Throughout the world there is awareness of the fundamental role of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the field of education. The importance of ICT in empowering teachers and enhancing teaching achievement has been highlighted in several studies.
This study examined empirically teachers’ attitudes and competence towards Information and Communication Technology in education. Gender influence on their attitude and competence were examined.
Information in this research was obtained from primary and secondary source. The primary source in this case is a questionnaire with a sample of 50 mathematics teachers (25 males and 25 females) from secondary schools in Yaba; Lagos while the secondary source includes textbooks, journals and International Networking (Internet). The survey included questions concerning attitudes and competence of the teachers towards the use of ICT as well questions related to the level of ICT usage.
The findings of the study which was analyzed using frequency count and chi-square statistics revealed that majority of the teachers have positive attitude towards the use of ICT; are competent in the use of few basic ICT tools; and significant gender differences in competent level and attitudes of the teachers towards the use of ICT tools.
1.0 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The potentials of information and communication technology (ICT) to facilitate students’ learning, improve teaching and enhance institutional administration had been established in literature (Kazu & Yavulzalp, 2008; Kirschner & Woperies, 2003). The use of information and communication technology as a tool for enhancing students’ learning, mathematics teachers’ instruction, and as catalyst for improving access to quality education in formal and non-formal settings has become a necessity. Recognizing the impact of new technologies on the workplace and everyday life, teacher education institutions try to restructure their education programmes and classroom facilities, in order to husband the potentials of ICT in improving the content of teacher education. Information and communication technology as tools within the school environment include use for school administration and management, teaching and learning of ICT related skills for enhancing the presentation of classroom work, teaching/learning repetitive tasks, teaching/learning intellectual, thinking and problem solving skills, stimulating creativity and imagination; for research by mathematics teachers and students, and as communication tool by mathematics teachers and students (Collis & Moonen, 2001; Derbyshire, 2003; Moursund & Bielefeldt, 1999).
Information and communications technologies are computer based tools used by people to work with information and communication processing needs of an organization. Its purview covers computer hardware and software, the network, and other digital devices like video, audio, camera, and so on, which convert information (text, sound, motion, etc,) into digital form (Moursund & Bielefeldt, 1999). Successful integration of ICT in the school system depends largely on the competence and on the attitude of mathematics teachers towards the role of modern technologies in teaching and learning. Thus, experienced mathematics teachers, newly qualified, and student-mathematics teachers need to be confident in using ICT effectively in their teaching (Kyriakidou, Chrisostomou, & Bank, 2000).
Simply having ICT in schools will not guarantee their effective use. Regardless of the quantity and quality of technology placed in classrooms, the key to how those tools are used is the teacher; therefore mathematics teachers must have the competence and the right attitude towards technology (Kadel, 2005). Attitudes refer to one’s positive or negative judgment about a concrete subject. Attitudes are determined by the analysis of the information regarding the result of an action and by the positive or negative evaluation of these results (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980). There is a common saying that attitude determines altitude. Studies have established close links and affinities between mathematics teachers’ attitude and their use of ICT. More positive attitudes towards the computer were associated with a higher level of computer experience (Dyck & Smither, 1995; Teo, 2008). Students’ confidence on ICT can be explained through the attitude and behaviors of their mathematics teachers. Mathematics teachers’ behavior is a critical influence on students’ confidence and attitude towards ICT as they provide important role model to their students (Derbyshire, 2003). The literature suggests that lack of adequate training and experience is one of the main reasons why mathematics teachers do not use technology in their teaching. This also eventuates in mathematics teachers’ negative attitude towards computer and technology. In addition, lack of confidence leads to reluctance to use computers by the mathematics teachers (Kumar & Kumar, 2003).
Attitude of pre-service and in-service mathematics teachers towards computer and technology skills can be improved by integrating technology into teacher education (Zammit, 1992). Findings have revealed that a significant relationship exist between computer attitude and its use in institutions for pre-service mathematics teachers (Khine, 2001), and also for serving mathematics teachers in the affective attitude, general usefulness, behavioral control, and pedagogical use (Yuen & Ma, 2002). Attitude is a major predictor of future computer use. Lee (1997) study indicated the importance of appropriate responses to the trainee’s feelings about using ICT as one of the factors critical to success. Thus, there is the need to take care of the emotional needs of student mathematics teachers as attitude is a major predictor of future ICT use. Student mathematics teachers have positive attitude and are highly enthusiastic about interactive whiteboards as an important feature of teaching and learning, and this motivated them to practice using the technology (Kennewell, & Morgan, 2003)
Gender gap exists in education in sub-Saharan Africa, and out-of-school children, more of whom are girls, are deprived of any opportunity to gain ICT related knowledge and skills in school. African women have the lowest enrolment rates in the world in science and technology education at all levels. A study conducted in four African countries identified that while in principles girls are given the same opportunity as boys of access to computer, gender equity does not exist in practice (Derbyshire, 2003). However, Kirkpatrick and Cuban (1998) review had established that when female and male students had the same amounts and types of experiences of computer, females’ achievement scores and attitudes are similar to that of male’s at all educational levels.
Studies had established that females tend to be less interested in computer and use them less often in their spare time (Schaumburg, 2001). In addition, studies have established that girls are less confident than boys in their computer skills, and that some international studies have found that boys scored better than girls in computer related knowledge and skills in vast majority of countries. In addition, the three computer related occupation (computer scientists, computer engineers and system analysts, and computer science and engineering) are the top career choices for boys (Derbyshire, 2003). Female also have more negative attitude towards computer (Bebetsos & Antoniou, 2008), thus they are often less computer literate than male (Kadel, 2005; Schaumburg, 2001; Townsend, 1997), thus they are often less computer literate than males (Schaumburg, 2001) and this may result in different ways of using the computer (Jackson, Ervin, Gardner, & Schmitt, 2001). Sefyrin (2005) study showed that competence in ICT could be seen as a question of interest in ICT, where men are more interested in ICT than women. The study thus confirmed the view of gender and competence as actively constructed in a social process. This is because understandings of the terms were negotiated among individuals in the groups studied, and therefore used as norms with which individuals understood themselves and their behaviors.
Serving and student-mathematics teachers need to be skilled in the use of ICT and also to be able to critically evaluate strategies for the acquisition and the appropriate application of ICT in diverse curriculum area (Robbin, 1998). Major ICT competencies required by mathematics teachers were highlighted by Kirschner and Woperies (2003) to include competency in making personal use of ICT; mastery of a range of educational paradigms that make use of ICT; competency in making use of ICT as minds tools; competency in using ICT as tool for teaching, competency in mastering a range of assessment paradigms which involves use of ICT; and competency in understanding the policy dimensions of the use of ICT for teaching and learning. Pre-service teacher education should focus on the need for student-mathematics teachers to have ICT skills for their own use in the preparation of materials for teaching and learning activities; the need to facilitate the direct use of ICT in students’ learning activities within the classroom situation; and the need for mathematics teachers to develop in their students a critical awareness of ICT applications and the social implications (Robbins, 1998). Similarly, Marija and Palmira (2007) classified ICT competencies into two: basic and educational ICT competence. These competences are further elaborated in the ICT competency standards for mathematics teachers developed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO, 2008a, 2008b). Based on these documents, the information and communication technology competency is comprehensive than mere focus on ICT skills. Rather, it is a comprehensive approach to education reform in six broad areas of policy, curriculum and assessment, pedagogy, the use of technology, school organization and administration, and teacher professional development. The UNESCO (2008a, 2008b) standards for mathematics teachers are meant to improve mathematics teachers’ practice in using ICT in an innovative way for teaching, collaborating with colleagues, and for school organization.
Lee (1997) found that a great number of pre-service mathematics teachers are not equipped with basic computer operational skills; therefore, for mathematics teachers to be able to integrate ICT into the school curriculum, groundwork must be done at the pre-service teacher education level. Teacher educators need to understand the dimensions of pre-service teacher attitude as a means of developing teacher education curriculum relevant for the contemporary knowledge age.
1.1 STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Studies have revealed that there is a wide gap between policy development and implementation in the Nigerian schools as regards computer education in Nigerian schools (Jegede & Owolabi, 2005). Examining information and communication technology in the Nigerian health sector, only mobile phone and the Internet, to some extent, are available in the Nigerian hospitals (Idowu, Ogunbodede, & Idowu, 2003). On mathematics teachers’ competence, mathematics teachers in Nigerian secondary schools are not competent in basic computer operation and in the use of generic software (Yusuf, 2005), although they have positive attitude towards the use of computer in Nigerian secondary schools (Yusuf, 1998). These findings have revealed the low level of ICT penetration in the Nigerian school system, although the attitudes of mathematics teachers have been positive. These studies conducted on computer and ICT have focused mainly on practicing mathematics teachers in Nigerian secondary schools to the detriment of research on pre-service mathematics teachers. Most studies that examined the attitude of pre-service mathematics teachers towards ICT were conducted outside Nigeria; in fact, very few studies on attitude and competence in the use of computers have focused on the academic and non-academic staff of Nigerian higher institutions (Jegede, 2008, Ololube, 2007). Gaining an appreciation of mathematics teachers’ attitude and perceived competence in the use of ICT may provide useful insight into the future of technology integration, acceptance and usage in teaching and learning in Nigerian teacher education institutions and other developing countries.
1.2 PURPOSE OF STUDY
The main purpose of this study is to investigate the competence and attitude of mathematics teachers towards information and communication technology. Specifically, the present study examined:
1. The attitude of mathematics teachers towards the use of ICT.
2. The competence of mathematics teachers in the use of ICT.
3. The influence of gender on mathematics teachers’ competence and attitude towards ICT.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following research questions will guide the study:
1. What is the attitude of mathematics teachers towards information and communication technology (ICT)?
2. What is the level of competence of mathematics teachers in the use of information and communication technology (ICT)?
3. Will there be difference between the attitude of male and that of female mathematics teachers towards information and communication technology?
4. Will there be differences in competence in the use of information and communication technology (ICT) between male and female mathematics teachers?
1.4 RESEARCH HYPOTHESIS
Based on the research questions the following hypotheses were derived:
Hypothesis One: There is no significant difference between the attitude of male and that of female mathematics teachers towards information and communication technology (ICT).
Hypothesis Two: There is no significant difference between the competence of male and that of female mathematics teachers in the use of information and communication technology ICT).
1.5 SCOPE OF STUDY
This study examined empirically teachers’ competence and attitude towards information and communication technology. Gender influence on their competence and attitude were also examined. Participants were 50 mathematics teachers from ten different secondary schools in Lagos State, Nigeria. The data collected through a questionnaire were analyzed using frequency count and chi-square statistics, revealed the attitude towards the use of ICT and competence in the use of few basic ICT tools. The significant difference established between male and female teachers’ attitudes and use of ICT. The assumption is that the teachers lacked the necessary competence in the full integration of ICT in the curriculum which underscores the need to improve the ICT contents of teacher education programs in Nigerian schools.
1.6 DEFINITION OF TERMS
ATTITUDE: Attitude refers to the way of thinking and behaving. It can be positive or negative.
COMPETENCE: This is the ability of having the skill or knowledge to do something well or effectively.
PARADIGMS: A paradigm is a model for something which explains it or shows how it can be produced.
PEDAGOGY: Pedagogy is the study and theory of the methods and principles of teaching.
ICT: Information Communication Technology
CHE: Council of Higher Education
ITMD: Instructional Technologies and Materials Development
MS APP: Microsoft Word Application