paradigm for ICT researchers wishing to investige how teachers’ attitudes and
practices might change over time in an ICT environment.
1. Topic of study
The broad area of this study appertains to how
the ‘new’ digital culture has caused significant changes to the ‘traditional’
student-teacher learning environment and relationship. The rapid growth of
features and functions offered by the convergence of various multi-media
language applications gives teachers and students new capabilities. Some of
these capabilities comprise the ability: (1) of each student to speak simultaneously and yet
be audibly isolated from one another; (2)
to communicate with any number of students via headsets or computer terminals
from the teacher’s ‘controlling’ networked mother terminal; (3) to place students in any
combination of pairs/groups; (4)
for each student to watch a ‘customised’ TV/satellite broadcast or to listen to
a radio broadcast; (5)
to send text messages within a student group or to students abroad; (6) to analyse a text (student or
other) with the whole class or any number of students; (7) to make use of educational CD ROMS in a
networked system i.e. each student can work on do different things; (8) to access digitally stored
programs, exercises, tests, video archives etc; (9) to take advantage of the huge amount of data the
World Wide Web has to offer; (10)
to monitor a student with or without him or her knowing; (11) video conferencing.
2 Context of this study.
Intercollege (Nicosia), along with many educational
institutions around the world, is
aiming to improve its teaching and learning practices with the innovative use
In 2003 it
approved a budget for the development of a modern language resource centre at
campus. The co-ordinator’s (this writer) main duties and responsibilities
comprise: (1) the
development of the centre’s capabilities; (2) encouraging college lecturers to use the centre;
training of staff to use the centre; (4)
assisting (supporting) staff, if necessary, while they use the centre
i.e. the presence of the co-ordinator during some classes might be expected; (5) responding to the real needs of
Intercollege staff by developing or purchasing suitable pedagogic materials. It
was acknowledged by the Head of Department that there might be some teacher
resistance or anxiety related to the ‘getting-used-to’ or ‘acceptance’ phases
of the ‘new’ technology. In particular, positive attitudes to the
implementation of an ICT innovation may not necessarily lead to ‘positive’
changes in teaching practice, and ‘positive’ changes in teaching practice may
not denote positive attitudes towards; this point is also echoed in Peacock (2001).
Among some of the reasons why a positive attitude towards technology does not
ensure that teachers will be able to use it in the classroom are: (1) lack of support or recognition
for integrating computers (Grau 1996,
Strudler et al 1999); (2) inadequate training and technical support
Lam 2000, Langone
et al 1998, Levy 1997, Smerdon et
al 2000); (3) other factors that may influence
technology use are age, gender, attitudes towards technology, teaching
experience, general resistance to innovation, but the results are mixed as to
the extent these variables are related to teacher use of technology (Lam 2000 cited in Egbert et al. 2002, 108-126). A longitudinal case study that
described and interpreted how or whether teachers’ attitudes changed in an ICT
environment may be relevant to the co-ordinator, as it would be
‘strong-in-reality’, ‘illuminative’ and particularistic.
and research questions
The broad aim of the research would be to analyse participant and
practitioner experiences during the implementation–of-innovation phase. It is
thought that this may help the co-ordinator ascertain how ICT is fundamentally
shaping the nature of the teaching and learning processes; such findings may
also have the potential to be extremely valuable with regard to the
implementation and development of a better language resource centre. In light
of the literature review issues
discussed in section 4, and the writer’s professional context
as ICT co-ordinator (discussed in section 2), the writer’s research question will be to
describe and tentatively interpret,
how/whether teachers’ attitudes and practices changed over time in an ICT
environment. Research findings
might provide relevant information for the writer to act on ‘real-time’ as a
co-ordinator and also for eventual dissemination to a wider ICT audience.
Student feedback regarding ICT-usage, in the writer’s opinion, also has value
in this study. Firstly, feedback is useful for the ICT co-ordinator as he can
determine the suitability of materials for particular student groups. Secondly,
this feedback can be channelled to the teacher and assessed (by the researcher)
for opinion mismatch; this might aid the teacher adapt materials to student
needs and also provide new ‘leads’ for questioning in the semi-structured
interviews (discussed in section 6.5-6.8).
4 Literature Review
Literature is reviewed briefly in four
areas: (a) teachers’ beliefs and ICT research; (b) change as a long-term
process; (c) the implications of ICT for pedagogy; (d) students as autonomous
a Teachers’ beliefs and ICT
research, as in many areas, draws attention to the need to consider teachers’
beliefs and also to whether teachers actually know how to use ICT. For
instance, Egbert et al. (2002, 108-126)
developed a questionnaire based on a literature review for 20 ESL and FL language teachers who
had taken the same CALL training; how language teachers applied practical
experiences from computer-assisted language learning training to their teaching
in an ICT environment was studied. Egbert et
al. (ibid) draw attention to the need for there to be a fit between teachers’
philosophies of language teaching and learning and what teachers see as
capabilities of technology to facilitate teacher use of the technology in their
classrooms. Czerniak et al. (1999, 1-18)
elicited and categorised open-ended questionnaire feedback from 283 Ohio science school teachers regarding
attitudes towards the implementation of ICT in the school science programmes.
Although the authors highlight the limitations of their study, they maintain (1999, 14) that ICT-research should focus on how teachers’
beliefs can facilitate rather than limit ICT reform efforts, and educators
should examine teachers’ beliefs before planning classes, workshops or seminars. Parks et al. (2003, 1-21) looked at how teachers’
conceptualisations of teaching and other contextual factors related to their
actual use of technology. Longitudinal observations and several hours of video
recordings of students from three classes were obtained; three teachers were
also recorded during interviews. Parks et
al. (ibid) assert that although computers have been ‘hailed’ for their
potential to revolutionise teaching practice, recent research suggests that change is complex and
may be related to teachers’ beliefs, in particular, to the way ICT is adopted
or rejected by the individual. Warchauer (1999 cited in Parks et al. 2003,
2), in a qualitative
study involving a college ESL composition teacher, found that instead of
promoting the critical collaborative learning practices envisaged by the
researcher, online resources in an ICT laboratory were used to reinforce
traditional literacy activities such as essay writing and grammar activities;
factors that were believed to explain this finding included not only the
instructor’s personal teaching philosophy but also the role of the English language
programme and overall mission of the college. Cunnington’s et al. (2002,
1-20) qualitative study found that even though the use of ICT
in tertiary education had many advantages, the benefits did not justify the
cost, time and effort that this kind of work entailed. It is to be noted that
research into teacher and student attitudes towards ICT often provides one-off detailed
questionnaire-snapshots of attitude usually using for instance Likert-type or
semantic-differential scales. This might be contrasted with the more
qualitative approaches in Parks et al.
Cunnington’s et al. (2002).
b Change as a long-term process
The idea of change as a long term and complex
process is a common theme in the literature on change, for example: (1) Palmer (1993, 166) maintains that in-service teacher training
programmes are usually intensive, allowing trainers little opportunity to help
teachers explore the implications the innovation will have on their previously
established classroom routines and behaviours; (2) Irmisher (1992, 2)
states that implementation ‘is considered a long-term process not a quick fix’;
(3) Williams and
Williams (1994, 207) take the viewpoint that if a
programme of change is ‘thrust upon somebody with little or no knowledge of the
change and even less influence over it, it is not surprising that attitudes
towards the programme will be ambivalent’. Introducing change quickly also
significantly adds to a teacher’s workload and can bring a certain amount of
anxiety and threat; (4)
Most teachers retain practices that lead to improved learning outcomes and
ignore those that do not. Therefore a key determinant of lasting change in
teaching practices is to demonstrate that the change improves pupils’
performance (cited in Guskey 1989,
that perceive no improvement in pupil learning are therefore unlikely to have
positive attitudes to change; (5)
Fullan (1998, 253-262) brings forward and highlights five key
ideas which are thought to be associated with the capacity to understand the
fundamentals of change. These are: (i) there are no ‘silver-bullet’ solutions
to change management, the individual must work through problems on his/her own
with guidance but no certainty from other sources; (ii) for quality innovations
to have their desired impact, individuals must experience a process of redoing
(behaviour) and rethinking (beliefs); (iii) resistance and conflict are
essential for successful implementation of change; (iv) no amount of political
advocacy or technical support will generate success unless relationships
improve; (v) the role of emotions on change and hope as ‘unwarranted optimism’
should be considered more in the change process.
c The implications of ICT for pedagogy
An issue that is prevalent in current ICT
research is the assertion that there is a lack of sound pedagogy and training
for using the ICT-related materials for instance: (1)
Wood (1999, 1) provides an overview of Internet
sites that possibly could be useful in the ICT classroom. He states (ibid) that
many pedagogical books, articles, and ‘exhortations’ about the educational
significance of the Internet often turn out to be little more than lengthy
lists of web page addresses (URLs). It is held (ibid) that what is often
missing from the huge array of Internet materials for pedagogic purposes is any
clear identification of the new pedagogical opportunities that the Internet
1-11) provides a summary of some of
the current practices in ICT classrooms or learning centres. She (ibid) also
takes a similar stance to Wood (1999),
and asserts that even though much excitement was generated by the use of
colour, sound and video in software and over the Internet, the chief failing of
multimedia thus far has been the lack of appropriate pedagogy. Hanson-Smith
(ibid) claims that time has not been allocated for US high-school teachers to
explore software and applications and resources have not been committed to
training them in the appropriate ways of using such a language centre. Moreover
(ibid), it is argued that many instructors fear machines and believe they
cannot enhance learning; (3)
Nunan (1999, 52) undertook an exploratory case
study. He reports (1999, 51-74)
that despite all the interest in using the World Wide Web, little research
evidence exists to support claims for the effectiveness of web-based
instruction (WBI). Nunan (1999,
71) concludes by
asserting ‘the obvious’ that is, in the end, it is the learning that matters,
and the technology is simply a means to that end; (4) Stepp-Greany (2002, 165-180)
undertook a questionnaire survey on 449
Spanish students regarding student perceptions about technology use for
language instruction. There was a difference in opinion pertaining to the
usefulness of ICT components. Furthermore, as students attributed an important
role to instructors, it was argued that teachers working in learning
environments mediated by technology need support and preparation to adopt new
roles; (5) Rakes and
Casey (2002, 1) developed a stages of concern
questionnaire to analyse the concerns of 659 teachers towards instructional technology; it is
argued that one explanation why many teachers, especially more experienced
teachers, have not been able to find effective ways to use technology in their
classroom, is that the use of technology in the classroom has been considered
in terms of simple skill acquisition instead of as a change process. They also
(ibid) hold that adequate teacher training is the key to help teachers to view
technology in a positive manner, be comfortable with the technology, and use it
effectively before improved student achievement can occur
d Students as autonomous learners
Another recurrent theme in the literature is
the idea that in the future students must become more autonomous active
learners, and teachers must relinquish some of their power and authority, not
to the computer but to the student. For example: (1) Motschnig-Pitrik and Holzinger (2002, 1) undertook a survey involving 1200 teachers in various
locations in the USA into Student-Centred eLearning (SCeL); it is claimed
(ibid) that there exists empirical evidence proving that students who are given
the freedom to explore areas based on their personal interests, and who are
accompanied in their learning by a supportive, understanding facilitator, not
only achieve superior academic results but also develop socially and grow
Cunnington et al. (2003, 2) acknowledge the application of ICT in
teaching and learning has the potential to change educational practices in
significant ways. Moreover, Cunnington et al (ibid) hold that initiatives have
led to the rise of new roles for teachers such as “facilitators of learning” as
opposed to “deliverers of content”.
The four literature-review related themes which will form the conceptual basis
underpinning the writer’s research study are: (1) teachers’ beliefs and attitudes towards ICT need
to be considered because rejection is likely, if no ‘fit’ can be found between
teacher beliefs and what teachers view as practicable within an ICT
change is a complex and long-term process; (3) teachers require sound pedagogy, teacher training
and in-service support when using ICT materials; (4) more autonomous learning in the ICT
classroom suggests that the traditional student-teacher relationship will
change to a student-computer and ‘facilitating-teacher’ relationship. In
researching how teachers’ attitudes and practices change over time in a
supportive ICT-classroom environment, the writer will attempt to address the
four issues discussed above; the research will also provide data relevant to
the writer’s professional context. How these four areas will relate to this
study will be explained in section 5
5. Method orientation
With regard to the research design of the
studies described in the literature review presented in section 4, data were either elicited
quantitatively, using questionnaires, or qualitatively, in longitudinal case
studies. Yet the four issues mentioned above in section 2.5 suggest a longitudinal case
study within an interpretative paradigm
might be suitable i.e. it would provide a ‘thick’ description of how attitudes
and practice gradually changed over time. The aim would be to describe what
happened and to tentatively provide possible explanations and interpretations
rather than to try to make ‘positivist’ quantitative conclusions based on
The basic assumptions (cited in Schwandt 1994, 118) guiding the
interpretative/constructivist paradigm are that knowledge is socially
constructed by people active in the research process, and that researchers
should attempt to understand the complex world of lived experience from the
point of view of those who live it. Bassey (1999, 43)
maintains that the notion of there being one reality which exists regardless of
people, is difficult to accept for the interpretative researcher. An interpretative ontology rejects
the notion that there is an objective reality that can be known, rather a
researcher would take the stance that the goal is to understand multiple social
constructions of meaning and knowledge (Mertens 1995, 11). An interpretative epistemology would require a
more personal, interactive mode of data collection. Interpretative methodology would be
qualitative with some research questions evolving as the study progresses
(cited in Mertens 1995,
13-14). Cohen and Manion (1996, 106-107)
state that the interpretative, subjective dimensions of educational phenomena
are best explored by case study methods. They (ibid) maintain that variable
manipulation to determine causal significance and standardised questions to
representative samples of individuals are not required. Stake (1995, introduction) maintains
that the qualitative researcher
emphasises episodes of nuance (i.e. subtle nuances in data are seen as
important), the sequentiality of happenings in context, and the wholeness of
the individual. Qualitative data research seeks patterns of unanticipated and
unexpected relationships i.e. ‘thick’ descriptions of 'experiential’
understanding and multiple realities (Stake 1995, 41).
Eliciting qualitative data by means of a case
study has led to a number of important issues being raised by many prominent
researchers (i.e. there are advantages and disadvantages of case-study
research). Bassey (1999,1)
for instance, maintains that ‘the case study is a prime strategy for developing
educational theory which illuminates educational policy and enhances
educational practice’. Yet Bassey (1999,
23) also holds that
even though case studies have made a significant contribution to educational
research, they are often regarded with suspicion and even hostility. Moreover,
it is asserted (Bassey ibid.) that ‘their characteristics remain poorly
understood and their potential under-developed’. Adelman et al. (1980, 59-60)
however hold that while case study data is ‘strong in reality’ though difficult to organise, other research data is
often ‘weak in reality’ but susceptible to ready organisation. Adelman et al.
(ibid) assert that case studies allow generalisations either about one instance or from an
instance to a class, moreover their unusual strength lies in the subtlety and
complexity of the case in its own right. Cohen and Manion (1989, 124-5)
also take a similar viewpoint and maintain that case-study researchers
typically analyse the characteristics of an individual unit. The purpose of
such analysis is to probe deeply into the multifarious phenomena that
constitute the life cycle of the unit with a view to establish generalisations
about the wider population to which that unit belongs. It is thought (Cohen and
Manion 1989, 123) that case studies begin in a
world of action and so their insights may be directly interpreted and put to
use for institutional feedback. Stephen Kemmis (1980: 119-120)
states the stages in a case study might comprise: the conceptualisation of a
research problem, the investigation of this problem, the interpretation of
findings, and their cautious and rigorous application in the world beyond the
study. Stenhouse (1988,
49) maintains that
case-study generalisation and application are matters of judgement rather than
calculation, and task of case study is to create ordered reports of experience
which invite judgement and present evidence to which judgement can appeal.
Stake (1995, 2) describes case study research as
the study of the peculiarity and complexity of a single case, and maintains (1995, 7-13)
that researchers often make assertions invoking the privilege and
responsibility of interpretations i.e. ‘petite’ generalisations are drawn based
on a small ‘particularistic’ database. It is however held that case study
contributions to disciplined science are slow, tendentious and often esoteric
(stated in Stake1995,
45). When ‘how’ or
‘why’ questions are being posed or when the focus is on a contemporary
phenomenon with a real-life context, in general case studies are the preferred
research strategy (cited in Yin (1994,
1). Yin (1994, 9-10)
however draws attentions to three major concerns appertaining to case studies:
firstly, it is held that too many times the case study investigator has been
‘sloppy’ and allowed equivocal evidence or biassed views to influence the
direction of the findings and conclusions; secondly, it is maintained that case
studies provide little basis for scientific generalisation; thirdly, it is thought that case
studies take too long and result in massive unreadable documents.
Case study research can take many forms, for
Stenhouse (1985: 49) uses the term ‘educational case
study’ to refer to research that is concerned with the understanding of
educational action i.e. researchers attempt to enrich the thinking and
discourse of educators by the development of educational theory; (2) Bassey (1999, 41) defines ‘case study action research’ as research
that is carried out by teachers or managers who are trying to make beneficial
change within their workplace. Bassey (ibid.) argues that in order to do this it
is first necessary to understand what is happening and to evaluate it, then to
introduce change and evaluate the new situation; (3) Parlett and Hamilton (1977, 10) state the aim of illuminative case study
evaluation is to discover and document what it is like to be participating in
the scheme, whether as a teacher or pupil. Furthermore such case study research
should discern and discuss an innovation’s most significant features, recurring
concomitants and critical processes; (4)
Yin (1993, 5) state that an exploratory case
study is aimed at defining the questions and hypotheses of a subsequent study
explaining causes and effects, whereas a descriptive case study presents a
complete description of the phenomenon within its context. Yin (ibid.) sees attempts to discover theory
by directly observing a social phenomenon in its raw form, in terms of the
grounded theory approach of Glaser and strauss (1967). As the aim of this writer’s research
is to describe and tentatively interpret with a view to facilitate change,
the research could partly be defined as
an ‘educational case study’ in the Stenhouse (1985, 49)
sense or possibly partly a ‘case-study action research’ in the Bassey (1999, 41) sense; it might also be classed as an
‘illuminative case study evaluation’ as in Parlett and Hamilton (1977, 10) or an exploratory case study as in Yin (1993, 5) above. Though Bassey (1999, 35) warns that to draw comparisons between
the various case-study positions and terminology is a ‘dangerous game’, because
it is difficult to know what writers really mean by the terms they use. Stages in conducting case study research
might comprise (cited in Bassey 1999,
65-90.): (a) identifying the research
as an issue or problem; (b) asking research questions and drawing up ethical guidelines;
(c) collecting and storing data; (d)
generating and testing analytical statements; (e) interpreting or explaining
the analytical statements; (f) deciding on the outcome and writing the case
5.3 Disadvantages of questionnaires
In this study, questionnaires will not
be used. Dornyei, (2001,
207-208) maintains, appertaining to questionnaires, that the validity of
such instruments has been questioned by many.
Dornyei (ibid) provides a summary of the threats to validity, one main
issue relates to the assertion that people do not always provide true answers
about themselves. Dornyei (ibid.) also holds that some students may provide ‘a
good guess’ about what the desirable, acceptable or expected answer is, and
some of them will provide this response even if it is not true. Nunan (1989, 62) argues that the problem with questionnaires is that, having developed our
categories and questions before collecting data, we may predetermine, to a
large extent, what we actually find. Questionnaire administration should not be
considered a mere ‘technical issue’, Dornyei (ibid.)
states that psychological literature is quite explicit about the significant
role questionnaire procedures play in the quality of the elicited responses. In
light of the above problems, the writer of this paper holds that undertaking a
case study will firstly, help to embrace ‘qualitatively’ key issues in ICT, and
secondly, enable the researcher-writer to work within a constructivist
of data in this research context.
and teacher research questions are categorised in table 1 below; they relate thematically to the
issues discussed in section 4
(the Literature review). It is these issues that will be used as a basis for
‘probing’, ‘discovering’, ‘describing’ and ‘interpreting’. Borg (2003, 102-105)
questions pertinently what counts as evidence of attitude change i.e. responses
to questionnaires, retrospective commentaries, various forms of interviews,
observed or reported classroom practices. Some indicators of change in both
attitude and practice might be for instance: (1) is there any evidence that a teacher is building
on, adapting or ‘personalising’ what he/she had initially been taught or to
which he/she had been introduced?; (2)
Do teachers respond to student or co-ordinator feedback by ‘rethinking’ or
‘reworking’ ICT activities? If so, how?; (3) Is change,
in a supportive environment, (more) long-term?; (4) How are ICT-related problems addressed?; (5) How does perceived teacher
‘success’ in the ICT classroom affect change?
Table 1. The Interview Schedule
Four categorised questions based on the
literature review will be used to elicit data from teachers and one categorised section will be
used for eliciting feedback from students
Issues relating to teachers’ beliefs and attitudes towards ICT.
- What do you think of
- Are there any
- What are the
strengths of ICT?
- What potential does
ICT have for developing learning?
- Does anything go
against your teaching beliefs?
- Are you (still) a
technophile or technophobe? Why?
- Do you (or teachers
you know) have negative or positive attitudes towards ICT usage? Why?
- Is there/can there be
a ‘fit’ between teacher philosophies and ICT?
Issues related to change as a complex and long-term process.
- Is there any ICT
success story you would like to discuss?
- Do you [go a ‘step
further’ and] adapt WWW materials your own lessons? Do you retain any
- Does WWW usage/ICT
classroom improve learning? Why/how/why not?
- Has enough time been
allocated to explore software?
- How do you (or
teachers you know) apply technology to your (their) practice? Has your
teaching practice changed? Why/What/How?
- Do you feel any
pressure to use ICT? Why?
- Do you feel you
should receive some recognition for using ICT facilities? What?
Issues related to teachers requiring sound pedagogy, teacher training and
in-service support when using ICT materials.
- What ICT do you use?
- Do you need help with
- With regard to WWW
usage, do you need any support? What kind of support?
- What constitutes
sound pedagogy for WWW usage?
- Can e-learning be
made (more) effective? How?
Issues related to the role teachers may have in the ICT classroom i.e. students
being more autonomous.
- How do you perceive
your new teacher role in an ICT environment?
- What new teacher
skills are required?
- Are students more
autonomous and has the teacher become a facilitator? If yes, in what
way? Can teacher training help
teachers be more comfortable with their new roles in the ICT classroom?
Student feedback questions
- What do you think of
- Do you have any
problems in the ICT classroom?
- What ICT do you use?
- Do you like or
dislike anything you do in class? What/why?
- WWW usage, does it
improve learning? Why/How/Why not?
- Are you (still) a
technophile or technophobe? Why?
- Do you (or students
you know) have negative or positive towards ICT usage? Why?
- Do you feel more
independent in an ICT classroom? How should a teacher help you?
- Can e-learning be
made more effective? How?
The literature review described the
conceptual basis underpinning the research study and also linked this
conceptual basis to methods’ orientation. In this section, the subjects, tasks,
research question, research procedures, data collection, analysis of results,
ethical issues and study limitations will be discussed.
The research will be undertaken on
two Intercollege ESOL lecturers of any age, sex, nationality, or
‘IT-persuasion’ and on any of these teachers’ students. It is to be noted that
the writer’s research is not a comparative study but a particularistic and
interpretative study, so participants will not be chosen and compared on the
basis of age, sex, nationality or IT-persuasion, but on whether they agree to
take part and are students or teachers.
Oppenheim (1992, 82) asserts that the subject’s
motivation is probably the most important determinant both of response rate and
the quality of response. In this study no extrinsic motivators will be offered to the interviewee as
this may create a bias and so affect the data (maintained in Oppenheim ibid.).
Potential interviewees will be told that case-study data may help the language
laboratory co-ordinator to become more ‘sensitive’ to potential problems
encountered during the implementation phase of an ICT lab; this in turn may
help to reduce possible future teacher ‘stress’ in Intercollege’s new ICT
laboratory. Teachers that volunteer to take part in the project will be told
that a certain amount of commitment is necessary (also see section 3.9 on ethics); the writer,
however, accepts that there is a risk that the interviewee may decide to stop
taking part in the project.
The research tasks will involve
using ICT educational materials during ICT lesson time. In particular,
specialised licensed educational CD ROMS (e.g. Reward, BBC Interactive English
Course, Longman Interactive) and the World Wide Web (i.e. 100’s of web addresses) will be
used with students in a networked system. All ICT materials will complement or
be pertinent to, traditional classroom materials. A management software program
will provide opportunities to make use of multi-media ‘new’ capabilities, such
as those discussed in section one of this paper.
6.3 The research procedures
Figure one below provides an overview of
how the case-study research instruments will be used. The student, teacher and
co-ordinator form a triangular data-flow ‘matrix’ in figure one. As part of his
supportive role, the co-ordinator monitors both student and teacher seeking to
observe the presence, absence, and intensity of table 1 ‘key-issue’ types of behaviour that will
be relevant to the research question. An attempt would be made to
typify/categorise behaviour. If data fitted ‘non-problematically’ into these
categories, the categorised data could then used as the basis for ‘probing’ key
issues in successive structured interviews with teachers and students; as the
researcher will not assume that his case-study data will fit ‘conveniently’
into quantifiable categories, this
research cannot guarantee a quantitative element. The successive nature of
observing, data annotation/analysis, and interviewing might help to build up a
‘complex’ jigsaw picture of what may have happened. This could then be
tentatively interpreted. Furthermore, Miles and Huberman (1994, 49) hold that analysis during data
collection lets the fieldworker cycle back and forward between thinking about
the existing data and generating new strategies for collecting new often better
Figure one: the
student, teacher and ‘supportive’ co-ordinator triangular data-flow ‘matrix’
The following data-elicitation techniques will
be used in this case study: (a) semi-structured interviews with teachers and
students; (b) observations. The study will be undertaken during any 4-6 month ICT semester (though this time span may be
increased if circumstances allow) at Intercollege. It is expected that teachers
will have access to the centre once a week or once a fortnight for 90 minutes. Student and teacher
interviews would take place fortnightly after each lesson; approximately six
separate teacher interviews will take place during this periodi.e. depending on whether lessons take place
weekly or fortnightly. Observations will take place once a month.
Semi-structured interviews on teachers; the
aims of these interviews are to: (a) elicit qualitative data using the
questions presented in table 1
(please refer to section 5.4),
about the issues discussed in section 4;
(b) to give teachers an opportunity to discuss problems, worries and successes.
This may also help to improve the relationship between co-ordinator and
teacher. The aim of the semi-structured interviews on students will be for the
co-ordinator to access data real-time using the student questions presented in
table 1. Stake (1995, 67) asserts that even though there are
many practical considerations, the interview is the ‘main road’ to discovering
and portraying the multiple views.
a semi-structured interview.
Drever (1995, 1)
maintains that semi-structured interviews, with the use
of, for example prompts and probes, can yield a variety of information about
preferences, opinions, experiences, motivations and reasoning. Drever (1995, 18) states that an interview schedule serves to guide a semi-structured
interview discussion. The interviewee will be invited to select what is at the
forefront of her/his thinking as recommended in Drever (1995, 21); this will be done by asking the interviewee to
discuss any problems she/he had encountered working in an ICT environment. The
interview will start with a preamble that reminds the interviewee what she/he
has agreed to do and what the interview is about. Drever (1995, 26) holds this allows any misunderstandings
to be cleared up. All the interview questions will avoid using obscure or
patronising terms and are clearly worded. Oppenheim (1992, 81) holds that open-ended questions are important
because they allow respondents to say what they think with greater richness and
spontaneity. All interviews will end with a general ‘sweeper’ question; Drever
(ibid.) recommends using questions of the type : ‘Is there anything else you want to say about this topic?’ or ‘Is
there anything else you want to ask me?’ . Interviewee responses will be
categorised/typified and then used as the basis for ‘probing’ key issues in successive
structured interviews with teachers. The successive nature of observing, data
annotation/analysis, and interviewing is thought to help to build up a
‘complex’ jigsaw picture of what could have happened; this could then be
6.7 Collecting and transcribing data
Bassey (1999, 81-83)
holds that the advantage of recording for the researcher is that she can attend
to the direction rather than the detail of the interview and then listen
intently afterwards. Each interview will be recorded on a separate c90 cassette, and the tape-recorder itself will be
positioned so as to ensure a high quality recording. As soon as the interview
has ended the details of the interview will be written on the cassette. With
regard to transcribing the interview recording, Bassey (ibid.) recommends: (1) transcribing the entire recording
at once, though this may take between five to ten times as long as the actual interview.
There may be a lot of redundant text because of the intrinsic nature of speech;
(2) paraphrasing or
making a shortened report of the recording. It is believed (Bassey ibid.) that
this can be done in about twice the time of the interview. Even though some of
the nuances of the initial interview recording may be lost, interview data
could be reduced to more manageable units. Drever (1995, 60-61)
also takes the view that the purpose of data preparation should be to make the
material manageable, while at the same time retaining as much of the original
information as possible and avoiding any distortion. Drever (ibid.) states that
even though some physical data is
lost in verbatim transcriptions and that transcribing is laborious, verbatim
transcriptions provide a true record of the interview recording i.e. they may
safeguard against distortions such as the interviewer leading the respondents,
reporting selectively or misrepresenting their answers. Drever (ibid.)
maintains that although partial transcriptions reduce transcription time
because they only provide answers to certain questions, there may be a risk that data will be
distorted unconsciously by a personally biased interviewer. However safeguards
can be applied to counteract this possible problem; Drever (ibid.) for instance
using only the words and phrases used by the interviewee; (2) getting a colleague to check for
any subjective distortions by reading a sample of the summary while listening
to the tape. Giving the summary and tapes back to the interviewee is not
thought to be very effective as the interviewee may not wish to contribute on
the content of the summaries, rather, he or she may prefer to expand on, or
explain, what had been said earlier (cited in Drever ibid.). In this study, for
practical reasons, the researcher will only partially transcribe interview
recordings, as in Drever (ibid). However, only the words and phrases used by
the interviewee will be used and a ‘third person’ will check for any subjective
distortions by reading a copy of the summary while listening to the recording;
please note that the interviewee will be given the opportunity, if he or
she so chooses (also discussed in section 10, Ethical Issues), to comment on the content of
Bogdan and Biklin (1994, 129-131)
are of the opinion that transcribing issues that only address the researcher’s
concerns saves a lot of time and expense. Another suggestion (cited in Bogdan
and Biklin (1994,
ibid) is to transcribe the first interviews completely and then narrow what is
transcribed in later interviews; as the study goes on, the researcher is
thought to have a better idea about the focus and be more sensitively selective
in what is typed. Furthermore, Bogdan and Biklin (1994, 154-159)
recommend researchers make decisions so as to narrow the field of their study,
in particular: (1)
the researcher ought not to pursue ‘everything’, rather she should put limits
on what might be analysed in detail; (2)
the researcher/interviewer should make decisions about what kind of study will
be accomplished. In this case study the
writer brings ‘general’ questions to the study because they help to give a
focus to the process of collecting data. However, although it is the
researcher’s aim, once he has entered the field, to assess which questions are
relevant and which might be
reformulated to direct the study, this approach may ‘fall though’ because ‘new’
and ‘interesting’ data that cannot be ignored may arise during subsequent
interviews. Therefore, the researcher realises that the process of building on previous data-collection sessions
may not necessarily provide an accurate description of what was happening.
Drever (1995, 4) states that interviewing colleagues is sometimes
problematic because it is difficult to maintain formality with them. Moreover,
Oppenheim (1992, 89-90) holds that too much or too little rapport in
interviews would be undesirable. In this research, in order that the
interviewee takes the interview seriously, the interviewer will aim to remain
detached and professional, yet appear relaxed, open, friendly and trustworthy.
The aim of the each interview will be explained to the interviewee, and
the interviewee will be thanked at the end of each interview. Yin (1994, 94) however asserts that because data
collection is not routinised in case studies, the demands of a case study on a
person’s intellect, ego and emotions are far greater than those of any other
research strategy. Yin (1994,
56) claims that
asking questions requires an inquiring mind; it is held (Yin ibid) that this is
a major prerequisite during the data collection, and not just before or after
the activity. As specific case study information is not readily predictable,
Yin recommends (ibid) that the fieldworker should constantly ask why events
appear to have happened or appear to be happening.
These mainly aim at formulating additional
questions based on what was
observed in-class for student and teacher interviews. Yin (1994, 87) is of the opinion that observational evidence is
often useful in providing additional information about the topic being studied.
Access to the site will be negotiated and a ‘basic’ observation checklist, as
recommended in Nunan and Richards (1990,
chapter 5) or
Wajnryb (1992) would be drawn up. In this research, the
observations will be structured. There are two main forms of observation: structured and unstructured.
In structured observation the researcher seeks to only observe the presence,
absence and intensity of clearly specified types of behaviour. A researcher
therefore needs to know a lot about the area under study, and should be in a
position to know what types of behaviour will be monitored; in this way, only
data relevant to the research will be collected. The research instrument checklist would be
designed by the observer and would be piloted a number of times. It would comprise the following sections: (1)
whose behaviour (students’ or the teacher’s); (2) categories of behaviour to be observed
(related to table 1
psychomotor elements (posture, gesture, movement), activity (repetition etc),
content (lesson-related talk), sociological structure ( role, sex, race etc),
physical environment ( room layout etc); (4) what counts as an act of behaviour; (5) time units i.e. unit sampling
(every x seconds/minutes), natural sampling (no fixed time unit); (6) methods of classifying the
behaviour (scales to all or none). The writer however acknowledges that the
most frequent problems in structured observations are: (a) inadequate
definitions of what behaviour constitutes a given concept; (b) some observers
doubt their own judgements (lack of confidence); (c) the observer effect (the
presence of an observer may change the environment).
With regard to data collection, data
management will be an important skill as it is expected that an ‘enormous’
amount of data will be generated; within the practicable confines of the study,
specific and germane comparisons (i.e. between previous interview data) and
interpretations of the data collected will be made with the aim of assessing
their usefulness in relation to the initial research question. Also an evaluation of the degree to which the
case study has accomplished its aims, together with an account of the ways in
which the process of research may have led to changes in the initial research
question formulation (or for that matter, generated other interesting
questions) might prove useful for future research.
Drever (1995, 64-65) holds that researchers tend to
develop their own ‘personal toolkit’ for analysing semi-structured interview
data, this often comprises simply coding and counting responses using methods
similar to questionnaires. Drever (1995,
recommends extracting categories from the data itself, as there is a danger that
predetermined categories may distort the data. The writer of this article
cannot know whether research data will lend itself conveniently to
categorisation, and therefore will not ‘force’ data into categories for the
purposes of quantitative analysis. One way of extracting categories from
interview data could be (cited in Drever 1995, 68-69.): (1) to select one of the fuller interview
responses and summarise it as a list of short points; (2) to repeat this process with several more
answers; (3) to
compare lists with a view to making a ‘categorising’ composite list. Yin (1994, 102) takes a similar stance in stating
that the researcher’s own rigorous style of thinking and presentation of
sufficient evidence along with careful consideration of alternative theories is
an essential analytical strategy. Yin (1994, 103)
also draws attention to the possible weaknesses of quantifying data and asserts
that coding events into numerical form
may fail to address the needs of doing analysis at the level of the whole case.
The researcher’s ultimate goal therefore will be to treat the evidence fairly, to create convincing analytic
conclusions, and to attempt to rule out alternative interpretations (as recommended in Yin 1994, 103). Moreover, the researcher holds that from
the beginning of data collection, he will be starting to decide what things
mean, and will be ‘noting regularities, patterns, explanations, possible
configurations, causal flows and propositions’
(as recommended in Miles and Huberman 1984,
22). In this study
data will be coded as in Bogdan and Biklin (1994, 165-166) i.e. it is suggested that the researcher read
through the data for certain words or phrases that ‘stick out or repeat’;
categories will be words or phrases that represent these topics.
9. Limitations and problems that may be encountered.
This study has a number of potential weaknesses
or areas where it could potentially be criticised. For instance: (1) only ‘petite’ generalisations can be drawn based on
the small ‘particularistic’ database.; (2)
the ‘reliability’ of the structured interview data could be questioned. Oppenhein (1992, 211) for instance, asserts that people are often
unaware of their own motives and attitudes. Moreover, it is held (Oppenhein
ibid) that most ‘people’ invent logical reasons for actions whose origins are
far from rational and ‘people’ very often prefer not to say negative ,
unpleasant or critical things unless they have specific complaints; (3) the time period of the case study
might be too short (please refer to section 6.4, data collection); (4) recording, summarising, validating and
analysing the enormous amounts of data may inevitably be affected by some
researcher bias; (5)
structured observation data has disadvantages (discussed in section 7); (6) the lab
materials available to teachers would be limited, i.e. the language resource
centre would be a completely new innovation at Intercollege and it would
require several years to build up a useful database of ICT-related educational
materials suitable for Intercollege staff and students; (6) even though undertaking a pilot case study could
assist the researcher to create pertinent ‘question’ lines and even provide
some conceptual clarification for the research design, within this context,
there are practical considerations for example,
using valuable ‘lab’ time for a pilot case-study would be problematic
10. Ethical Issues
Bassey (1999, 73-77),
with regard to the ethics of research, discusses
a number of issues, these issues include: (1) researchers should feel free to investigate, ask questions and
express ideas; (2) researchers should have respect
for the truth i.e. being truthful to data collection, data analysis and the
reporting of findings is essential; (3)
the researcher should have respect for the person(s) being investigated: data
elicited from persons should be done in ways that acknowledge initial data
ownership and which should respect the dignity and privacy of persons being
researched. However Bassey (1999,
74) warns that the
problem with these ethical values is that they may clash. Pertaining to respect
for persons in case study research (issue three above), Bassey (1999, 77-78)
draws attention to the need to ask what arrangements have been made for
transferring the ownership of the record of utterances and actions to the
researcher i.e. this would enable the researcher to compile a case record.
Bassey (1999, 78) holds that the usual convention
is that utterances and actions, recorded on tape and then transcribed, should
not be entered into the case record of the research until the person concerned
has had an opportunity to read the draft version and amend it if she or he
considers it does not represent the truth; however Bassey (ibid.) also states
that the researcher needs to assess whether such amendment is appropriate in
the circumstance of the enquiry. The researcher should also, if necessary, make
arrangements for identifying or concealing the contributing individuals and the
particular setting of the research (stated in Bassey ibid.). Bogdan and Biklin
(1994, 53) hold that subjects ought to
enter research projects voluntarily, understanding the nature of the study, the
dangers, and the obligations that are involved. They (ibid.) also take the view
that the subject’s identity should be protected so that the information
collected does not embarrass or harm.
Bogdan and Biklin claim (ibid.) that the consensus opinion feels that the
research interest should be explained to the subject, and the subject’s
permission should be given to proceed.
information derived from student and teacher interviews is seen as invaluable
for the co-ordinator whose job it is to develop a suitable and ‘useable’ ICT
learning environment. The co-ordinator has access to everything the student
does during the lesson via the ICT-classroom mother terminal. Even though
accessing information via a mother terminal without the knowledge of the
student is normal practice in an ICT-classroom,
publishing the information without the knowledge of the participant will be
felt unethical. Before the case study commences, a brief written description of
the intended casework will be offered with expectations of any plans to
anonymise participants; permission will then be sought from all research participants
to undertake and publish the findings of the research. The teacher and students
will also be informed that agreeing to take part in the study will denote a
certain amount of personal commitment; they will, however, at any time and for
any reason, be allowed to leave the research study if they so choose. Oppenhein
(1992, 83-84) maintains that no harm should come to the
respondents as a result of their participation in the research. Interviewees will be given an
opportunity, if they so choose, to read a draft interview transcription summary
and amend it if they consider it does not represent the truth
A discussion would then follow
interpretation of case-study data. It would draw attention to interpretations
that were felt to be relevant to the writer’s professional context, a wider ICT
audience and future research. The range of possible audiences might include: (1) colleagues in the same field; 2) policy makers and practitioners;
(3) special groups
such as students; (4)
funders of ICT-related research. With regard to one possible anticipated
product, how working in an ICT environment changes teachers’ attitudes to
teaching could be of fundamental importance to those that want to facilitate
the process of change. How or whether ICT affects learning is also of
relevance. The writer’s research project aims to address tentatively these
questions by presenting relevant qualitative case-study data.
‘Blind rejection’ of ICT could be as
inadvisable as ‘blind acceptance’ because both non-ICT and ICT teaching are
developing research areas. Moreover, neither is likely to ‘go away’. However,
what is not clear, is whether, or to what degree, there will be a ‘conflict’
between the two. The analogy of the ‘Cyprus Problem’ may be pertinent: the solution could
be finding ways to live together in peace through a greater understanding of
how both peoples can help to develop a common land.
C., Kemmis, S. And Jenkins, D. (1980).
Rethinking case study: notes from the
conference. In H. Simon (ed.) Towards a
Science of the Singular. Norwich:
Centre for Applied Research in Education, University of East Anglia,
Infusing technology into pre-service teacher education. Eric
Digest 389699. Retrieved November
26, 2001, from http://www.ed.gov/databases/ERIC_Digests/ed389699.html.
Bassey , M (1999). Case study research in educational
settings. Buckingham: Open University
R., and Biklin, S. (1994).
Qualitative Research for education London.
Heights MA: Allyn and Bacon
Borg, S. (2003).
Teacher cognition in language teaching: A review of research on what
language teachers think, know believe, and do. Language Teaching. 36,
Bryman, A., and Burgess, R. (1994). Analysing qualitative data. London:
Cohen, L., and Manion, L. (1996).
Research Methods in Education. London. Routledge
Cuban, L. (1993).
How teachers taught: Constancy and change
in American classrooms
1890-1980. New York:
Cunnington, D., Naidu, S., and Jason, C.
The experience of practitioners with
technology-enhanced teaching and learning. Educational Technology & society. 5 (1). (online).
Lumpe, A., Haney, P., and Beck, J. (2003). Teachers' beliefs about
using educational technology in the science classroom. International Journal of Education
Technology. (online). Available: http://www.ao.uiuc.edu/ijet/v1n2/czerniak/index.html
de Verneil, M., & Berge, Z. L (2000). Going Online: Guidelines
for the Faculty in Higher Education. Educational
Technology Review: International forum on Educational Technology Issues and
Applications. Spring/Summer, 13,
Z. (2001). Teaching and Researching Motivation. Harlow,
Drever, E (1995).
Using semi-structured Interviews in
small-scale research: A Teacher’s
Guide. Edinburgh: SCRE Publication
J., Paulus, T., and Nakamichi, Y. (2002). The impact of call
classroom computer use: a foundation for rethinking technology in
Teacher education. Language Learning
& Technology. 6/3: 108-126.
(online). Available: http://llt.msu.edu/vol6num3/pdf/egbert.pdf
Linking change and assessment. In Rea-Dickins, P., and Germaine, K.
Managing Evaluation and Innovation in
Language Teaching: Building Bridges. (pp 253-268).
B. G. And Strauss, A. L. (1967).
The Discovery of Grounded Theory:
for Qualitative Research. New York: Aldine.
Teacher development in technology
instruction: Does computer
coursework transfer into
actual teaching practice? Paper presented at the
annual meeting of southwest educational research association, Dallas, TX.
(ERIC document reproduction service no ED 394949)
Attitude and Perceptual Change in Teachers. International
Journal of Education 13:7, 439-453
E. (2003). Technology in the Classroom: Practice and
Promise in the 21st
century. (online). available: http://www.tesol.org/pubs/catalog/downloadable/hanson-smith-1.html
Karen. (1997) Educational Reform and Students at Risk (on-line).
Kemmis, S. (1980).
The imagination of the case study and the invention of the study. In
H. Simons (ed.) Towards a Science
of the Singualr. Norwich:
Centre for Applied Research in Education, University of East Anglia,
Lam, Y. (2000).
Technophilia v. Technophobia: a preliminary look at why second
language teachers do or do not use technology in their classrooms. Canadian Modern Language Review, 56, 389-420
Langone, C., Wissick, C., Langone, J., & Ross, G. (1998). A study of graduates of a
technology teacher preparation program. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education. 6(4):
Levy, M. (1997).
Computer assisted language learning:
Context and conceptualisation.
Oxford: Clarendon Press.
D. (1997). Research Methods in Education and Psychology.
Miles. M,. And Huberman. (1984). Qualitative
data analysis. London:
R., and Holzinger. (2002). A Student-Centered Teaching Meets New
Media: Concept and Case
Nicolopoulou, A., and Cole, M.(1993).
Generation and transmission of shared
knowledge in the
culture of collaborative learning: The Fifth Dimension, its play-world, and its
institutional contexts. In E. Forman, N. Minick, and Stone, C. (Eds), Contexts for learning: Sociocultural
dynamics in children’s development (pp 283-314).
Oxford, England: OUP.
D. (1999). A foot
in the world of ideas: Graduate study through the Internet. Language Learning & Technology. 3/1: 52-74. (online). Available: http://llt.msu.edu/vol3num1/nunan/
D. and Richards, J. C. (1990),
Second Language Teacher Education, Cambridge:
Oppenheim, A. (1992).
Questionnaire design, Interviewing and
Palmer, Christopher. (1993).
Innovation and the experienced teacher. English
Language Teaching Journal 47:2, 166-171
S., Huot, D., Hamers, J., and
H.-Lemonnier, F. (2003).
multimedia technology and pedagogical innovation in a high school class.
Language Learning & Technology. 7/1: 28-45. (online). Available:
Parlett, M. And Hamilton, D. (1977).
Evaluation as illuminations: a new approach to the
study of innovatory programmes. In D. Hamilton et al. (eds.) Beyond the Numbers Game: a Reader in
Educational Evaluation. Basingstoke:
Macmillan, pp. 6-22.
Peacock, M. (2001).
Pre-service ESL teachers’ beliefs about second language learning: a
longitudinal study. System, 29, 177-195
G., and Casey, H. (2002).
An analysis of teacher concerns towards instructional
technology. International Jouranl
of Education Technology. 3.1:
1-12. (online). Available: http://www.ao.uiuc.edu/ijet/v3n1/rakes/index.html
Rogers, D. L. (2000).
A Paradigm Shift: Technology Integration for Higher Education in the New
Millennium. Educational Technology
Review: International forum on Educational Technology Issues and Applications.
Spring/Summer, 13, 19-27.
Salmon, G. (2000).
E-moderating: The key to teaching and
learning online. London:
Schwandt, T. A. (1994).
Constructivist, interventionist approaches to human inquiry. In Denzin &
Y.S. Lincoln (Eds), Handbook of
qualitative research (pp. 118-137). Thousand Oaks, CA:
Smerdon, B., Cronen, S., Lanahan, L., Anderson, J., Iannotti, N., &
Angeles, J. (2000).
Teachers’ tools for the 21st century: A report
on teachers’ use of technology. Washington,
D.C: National Center for Education Statistics.
Stake, R. E. (1995). The art. of case study research. London. Sage.
Stenhouse, L. (1988).
Case study methods. In J. P. Keeves (ed.). Educational
Research Methodology and Measurement: an International Handbook, 2nd edition. Oxford: Pergamon, pp 49-53
Stepp-Greany, J. (2002).
Student Perceptions on language learning in a technological environment:
implications for the new millennium. Language
Learning & Technology. 6/1. 165-180.
(online). Available: http://llt.msu.edu/vol6num1/steppgreany/
Strudler, N., Quinn, L., Mckinney,
M., & Jones, W. (1995).
From coursework to the real
world: first-year teachers and technology. In D. A. Willis, B. Robin,
& J. Willis (Eds.), Technology and
teacher education annual (p. 774-777). Charlottesville, VA:
R. (1992), Classroom Observation Tasks: Resource Book
Teachers and Trainers, London: Prentice Hall
M. (1998). Online
learning in sociocultural context. Anthropology
Education Quartely, 29 (1), 68-88.
M. (1999). Electronic literacies: Language, culture,
and power in online
education. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence
C, Judith, and Jeremy B, Williams. (1994).
Change at the chalk face: a case
study of the factors affecting the adoption of curriculum innovation. Journal of
Curriculum Studies 26:2,
Thinking About the Internet Pedagogically. Rutgers, The State
University of New Jersey Campus at Camden. (online).
R. (1994). Case study research. Design and methods.