|Title: ||New Opportunities Fund (NOF) ICT Professional Development in Northern Ireland: The Teacher Perspective|
|Affiliation: ||Queen's University Belfast|
|Issue Date: ||May-2008 |
|Abstract: ||This study focuses on the challenges associated with introducing teachers to teaching innovations and specifically on teachers’ professional learning in the context of the New Opportunities Fund (NOF) ICT-training in Northern Ireland. The aims of the study were twofold: to evaluate the programme from the perspective of teachers and to examine its impact on the use of ICT by teachers in the classroom at both primary and post-primary levels. The research was based on two questionnaire surveys, which were administered to a sample of 900 teachers in schools across Northern Ireland. The first survey was undertaken at the start of the NOF ICT training initiative and the second one after its completion. Quantitative and qualitative methods were used to analyse the questionnaires and additional interviews were conducted with teachers and key persons.
The respondents’ profile in both surveys suggested that it was broadly representative of the groupings in the teaching community in terms of age, gender and type of school (primary and post-primary). The results indicated statistically significant differences between the male and female groups in ICT competence and use. Less predictable but equally significant differences between other groups such as those based on length of service, age and school type, were also found in relation to competence and use of ICT.
The teachers’ attitudes, positive and negative, to NOF training revealed in the free response items indicated that the main negative attitudes included the delivery and content of the training (ranking first in both surveys); the lack of relevance of the training to classroom practice; the teachers’ desire for traditional training; and the feelings of inadequacy, stress and frustration the NOF training caused for the teachers. Important differences were found between the two training programmes: Learning Line and Learning Schools Programme, on a number of these items, probably reflecting the more face-to-face nature of the former in comparison to the latter. Interviews with key persons and teachers were also conducted for triangulation purposes and to probe deeper into issues arising from the surveys.
The main implications of this research regarding teachers’ ICT use include taking account of the need to raise female teachers’ levels of confidence in their use of ICT; targeting the needs of older teachers, whose often conservative and long-established value systems may conflict with change, and exploiting the commitment of primary teachers to the importance of ICT in teaching in order to develop their confidence and capacity to innovate in the classroom. Regarding professional development, there is need for bottom-up initiatives, with clear strategies to highlight the various dimensions of ‘utility’ that ICT can offer teachers in classroom work. There is the need to ensure the convergence of this utility with teachers’ value systems (improving the pupil experience, outcomes etc) early in the initiatives and to ensure that there are clear mechanisms for support between colleagues. Providing or enabling tailored practical activities that translate directly to the classroom contexts of the teachers, and involving teachers during the planning, design and implementation stages of any professional development initiative, are also crucial if they are to have lasting impact and lead to sustainable practice.
In summary, this work offers an important contribution to policy and practice in ICT in schools and to the field of professional development in education by evaluating the recent NOF training for teachers in Northern Ireland, from the perspective of teachers. It identifies why ‘top-down’, ‘one-size-fits-all’ models of training provision are often not effective in achieving their aims. The work provides suggestions for improving the quality of such programmes, centring on the involvement of teachers at all stages, including programme design.|
|Description: ||Unpublished PhD thesis|
teacher professional development
|Appears in Collections: ||Queen's University Belfast|
|Files in This Item:|
|DG v33 25-05-08 with Corrections FINAL.pdf||2337Kb||Adobe PDF|
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