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The Teacher-IT Worker Relationship: A Case Study of a Singapore International Private School

By Michael Friesen

Abstract

As schools use more technology, they are increasingly likely to hire in-house IT support workers. Nothing is known, however, about relationships between teachers and IT workers. This study examines the perceptions of relationships between these occupational groups at an international private school in Singapore. As an international private school, the research venue is self-governed and self-funded. This autonomy allows the school to establish its own hiring practices and management structures devoid of the political interference and delayed responses that might characterise a larger-scale school system.\ud A review of the literature reveals three themes: perceptions of professional status, perceptions of occupational prestige, and perceptions of occupational cultures – each subsequently investigated in terms of the relationships fostered between the two occupational groups. Twelve teachers and seven IT workers participated in detailed semi-structured interviews – which were then subjected to qualitative analysis using both open and axial coding.\ud The research findings show that extant literature on each individual occupation is largely validated. Relationships between the two occupations were generally regarded as good, with each side reporting sources of minor irritation with the other. These irritants included exploitation by teachers and lack of prompt service from IT workers.\ud Additional findings include:\ud Two forms of inter-occupational ambassador exist: the tweeners, whose jobs place them at an intersection between the two groups; and bridgers, who voluntarily seek to strengthen interactions with their occupational counterparts.\ud Teachers uniformly but sometimes hesitantly claim professional status. IT workers generally deny having professional status on the grounds that they lack complete mastery over their field of work.\ud Other important elements of relationships include secretaries, communication, occupational cultures, and the geography of offices.\ud The study concludes with suggestions for future research and recommendations for schools to improve relationships between teachers and IT workers

Topics: relationships, technology, teachers, IT workers, communication
Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2011
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/9556

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