teaching (section 5.1) and when using ICT to teach science (section 5.2). This
pedagogical orientation was measured through the SITES 2006 questionnaire data in
terms of teachers curriculum goals, teaching practice and student practices (sections
5.1. and 5.2). In addition, the evidence collected in this study showed that South
African science teachers have very limited access to technology resources (section
6.1). The government-funded computer rooms, such as those provided as part of the
Gauteng Online initiative, have been ineffective in giving science teachers‘ access to
ICT for use in subject teaching. In instances where the rooms have fully functioning
computers, CAT lessons are scheduled as a priority. Even when teachers have access
to technology resources, their use of those resources is limited (section 6.1). Lack of
teacher ICT competence (section 7.1) and student ICT competence (section 7.2) are
196
certainly contributing factors. There was evidence of ICT being use for assessment
(section 6.3) but this use was dominated by drill-and-practice self-assessment
assessment strategies.
ICT competence among South African science teachers is low, but in instances where
teachers are competent, they are more likely to be competent in the technical use of
ICT than in the pedagogical use of ICT. Students‘ ICT competence was significantly
lower than that of their teachers (sections 7.1 and 7.2). In cases where students are
competent in using ICT, they are most likely to be able to use word-processing
software. A very small percentage of students are able to use ICT to communicate
using, for example, e-mail. The teachers in the case studies reported a wide range of
ICT-competence among their students. Many students struggled with typing and
moving a mouse and this limited the pedagogical use of ICT. Attendance at
professional development activities was also low (section 7.4). This was largely owing
to a lack of access, rather than a lack of will to participate, as the majority of teachers
reported that they would attend professional development activities if they had to
opportunity to do so. In the three cases, teachers were self-motivated to attend
professional development activities and participated freely for their own personal
development. Two of the three teachers had been particularly active in finding
opportunities to develop their ICT-practice themselves.
A lack of ICT skills and training was recognized by teachers as an obstacle to their
use of ICT (section 7.4). The lack of access to technology resources were noted as the
most significant category of obstacles to ICT use. The teachers in the case studies
were in a position to provide their own technology resources but despite this, lack of
a reliable Internet connection proved to be the greatest obstacle. It was not one that
they had any control over and this provided an obvious frustration for the teachers.
Institutional obstacles, such as lack of school support for ICT use was not considered
to be a significant obstacle to ICT use. In most cases, school management supported
the use of ICT. Unfortunately, even when support was high, lack of ICT expertise
among school leaders meant that they were unable to translate that support into
action. In all three cases, the teachers were isolated users of ICT within their schools
and took responsibility for their use, solving their problems themselves when
197
possible. School vision was reported as being high among the teachers who
responded to the questionnaire but there was no evidence of this in the three cases.
In general, South African teachers did not report a high impact on teaching or
learning in their school (section 7.7). In cases where they did report an impact, the
highest impact was on an increase in efficiency in administration. This suggests that
the highest use of ICT is most likely to be the use of word-processing software to type
worksheets and test papers, and the use of spreadsheet software to record student
marks. Many teachers felt that the use of ICT empowered them and made them
better teachers. Those teachers who did use ICT to teach science reported a high
impact on their students. The highest impact was on inquiry skills. This was
supported in the three cases where all three teachers used ICT for research, either for
their lesson content, or for student projects. There was strong support for the
motivational effect of ICT use. All three of the cases study teachers felt that their
students were more motivated to learn when they used ICT, but only one of those
three teachers showed strong belief in an improvement in achievement with her
students. Her evidence for this view was anecdotal and not explored further as
achievement was not a focus of this study.
Given the data presented in Chapters Six and Seven, the research question: What is
the value that using ICT adds to the teaching and learning of Science when teachers
use ICT in a context of limited resources, typical of a developing country? is
answered. ICT adds value to teaching and learning in developing country contexts by
providing opportunities for more effective, more efficient, and more interesting
teaching and learning, even when resources are limited. As a way of simplifying an
extremely complex issue, these three different aspects of value are explored
(Kennisnet, 2009):
More effective teaching and learning: using ICT can help improve student
performance and skills, provide students with a more student-centred and activitybased pedagogy, and enhance conceptual understanding in science through the use
of simulations.
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In 2009, an investigation into the implementation of the FET Science and
Mathematics curricula was conducted across 18 schools in Gauteng Province (Howie
et al., 2010). As part of the data collected in these schools, science teachers were
observed and interviewed about their understanding and implementation of the NCS
at the Grade 10 to 12 levels. The study revealed a seriously inadequate understanding
of the curriculum as well as very low levels of SCK and PCK in many of the teachers
teaching Science. The study concluded that low SCK and PCK as evidenced in the
eighteen secondary schools visited in Gauteng Province, was most likely widespread
in schools in other provinces as well. In addition to the problem of low SCK and PCK
in science teachers in South Africa, there is an increasing shortage of science
teaching capacity in many schools. This is as a result of skilled science teachers
leaving the profession, fewer educators entering it, as well as the significant toll that
HIV AIDS was having amongst educators country-wide. Part of the rationale for the
Khanya Technology in Education Project (Khanya, 2001) in the Western Cape
Province was to explore alternative solutions to the teacher shortage mentioned
above. Technology, through the Khanya project, was seen as a tool to augment
teaching capacity in schools in the Western Cape and a viable alternative to lack of
teaching capacity.
Since the advent of the Internet, students are able to access vast amount of
information not previously available. This includes real-time information, for
example weather data and real-world information, for example census data. The
Internet is an extremely powerful tool which allows both teachers and students to
conduct research and build knowledge (Lai, 2008). For Mrs Putten and Mrs Marley,
the Internet was both the most useful tool for accessing information, and the greatest
obstacle. Both had to work with limited and erratic Internet connections and both
were visibly frustrated by the lack of access to the resource that they saw as being of
real value to their teaching. Despite this, all three of the teachers were able to access
the Internet and used if primarily as a tool for research to augment their curriculum
resources. All three expected their students to access information on the Internet for
projects. Mr Sogo‘s students had little or no chance to use the Internet but both Mrs
Putten‘s and Mrs Marley‘s students had access to the Internet in the computer room
outside of scheduled class time. The value of access to quality learning materials and
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other curriculum related information in an education context of low teacher SCK and
PCK should not be underestimated.
Simulations, while allowing students to perform practical investigations not possible
in school science laboratories, are a credible tool in assisting in the development of
theoretical conceptual understanding in some topics in the science curriculum. Free,
downloadable software, such as that used by Mrs Putten, allowed students to explore
the effect of friction on surfaces on the motions of objects in ways that would not
have been possible without access to technology. The use of simulations in science
should be given special attention for the development of concepts in a conceptually
difficult subject such as science.
More efficient teaching and learning: using ICT can help maintain the quality
of teaching and learning while cutting down on teaching time especially in instances
where class sizes are large and teachers‘ SCK and PCK is inadequate. One example is
the use of digital learning materials that allow students to learn independently and
that enable the teacher to devote more time to students who require individual
attention. A well-equipped and functioning computer room with high quality
curriculum-linked software may serve this purpose in schools with limited resources.
Access to the computer room and educational software could allow students to
learning opportunities when adequately qualified teachers are not available.
The reality of education in South Africa is that class sizes are unacceptably high
(section 1.2.2), and this is likely to remain the reality for some time to come. The
consequence of large classes is that, among other things, teachers seldom spend
quality time with individual students during class time. Mrs Putten‘s particular use of
ICT for the purposes of more efficient teaching is worth mentioning. She videorecorded her lessons, developed learning materials to support them, and developed
self-assessment tasks, all of which she made available to her students after school
hours in the computer room for self-study and revision. It meant that they could go
through the work at a much slower pace and in their own time as a way of increasing
their understanding of the work.
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More interesting teaching and learning: ICT applications that improve
teacher and student motivation, for example by making teaching and learning more
varied and interesting. This increases student participation in science lessons which
is difficult for students who come from poor communities with little home or
community educational support.
Teacher motivation for teaching, as well as student motivation to learn science was
perhaps the greatest contribution of ICT in the three schools in this study. All three
teachers spoke of high levels of motivation, both for themselves as teachers, and for
their students as learners. The high levels of motivation when using ICT were also
reported in the quantitative data collected from South African science teachers in the
SITES 2006 study. This is especially important in educational contexts with limited
resources. In many of the science classrooms in South Africa, access to colourful
posters, charts, and diagrams in text books are limited. Mr Sogo spoke of adding
colourful pictures to his presentations to show his students things that were not
shown in the available text books. He place strong emphasis on the value of seeing
pictures as a supplement to texts in Science.
8.3 Reflection on the conceptual framework
In addition to understanding the value of ICT use in terms of more effective, more
efficient, and more interesting teaching and learning discussed above, the Four in
Balance Model conceptual framework for this study provided a useful way of
understanding and exploring the value added to teaching and learning when ICT is
used in the classroom. According to this model, a balanced deployment of the four
elements: vision; expertise; digital learning materials; and ICT infrastructure, all
supported by school leadership, is necessary for the effective use of ICT (Kennisnet,
2009). The Four in Balance Model is a framework used in the Netherlands, a country
in which ICT use in education is increasing steadily. Access to ICT infrastructure in
schools in the Netherlands is almost universal, with seven out of ten teachers in the
Netherlands using ICT applications during their lessons. Teachers in the Netherlands
also believe that the amount of time that they spend using computers for lessons will
increase significantly in the next few years. Both the number of teachers using ICT,
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and the frequency of the ICT use is likely to increase (Kennisnet, 2009). This context,
typical of a developed country, is not what is found in a developing country such as
South Africa.
8.3.1 The Four in Balance Model in this study
Even with the obvious differences in contexts between the Netherlands and South
Africa, the model was a useful starting point for understanding the value of ICT in a
South Africa. The findings of this study are discussed here, using the Four in Balance
Model framework, focusing on the four aspects in the model which contribute to the
pedagogical use of ICT: vision; expertise; digital learning materials; and ICT
infrastructure.
Vision
The science teachers who completed the SITES 2006 teacher questionnaire reported
a high level of school vision (section 7.5) and principals at the three schools in this
study all said that the school had an overall set of aims for the use of ICT and a vision
which was reflected in the school ICT policy document. Nonetheless, in none of the
three schools was there evidence of managerial influence in the use of ICT. All three
teachers used the available ICT infrastructure according to their own personal vision
(section 7.5). All three were seen as ‗islands‘ of ICT use in their respective schools
with no visible school coordination. Despite this isolation, none of the three teachers
felt the need for more involvement from management. They were each left to do as
they saw fit and enjoyed the freedom of managing their own ICT use.
Each of the three teachers in the case studies had a different personal vision for ICT
use and this was reflected in their different ICT practices. Their use of ICT was not
confined to any one specific educational approach. In the three cases, ICT was used
within a variety of pedagogical methodologies, varying from the transfer of
knowledge where the teacher determines the programme (content and pace) to
knowledge construction where the students are partly responsible for managing the
learning process. For many South African teachers, knowledge transfer plays a
greater role than knowledge construction in their general pedagogical practice. The
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SITES 2006 study showed that teachers‘ general pedagogical practice strongly
influences their ICT-using pedagogical practice, so a greater emphasis on knowledge
transfer is likely to be the same for those teachers when they use ICT.
All three teachers in the case studies had their own personal vision for the use of ICT
in their teaching but none of them worked within schools where there was a shared
vision for the importance of ICT in designing teaching and learning programmes of
the future. In all three of the schools, the ICT vision had been set out in a policy plan
but in practice, this was not implemented according to the policy. The data collected
in this study suggests that the school‘s view of what constitutes good teaching and
how the school aims to achieve it is not as important as the teacher‘s personal vision.
The gap between ICT policy and ICT practice remains wide and the vision adopted by
the school‘s managers and teaching staff determines both the school‘s policy and the
design, but not necessarily the organisation of its teaching.
Expertise
The SITES 2006 data showed that a small percentage of South African science
teachers are capable of using computers, and even a smaller number have the skills
necessary to use a computer as a pedagogical aid to designing and organizing the
processes of teaching and learning (section 7.1). Of the three teachers in this study,
only one provided evidence of understanding how to effectively use ICT in teaching
and learning in a way that extended learning beyond what is expected in the
curriculum. Developing educational ICT applications, for example digital learning
materials, requires specific expertise if it is to create the best possible mix of content,
pedagogy, and ICT. The ultimate result of that mix must align with the wishes and
capacities of the teacher who uses the applications. This is particular relevant for
those teachers who have access to functioning Gauteng Online computer
laboratories, as those facilities will have specific applications for teachers to use.
Those teachers would not be expected to develop their own applications.
Only a small percentage of South African science students had expertise in ICT use,
perhaps partly as a result of lack of access to ICT (section 7.2). This study showed
that students of the three teachers in the case studies had some level of ICT skills, but
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not all at the same level. This made it difficult for each of the teachers to use a single
teaching or learning strategy for the whole class. Given the relatively small sample
used in this study, it is unlikely that many students in South African schools with
limited resources have any computer skills at all. Evidence from this study suggested
that this may in some way be addressed through the subject area CAT which is
offered at those schools with the necessary ICT infrastructure in the form of
computer rooms. Given the lack of ICT infrastructure at the majority of schools in
South Africa, it is unlikely that schools which do not have the necessary ICT
infrastructure have any planned systematic approach to the acquisition of digital
information skills for students. In developed countries, many students acquire the
ICT skills necessary to learn with the aid of ICT outside the school, typically at home.
This is unlikely to be the case for the majority of students in South African schools as
most homes still lack access to a computer or the Internet.
Teachers and students should have sufficient knowledge and skills in order to utilise
ICT to achieve educational objectives. This involves not only basic ICT skills, such as
the ability to operate a computer. Pedagogical ICT skills are perhaps the most
important factor in effective use of ICT if it is to be used to help design and organise
learning processes. These additional skills therefore specifically concern the use of
ICT to achieve educational objectives. This kind of knowledge is defined in the
concept of TPCK, as explained in section 3.3.2 (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). TPCK is
the basis of good teaching with technology and requires an understanding of the
representation of concepts using technologies; pedagogical techniques that use
technologies in constructive ways to teach content; knowledge of what makes
concepts difficult or easy to learn and how technology can help redress some of the
problems that students face; knowledge of students‘ prior knowledge and theories of
epistemology; and knowledge of how technologies can be used to build on existing
knowledge and to develop new epistemologies or strengthen old ones. The findings
from this study showed that teachers‘ TPCK was a key factor in using ICT effectively.
The teacher who provided evidence of good TPCK showed significantly more
innovative uses of the available ICT resources. She was able to provide her students
with learning opportunities that would not have been possible without ICT.
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Given the importance of TPCK for the effective use of ICT in education, it is an area
that requires research attention, especially in the area of teacher development.
Mishra and Koehler (2006) argue that the TPCK framework has allowed them to
guide curriculum design and help create conceptually and epistemologically coherent
learning environments for teachers. Angeli and Valanides (2009) suggest that the
TPCK framework is a valuable contribution to the theoretical basis for understanding
technology in education, but that it needs further clarification. Their critique of the
TPCK framework is based on three grounds: firstly, it does not make clear whether
TPCK is a distinct form of knowledge, or whether a growth in TPCK simply means
growth in any of the related constructs (i.e. PCK, TCK, or TPK); secondly, the
boundaries between some of the components of TPCK, such as TCK and TPK are not
distinct, leading to a lack of precision in the framework; thirdly, TPCK is too general
because it does not speak explicitly about the affordances offered by IT tools in
learning. Angeli and Valanides (2009) thus contribute to the theoretical refinement
of the framework by introducing ICT–TPCK as a strand of TPCK. Their conception
seeks to address systematically the specificity that they suggest is missing from the
conceptualisation of TPCK regarding the dynamic and transactional relationship
among content, pedagogy, and various technology affordances. Accordingly, the
knowledge bases of ICT–TPCK include the three contributing knowledge bases of
TPCK, namely subject knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, and technology
knowledge (in this case restricted to ICT), and two additional elements, namely a
knowledge of students and a knowledge of the context in which learning takes place.
Their conceptualisation of ICT–TPCK is based on research evidence gathered from
studies with in-service teachers (Angeli & Valanides, 2009). At the heart of their
conceptualisation of ICT–TPCK is the view that technology is more than a vehicle
that simply delivers information. When the construct of ICT–TPCK was explored,
Angeli & Valanides (2009) adopted the transformative view of TPCK, concluding that
it is a unique body of knowledge constructed from the interaction of individual
knowledge bases, the development of one or more of which does not guarantee or
imply a concurrent development of ICT–TPCK. The ICT-TPCK framework need to be
explored further and can guide future research and curriculum development in the
area of teacher professional development around the pedagogical use of technology.
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Digital learning materials
The availability, or lack thereof, of digital learning materials that are of practical use
for teachers and students is one of the greatest barriers to successful integration of
ICT in education (section 7.4). This was certainly the experience of Mrs Marley, one
of the teachers in this study. Where available, she relied heavily on the digital
materials but complained frequently about the gaps in content, which meant that
many sections of the syllabus had to be covered in the ―traditional‖ way, i.e. lecturestyle teaching. Only one teacher in the study, Mrs Putten, had the expertise and
available personal resources to develop her own digital learning materials. She was
most likely one of only a few teachers who had this option available to them. Given
the evidence gathered in this study, it is likely that for the vast majority of teachers in
South African schools, the provision of high quality curriculum-specific digital
learning materials is a key component in their being able to use ICT effectively in
teaching. The TLI is designed to address this need by providing teachers with high
quality digital learning resources on a government subsidized laptop. The slow
uptake of this initiative by teachers and apparent lack of departmental organization
regarding the TLI makes this an unlikely solution in the near future.
Mrs Putten, who was able to access her own digital learning material (both formal
and informal) and had the necessary skill to design her own learning materials, was
able to make the most effective use of those materials. Mrs Marley, who relied on
digital materials to be provided, was significantly limited by the lack of flexibility in
the materials. Digital learning materials which may be provided by the department
seem not to be as important as a teacher‘s ability to access learning materials through
collaboration with colleagues and the use of the Internet.
ICT infrastructure
The findings from this study suggest that despite a major investment in ICT
infrastructure over the past few years through the provision of computer laboratories
such as the Gauteng Online Project, problems of technical support and management
of these facilities has resulted in a many of them standing as ―white elephants‖. The
inability of the GDE to get the laboratory functioning with a reliable Internet
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connection, and keep it functioning, led to the disillusionment on the part of one
teacher in particular in this study. This is likely to be the case with other teachers in
similar schools. This has resulted in the Gauteng Online project being affectionately
referred to as ―Gauteng Offline‖ among many teachers in the province, Mr Sogo
being one of those. Even with functioning computer laboratories, the computerstudent ratio remains high, keeping individual computer use by students low. The
improvement of Internet connection in schools with the Seacom fibre optic cable has
also proved to be problematic. Of the three teachers in this study, only Mrs Putten
who was self-sufficient in terms of ICT skill and ICT resources, and was not forced to
rely on infrastructure to be provided and maintained by external sources, was able to
use her ICT resources in ways she felt were most suitable.
The availability and quality of computers, networks, and Internet connections is an
important component in effective ICT use. The management and maintenance of the
school‘s ICT facilities are also important. However, even when access to high quality
ICT infrastructure is limited, high levels of teacher competence and ICT expertise are
enabling factors in innovative and effective ICT use.
8.3.2 Adjusting the Four in Balance Model for use in developing
countries
The findings from this study suggest that the Four in Balance Model of ICT use
suggested in the Kennisnet monitor be adjusted to be useful in understanding value
added with the pedagogical use of ICT in developing country context such as South
Africa. In many instances in South African schools where resources are limited, one
teacher may typically be an island of ICT use in the school. While school support and
vision assists in the pedagogical use of ICT, many of the school principals and other
manager are themselves not ICT literate and are unable to provide the necessary
support to teachers. A teacher with a personal vision, as reported in this study, will
use ICT in ways that add value to his or her specific subject, regardless of whether
other teachers use ICT. Given the findings of this study, it is suggested that the Four
in Balance Model may be more useful in understanding the value of using ICT in
developing countries if the elements are understood within an overall personal
teacher vision, rather than a school or leadership vision. Furthermore, teachers‘
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TPCK is perhaps one aspect which was a significant contributing factor to how and
why science teachers in South Africa use ICT in the ways they do which was not
emphasized enough in the Four in Balance Model. Again, the Four in Balance Model
may be more useful in a developing country context if the aspect of teacher expertise
(knowledge and skills) reflects the concept, TPCK, which better explains the
pedagogical use of ICT.
An alternative to the Four in Balance Model is shown diagrammatically in Figure 8.1.
Teacher
personal
vision
TPCK
Figure 8.1: Model for understanding the value of ICT use for developing country contexts
(adapted from Kennisnet Four in Balance Model)
Having a means of understanding the value of the pedagogical use of ICT is
extremely important to justify the financial investment in ICT in countries where the
need for investment often outstrips the financial resources. It may be worth testing
the robustness of this model in other developing countries in further research.
8.4 Reflection on the design and methods
This study used quantitative data collected from 622 science teachers in South Africa
through the teacher questionnaire, as part of the international SITES study, under
the auspices of the IEA. The SITES 2006 study allowed me access to data collected
through high quality instruments and processes. The value of this quality and
quantity of data is discussed in section 4.4. SITES 2006 made available a large
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quantity of reliable statistics which could be used to understand the pedagogical use
of ICT of South African science teachers. Qualitative data through interviews,
observations, photographs, and field notes were collected from three science
teachers, all of whom taught science in classrooms where access to resources were
limited. Both sets of data were integrated in the analysis and interpretation. Using
this combination of quantitative and qualitative data for this study raised some
issues worth mentioning here.
Firstly, while a valuable source of information, the SITES 2006 teacher data also had
limitations for this study as it was collected in classrooms with all levels of resources,
i.e. well-resourced classrooms, classrooms with limited resources, and classrooms in
school which have been classified as poor or very poor. As the focus of this study was
the value of ICT in developing country contexts, this limitation was overcome by subsampling the teacher data to reflect teachers in a developing country context. Details
of this reorganization are fully discussed in section 4.4.4. The sub-sample consisted
of 267 science teachers, all of whom had access to ICT for teaching science, but none
of whom taught in schools which were well resourced.
Secondly, a limitation of using the SITES 2006 data was that the quantitative data
was collected in 2006 while the case study data was collected in 2009. This time
delay was kept in mind throughout the collection of the qualitative data and was
judged to have minimal impact on the findings as no significant policy changes
regarding the implementation or use of ICT were made during that time.
Thirdly, the SITES 2006 research questions were not the same as the question
focusing this study. This meant that the quantitative data used to answer the
research question of this study had to be extracted from the SITES 2006 teacher
database to make it valuable in answering the research question of this study. The
findings presented in Chapters Six and Seven, which consisted of an integrated
approach to data analysis, meant that matching the quantitative and qualitative
datasets was challenging. The challenge was in assimilating the individual bits of
data from each dataset to present common findings. The nature of the case studies in
this research meant that themes and issues unique to each teacher were explored.
Integrating the qualitative data with the quantitative data was challenging.
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Lastly, the original intention for this study was to select three teachers identified as
participants in the SITES 2006 study and explore their practice using ICT in more
detail than the questionnaire would allow. Circumstances which have been discussed
in section 4.5.1 meant that only one teacher could be identified from the
questionnaire data and, as such, the other two teachers were sampled conveniently
and opportunistically. The value of a pragmatic approach to the research was that the
flexible research design was easily modified to accommodate this limitation.
8.5 Conclusions
The findings articulated to this point are based on the integration and synthesis of
both quantitative and qualitative data collected from science teachers in South
Africa. In each case, the evidence that supports the findings has been presented or
referred to. Given the data collected in this study, it is possible to move beyond the
specific evidence-based findings to culminate the findings from this research in four
conclusions. Each of these conclusions is inferred from the wealth of evidence
gathered and interpreted in the research. Where applicable, I have referred to
research in this field to show how these conclusions support the conclusion by other
studies.
Conclusion 1:
When science teachers have access to ICT for teaching and learning in classrooms
typical of developing country contexts, they are able to use that ICT effectively to
add value to teaching and learning, particularly when the teacher has a high
technological pedagogical content knowledge.
The Four in Balance Model was a useful framework for understanding the value that
ICT adds when it is used by teachers. However, the particular aspect of teacher
expertise was better understood in this study as TPCK and an adjustment was made
to the Model to make it more useful in a developing country such as South Africa.
TPCK is not an aspect of teacher practice that can be measure directly. The evidence
for this conclusion comes from exploring how each of the three science teachers in
the study used ICT when teaching science (Chapter Six). The concept of TPCK has
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been developed to capture some of the essential qualities of teacher knowledge
required for technology integration in teaching, while addressing the complex,
multifaceted, and situated nature of this knowledge (Mishra & Koehler, 2006). The
process of unpacking this complex interplay of content, pedagogy, and technology in
teaching practice began in this study. TPCK is the basis of good teaching with
technology and requires an understanding of a number of separate but interrelated
aspects of teaching. These aspects are: the representation of concepts using
technologies; teaching techniques which use technology to teach content; a
knowledge of the science concepts which are difficult to learn and how technology
can be used to assist students with developing a conceptual understanding of these
concepts;
a
knowledge
of
students‘
prior
knowledge
(conceptions
and
misconceptions) and how technology can be used to address misconceptions where
relevant. It became clear through the three cases that only the one teacher, Mrs
Putten had a good understanding of all of these aspects, making her pedagogical use
of technology the most effective. Neither of the other two teachers had sufficient
TPCK to use the technology tools available to them effectively.
Conclusion 2:
Personal entrepreneurship is a key factor in a teacher’s ability to use ICT to add
value to teaching and learning in a developing context, and to support the
educational objectives based on 21st century learning objectives.
This study provided evidence that the teacher who used ICT innovatively in her
teaching (Mrs Putten) was characterised by a specific combination of knowledge,
skills, attitudes, and competencies that were advantageous for the innovative use of
ICT. Even without the availability of school support she was able to find the
necessary support in other ways, confirming an ‗entrepreneurial‘ attitude. This
‗personal entrepreneurship‘ which allows for the innovative solutions to problems is
particularly important for developing country contexts such as South Africa.
This conclusion is in line with a similar conclusion in a study by Drent and Meelissen
(2008). In their study, they evaluated the factors which stimulate or limit the
innovative use of ICT by teacher educators in the Netherlands (Drent & Meelissen,
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2008). They defined innovative use of ICT as the use of ICT applications that support
the educational objectives based on the needs of the knowledge society. More
specifically, the use of ICT is innovative if the ICT application facilitates and supports
student-centred learning, i.e. students can, to a large extent, influence their own
learning by adapting the learning process to their own needs and interests. The data
in their study were collected through a large-scale longitudinal study (using the ICTmonitor between 1997 and 2000) in the form of school, teacher and student
questionnaires and through case studies of four teacher educators and some of their
students. The case studies indicated that teacher educators, who use ICT
innovatively, develop their competence based on the educational goals they want to
accomplish with the help of ICT. Their attitude and the ICT goals they set for
themselves, played an important role in this. This, their study suggests, may also
explain the positive influence that ICT competence has on the pedagogical approach.
ICT competence was noted as a necessary condition for the use of ICT, but in order to
implement innovative use of ICT, other factors were more important. When the
interrelationships between the teacher level factors were studied, ‗personal
entrepreneurship‘ turned out to be the key factor for the integration of the innovative
use of ICT into the learning process (Drent & Meelissen, 2008).
Personal entrepreneurship turns out to be an important anchor point for stimulating
the innovative use of ICT in education. The teacher educators characterised as
‗personal entrepreneurs‘ in Drent & Meelissen‘s study (2008), created possibilities to
experiment with ICT applications, researched the use of ICT in their education,
reflected on their outcomes, and exchanged ideas with colleagues Although ‗personal
entrepreneurship‘ is mainly an attitudinal characteristic of an individual teacher,
teacher education institutes should create favourable conditions that support
personal entrepreneurship. Their study showed that the support of the school plays a
role in stimulating the personal entrepreneurship of the teacher educator. Personal
entrepreneurship can be seen as the catalyst between the endogenous factors on the
teacher level and the endogenous factors on the school level. In other words, even
though the teacher level factors fulfil a key role in the realisation of innovative use of
ICT, the results also show that the school‘s support can make an important
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contribution. This is especially true for the support and stimulation of personal
entrepreneurship.
Conclusion 3:
Access to a personal computer, either laptop or desktop, as well as to a dataprojector in the classroom is a minimum requirement for ICT use in subject
teaching.
All three teachers in the cases studies had access to their own technology and did not
rely on technology providers to make available that technology. The two teachers
who used technology the most in this study were the two who had their own laptop
and data-projector. The data projector should be considered a 21st century alternative
to the overhead projector as it allows teachers to share information with their
students in the same way that the overhead projector allows teachers to do.
The unlimited access to the technology allowed these two teachers to prepare lessons
at home and present lessons at school. They were not restricted by the need to
schedule teaching time in the computer room, as was the case with one of the
teachers, which prioritised CAT lessons. Based on this, it is my contention that that a
one-size-fits-all computer laboratory model, such as that for Gauteng Online, is not
the most effective way forward in terms of an ICT roll-out strategy. The provision of a
computer room for student-use seems to facilitate the teaching and learning of
computer-specific skills in CAT but largely excludes the use of computers for subject
teaching. The flexibility of access to the computer at any time, including at home, is
what made ICT-use possible for the teachers in this study.
In addition to the provision of computer rooms in schools, the provision of laptops
for teachers through the TLI should receive more government support and
investment. There are, however, two issues which may impact negatively on the
successful implementation of the TLI. The first is that as the initiative currently
stands, teachers are required to make a large up-front investment in the purchasing
of the laptop. Even with the government monthly rebate, this initial investment may
restrict access and deter teachers from buying into the initiative. Secondly, security
of technology remains a problem. Township schools are soft targets for the illegal
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acquisition of computer infrastructure for redistribution to township Internet cafés.
The need for security for the computers in computer rooms has been addressed by
the installation of well secured rooms with limited access but a similar set-up may
not be suitable for portable technology. The threat of theft may deter teachers from
investing in expensive technology which cannot be protected.
Conclusion 4:
The gap between ICT policy intentions as outlined in the South African e-Education
White Paper (DoE, 2004b) and practice remains large, with policy seemingly
unrelated to practice in science classrooms.
In the three individual cases of ICT use discussed in this study, none of the teachers‘
ICT practice was significantly influenced by either national or provincial policies on
ICT in education. Mr Sogo‘s school ICT policy to some extent mirrored national
policy intentions but, in reality, national policy had little or no influence on his ICT
practice. Despite this, each of the teachers used ICT in ways that were determined by
their own personal ICT vision.
The on-going challenge is to narrow the gap to ensure that national policy intentions
are realized in classroom practice. One may be tempted to blame the gap on the
difficulties typical of developing country contexts but there is no evidence from this
research that this is the case. This conclusion supports Howie‘s (2009) study which
compared ICT-supported Policies and Practices in two emerging economies, Chile
and South Africa. Using the SITES 2006 data, Howie‘s showed that while Chile has
many characteristics in common with South Africa, the two countries exhibit many
differences with regard to the implementation of ICT policies. In Chile, the
implementation of ICT in education has been fast and effective. This was achieved by
a simultaneous top-down (government-led) and bottom-up (school ownership)
strategy of implementation. Howie (2009) attributes in part the apparent success of
ICT implementation in Chile to the government‘s focus, the private-public
partnerships, and the simultaneous development and implementation of ICT policy.
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8.6 Recommendations
This research was conducted, not to find out what teachers were doing wrong and
why technology was not effectively used in South African classrooms, but rather to
identify those teachers who were able to make use of technology, even if in a limited
way, and see how they are using the available technology, why they are able to use it
in that particular way, and what value that use of technology adds to teaching and
learning Science. It was research about what works and why, with the aim of firstly
understanding what is going on and secondly, making recommendations using the
findings, so that the successful use of ICT can benefit teaching and learning in ways
that outweigh the cost.
While South Africa has financial constraints associated with being a developing
country, being a developing country need not limit ICT policy implementation in
schools. Lessons from other countries with similar constraints such as Chile should
have a greater influence on ICT policy development and implementation in South
Africa. One fundamental difference between the South African approach and the
Chilean approach is the phasing in of the ICT implementation, starting with basic
resources before installing more advanced ICT equipment and resources. The
Enlaces Project (―links‖ in English) in Chile provides a model in how to take a
―computers in school‖ initiative to scale (Budge, 2009). The Project provided
important planning and implementation lessons based on the experiences of
teachers and students using computers as an additional learning device, even though
Internet connectivity was extremely limited at the start of the project. The Enlaces
Project has several lessons, some of which are useful for other countries with similar
educational contexts (Budge, 2009).
Firstly, the limited financial resources available in a country such as South Africa
mean that there is unlikely to be a widespread and extensive increase in available
technology infrastructure in schools any time soon. The goal is to use the limited
resources optimally. Other studies have shown that optimal results can be achieved
by focusing on research and support for teachers and teaching, not the technology.
Training and teacher support was central to the success of The Enlaces Project which
integrated technology into learning environments. In addition, actively involving
215
teachers in decision-making about using computers and learning networks was
critical to the programme‘s success.
Secondly, pilot projects should be used to test theories and strategies before
implementing them on a large scale. New, complex, and technically difficult
initiatives are often best started as small, flexible pilot projects designed to test key
ideas, refine strategies, and demonstrate potential. The provincial Gauteng Online
Project has provided enough evidence of an efficient and effective ICT strategy to
support a revision of the strategy of ICT access for education be adopted moving
forward.
Thirdly, projects will benefit significantly from a well-developed power and
telecommunications infrastructure. Access to the Internet was a key theme which
allowed teachers to access high quality educational resources which emerged from
this study. However, the absence of this should not preclude such initiatives. For a
country like South Africa it may be too expensive and take too long to establish a
conventional power and communications infrastructure to reach all communities,
especially the poorest and most remote rural areas. Solar energy is one possible
technology that needs to be explored in South Africa. In remote areas it may be
possible to create clusters of linked schools or learning network cells via wireless
technologies, a strategy currently not well supported in South Africa.
Fourthly, computers should be gradually introduced into schools and into teaching
and learning activities. It takes time for teachers and schools to adjust to using
computers and communications tools and integrate these technologies into
educational programmes. The Khanya Project in the Western Cape can provide some
useful lessons in this regard. The project has nine primary objectives outlined in
section
1.2.4,
and
a
clear
implementation
framework
(available
at
http://www.khanya.co.za/projectinfo/?catid=22.). There are three aspects of this
implementation framework which require special mention as being of particular
interest as points of recommendation to policy-makers. The first aspect is the need to
conduct a full needs analysis of each school prior to the implementation of
technology in the schools. This means that each school is assessed for its readiness to
receive technology. In the case of a school being identified as unready to receive
216
technology, some preparatory work may be needed before technology is installed.
The Khanya Project uses a staged approach to identify the specific level of need of
each of the 1,132 schools in the programme. The eight stages are: Identified for
inclusion
into
the
Khanya
Project;
Negotiations
phase;
Planning
phase;
Infrastructure phase; Technology installation phase; Software installation phase;
Network administrator training; Curriculum delivery. Only when the first seven
stages have been complete is the school ready for using technology to deliver the
curriculum. Leapfrogging over the initial stages and attempting to use technology to
deliver the curriculum has been recognized as fruitless. In a situation of scarce
financial resources, as is the case in South Africa, the cost-benefit analysis of
technology installation should determine that those schools which have the necessary
teacher expertise to fully utilize the technology be prioritized for installation of
computer laboratories. The ICT competence of the three teachers in this study, while
different in each case, was a key factor in allowing them each to use the technology
available to them. Not all three were able to use it to its full potential, but in none of
the three cases was the technology lying idle, as is the case in many South African
schools. The unused Gauteng Online laboratories in many Gauteng Province schools,
while sometimes a function of lack of technical support, is often the result of lack of
teacher expertise in ICT use.
Fifthly, technical assistance for ICT needs to be decentralized so that teachers are
able to get solutions to technical problems quickly. This is one aspect of ICT
implementation which has been particularly problematic in South Africa. The delay
in sorting out technical difficulties in many of the Gauteng Online computer rooms
has meant that the computers cannot be used for long periods of time, leading to a
general disillusionment on the part of the teachers.
Sixthly, ICT initiatives should be driven by curriculum goals. If digital learning
materials directly support the curriculum, the teachers are more likely to integrate
them into their teaching practice on a regular basis. Mrs Marley was a good example
of this. She was able to use the available computer room successfully and frequently
because of the availability of curriculum-linked software which had been provided. It
meant that even with low TPCK, this teacher was able to support her teaching with
217
ICT in ways that benefited the students. This alignment with the curriculum is also
extremely important as a way of ensuring a level of quality in curriculum delivery,
especially in situations where teachers have low SCK, as is the case with many South
African teachers.
Lastly, there is a need to ensure effective professional development in the technical
and pedagogical use of ICT in conjunction with technology installations. The
importance of the concept TPCK has not yet influenced teacher professional
development programmes in South Africa (neither INSET nor PRESET) and it is my
recommendation that attention needs to be paid to this. This needs to go hand-inhand with research on how precisely to assist in the development of TPCK to ensure
that teachers are effectively trained in how to use and integrate ICT into practice. In
the Khanya Project, in addition to a good SCK, teachers need to be sensitised to the
use of technology, equipped with the basic technology skills, and provided with
functional training in the integration of technology with other modes of curriculum
delivery in order to ensure technology is used effectively. The SITES 2006 data
suggested that attendance at these sorts of professional development activities was
very low, despite a willingness on the part of the teachers to attend. It is a timeconsuming and labour-intensive process but is a key aspect of the effective use of ICT
in the classroom.
8.7 A final word
Three science teachers invited me into their classrooms to explore how they used ICT
when they taught science. All three teachers participated voluntarily and all three
were proud teachers who were keen to share their experiences with me. They were
enthusiastic and dedicated to their students, wanting to make a difference. During
the time I spent at the three schools, I watched and listened. For a teacher, being
watched is not easy as it exposes vulnerabilities.
This study started in the classroom and I propose to bring it to a close with a short
vignette, an incident which remains a critical insight into teachers and their use of
technology. While observing Mrs Marley‘s lesson one day, I noticed that the IWB
standing at the front of her classroom had light green writing on in. It was the sort of
218
writing that is left from white board markers. I asked Mrs Marley about the writing
and she looked a little embarrassed as she replied that the CAT teacher had thought
that the IWB, possibly the most expensive piece of technology that the school was
ever likely to get, was an ordinary white board. He had written all over the board with
white board marker and when he tried to erase the writing, he realized what he had
done. Mrs Marley may have felt uncomfortable after that incident but she still invited
me back.
Teachers who open their classrooms to outsiders like me need to be commended. I
can only hope that I left more than I took. We as researchers owe it to teachers to use
what we find to make a difference to education in South Africa and I hope that this
study is sensitive to that, and that it in some way makes a difference.
219
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