|Australasian Journal of Educational Technology
2012, 28(7), 1136-1151.
Self-efficacy and ICT integration into initial teacher education in Saudi Arabia: Matching policy with practice
Margaret Robertson and Abdulrahman Al-Zahrani
La Trobe University
Success factors for integration of ICTs in higher education teaching and learning reveal a complex mixture of old and new paradigms. A review of the relevant literature and findings from research conducted in Saudi Arabia highlights the importance of actual and perceived self-efficacy within the new paradigms. The research reported reflects these perceptual dilemmas. Participants were 325 Saudi pre-service teachers from the Faculty of Education at King Abdulaziz University. Findings reveal that participants have generally high skill levels with computing tasks and their perceptions of self-efficacy as university teachers increase with computer experience and computer qualifications. These findings imply that increasing Saudi pre-service teacher access, training, and exposure to computers and ICTs will contribute effectively to boosting their self-efficacy, motivation, and computing habits. However, where traditional views of teacher directed learning remain unchallenged change is conservative and context specific. To overcome the perceptual gap, data underline the importance of sympathetic and strategic leadership, effective curriculum design and innovative pedagogies to sustain outcomes.
Adoption of relevant educational responses is more likely in the developed world where the infrastructure and knowledge work along a similar growth trajectory. Higher family incomes and adoption of Internet based behaviours at home are viewed as indicators of lifestyle patterns (see Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2009; Pew Research Centre, 2012; The World Bank, 2012). In the developed world, nations have responded with new and reformed policies; infrastructure including hardware and rapid Internet access as well as government rhetoric appears to embrace the spirit of the age. For instance, in the UK the Department for Education and Skills sets out four key objectives for the application of information and communication technology (ICT) in education in its five years e-strategy, Harnessing Technology 2005 (see Department for Education, 2005; BECTA, 2007). One significant implication is the significance placed on ICTs in the initial teacher education policy of England (Brisard, Menter & Smith, 2007). Finland, Singapore and Japan have similar centralised decision making contexts (OECD, 2009). By contrast, federal systems have more distributed policies. In Australia, the Federal Government through its strategic plan, the Digital Education Revolution, aims to sustain meaningful change to the pedagogical approaches in schools (DEEWR, 2008). However, by contrast with national policy in the United Kingdom, the federal systems of nations including Australia, the US and Germany, for instance, allow for state or territory governments to make their own separate digital technology-related policies to boost, communicate, deliver and support the broad national governmental policies. Technically, agreements can strengthen the likelihood of policy implementation. However, the reality is that the proliferation of government agents with their various responses can have the effect of changing the national agenda and slowing policy response (ACER, 2006). This power dispersal can also be compounded by geography. The United States, Australia and Canada in particular are geographically large in area.
Similar comments can be made about China and India (Bajwa, 2003; MEPRC, n.d.; Ezell & Andes, 2010). As the world's most populous nations, and geographically complex, each nation has made giant leaps forward with technologies. Perhaps the late start time has helped. The cultural histories are dramatically different - India is the 'biggest' democracy on earth and China has the biggest centrally driven economy. Regardless of the obvious complexities of this argument, India and China help focus our attention on the Asian region and its increasing leadership in ICT adoption, manufacturing and innovation. Sitting amid these giants are some of the most centralised and policy-driven nations, including Singapore, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia. Each country has tried to adopt international ICT policies and formulate their own policies that are applicable to their systems and sociocultural structure (Kennedy & Lee, 2008). For instance, the Singaporean Government in its 'iN2015' Master plan that was first launched in 2006 aims to offer a digital future for everyone by harnessing ICT to add value to the economy and society; supplying more funds for technology related projects; ensuring reliable infrastructure such as broadband connections, and computer ownership in homes (IDA, 2009). Another example is the Vietnamese Government's Education Development Strategic Plan 2001-2010. Vietnamese education is still facing weaknesses and shortage as this process continues (MOET, 2006; Haydena & Thiep, 2007).
In releasing its Eighth Development Plan 2005-2009, the Saudi Arabian government brought into focus the nation's challenges in the digital age. In particular, the Saudi Ministry of Economy and Planning in the Eighth Development Plan has stressed four important demands, which are: improving and expanding the current ICT infrastructure; expanding the Arabic online content; bridging the digital gap between all segments of the nation, and applying the concept of e-government (Ministry of Economy and Planning, 2005). In the educational sector, the Saudi Ministry of Education has released its Ten Year Plan 2004-2014, which includes the goals of developing the required infrastructure for digital technology to be better implemented in education (Ministry of Education, 2005). Homes are part of this vision. At the core of The Saudi Arabian Home Computing Initiative is enabling all Saudi families to obtain a personal computer through easy and affordable instalment plans (Communication and Information Technology Commission, 2010).
The ICT landscape reflects global patterns and appears to be extremely optimistic. However, reality is different. Effective integration of technology in Saudi pre-service teacher education seems to lag behind other developments in the country. There is too little teacher preparation and training in terms of ICTs (Abu-Arrad & Fosaiel, 2006; Al-Jarf, 2006; Al-Asmari, 2008). While traditional approaches in pedagogy are still widely accepted and practiced, less opportunity for effective integration of ICTs is presented. For illustration, Al-Jarf (2006) confirms that the integration of ICTs into pre-service teacher education curriculum, such as online instruction, is unknown due to issues related to computer affordability, Internet accessibility, trained academic staff, and finally, the levels of organisational professional support. Hence, and despite government initiatives, barriers to success include ineffective curriculum design, access issues to ICTs, and the instructors' inadequate computer literacy (Al-Asmari, 2008).
As a means of seeking a local catalyst for effective change, there appears wisdom in seeking new knowledge related to these key issues. That is, teacher beliefs and habits as well as their levels of confidence and related competence using the new technologies in schools. The research findings reported below provide related insights.
Scale reliability was calculated using SPSS (Pallant, 2007). In the present study, the pre-service teachers' survey had a very good internal consistency, with a Cronbach alpha coefficient of .841. Furthermore, the Cronbach alpha coefficient for the self-efficacy scale was .891, which also indicated a very good level of internal consistency.
To better understand key findings from survey questionnaires, follow-up (in depth) semi-structured interviews were conducted. Probing relied on questionnaire findings (Gillham, 2005: 24). Similar to data obtained from questionnaires, interviews were firstly transcribed in Arabic. Then, significant comments were carefully translated into English and reviewed by three Arabic native speakers to ensure their validity and accuracy.
Spread over the 2009-10 period follow-up interviews, thirteen pre-service teachers were contacted based on their pure willingness to participate, following suggestions made by Gillham (2005) to ensure ethical issues were carefully taken into consideration. Also, participants were offered anonymity, and a chance to review, alter and edit transcripts of the interviews.
The majority (180 responses, or 55.4%) of pre-service teachers reported that they can access a computer at the University. In addition, almost a third of pre-service teachers (108 responses or 33.2%) had more than 5 years experience of using computers. Only 113 pre-service teachers (34.8%) had some kind of ICT or computer certification, the other 212 (65.2%) did not. The 113 ICT qualified pre-service teachers had either a diploma or short course certification: 98 pre-service teachers (30.2%) had taken short courses, while 15 (4.6%) had a diploma or a degree (Table 1).
|Computer access at|
|Years of experience||Less than 2 years||70||21.5|
|From 2 - 3 years||45||13.8|
|From 3 - 4 years||48||14.8|
|From 4 - 5 years||50||15.4|
|More than 5 years||108||33.2|
|Qualifications and type||No qualifications||212||65.2|
|1||Interested in implementing ICTs in my learning approaches||321||4.09||0.94|
|2||Enjoy implementing ICTs in my learning approaches||319||3.97||1.00|
|3||Feel confident when I implement ICTs in my learning approaches||318||4.06||0.91|
|4||Feel satisfied in implementing ICTs in my learning approaches||316||4.01||0.98|
|5||Look forward to integrating ICTs in my learning approaches||318||4.08||0.96|
|6||Interested in integrating ICTs in my learning approaches||315||3.98||0.97|
|7||Sure that I can integrate ICTs in my learning approaches||318||3.76||0.95|
|8||Sure that I can integrate ICTs in my teaching approaches in the future||320||3.98||0.97|
Interestingly, the results reveal that pre-service teachers have a very good level of general self-efficacy. They showed that they are interested, enjoy using the new technologies, feeling confident, satisfied and looking forward to integrating technology into their current and future pedagogical approaches. Also, they are motivated and looking forward to innovative preparation with ICTs rather than the dominant traditional approaches.
|Total self-efficacy||3.86 (0.79)||4.11 (0.64)||-.26||-3.15||300||.002||.03|
|From 2 - 3 years||42||3.97||0.56|
|From 3 - 4 years||46||4.01||0.79|
|From 4 - 5 years||44||4.06||0.66|
|More than 5 years||98||4.18||0.72|
There was a statistically significant difference at the p < .05 level in general self-efficacy scores for the five groups of computer experience: F(4, 294) = 4.4, p = .002 (see Table 5). Based on Cohen's terms (cited in Pallant, 2007), the actual difference in mean scores between the groups was medium. The effect size, calculated using eta squared, was .06.
To identify the existing differences, post-hoc comparisons were performed using the Tukey HSD test, which indicated that the mean score for the group of more than 5 years (M = 4.18, SD = 0.72) was significantly different from the group of less than 2 years (M = 3.72, SD = 0.72) in regards to their general self-efficacy (see Table 6). No other significant differences were found between the other groups of computer experience in scores of self-efficacy.
|Computer experience (I)||Computer experience (J)||Mean difference (I-J)||Sig.|
|More than 5 years||Less than 2 years||.46*||.000|
|* Mean difference is significant at the 0.05 level.|
There were statistically significant differences at the p < .05 level in general self-efficacy scores for the three groups of computer qualifications: F(2, 299) = 6.9, p = .001 (see Table 8). The effect size, calculated using eta squared, was .04, and therefore the actual difference in mean scores between the groups was small according to Cohen's criteria (Pallant, 2007).
Post-hoc comparisons using the Tukey HSD test indicated that the mean score for the pre-service teachers who have no qualifications (M = 3.89, SD = 0.74) was significantly different from those who have a diploma (M = 4.39, SD = 0.44), and from those who have short course certificates (M = 4.17, SD = 0.65). Although the sample size of pre-service teachers who have a diploma was too small to have much meaning (N = 12), they were not found to be statistically different from those who had taken short courses (see Table 9).
|Qualification (I)||Qualification (J)||Mean difference (I-J)||Sig.|
|No qualifications||Short courses||-.28*||.005|
|* Mean difference is significant at the 0.05 level.|
I give myself 100%! I am fully informed of the latest developments of modern technologies and their uses.For the pre-service teachers who demonstrated higher levels of self-efficacy, much emphasis was on technology-related expertise that can be obtained through more access, familiarisation with technology, and self-motivated learning. Some comments showing this are:
Dealing with technology is not hard. I trust myself in this regard.
For me, close and direct contact with technology has positively contributed to the enhancement of my self-efficacy.Interviews revealed the conservatism in their views regarding pedagogical practices, and their apparent reluctance to shift away from traditional pedagogical practices of strongly teacher directed teaching styles. The following excerpts from separate pre-service student interviews illustrate this pattern of traditional thinking. They also show their frustration with this continuing pattern of teaching or unwillingness of lecturing staff to revise their curriculum and teaching approaches to align with students' needs:
I trust my abilities because I have a computer at home and I browse the Internet. I also have other advanced types of technological equipment that I can easily use such as a mobile and a PlayStation.
I am confident because I used to browse the Internet to get all the answers that I need. Also, I am familiar with technology as my parents have provided me with various types since childhood.
If faculty members use technology, I am going to use the technology as well. We copy their style and try to keep abreast of it and apply the same method.To conclude, the data indicate skills and capabilities with ICTs that support high levels of personal self-efficacy. At the same time, interview comments highlight the levels of frustration largely shared by the pre-service students with the curriculum adopted in their learning context, and pressure to conform to old ways of learning and old patterns of teaching. The rhetoric of change and the experience of actual practice appear conflicted. Overall, the study results indicate that pre-service teachers have the skill and capability to work effectively with a variety of ICTs and related tools. The teaching staff shared their views. However, the interview dialogue highlights that the gap between rhetoric and practice persists and is unlikely to be narrowed in the near future.
The problem in the first place is faculty members who do not use technology. If they use it, they will be a good example for us to learn from... Simply, if technology is integrated in our preparation, we will incorporate it in our future classrooms.
Unfortunately, our curriculum largely depends on rote memorisation, which is not appropriate for many disciplines such as mathematics, my major. Understanding is really out of its interest.
Results reveal that higher levels of pre-service teachers' general self-efficacy are associated positively with computer access at university, computer experience and related computer qualifications, but not with the type of these qualifications. This outcome reflects earlier research by Abu-Jaber and Qutami (1998) who found that student self-efficacy was improved through increased computer experiences and proper training. In addition, Maninger and Anderson (2007) found that pre-service teachers' self-efficacy was significantly correlated with their technological expertise; while, Hakverdi, Gücüm and Korkmaz (2007) found that levels of computer use, whether educational or general, impact on pre-service teachers' self-efficacy. Therefore, increasing their involvement with computer training and practices can influence learners' perceived self-efficacy positively (Milbrath & Kinzie, 2000; Ndubisi, 2004). This in turn may increase effectiveness of the educational environment (Lancaster & Bain, 2007; Jungert & Rosander, 2010).
On a more general note, the correlations demonstrated imply new roles for leadership in promoting and facilitating access to and integration of ICTs into the pre-service teachers' curriculum. These conclusions demand rethinking existing practices including the need for university decision makers and leaders to better understand the beliefs, learning styles, preferences and approaches regarding ICTs held by their staff, students and themselves. These new and emerging roles describe well what Toma (2007) observed in the US context: "Activities emerging on the periphery of American universities and colleges of all types have challenged traditional conceptions of governance, particularly how to properly involve faculty." (p. 57)
To achieve change in practical terms, pre-service teachers' experiences should be increased through more exposure to computers and ICTs and the facilitation of their use. Furthermore, providing them with proper access to computers and ICTs, as well as technical support, has the potential to enhance their levels of self-efficacy and confidence to make pedagogical changes. Increasing their training and providing them with more computer and ICTs related knowledge and skills, through available courses and open workshop sessions, are essential for enhancing their self-efficacy levels, as well as creating motivation and more positive attitudes towards ICTs.
The Saudi context highlights the dilemma shared with change processes in diverse locations. Where traditional teacher centred practices are the prevailing model, it seems inadequate to merely and simply provide pre-service with technology-related literacy and limited activities, without ICTs being embedded effectively in their learning activities. Hence, the importance of leadership for facilitating improvements required in the curriculum change process, and its associated traditional pedagogical approaches (Robertson, et al., 2007). Without these changes, enhancement of the pre-service teachers' self-efficacy cannot function distinctively and effectively. The standard and traditional educational technology courses that the pre-service teachers undertake formally during their preparation require innovation and improvement, to reflect effectively the global trends and respond to their needs, preferences and learning styles as a digital generation living in a digital world. This is needed to increase their exposure, knowledge and experience to digital technology use, as well as pedagogical applications and implications. Increasing pre-service teachers' ICTs-based pedagogical practices has great potential for enhancing their self-efficacy levels, motivation and the way they trust their abilities to effectively integrate the wide capabilities of ICTs into their current learning approaches and/or future classrooms.
The correlation between teaching practices and perceived self-efficacy in the context of emerging ICTs reflects current practices in educational settings in general, and pre-service teacher education in particular. Given the importance of teacher education outcomes for the future of public schooling, an ability to channel decision making into responsive practices that take account of global forces in the information revolution is of high importance. Developing nations such as Saudi Arabia and its nearby Islamic nations are currently working their way through this change process. They provide an interesting regional development context for the global trends, to gain insight into and strategies for improved understanding of 'old' and 'emerging' paradigms of professional practice.
Within an inherently conservative society, where the digital divide meets the gender divide and core social values and beliefs or immutable 'truths' about education, there are deep and largely unconscious behaviours to disturb. The challenge lies ahead in how best to broker a resolution to this dilemma. Traditional 'expert' driven methods where the teacher is perceived as the source of knowledge are largely incompatible with the interactive nature of ICTs and their powerful search engines. The knowledge revolution brought about through access to online technologies opens frontiers to knowledge in infinite directions. In an effort to inform pre-service teacher education, especially in Saudi Arabia, this study provides insight into the general perceived self-efficacy of pre-service teachers and the factors that influence the integration of technology into their curriculum.
Arguably, the same case can be made for pre-service teachers in the developed world. This leads to the third point which relates to leadership and policy development. There is a need to investigate the new roles of leadership in promoting and facilitating the integration of technology into the pre-service teachers' curriculum. Finally, and on a technical note, this study deals with general self-efficacy; therefore, studying self-efficacy in respect of specific ICTs tasks such as using Microsoft Office applications or various ICTs and Internet tools is required. As such, the findings provide a constructive starting point for further investigation into this rapidly changing culture of teaching and learning delivery. They focus the lens on situated contexts and culturally driven responses.
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|Authors: Margaret Robertson, Professor of Education|
La Trobe University, Bundoora, Victoria 3086, Australia
Abdulrahman Al-Zahrani, Faculty of Education, La Trobe University
Please cite as: Robertson, M. and Al-Zahrani, A. (2012). Self-efficacy and ICT integration into initial teacher education in Saudi Arabia: Matching policy with practice. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28(7), 1136-1151. http://www.ascilite.org.au/ajet/ajet28/robertson.html