National trends in teacher participation in ICTPD Clusters Programmes 1999-2006: Results from the Baseline Surveys

Publication Details

This report presents a comparison of the entry surveys for teachers entering into the National ICT Professional Development Clusters Programme over the period 1999-2006. Teachers from each of these cohorts completed a baseline questionnaire about their ICT skills, personal and classroom confidence and use of ICTs, types of student activities using ICTs, and uses of ICTs by teachers for planning, preparation and administration. Trends in these baseline comparisons are discussed in the report.

Author(s): Vince Ham, Sandra Williamson-Leadley and Hasan Toubat, CORE Education.

Date Published: September 2006

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Executive Summary

This Report summarises the findings of a comparative analysis of the baseline surveys for seven ICTPD Cluster cohorts (viz: 1999, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006). For each of these cohorts participating teachers completed a baseline questionnaire at the beginning of the first year of their entry into the three-year ICTPD cluster programmes. The numbers of respondents for each of the cohorts were 882 (1999), 2185 (2001), 1714 (2002), 2562 (2003), 4136 (2004), 1950 (2005) and 4018 (2006) respectively.

The central question addressed by the analysis is: To what extent and in what ways have the demographic and professional ICT usage profiles of participants entering ICTPD Cluster programmes changed over time?

Table 1: Timetable of Surveys in the ICTPD Cluster Cohorts

Notes:

  1. BL = Baseline Survey.
  2. OL1, OL2, OL3 and OL4 = Online Surveys.
  3. EOP = End of Project Survey
  4. Data for this report is drawn from the shaded Baseline Surveys.
Year 1999 Cohort 2001 Cohort 2002 Cohort 2003 Cohort 2004 Cohort 2005 Cohort 2006 Cohort
1999 BL





2001
BL




2002 EOP
BL



2003

OL1 BL


2003
EOP OL2 OL1


2004

OL3 OL2


2004

EOP OL3 BL

2005


OL4 OL1 BL
2005


EOP OL2 OL1
2006



OL3
BL
2006



OL4

2007



EOP

2007




EOP
2008





EOP


It is important to note that the report does not investigate the effects, effectiveness or impact of the ICTPD Cluster programmes as such. Rather it is an attempt to identify whether or not different groups of teachers have tended to take part in the programmes over time, and how, if at all, patterns of their 'entry-point' ICT use, ICT skill levels, understandings about ICTs, and so on, have differed or changed among the various cohorts entering the programme since 1999.

Responses from the baseline surveys from the seven cohorts provide a picture of a teaching population changing significantly in one or two aspects of its entry-point ability and usage of ICTs, but changing little in most. Indeed, except for a steady increase in skills and administrative use among successive cohorts, and one particular point of increase in their confidence about the use of ICTs, the cohorts have been much more remarkable for their profile similarities than differences.

The social demographics of participating teachers have varied little from cohort to cohort. The teaching experience profile of cohorts has remained remarkably stable over time, as, with one exception, have gender and sector profiles. The 2003 cohort has been the only one so far in which males and females, secondary and primary teachers took part in the same proportions as in the general teaching population. In all other cohorts both males and secondary teachers have been significantly underrepresented in ICTPD programmes compared to females and primary teachers, although the extent of the under representation of secondary teachers has declined over recent cohorts (2004- 2006).

The professional development 'strategies of choice' for teachers entering the ICTPD programmes has varied little from cohort to cohort. Teachers from all cohorts 1999-2006 have been relatively consistent in their patterns of preferences about whom to best work with, session times, and preferred activities. Across all cohorts there has been a consistent preference for strategies that have teachers working one to one with experts or colleagues, for strategies which provided maximum amounts of release time, and a general preference for working with people of similar skill levels or from the same school sector when working in groups, though this was slightly less apparent in the 2004 and 2005 cohorts. For many strategies, however, there have also been significant minorities of teachers who expressed very different preferences and this has varied much from school to school and cluster to cluster. Facilitators therefore probably need to plan on using a variety of strategies targeted to different preferences among their particular group of teachers, rather than adopting a 'one size fits all approach' to their PD strategies. There was resistance among all cohorts to PD in the school holidays or on too many weekends.

There has been an overall increase in the proportion of teachers joining the programmes who have rated professional development in ICTs as a low priority, especially since 2003. In 2003 and in 2006 a quarter of teachers entered the programme feeling that PD in ICTs was a relatively low priority, the main reason being the pressure of other PD initiatives and major changes in assessment.

The concerns, attitudes about ICT, and PD goals of teachers joining the ICTPD programmes have varied little from cohort to cohort. For all cohorts teachers' concerns have centred on equipment reliability, access to equipment for students, time for themselves to devote to ICT issues, and, to a lesser extent, their own lack of skills. Reflecting this, teachers' predominant goals on entering the programmes have consistently focussed on acquiring technical skills and to a slightly lesser extent on getting ideas for classroom use of ICTs.

Teachers joining all cohorts believed that there were significant potential benefits to students in using ICTs, though they were more ambivalent about the benefits to teachers. Around two thirds of teachers in all cohorts believed that ICTs were 'worth the investment' in terms of educational benefit, though about a third in all cohorts remained uncertain or had yet to be convinced of these benefits.

In general, the entry skills in ICT of teachers joining the ICTPD programmes have varied significantly according to particular ICTs. Generally teachers' entry point skill levels have been low, but have steadily increased from cohort to cohort, especially with regard to the use of the Internet and word processing. By 2006 the great majority of teachers entered the ICTPD programme with at least moderate skills in word processing and the Internet (though the latter dropped off significantly between 2005 and 2006), but rather lower skill levels in other ICTs. The general increase in skill levels across cohorts would indicate that there has been a moderate 'ICT upskilling effect' occurring in the general teaching population, independent of the ICTPD cluster programmes.

Entry levels of ICT usage for lesson planning and preparation have also increased over time, with the Internet and word processing again featuring much more highly in 2006 than 1999. In 2006 more than half (52%) of the cohort had used ICTs 'often' or 'always' for lesson planning and preparation, and more than two-thirds (68%) indicated that they used ICTs 'often' or 'always' for general school administration, before the PD programme. This again would indicate a general increase in usage for these two purposes nationwide that is occurring independent of the cluster programmes.

By contrast, but perhaps predictably given the purpose of the PD, teachers joining all seven of the ICTPD cohorts have reported consistently low levels of prior use of ICTs for teaching and learning. For those teachers who had used ICTs with classes before the programme, the highest proportions had been using word processors for writing or project work, the Internet for 'research', or content specific (eg: drill and practice) software. The only exception to the consistently low levels of classroom usage of ICTs prior to the ICTPD programme relates to Internet use, where the proportion of moderate to high users on entry has risen steadily over time.

This contrast implies that the 'non-cluster effect' reported in relation to increased prior skills and use of ICTs for preparation/administration still has not of itself translated for many teachers outside the cluster programmes into increased classroom use of ICTs for teaching and learning. It also implies that there is still a need among teachers and schools hitherto outside the cluster programme for PD programmes that effectively foster increased usage of ICTs for teaching and learning.

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