Sample Masters Education Dissertation Proposal
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Investigation of Teachers’ Perspective Towards the use of Technology in Saudi Preschool
Section One: Rationale
“This study aims to explore teachers’ perceived impacts of using ICT within preschool in Saudi Arabia.”
How do preschool teachers in Saudi Arabia believe the use of ICT will impact student learning?
The following sub-questions have guided the researcher to answer the problem of this study:
Q1: What evidence is present in the Literature regarding ICT use on children learning in Saudi Arabia and Western Literature?
Q2: What are the consequences of using smart technologies on children learning?
The rationale for conducting this research is twofold: one is theoretical and the other is practical. The theoretical rationale of the study has been associated with its main aim to find the impact of using ICT on children learning in Saudi Arabia preschools from teachers’ perspective where not a large number of studies have been conducted in the context of Saudi Arabia.
This leads to a practical rationale of the study as it is associated with practice-based inquiry. ICT stands for Information and Communication Technology is the infrastructure component enabling modern computing processes. Although the single universal definition of ICT is not present, the term has been accepted generally like all the devices and network components, systems, and applications that combine people and organisations to communicate and gather information.
It is also considered as a way of interacting with the digital world. ICT has encompassed the sphere of internet-enabled devised as well as wireless networks such as mobile phones; therefore, it is comprised of those antique technologies like radio, television broadcast and telephones that are widely used along with the latest and other cutting edge ICT devices such as robotics and artificial intelligence.
This research has been conducted to find how ICT is prevailing in preschools in Saudi Arabia and what teachers perceive the spread of such technology. However, it has been highly crucial to understand the pros and cons of such smart technologies from the teacher’s point of view which can be identified by having a direct conversation with teachers who have been working in the preschools in Saudi Arabia.
Moreover, preschool teachers are always taking part in different technology-based activities within the class. Teacher perceptions about using technology in preschool class will have an impact on the educational outcomes. Therefore, it is important to find what teachers perceive about the use of any technology within the preschools to improve educational outcomes.
Regarding the use of computers and other devices in preschool or kindergarten classes, it has been identified that computers are the most used devices as they are always available for certain essential activities. The use of computers is very common in preschools as it has allowed the teachers and academics to plan numerous activities and engage children in various activities.
However, this ICT has been used mostly during free time to ensure that children have done their previous work and teachers have effectively organized their priorities. While discussing the use of computers in preschools, Nikolopoulou (2014) has identified that teachers use the phrase playing with a computer to arrange new series of activities associated with different types of computer games and software for children.
The study further identified that the main aim behind proposing the use of ICT in preschools is to prepare the children to play, create and control and when the use of any ICT based devise takes place, the teacher plays a major role in extending their intervention and supporting the experience of children in preschools.
According to Nikolopoulou and Gialamas (2015), the early Literature has discussed the inadequate addition and integration of digital technologies in early childhood curricula. It is often also attributed to early childhood teachers. It has led to the consensus that various technologies that teachers use in preschools include multiple desktop, computers, and mobile technologies. Even before the children learn to read and write, the technologies support their childhood education.
Teachers in preschool use other technologies, including word processing, graphics, mobile phones, software, and the internet. The study of Nikolopoulou and Gialamas (2015) has also identified that children have been identified as highly proficient in using MP3s, VCRs and DVDs and mobile phones.
On the other hand, Bolstad (2004) has identified that ICT has provided numerous ways to children so that they can weave words, sounds and pictures together and also be able to communicate their ideas, feelings and thoughts by the use of software-based computer programming. It has been further opined that good software can allow children to be engaged in self-directed exploration. Teachers can also tailor the needs of children and reduce their barriers to participate in different ICT based learning activities.
However, a lack of Literature has been found on the use of technology in Saudi Arabian preschools. In contrast, studies regarding teachers’ perspectives about using technology in preschool are also not sufficient in number. Hence, there is a need of conducting a further study on identifying teachers’ perspectives regarding the impact of the use of technology in preschool.
Nevertheless, even if few studies have been conducted to identify teachers’ perspectives regarding the use of technology in preschool, it cannot be denied that their perspective can be changed over time due to changes in technological advancements (Aljabreen and Lash, 2016). Due to this, further research has been required to identify the current perspectives of teachers regarding the use of technology in preschools.
Section Two: Literature Review
Previous Literature: Preschool Education in the Context of Saudi Arabia
The Saudi Arabian Kingdom is a Muslim country which is located in the main part of the Arabian Peninsula. Regarding educational and academic policies, (Al Shaer, 2007) stated that Saudi Arabia has been aimed to create an efficient system of education to meet economic, religious, and social expectations. According to Rabaah, Doaa and Asma (2016), the country’s preschool education system has been designed to promote both the social and academic needs of children.
On the other hand, Al Shaer (2007) stated that education in Saudi Arabia has been following a system where students, especially children, undertake kindergarten before a six-year school course in primary school. According to Gahwaji (2013), the education Ministry of Saudi Arabia is responsible for incorporating standards for the education system and implementing academic programs suitable for children.
As per the study of Alqarni (2015), Saudi Arabia’s government has recognized the significant connection between the country’s development and children’s education. The study further identified that the tradition of education in a country affirms that the importance of childcare and education in the early years should be emphasised and its link with the country’s future success.
The contemporary world is also associated with the view of putting more emphasis on generating efficient opportunities for improving preschool (AL-Megrin, 2015). According to Alqarni (2015), one way to implement technology in preschool can be improved by considering the children as leaders of tomorrow’s world and giving them sufficient decision-making power in Saudi Arabia.
As per the study of Faisal (2014) the government of Saudi Arabia has recognized the need for modernizing and transforming the country’s education concerning dominant international trends. It is because the country needs to be put on a competitive pathway and make sure that it can survive its technological, social and economic changes (Al Shaer, 2007).
The study area of education and academics is evolving quickly in today’s world. It is because technology is shaping the way knowledge is dispersed and assimilated (Alquraini, 2014). However, to keep up with the pertinent developments, the educational stakeholders have been engaged in developing distinguished strategies, initiatives, laws and policies to deal with the issues related to educational quality, learning methods, appropriate technologies, content and teaching methods required to be used (Almalki, 2013).
According to Al Shaer (2007) study in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, numerous educational rules have been aimed to make the education system more efficient and relevant for the updated realities and demands of modern society. Therefore, strategies and policies in Saudi Arabia preschools are required to match the latest but changing trends in international declarations in education.
Previous Literature: Using Technology in Early Education
According to the analysis of Radesky, Schumacher and Zuckerman (2015), the phenomenon of having the implication of technology in the classroom education has been argued in different researches, forums and within the meetings for improving the quality of education within the schools. Boschman, McKenney and Voogt (2015) have argued that using technology allows the children to gain maximum knowledge through the visual creative content that creates an attraction for the students.
According to Blackwell, Lauricella and Wartella (2014), technology is highly effective for children for communicating better knowledge and learning to the students. While supporting the use of ICT for students, the study conducted by Boschman, McKenney and Voogt (2015) revealed that technology plays a major role in incorporating best teaching and learning practices in the schools and helped students resolve issues that occur in their academic learning processes.
Additionally, according to the Southern Early Childhood Association study, the use of technology is believed to play a powerful tool for the students and the teachers to adopt the modern culture of teaching and learning. The study conducted by Brito (2010) has proposed that the use of technology has been creating a major difference within the cognitive and social development of young children that can boost their learning and can also contribute towards supporting their educational goals.
Yilmaz (2016) has argued that the appropriate use of technology has the benefits of increasing the students’ learning in preschools. Moreover, the policymakers and the stakeholders of the education system have also been taking an active part in the implementation of technology for enhancing the learning experience of the young students for their long-term growth (Al Shaer, 2007).
However, It must be noted that, as Radesky, Schumacher and Zuckerman (2015) professed, different issues are related to the implementation of technology in the schools as the academics are no education system stakeholders and how it can be operated within the school premises and for students’ to enhance the research of Alqarni (2015) has identified that there has been a rapid increase in the use of technology in Saudi Arabia’s schools, universities and institutes. On the other hand, different issues are Private Schools, Kamal (2009) stated that K-12 education in Saudi Arabia has not been studied enough about the use of technology.
According to the research of Kamal (2009) several obstacles in the way of incorporating technologies in preschool and these obstacles are required being overcome as well; however, due to the issue of lack of communication and absence of IT infrastructure and technical expertise, these challenges have been difficult to overcome.
In addition to this, the absence of technical knowledge and skills amongst teachers and academic administrators in the English language is also significantly evident in preschools (Alharbi, 2013). For example, the web 2.0 tools are all available in English, which Saudi teachers might not understand. Moreover, the cost incurred for these technologies can also become a major barrier in implementing these technologies in classrooms in preschools.
Previous Literature: Action-Based Inquiry and Research
Bilen, Özel and Köse (2016) tried to explain the significance of action research by stating that it can provide various investigative, evaluative, and analytical research methods that can be designed to diagnose the issue or weaknesses on the academic, organisational or instructional level. Mertler (2016) has also stated that action research is one of the most effective methods for investigating the opportunities for future researchers and overcoming the research gap in the study.
According to the study of Bell, Bryman and Harley (2018), there are different research areas in which the method of action research can be used. One of the most commonly used fields of research is the teaching and learning strategies that incorporate the method of learning through action research. Punch and Oancea (2014) argued that action research is the phenomenon for solving the research problem by monitoring the research problems that can be used to investigate the developmental processes for investigation.
It has been further identified that action research is regarded as an interactive inquiry that provides a balance amongst problem-solving actions implemented in collaboration. The main aim of these kinds of research is to provide future predictions for practical change. The study further opined that action research is regarded as an original investigation undertaken to gain new knowledge through practice and results of that practice.
According to the analysis of Kemmis and Taggart (1988), there are different steps and procedures required to implement the action research. The steps that are followed in conducting the research are planning, acting, observing and reflecting. During the steps of action research, the researcher is allowed to mould according to the context and the changes within the existing circumstances that require changing the practices for implementing the course of action to gain real-time results.
The Role of My Critical Friend
The role of the critical friend has been essential throughout the research. I was able to discuss my overall approach and findings with my critical friend who has also played a crucial role in developing my overall research. According to Kember et al. (1997), critical friends are regarded as people who take up the pro-active role by maintaining and building partner relationships with academics during the overall research project.
Academics and teachers have adopted this approach to develop theory from a real-life context of teaching (Shohamy, E., 2014; Schuck et al., 2013; Ryan and Ryan, 2013). With the help of my critical friend, I have recorded and reflected upon the conversations in my reflective journal.
My critical friend has helped me by discussing my findings and approaches that allowed obtaining unbiased opinions. The role of a critical friend is also regarded as the process where the problematic issues are being catered to and unpacked through hidden assumptions and meanings (Ryan and Ryan, 2013). Hence, my critical friend has also played an important role in advising me on how these problematic issues can be resolved.
Section Three: Data Collection
Research methodology is a methodical explanation of how research should be conducted systematically (Mertens, 2014). It also facilitates the appropriate data collection and analysis technique to justify the research outcomes and achieve the research aim and objectives. Mertens (2014) research designs, qualitative, quantitative and mixed-method approaches have supported me in devising a plan for researching the area of interest.
Moreover, Opdenakker (2006) study has indicated that the research method is an important part of the research, which provides guidelines to the researcher for carrying out the study while applying suitable techniques for collecting, analysing, and interpreting the data. I began the research by identifying the nature of the study and the design of the research.
The study focuses on determining the impact of technology on children’s learning ability in Saudi Arabia Preschool classes from teachers’ perspective. Due to the nature of this research, qualitative research design has been incorporated leading towards collecting qualitative data.
Therefore, I have selected the sample population for this study amongst the teachers working in the pre-primary schools of Saudi Arabia. I interviewed the teachers to gain insights based on their perceptions and opinions regarding technology’s impact on children’s learning.
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In the research methods section, I have determined the methods for conducting the study while also justifying the use of techniques and procedures for conducting the study. According to the guide of Mertens (2014), there are mainly three types of research designs that could be chosen for conducting the study that would be enabled in achieving the aims and objectives of the research.
The research designs that Mertens (2014) had highlighted are qualitative, quantitative and mixed research designs. This has helped me understand the difference between each of the research designs and its applicability in the research. The qualitative research design is used for analysing the opinion and perceptions of other people the common methods used for conducting the study are observation, interview, focus group and case study research.
On the other hand, quantitative research is conducted by analyzing numerical facts and figures based on numerical results. By these guidelines, I chose to conduct interviews to collect qualitative information on the impact of using technology in Saudi preschool classes from preschool teachers’ point of view.
To collect data, the primary method of data collection has been adopted, which Punch (2013) defined as first-hand data collected by directly approaching the respondents. Under the primary method, the qualitative data has been conducted through interviews. It has further helped me obtain reliable and authentic information regarding the perception and opinion of the teachers in terms of the impact of using technology in preschools in Saudi Arabia.
Thus, I have planned for conducting semi-structured interviews as I have developed various interview questions in advance to gain the teachers’ insights. According to Bell, Bryman and Harley (2017), the semi-structured interview helps the researcher prepare in advance, ensuring that the questions are understood and easy to answer.
Before conducting the interviews, I had decided to seek the advice of my critical friend for gaining his opinion on the interview questions and discussing the techniques, methods for conducting the interviews and ethical implications that are involved with the interviews. The responses obtained from the interviews had been analysed through the thematic analysis method that led to the development of new themes.
Semi-structured interviews are considered as non-standardised and the ones that are commonly incorporated in qualitative research (Opdenakker, 2006). The guide for the interview can also be used but more questions can be inquired or asked. The questions’ style and the sequence in which numerous subjects are addressed are left to the interviewer.
Considering each topic, the interviewer has been free to undertake the conversation as it fits and ask questions that the interviewer deems appropriate in terms of words that the interview considers best for prompting the right response from the participants (Kemmis and Taggart, 1988). The major competency of a semi-structured interview is that the researcher can opt for a deeper understanding of the given situation.
For instance, the interview can ask about incorporating computers in language teaching for English. Some respondents can be more computer literate while others are not. Hence, this kind of interview can enable the interviewer to ask and probe for deeper questions regarding the respondent’s situation.
Moreover, the researcher can explain the questions if there is a lack of clarity amongst respondents (Morse and McEvoy, 2014). However, I could not interview respondents face-to-face due to due to long distance. Therefore, the only way was to interview by telephone.
The interviewer would not be able to see the interviewee so their body language cannot be considered the information source (Opdenakker, 2006). However, social cues such as intonation and voice are available, and these cues might be considered enough to terminate an interview through telephone.
Research Planning and Process
While developing the research questions, I ensured that there would be no biases in the question and determined the impact it may have on the participants. Moreover, the interview questions were developed according to the teacher’s knowledge and were not based on judging their teaching skills but were to determine the pros and cons of using technology for the learning of the children.
Similarly, the study of Morse and McEvoy (2014) has indicated the interview questions needs to cater to the interest of the research topic rather than judging the participants on their knowledge, skills and experience. Considering the planning process, I thought about the main research question and how I could answer that question by using the appropriate method.
For this purpose, I also went through the literature and differing research and data collection methods such as questionnaires and interviews (structured, unstructured and semi-structured) and focus groups. I chose to conduct interviews to gather qualitative information on the impact of using technology in Saudi preschool classes from preschool teachers’ point of view. Hence, interviews had ensured that the participants provide honest and open opinions regarding the impact of technology on the children’s learning.
I realized that using a semi-structured interview was the most suitable as it provided me factual, textual and qualitative information regarding my research (Opdenakker, 2006). It further provided more freedom and flexibility to me for exploring the experience and feelings of the interviewees. I have decided to conduct semi-structured interviews and have established several open-ended questions to obtain the teachers’ perceptions.
To reduce biases, I avoided asking a leading question to the interviewees. The semi-structured interview method is structured and unstructured where the interviewee has sufficient freedom to answer and share their experience in response to the interview questions being inquired from them (Kajornboon, 2005). Therefore, semi-structured interviews have been selected to provide sufficient freedom to respondents and it led towards the deep exploration of the experienced while retaining some control for the interviewer.
I had made sure that all the ethical requirements have been followed. Hence, I followed the below-mentioned requirements:
- I have ensured that respondents of the research fully understood the idea and main aim of the research for which I had also explained to them their importance for my research.
- I have also ensured that each respondent had signed the consent before the interview was conducted. I had also explained clearly to the participants that they could withdraw from the interview at any time.
The data collection process started with contacting three Saudi teachers who were willing to share their views on the impact of using technology in Saudi preschool. I chose to conduct interviews on phone calls because the teachers are based in Saudi Arabia and I am studying in the UK. I first recorded the interviews and then created interview transcripts from which I conducted further analysis for my research.
All of the three Saudi teachers were teaching in kindergarten. Before carrying out the interviews, I explained my rationale and reasons for conducting the study to gain their consent for continuing interviews. I also ensured that their views and insights would contribute towards the research and ensure that their identities and responses are to remain anonymous in this study.
It had enabled the participants to feel comfortable while providing answers to the questions and being open and honest. The interviewees have also signed the consent form that had explained the study’s aim, what they needed to do, what was needed from them, what would their participation, and how it was important for the study.
Interview Results and Analysis
In this section, I have discussed the collected data that had been obtained through conducting interviews. The data collected had been analysed and interpreted in this section, in which the opinion of the teachers regarding the impact of technology on children’s learning has been highlighted.
Before conducting the interviews, the participants or teachers had carried out observations regarding the impact of technology on children learning. I asked my participants two key questions regarding this matter: Do you believe that technology can help children grow and learn to communicate more effectively and how do children in preschool can gain a tremendous amount of knowledge through the use of technology? The observation helped the teacher develop opinions and perceptions regarding the impact of technology on the children’s learning.
Two of the teacher had indicated a positive impact of technology on the children’s learning. In contrast, one of the teachers had illustrated the negative impact of technology on children’s learning. The main aim behind the observation was to find if preschool teachers believed that the use of ICT has a positive or negative impact on children. The observations had identified that children could learn and grow their knowledge about a certain idea if provided with ICT based activities.
For instance, teachers were identified as providing visuals to preschool children on their computer screens while allowing them to learn the pictures and their names. According to Blackwell, Lauricella and Wartella (2014), the use of technology is effective and can greatly impact children’s knowledge and learning abilities.
Moreover, through classroom observations, it has also been explored that children in preschool classrooms could communicate with their teachers and teachers were easily resolving their issues as well. The study conducted by Boschman, McKenney and Voogt (2015) revealed that technology plays a major role in incorporating best practices of teaching and learning in the schools and helped students to resolve issues that ensue in their academic learning processes.
However, the observations have also identified that using ICT-based technologies has made it difficult for children to understand how to use it. They were found to be confused and hence slow in their learning process. But, with the teachers’ assistance and support, the teachers have been able to develop the children’s cognitive abilities.
It might be because children learn more when being challenged by any certain situation. For instance, Brito (2010) has proposed that the use of technology has generated a major modification within the cognitive and social development of young children that can increase their learning and can also subsidize their goals, especially in challenging environments.
Hence, the overall classroom observations have indicated that with teachers’ support and interventions, ICT can help children grow and learn to communicate more effectively. Children in preschool can gain a tremendous amount of knowledge through the use of technology.
There was only one set of interviews that had been conducted during the action research. Since my research is focused on Saudi Arabia and I am studying in the UK, the most appropriate method for conducting the interviews is through the telephone.
Only a set of interviews has been incorporated because it was problematic to further arrange more than one set of interviews because of the respondents’ time limitations. Furthermore, the difference between the time zones of the UK and Saudi Arabia was another issue due to which I was only able to undertake one semi-structured interview.
As discussed above, the interview had been carefully developed with the help of my critical friend. I have conducted three interviews with the teachers of preschools in Saudi Arabia. All of the teachers were female as there are many female teachers found in the kindergarten in Saudi Arabia are found to be female. It has been identified in the study of Kashkary and Robinson (2006) as well that the Saudi Arabian schools have a significant number of female teachers.
On the other hand, the study of Rabaah, Doaa and Asma (2016) has identified a growing female presence in Saudi Arabian schools and children have been largely placed in such preschool centres and education programs. Hence, two interviews were in favour of using technology in the classroom; one of them stated:
“Well, using technology is essential if provided under parental or teacher’s supervision. We cannot deny that the world is evolving and moving fast and we have to prepare our children to keep up the pace with that evolution; for this purpose, technology plays a very important role.” For instance, we have used the internet during the class and played various videos for our children on the computer screen to learn effectively. But as you know, the internet and videos played on the internet cannot be just given to the children without any supervision. Therefore, in our preschool classrooms, if we use the internet and play videos on it, I specifically make sure that it is under my supervision, I must know what my students are watching, what they are learning so that their learning process can be good and only good quality content is shown to them. In this way, my students are also allowed to be given full knowledge and have seen a very good change in their overall learning capability; they have started to learn faster and quicker.
It has also been identified in Greenhow, Robelia and Hughes (2009) that the use of quality digital tools in the context of classrooms requires higher supervision of teachers to encourage students’ skills and allow them to learn in a creative ways. On the other hand, Robin (2015) stated that good quality content to students in preschool can allow them to learn quickly and effectively.
Boschman, McKenney and Voogt (2015) have also stated that using technology allows the children to gain maximum knowledge through the visual creative content that creates an attraction for the students. While considering the overall importance of ICT for students and how it impacts their learning, Al-Faleh (2012) has identified that students learn faster and better when they are engaged and are participating in different activities that can allow them to create learning opportunities. The study further opined that integrating digital media in preschools is a great way to increase children’s engagement as it can help them learn through quality-based experience.
Another teacher commented,
“I believe that everything has its pros and cons and in early education, we teachers can serve as a pioneer who can teach them about how they can use technology efficiently and positively. Like, you see, the visual representations are mostly used in our classrooms and we also provide students to work on computers as well, especially in art sections. So even if we use computers for art selection and visual presentation, we ensure that all the students are provided with supervision. In this way, I make sure to be present there with them and provide them timely instructions and what and how they can be further involved in the learning process. It is because we do not want children to open pages that are inappropriate or use the computers on their own without anyone having their eyes on their work throughout the premises”
The literature finding can also justify the finding mentioned above as Al-Faleh (2012) stated that technology has been regarded as one of the major tools for improving the quality of learning amongst children in Saudi schools. There are numerous audiovisual resources and smart toys that can help children learn effectively.
However, Storz and Hoffman (2013) stated that teacher supervision is important if the children are provided with any technology because their development is associated with the type of content they see during their classroom premises. Nevertheless, the use of technology is believed to play a powerful tool for the students and the teachers to adopt the modern culture of teaching and learning.
One of the interviewees had given a negative response regarding the use of technology by students in preschool. The teacher commented,
“The rising use of technology is affecting children’s ability to do things or tasks on their own. If we keep relying on technology how will we teach them how they can solve their problems and learn through practice instead of just surfing on laptops and other technologically driven gadgets. For instance, as we provide gadgets to do calculations; instance, we have digital calculators here in our classes to ensure that the child knows how to do certain calculations if we are not provided with technologies. How we can ensure that he is learning to interact with others rather than just interacting with his/her gadgets. We need to make sure that along with these technologies; the child must know how to survive if similar devices are not provided. ”
The aforementioned response can be justified by the fact that Lunn Brownlee, Ferguson and Ryan (2017) stated that children are provided with technologies to solve their problems and provided with certain self-regulated ways through which they know how issues can be resolved through interaction and self-identified methods.
Based on the above response, it could be stated that the two of the teachers had a similar belief as they had a positive experience for using technology on children learning. Moreover, one of the teachers had indicated that the use of technology is critical in this era to keep the children at a pace with the evolution of technology.
It has also been identified in the Literature that different technologies including the use of the computer in preschools are regarded as an ally of development and growth of autonomy and knowledge development of children reflecting on their cognitive and socio-emotional dimensions (Brito, 2010).
The use of technology had boosted children’s motivation for learning new skills and building confidence among them. The teacher had also stated that real-life opportunities need to be presented to the children who would improve their creativity, imagination and exploration.
According to Lynch and Redpath (2014), the Southern Early Childhood Association (SECA) has provided the same notion that the student’s activities based on technology have improved their learning experiences and have developed the skills in the young students to meet their educational requirements.
The study’s primary findings have also professed the same notion that the practices of technology had been conducted by providing tablets to the children, in which they had been tasked to write poems, stories, and other materials which resulted in improving their vocabulary and grammar.
The second teacher I had conducted the interview had provided the same answers by stating that the use of technology had an effective and positive impact on children’s learning. Similarly, Alharbi, (2013) stated that technology plays a major role in augmenting the education and learning of the students and the use of technology has been growing and creating a positive learning environment for the students and the teachers.
However, the teacher had indicated a lack of technological gadgets and equipment available in the school, which can be effectively used to improve the learning of the children. There were various activities conducted with the use of computers in which the children were required to listen to audio, which resulted in enhancing their listening skills and speaking skills (Kamal, 2009).
She further stated that the use of technology among the children also contributed to their cognitive and thinking abilities that enhanced their memory, language, problem-solving and decision making. For instance, the teacher has stated that she had provided students with numerous problem-solving tasks such as puzzles and pictorial and audio and visual tasks where they had to either solve the puzzle or identify the pictures.
The teacher herself noticed that it has positively affected their cognitive development and learning ability. It has also been indicated and justified by the Literature that the suitable use of technology has the benefits of aggregating the students’ learning and has been generating a massive change within the learning of the students in the preschools (Yilmaz, 2016). Both of these teachers have preferred using technology-based learning rather than practice-based learning as the use of technology increases the motivation for the children in learning and improves social and thinking skills.
The interview conducted by the third teacher had opposed the use of technology in the children’s learning. She stated that the use of technology is not beneficial for the children at this age and it does not encourage them from the outdoor activities. The teacher further stated that children were spending most of their time inside playing on the devices such as laptops, mobile phones, and computers.
Due to this, they prefer playing inside and not going outside for any outdoor activity. Similarly, the research conducted by Kara and Cagiltay (2017) indicated that “Technology prevents building communication of children with their friends. It is clear that children do not play games outside so much they generally spend their time at home and are interested in indoor activities”.
Reflection and Future Directions
My action research has been conducted in Saudi Arabia to find teachers’ perspectives regarding whether technology is helpful for children to learn new things quickly or is it negatively affecting their learning abilities. When observing my findings, I thought about if I have adequately answered the main question of my research.
I believe that I have answered to some extent because the three teachers addressed the main idea and shared their deep experiences regarding the use of ICT in the preschool class. However, they might be unaware of some external factors that might affect their perception of using technology in preschool classes.
To reveal these factors, I would use different sources to triangulate my data. “Triangulation refers to the use of multiple methods or data sources in qualitative research to develop a comprehensive understanding of phenomena (Patton, 1999)”. I would do this by having a similar interview with the manager of the school.
The view that this interview will gain will add value to my research and will help me in gaining deep insights and opinions about the methods of teaching through technology. It will also allow the researcher to understand the phenomenon and achieve the research objectives. However, considering the action research process and the time frame, I did only one cycle of action research spiral.
Moreover, after evaluating the interview responses that I obtained from three teachers, I realized that there might be some sort of bias. All the three teachers that I interviewed were engaged in using different technologies in the classroom. Moreover, they have been using these technologies since the beginning of their career.
In addition to this, I identified that these teachers had not spent the day in the classroom without technology. Hence, their response to my question reflected their opinion or viewpoint regarding their current situation of the place. Still, it did not reflect the circumstances where technology is not incorporated at all.
However, if I was given more time, I would have asked them more questions and even ask them to conduct a few classes without using any technology. This would have allowed me to compare the interviews and then find out more about the teacher’s perspectives regarding conducting classes without using any technology.
I believe that this would have helped me comprehend both pros and cons of using technology. It would have reduced any personal bias regarding the use of technology in preschool. However, due to time constrain, I could not revise my plan so that I can act, observe, and reflect again.
Section Four: Limitations And Conclusion
The researcher has faced certain limitations during the research conduct. The first limitation was time constraint as the time allotted for completing the research was insufficient to cover the broad area. Due to time constraints, the sample size had been kept to only three teachers of preschools in Saudi Arabia.
With respect to this, the research also has geographical constraints; for instance, the interviews were with teachers from one city (Riyadh). It means that the study findings cannot be applied to other schools in small villages /areas within Saudi Arabia that might not have the infrastructure and advanced technology similarly to Riyadh-based schools.
However, if more time was provided, I could increase the sample size or incorporate the results from a different population, villages and cities in Saudi Arabia. I did not involve myself in the research in terms of research findings rather incorporated the data that was obtained through interviewing preschool teachers.
However, these teachers were engaged and busy in their full-time jobs and did not have sufficient time to continue or give more details regarding the research question. Hence, it was difficult for me to revise the plan and act, observe and reflect again.
The main aim of my study was to determine the impact of using ICT on children learning in Saudi Arabia preschools from the teacher’s point of view. Based on the Literature, the use of technology has been increasing in Saudi Arabia’s schools, universities and institutions.
However, there has been a huge debate in the literature regarding the use of technology in the teaching of children (Zomer, 2014; Lynch and Redpath, 2014) Most of the Literature had indicated that it has a positive influence on children whereas some literature denoted that it causes a negative influence on the children.
Therefore, the study aims at understanding the impact of using technology on children learning in Saudi preschool from a teacher’s point of view. The sample size chosen for this research was small due to time constraints. In addition, two teachers provided similar responses regarding the research questions and stated that technology is important in today’s world for children’s development and their learning.
However, one of the teachers was against the notion of using technologies in preschool. They believed that it can hinder the teaching process in the class and might put constraints on the teacher’s ability to teach efficiently in the classrooms.
Moreover, the time constraint also had a number of consequences. The researcher could not further act, observe, and reflect again to explain, validate, and confirm the results. Therefore, I conducted the action research that led to answering the teachers’ questions and further analysing their responses.
Nevertheless, if I had more time, I would have been able to continue my research and comprehend the teachers’ perspectives regarding the strengths and weaknesses of using technology in preschool in Saudi Arabia. This would result in contributing to my professional development, goals and targets.
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Appendix: Interview Questions
- To what extent, do you believe that technology is important for children in preschool?
- Do you believe that through technology children in preschool can gain a tremendous amount of knowledge?
- How much technology is shaping the thinking and cognitive abilities of children?
- Do you think that children in preschool can learn quickly through the use of technology? Please explain.
- To what extent, supervision is important while having the children in preschool use technological gadgets?
- What do you prefer more: technology-based learning or practice-based learning? Please explain why?
- Do you believe that technology can help children to grow and learn to communicate more effectively? Please explain
- In your opinion, what impact technology can have on children and why?