16 SES 11 A, Foreign Language Learning and ICT
The continuing advance of digital technology into all areas of life and work raises new challenges for education systems when it comes to equipping students with the information and communication technology (ICT) skills required to participate in the modern information and knowledge society. Teachers in schools play an important role both as mediators of such skills and in the implementation of innovative ICT solutions (Erstad, Eickelmann & Eichhorn, 2015). The introduction of ICT into the classroom should not be seen simply as the school system adapting to current trends but rather as an enhancement in the quality of a school that is expressed in the competences of its students. Subject-specific didactical considerations suggest that foreign language lessons in particular can profit from the implementation of new technologies (e.g. Jin & Erben, 2007). This requires the use of ICT in subject-specific didactical teaching and learning scenarios, which in light of the trends towards globalisation and increasing mobility play a role above all in the teaching of foreign languages (cf. Lotherington & Jenson, 2011).
The attitudes of teachers regarding the benefits of the use of ICT for the development of student competences are a key condition for their regular use in classroom teaching and learning processes (cf. Drent & Meelissen, 2008; Drossel, Eickelmann & Gerick, 2017; Drossel, Eickelmann & Gerick, 2015). Such attitudes constitute psychologically-rooted traits that can be gauged through self-perceptions. In a school context, they are viewed as a building block of professional teaching competence which should be considered in combination with knowledge, motivation and self-regulation. Fives and Buehl (2012) identify stability and resistance to change as characteristic of such attitudes. In school development and school quality models, teacher’s attitudes are located on the prerequisites level (cf. Fraillon et al., 2014). These attitudes thus have a direct influence on factors at the process level, which are in turn connected to student performance and results.
An international comparison of teachers’ attitudes to ICT reveals a strong variation between different education systems (cf. Fraillon et al., 2014). While for example teachers in the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway are particularly open to the use of ICT, teachers in Germany and Poland on average are comparably sceptical about the benefits when it comes to ICT use for teaching and learning (ibid.). In numbers, only around two-fifths of teachers in Germany and around half of teachers in Poland agree that the use of ICT lead to an improvement in the academic performance of secondary school students (ibid.). In contrast, over 70 percent of teachers in other countries like the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway agree with this statement (ibid.).
With just a few exceptions (cf. Eickelmann & Vennemann, 2017), findings only allow conclusions for the attitudes of the entire teacher population in a country. So far, researchers have not investigated in depth whether – alongside the reported differences between countries – any variations exist between teachers of different subjects within one and the same education system. Focusing on foreign language teachers, this contribution seeks to investigate whether a typology of teacher attitudes to the use of ICT can be identified (research question 1) and to what extent such a typology might be linked to teachers’ use of ICT in the classroom and other selected determinants of use (teachers’ perception of ICT competences, their participation in training and ICT-related teacher cooperation) (research questions 2 to 4).
To answer the research questions, secondary analyses on the IEA ICILS 2013 (International Computer and Information Literacy Study; cf. Fraillon et al., 2014) are conducted. The data base consists of representative teacher data from secondary school teachers in the six European education systems whose students on average have significantly higher competences in the field of computer and information literacy than the OECD average for Grade 8 students (Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Poland) (ibid.). In line with the research questions, only teachers who indicated that they teach foreign languages are included in the analysis (N=2,406). The criteria for the selection of items pertaining to teacher attitudes to ICT are derived from the didactical perspective of foreign language lessons, which brings interactive and cooperative forms of learning for the acquisition of foreign languages to the fore. The use of computers by the teachers in the classroom is captured on a five-point Likert scale ranging from ‘never’ to ‘every day’. The teachers’ perception of their ICT competences and their level of ICT-related cooperation is determined using internationally established indices (Fraillon et al., 2015). These indices have proved very reliable and have been standardised to a 50-point scale with a standard deviation of 10 points. With regard to their own participation in ICT-related further education, it is checked whether the teachers indicated that they had participated in training courses on the integration of ICT in the classroom and in learning in the two years prior to the survey. To answer the first research question, Latent Class Analysis (LCA) (Hagenaars & McCutcheon, 2009) are used to identify teacher typologies (Mplus; Muthén & Muthén, 2010). Missing values are handled by using the Full-Information-Maximum-Likelihood approach (FIML, Grund et al., 2017; Muthén & Muthén, 2010). The data stratification (teachers in schools) is included by using the Type=mixture complex’ analysis type (Muthén & Satorra, 1995). Prior to the actual calculations, a so-called Senate Weight is calculated, to ensure that despite their different sample sizes each individual education system contributes to the total sample to an equal extent. To answer the other research questions, descriptive statistics were calculated using the IDB Analyzer (Rutkowski, Gonzalez, Joncas & von Davier, 2010). In doing so, the weight variable for teachers (cf. Jung & Carstens, 2015) is included in order to balance the sample bias and obtain valid estimations with regard to the population studied.
The result of the LCA for the first research question allows for identifying four teacher typologies, namely critical ICT enthusiasts (type 1), ICT enthusiasts (type 2), ICT sceptics (type 3) and ICT sceptics with positive traits (type 4). Accordingly, not all foreign language teachers see the use of ICT as beneficial for foreign language instruction either in their role in work with students or in improving student performance. A significant portion sees ICT as a potential threat, e.g. to the development of writing competences. The distribution of teacher attitudes typologies varies greatly across the selected education systems. Foreign language teachers in Poland, for instance, can be categorised primarily as critical ICT enthusiasts, while ICT enthusiasts dominated in Denmark. In Germany, ICT sceptics with positive traits and ICT sceptics are the most common typologies. The results regarding the frequency of regular computer use by foreign language teacher attitude typology conform to expectations for most education systems. The action-leading character of (teacher) attitudes manifests itself here in a more frequent use of ICT among ICT enthusiasts. In almost all education systems, the ICT sceptics make least use of computers. Investigation into the central predictors of the use of ICT in the classroom, again differentiated by the aforementioned typology, also shows that ICT sceptics on average score lowest for ICT self-efficacy and ICT based cooperation. ICT sceptics with positive traits score lowest for participation in ICT training. In contrast, the highest expectation of self-efficacy and level of participation in ICT training and cooperation is encountered in almost all education systems among the ICT enthusiasts.
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