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Information and communication technology in teaching: Singapore University teachers' perspectives

By Hwee Hoon Lee

Abstract

The introduction of information and communication technology (ICT) into education has received both positive and negative responses from the stakeholders, namely, the school administrators, faculty and learners, and research into online teaching and learning has also shown both benefits and limitations offered by ICT. Indeed, resistance to ICT use is common among teachers. Studies have found that teacher beliefs about teaching and learning play a big part in teachers’ adoption of ICT use in their teaching. Similarly, contextual factors have been found to affect teachers’ response to ICT use.\ud The objective of this study is to explore the relationship between teachers’ understandings of teaching and learning, their understandings of ICT affordances and their use of ICT in their teaching. The area of teacher beliefs is therefore pertinent to the study. Teacher knowledge and teacher learning are discussed in relation to conceptions of teaching and ICT use. Contextual factors are also examined to complete the investigation. Informants are sampled from among engineering and non-engineering faculty at a university in Singapore. Data are collected through interviews, and lexical choices and metaphors used by informants are examined for meaning. The themes are identified and analysed based on two metaphorical models of teaching, namely, Fox’s (1983) theories of teaching and Kember and Gow’s (1994) orientations to teaching. The findings are then presented and discussed in two parts: firstly, teachers’ understandings regarding teaching and learning and regarding ICT affordances, and their use of ICT in their teaching; and secondly, contextual factors that affect teachers’ decision to use ICT.\ud The findings show, firstly, that face-to-face interaction, thinking and understanding, and the ‘right’ attitude are conceived by the engineering and non-engineering informants as the way that learning takes place. Secondly, the primary theories of teaching espoused by these teachers appear to be transfer and shaping theories. Thirdly, informants perceive ICT as a container, a place and a tool. These conceptions correspond to their teaching theories but only to an extent. Evident from the findings are tensions between beliefs and practice. Linked to informants’ understandings of teaching and learning and of ICT affordances is their perception of their roles and responsibilities when they use ICT in their teaching. Fourthly, informants generally perceive ICT as playing a complementary role in their teaching. They see the teacher and learner action as the two most essential elements for effective teaching and learning. From their emphasis on learner attitude and action, informants seem to value also the constructivist theory of learning.\ud Contextual factors are also considered, as conditions can affect change in practice. These factors are found to include time, institutional support, and teacher and learner attitudes. In the discussion on how contextual variables interact with the pedagogical use of ICT, it is found that informants’ technological pedagogical knowledge needs to be developed and that support at policy level is needed to encourage teachers’ use of ICT.\ud The implications of the findings and the contributions and limitations of the study are discussed in the concluding chapter. Also included in the final chapter are suggestions for future research. It is hoped that this study will help the education community understand teachers’ expectations and the classroom challenges they face as they work with ICT. The study can also help university administrators better meet teachers’ needs with regard to teaching using ICT

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/7547

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