The Effectiveness of teaching ICT course to B.ED 4 Students

The Effectiveness of teaching ICT course to B.ED 4 Students






1.1 Background Information

The process of developing and implementing new policies and ICT teaching methods is a tasking one (Girdwood, 1999; Meek et al, 1996; Sabatier, 1991). According to Smith (2002) educators should first subject the existing ICT teaching startegies to an intensive evaluative analysis with the view of establishing what needs to be changed, how should it be changed, the impacts of such changes to the existing and envisaged learning institutional goals, political ramifications (if any) of such new policies, the amount of resources to be used for the development and implementation process. Such prerequisite considerations are important as they enhance smooth transition as well as aiding in reducing any possibility of internal and/or external conflicts as well as duplication of efforts. In this regard, it is important to highlight that the quality (nature and scope) of the envisaged teaching policies or strategy is also very important as it determines whether the existing as well as the new goals will be achieved or not. As a matter of fact, Girdwood (1999) asserts that, so as to achieve the set strategic goals in Bed and other course, learning institutions should not only formulate new policies but should ensure that such policies are compatible with the expectations of the course (BE.d).

In extension, so as to create healthy and sustainable programmes for B.ED 4 Students, there is need for sound policies to be formulated and successfully implemented (Badu & Loughridge, 1997). This however, is a conventionally tasking endeavour that has posed significant challenges among educators in various learning institutions. Moreover, as Smith (2002) explains, creating sound policies alone is not enough as institutions can still experience problems in the overall execution of a program or teaching method. In this regard, there is need to follow through such policies and ensure that they are successful teaching methods or programs. As a matter of fact, it is even prudent to acknowledge that even the strongest policies can as well as be meaningless if they are not implemented in the right manner. This is because as Brinkerhoff (1999) opines, the life of a policy is long; it begins at creation and continues into infinity, until it is replaced or even fails in its entirety, the same way a educational program operates. This therefore calls for proper planning and a sense of responsiveness on the part of educators. Consequently, there must be proper deliberations to mitigate the inevitable implementation challenges that may otherwise scuttle any hopes of successfully utilizing policies.

1.2 Study Context

For smooth management, institutions of higher learning develop and implement many policies (Gibbons, 1998). In the UEW, for instance, several policy areas spanning the realms of academic, student welfare, finance, security, administration, sports, sanitation, staff welfare, community services and many more other areas are addressed (UEW, 2011). Even so, for purposes of this study, only a few Effectiveness of teaching ICT course to B.ED 4 Students will be tackled. Ideally, the selection of only one area was based on their importance in the overall in the governance process of the University. Other programs can deal with: academic, environment and facilities, finance, human resource, procedures and guidelines, information and communication, library and research policies.

The educational reforms that were embarked upon by the government in 1988 put enormous pressures on universities to develop policies to meet the challenges and stem students’ protests, staff disenchantment and remain relevant in the face of global competition. In view of this, Governing Councils and Academic Boards were called upon to enact policies for the effective teaching methods (Leach et al, 2008). As a matter of fact, Leach et al argue that just like other institutions of higher learning in most countries, Universities in UAE were expected to operate as businesses and generate income to make up for the shortfalls in government funding. However, between the 1990s and 2000, there were tensions between administrators and academic staff on the issue of participation in decision making and university management. Academic staff felt that most policies enacted lacked collegial participation and that academic decision making was being dominated by professional managers.

1.3 Scope of the Study

According to Meek et al (1996), in almost all higher education systems, institutional diversity is considered an “inherent good.” As such, governments always try to provide considerable leeway to institutions as well as developing to enhance education. It is therefore important to note that policy serves several purposes including control, consistency and uniformity, and fairness. Policies ensure control when they are well developed and well publicized, they enable learning institution members to know what they should do, and in what manner, in certain specific circumstances. This ensures that educators operate within defined limits and do not act in ways that would create problems for the learning institution. In addition, policies also ensure consistency and uniformity. For instance, a policy targeting to bring new changes on employee interactions at the workplace is expected to affect all learning institutions. Consistency of policy is achieved to a large extent because the discipline procedure today is expected to be consistent with the procedure adopted in the past. All the educators should be actively involved in every process of developing, implementing, and evaluating the new policies.

Nonetheless, in most cases the majority of the University educators members are not informed of important policies in the University. In fact, most members of the University educators only come to learn of new policies when they are confronted by such policies or even when they are faced with problems regarding their conditions of service or when they are affected by some management decisions (Leach et al, 2008). The general observation in the University of Education, is that when policy statements are reviewed and approved by the governing council, academic board and other committees they are not disseminated to all identifiable groups within the institution but remain in the heads of individuals and in the files and cabinets of heads of department. This makes it difficult for staff to support policies to make them effective and enhance the governance and management process of the institution.

I am also aware that the University statutes, rules, policies and associated procedures, and plans form part of the governance framework of the University and therefore all employees and students of the University, by accepting employment and enrolment with the university, agree to operate in ways that are consistent and in harmony with the university’s governance framework. Therefore it is important that those who are affected by the policies of the university are aware and understand them. Even so, as indicated above, this is not the case as evidence from feedback received from staff and student representatives, at Council meetings.

It is this perception and my observations of display of ignorance on the part of staff and students about the various policies in operation that informs this research. The research will engage with some selected staff, both academic and administrative/professional, heads of department and deans as a means to understand The Effectiveness of teaching ICT course to B.ED 4 Students

and implementation. This would lead to unearthing the fundamental issues involved in The Effectiveness of teaching ICT course to B.ED 4 Students in the University.

1.4. Rationale

In the University of Education, just like in any other institutions of higher learning, policies are critical for effective teaching in the institution (Osborne, 2003a). In most cases policies are the outcome of decisions arrived at during board/committee meetings, and may refer to a statement of principles or position that is intended to guide or direct decision-making and operations in a sphere of the University activities and may also specify requirements that need to be met (Leach et al, 2008). Though there are a number of existing studies tackling various teaching methods, there is no existing documented research tackling The Effectiveness of teaching ICT course to B.ED 4 Students.

This research will therefore attempt to develop a framework for the development, implementation and review of teaching policies in the university. What are the guidelines and procedures in policy formulation and how does it impact on staff’s performance as well as student performance

1.5. Study Objectives (Research Questions)As it has been established elsewhere in this study that policy development and implementation are complex teaching processes that demands high levels of commitments on the part of the edcator (Badu & Loughridge, 1997; Girdwood, 1999; Anthony, 1999). In extension, the process of examining the manner in which institutional policies in the higher education realm get developed and implemented as well as the effects of those actions, requires in the view of Sabatier (1991), an understanding of the behaviour of the major educators. In addition, these critical processes can only be achieved through a keen observance of the behaviours of other interest groups such learners.

This research will rely of data collected through interaction with senior staff (senior non-teaching and senior-teaching staff). The interaction will take the form of structured face-to-face, over-the-phone and online questionnares that will be administered to selected participants representing the groups mentioned above. Though the structured questionnares will comprise of many questions, the central premise will be the pertinent issues touching on policy development and implementation as well the impacts of policy reforms on University education system in general. In this regard, the study will seek to get answer(s) for the following overarching research question: “What issues are critical in developing and implementing selected policies in The Effectiveness of teaching ICT course to B.ED 4 Students?” From this overarching question other research questions can be drawn out.


2.1 Introduction

As a critical chapter of the study, the noble purpose of this literature review section is to provide the background and critical points theoretically and methodologically of current knowledge about a particular topic (Bruce, 1994), in this case the development, implementation, and impacts of policies on the management of institutions of higher learning. In this regard, Cooper (1988) asserts that literature review chapters in a study act as secondary sources of information. Precisely, this is an indicator that they do not report any new primary work. Even so, studies should not omit literature review chapters as doing so will only make the arguments made thereof to lack connectivity and support of the existing theoretical frameworks within the respective fields of knowledge.

As a matter of fact, Bruce (1994) asserts that a study that does not review the existing relevant literary materials is void in its findings and conclusions. Precisely, as Bourner (1996) reports, it is very important that studies put efforts on the preparation of a literature review chapter as it helps to identify the gap in the literature and enable one to define the research questions. In this regard, it is hoped that by reviewing the relevant literary materials the breadth of knowledge of the study topic will be increased and a rich bank of relevant information and ideas will be created. As such therefore, the review of the literature pertaining to policy development, implementation, and impacts from a general perspective and from tertiary institutions standpoint will be one crucial element in this research study.

Basing on Creswell (2003) postulations on the creation of literature maps and abstracting of existing literary materials, this chapter has been structured into various sub-titles that have been compressed into the following four subsections.

Introduction – introduces the chapter by briefly according the audience an opportunity to deduce what the chapter tackles.

Change theory – offers the conceptual framework within which the relevant literary materials are reviewed. In addition, the section emphasizes the essence of rolling out new policies and how such policies can be successfully rolled out.

2.2 Change Theory

Perhaps to elucidate how policy reforms are initiated, accepted and successfully implemented within learning institutions it is wise to invoke the change theory as advanced by Kurt Lewin. According to Lewin, the hallmark of this change theory rests on the postulation that change does not happen instantaneously, it is gradual, and that it comprises of significant amount of adaptations and adjustments (Schein, 1995). Precisely, based on elucidations by Robbins (2003), any form of change does not just happen – it only takes place when the forces sponsoring it are stronger than those that oppose it. Essentially, change whether from an individual or collective perspective is phenomenal, in that, it entails, “a profound psychological dynamic process that involved painful unlearning without loss of ego identity and difficult relearning as one cognitively attempted to restructure one’s thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and attitudes” (Schein, 1995, p.2).

Similarly, within the context of higher education sector in UAE, for instance, institutions must first carryout extensive sensitization drills among the members forming its community on the need for reforms and then conduct surveys to determine the level of acceptance by the members regarding such reforms. The institutions should also consider communicating the survey results to the government through the respective line ministries so as to seek the support as well as to avoid contradicting the set national education goal. This is because in many situations, it is only after the central government consents to support the reforms that the institutions can now embark on the process of drawing out frameworks and timelines for initiating, developing, and implementing the reforms (Trucano, 2006).

Even within the frameworks of Lewin’s change theory it is only fair to acknowledge that the process of imparting change is a complex one. This is because change entails the transformation of individuals or groups from conditions generally believed to be redundant to more productive ones, and hence it can only be realized when the existing structures are convincingly perceived to be ineffective (Schein, 1995). Perhaps this is the main reason as to why Robbins (2003) affirms that the process of achieving change is gradual and it is directly dependent on the nature of relationships between those at the helm and their subordinates. Based on Schein (1985) opinions, change can be perceived as a by-product of concerted efforts meant to address looming issues that impede maximum realization of the envisaged goals and objectives. For instance, in the context of policy development and implementation at the University, as well as other institutions of higher learning in UAE, there are a number of frameworks capable of enhancing the realization of change as per the envisaged goals and objectives.

As Melton (2009) and Orr (2006) observes, the nature and scope of policy reforms within educational contexts at any jurisdictional level involves a lot of processes and personnel. As such, imparting change in such a bureaucratic environment can be a daunting task. From a UAEian tertiary education sector standpoint, for instance, university senates/councils are required to carry out extensive consultations with all the educators and initiate foolproof frameworks within which to change the existing programmes and put in place new ones (Girdwood, 1999; Trucano, 2006). Analytically, change agents within institutions of higher learning must not only work hand in hand with all these educators but should also be exemplary persons so as to gain the confidence of such educators. To achieve this however, change agents should step-up the driving forces in order to steer the educators toward the desired ends and to prevent them from reverting their old ways (Robbins, 2003).

Based on Kearns (2007) opinions, the initiation of change is more often than not a very tasking endeavour given the obvious conflicting modes of reasoning among educators. Even so, Kearns clarifies that change can be realized with minimal hassles if it is not imposed on educators and if a sufficient amount of information relating to key issues surrounding the envisaged change is provided to the concerned persons in good time. In this regard, change agents are encouraged to exhibit high levels of professionalism, patience, and humility in lobbying the educators to agree on the importance of the envisaged change.

2.2.1 The Three-Step FrameworkLewin envisaged that for change to take place, at least, three basic steps must be fulfilled (Schein, 1995; Robbins, 2003). In extension, so as to maximize such change, these three steps must be realized in a successive manner (Robbins, 2003). Perhaps this successive arrangement of the three steps was as a result of his conviction that change can only take place when the force behind it is powerful. For instance, when instituting academic change in an institution of higher learning, there must be visionary leaders drawn from both the administrative and academic departments. These leaders, whose main duty is to ensure that there are enough structures to sponsor the change, are in actual sense the force behind the changes. To achieve this, Lewin postulated that these leaders should seek to opportunistically engage all the members forming a community/learning institution at all the stages of the policy reforms. This, he opined can be achieved by cultivating appropriate atmosphere where all the educators can exchange critical information with relative ease. A free atmosphere among the educators helps to identify any drawbacks within the envisaged policy reforms as well as within the existing system. Needless to say, when drawbacks are identified in good time it becomes very easy for them to be fixed. In essence, this gradual undertaking helps to break the existing norms and practices and therefore preparing the ground for change.

Essentially, breaking existing norms and practices requires significant wit on the part of the change initiators as it should be done in a professional and diligent manner that allows for the creation of an atmosphere of trust and confidence among the members of the group (Schein, 1985). Ideally, it is these friendly and trustful atmospheres that play the role of incentivizing individuals to develop positive attitudes toward change. Most importantly, it is only after securing trust from all the concerned entities that the team leader can then employ preventive forces that serve as impediments toward any potential slip-backs to the existing behaviours. For example, within the context of the policy making process in the UAE tertiary education sector, tertiary institutions management authorities are expected to “sell” the ideas on the need for policy reforms on a particular aspect of the institutional administration or even on faculty matters to all the educators before laying down structures to cushion such reforms (Trucano, 2006). Moreover, the change agent should then closely monitor the overall reception of the change so as to make timely decisions whether to accelerate or even trim down either of the driving or the restrictive forces applied (Robins, 2003). In this regard, Schein (1985) asserts that for real change to be realized learning institutions must build strong capacities capable of managing immediate and perpetual change. In this regard, the change initiators should acclimatize the entire educator-body so as to willingly “learn how to learn” from emerging issues within their area of operation.

The second step according to Lewin entails the change itself (Robbins, 2003). For change to be fully realized, Lewin posits that the change agent in conjunction with all the educators should invest significant efforts in the overall process of behaviour change. Even so, he cautions that the behaviour change process should be gradual and methodical lest it draws out bad feelings among the educators (Schein, 1995). In this regard, evaluation drives should be conducted very often so as to determine the acceptance levels among the educators as well as the extent which the new reforms are being implemented. In connection to this position, Lewin advances three distinct sub-steps whose hallmark is creating a clear distinction between the existing and the envisaged behaviour so as to achieve a consensus among the educators. A rule of thumb here is that, change agents should make efforts to enhance teamwork among the educators. In extension, so as to enhance smooth and quick acceptance of the envisaged behaviour changes, the change agent should cleverly create visible links showing true success stories or even prominent personalities behind the envisaged change (Robbins, 2003). In the case of institutions of higher learning, Governing Councils should closely liaise with other local and international institutions so as to judicially determine what policy reforms can better work for them and in what circumstances. Similar postulations are shared by Schein (1985) when he asserts that learning institutions should formulate malleable structures that allow emerging issues as well as new ideas to be effectively entrenched. For example, universities should consider embracing emergent IT innovations capable of facilitating videoconferencing services so as to increase the accessibility to academic programmes even to remotely located students.

The third step in Lewin’s three-step change framework involves the complete entrenchment of the acquired change into the existing systems. This crucial stage is also known as refreezing (Schein, 1995). This step is meant to cement the new change into the existing systems and therefore can only be applicable in situations when the envisaged change has been realized (Robbins, 2003). As the final stage in the change process, this step is indeed crucial as it aims to prevent any potential slip-backs to the old ways after a short time of realizing the new change. In addition, this stage also acquaints the educators with the necessary tools to smoothly embrace perpetual changes that may occur after the major changes have been realized. As such therefore, this step involves the active entrenchment of new values, practices, and policies that are responsible for sustaining the new change(s) at the long term. To achieve this, the change agent needs to maintain a state of equilibrium between the driving and restrictive forces through the creation of new institutions, positions, as well as the engagement of additional personnel to man the newly created institutions and positions (Robbins, 2003). Schein (1985) strengthens these sentiments by opining that learning institutions should come up with policies, processes, events, and tasks that allow the optimization of the set goals and objectives while still allowing the participants to freely interact and form strong interpersonal bonds.

3.0. CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY3.1. IntroductionThis chapter describes the processes that were involved in the sampling, collection and analysis of data in this research study. As briefly explained in the introduction chapter, this study utilizes an explorative quantitative methodology in extracting crucial information from the sampled participants (non-teaching and teaching senior staff) from the University. The main source of data will be structured questionnaire which were administered on the students and staff members. In addition, so as to draw out sound generalizations and well supported inferences from the study findings, significant amount of information was also sourced from existing relevant literary materials that included journal articles, textbooks and authentic websites.

In essence, this chapter forms perhaps the most important part of the study given that it provides a strong basis on which results, discussions, inferences, and findings will be drawn from to shed more light on the study topic. Precisely, in achieving this, the chapter advances a new, well grounded and explorative set of ideas that not only helps to shed light into the development, implementation and impacts of policy at the UEA but also affords the audience a better opportunity to interpret the existing scant knowledge base on the development, implementation and impacts of policy on UAE institutions of higher learning.

Ideally, this was made possible by a careful and thoughtful presentation of the various procedures and processes utilized in gathering of the study’s data. To this end, the researcher relied on his hands-on experience acquired during the time he has spent working as a senior administrative officer at the university as well as the rich professional knowledge acquired in his academic pursuits.

Based on Crewel (2003) opinions that the methodology chapter in a study should be organized in a coherent and clear manner so as to accord the audience an opportunity to envision the sampling techniques employed, the number of participants, the data collection and analysis tools employed as well as the study limitations.

3.2 Conceptual Framework (Post-modernism)The policy-making process is often a complex endeavour. Though there is no conventionally approved model that policymakers can adhere to, it is only wise to assert that the process entails many processes which tend to be successive and yet cyclical in nature (Walt, 1994). For instance, while employing learning institutional contingency theory, Bouchard and Carroll (2003) assert that there is a significant variance between policy areas yet the policies and programs employed thereof may exhibit significant similarities across the global divide. This similarity, they opine is not coincidental but it is brought about by the inherent convergence and transfer of ideologies that underlie majority policy areas. For example, policies and in extension, programs rolled out in the immigration and housing sectors might cut across several jurisdictions particularly those harbouring almost similar socio-political and economic ideologies. Even so, the authors caution that there is no correct approach to carrying out policy reforms but agree that “certain inherent policy characteristics affect the use of policy discretion, the structural attributes of policies and programs, and the number of unintended consequences” (p.2). These characteristics include, “complexity, learning institutional differentiation, comprehension, decision points, the degree of internal and external coupling within the policy area, homogeneity, resonance, technology and visibility” of the policy reforms (p.3).

In essence, based on the policy areas in question as well as the conceptual frameworks adopted, several policy-making models have since been advanced. For instance, while studying policymaking in the public health sector, Walt (1994) identifies a four-step model while Ruwaard et al (1999), also identifies a four-step procedure with policy evaluation as the first step. On their part, Bouchard and Carroll (2003) propose a five-tiered model that has got the following major variables: policy characteristics, discretion, structural attributes, unintended consequences, and outcomes. Perhaps the main assumption that can be drawn from this scenario is that, there is almost always already a relevant policy-making model for any existing policy area. Even so, it is only wise to argue that no matter the variance in models adopted for policy-making, the most crucial element is the underlying conceptual framework grounding a research study. In essence, while the choice of this study’s research design was influenced by the policy characteristics advanced by Bouchard and Carroll (2003), as will be explained later in this chapter, it has been grounded on a postmodernism framework. Basically, a postmodernism framework seeks to deconstruct the concept of “subject” and the “field” by enhancing equality through fault-finding on culturally sponsored meta-narratives (Silverman, 2005).

Ideally, among institutions of higher learning, policy-making process is characterized by great variance brought about by different versions of meta-narratives that may take the form of socio-economic, cultural and political ideologies employed by a particular nation and/or region (Bloom et al, 2006; Osborne, 2003a). In the UAEian institutions of higher learning and in extension, the University of Education, , for instance, the policy-making process has been normally the preserve of senior administrative staff members (Leach et al, 2008). Perhaps this scenario may be as a result of the held notion that administrative staff members are the most suitable given their professional qualifications. Consequently, academic staff members, junior staff members as well as students have been forced to play only peripheral roles or even sometimes not taking any substantial role at all. Interestingly, this has been happening despite the institution(like many other tertiary institutions in the country) having to put up with challenges relating to decline in government funding, lack of infrastructural development, increase in student intake, competition from other educational providers, quality assurance issues, and full cost recovery (Leach et al, 2008).

3.2. Research Design

According to Blaxter, Hughes and Tight (2006) research methods can be broadly classified into research families, research approaches and research techniques. Precisely, the authors point out that, research families can further be broken down into the following two major categories depending on the nature of the topic being studied; quantitative or quantitative and deskwork or fieldwork. On the same note, other research approaches that can be effectively utilized include; action research, case studies, experiments and surveys. Ideally, irrespective of what research design has been chosen, it is prudent to highlight that all research methods are typically utilized to bring out three core purposes, which are; exploratory, descriptive and explanatory (Yin, 2009).

Even so, based on Babbie (2004) postulations, a number of research strategies can be applied in studying policy development, implementation and its impact on the management of institutions of higher learning in UAE in general, and at the University Of Education, , in particular. In this regard, both exploratory and explanatory methodologies can be applied with much ease. Whereas exploratory methodology can only be applied in a quantitative research scenario, explanatory method can be applied with significant success in either quantitative or quantitative scenarios. As such therefore, this research study employed an explorative quantitative theoretical framework. Tellingly, as Lincoln and Guba (1985) suggest an exploratory research necessitates the creation of a fundamental framework that helps to draw out clear insights as well as conclusions into a social issue that has not received prior research.

Precisely, an explorative quantitative methodology was fundamental given the complex nature and scope of policy reforms at institutions of higher learning. Precisely, among institutions of higher learning the process of developing and impleme