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Teachers Viewpoint on the Impact of Applying Distance Training on the Participation in Training Programmes - Essay Example

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The research has an objective, to evaluate the role of teachers and their deliberate efforts subjected to internal work place and external societal pressures. According to the official standard of a country, the training of teachers is a program which leads to an enhanced…
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Teachers Viewpoint on the Impact of Applying Distance Training on the Participation in Training Programmes
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Teachers’ Viewpoint on the Impact of Applying Distance Training on the Participation in Training Programmes The research has an objective, to evaluate the role of teachers and their deliberate efforts subjected to internal work place and external societal pressures. According to the official standard of a country, the training of teachers is a program which leads to an enhanced status of qualified teacher.
When enhancing professional progression, and advancement of teachers, there lays immense importance, and adequate training for teachers either via distance training programs, face to face, and online programs, there are various aspects, which relate to the participation of teachers in training programs, and applying distance training, the study has a number of importance’s, thus making it relevant in literature.
The methodologies used in reflecting the research, research questions are used as a mode of data collection. They will be restarted as an introduction of the methodology and process. In addition, methods will be justified and study the sample presented. The selection of participants, questionnaire design and use of semi structured interviews.
In order to enhance the capability of teachers for critical thinking and provides effective contribution towards the progression and advancement of knowledge regarding various practices of training, regarding future research, a number of suggestions could be provided. Research should investigate the effects of application of distance training on the performance of teachers in Saudi Arabia. An obstacle facing the application of distance training in Saudi is a serious topic that needs further research.
Chapter 1
Teachers play a significant role in the society and their deliberate efforts are subjected to internal workplace pressures and external societal pressures. It is these internal working environment pressures and the external communal pressures which deeply influence the functions and responsibilities of the teachers towards their target viewers i.e. the students along with various subject matters taught to them (Martinet et. al., 2001).
It has been identified that according to the official standards of a country, the training of the teachers is a kind of study programme which leads towards an enhanced status of a qualified teacher (UNESCO, 2001). It has also been observed that there are many numbers of teachers who have participated in various training programmes using both face-to-face and distance training. However, at the same time, certain segments of teachers fail to participate in training programmes due to a number of problems they face. This study aims to assess the problems faced by Saudi Arabian teachers when participating in training programmes besides examining their attitudes towards the application of distance training.
1.1 Problem Statement
When increasing as well as enhancing the professional progression and advancement of teachers, there lays immense importance of delivering proper and adequate training to teachers either through online, face-to-face or distance training procedures. However, in order to make a judgement regarding the application of various modes of training methods, there lays an obvious problem while moving ahead.
In the current study, the main research question is: “Does the application of distance training help increase the participation of the teachers in training programmes?”
There are various aspects which are related to the participation of the teachers in training programmes when applying distance training. These aspects include identifying the relationship between executing face-to-face and distance training methods along with the teachers’ attitude towards their participation in the training programmes. These aspects also include the relationship between the attitude of the teachers and their proficiency and capability in the computer operations towards the distance training method.
Thus, it can be stated that the relationships between the attitudes of teachers along with executing face-to-face or distance training methods towards their participation in the training programmes eventually generated the problem statement for the study. However, various researches and necessary information would be collected and it will be focused in the later portion of the discussion in the study.
1.2 Significance of the Study
This study is important because of a number of reasons. Firstly, there is a shortage of research in the Arab world in general and in Saudi Arabia in particular on the relationship between the trainees’ participation in training programmes and the training approach used. Thus, this study may make an important contribution to the literature. Secondly, the findings of the current study might assist educators, policy makers and programme developers in Saudi Arabia in designing more effective training programmes. Finally, the present study can help policy makers in Saudi Arabia identify the major barriers that face teachers with the current means of training used by the Saudi ministry of education and thus help in minimizing these barriers and increase teacher participation in training programmes.
1.3 Goals of the Study
The current study has a number of objectives. The study aims to identify the barriers facing the existing training methods applied by the ministry of education in Saudi Arabia. Additionally, it aims to identify the advantages and limitations of the traditional face to face training approach and the benefits and limitations of the distance training approach from the viewpoints of Saudi Arabian teachers. It also aims to assess the application of distance training and whether it would increase the participation of Saudi teachers in training programmes to a certain extent.
1.4 Organisation of the Study
The structure of this study includes ‘Introduction’, ‘Literature Review’, ‘Research Methodology’, ‘Data Findings and Analysis’ and ultimately ‘Conclusion’ along with necessary recommendations. The first chapter (Introduction) includes problem statement, significance of the study, goals of the study and organisation of the study.
After focusing upon Chapter 1, the next chapter i.e. Chapter 2 is Literature Review. A complete analytical discussion has been made regarding the approach of the teachers towards their participation in both face-to-face and distance training programmes. In this chapter, discussions are made with respect to numerous literatures from many researchers who have conducted researches or written any report relating to the topic.
The next chapter i.e. Chapter 3 (Research Methodology) depicts the research questions along with the discussion of the research methodology and process. Moreover, this particular chapter justifies the methods that are executed for data collection and the sample of the study is also presented. In addition, the structure of the pilot study, designed questionnaires, selection of the participants and the utilisation of the “semi-structured interview” procedures is also analytically explained in detail.
After having an elaborate discussion in the research methodology part, the next chapter i.e. Chapter 4 (Data Findings and Analysis) represents the results of the analysis of the studied data. In this particular chapter, data revealing the awareness of training especially by the teachers of Saudi Arabia and their willingness to participate in distance training programmes are presented. Certain data depicting the difficulties or obstacles which are faced by the teachers with the traditional face-to-face training programme, which is presently executed by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Education is also taken into consideration.
In the final Chapter (Conclusion and Recommendations), certain aspects that include various findings, limitations and necessary recommendations are taken into concern in the discussion of this chapter in the study. In this regard, on the basis of considering the overall findings of the study, a strong as well as a polished conclusion has been drawn, suitable recommendations are provided and areas of future research are suggested.
Chapter 2
Literature Review
The aim of this research is to find out teachers’ attitudes towards participation in both face to face and distance training. It will specifically explore teachers viewpoints regarding the potentials distance training has that make it more favourable and encouraging as opposed to those of the traditional face-to-face approach. The research, in the process, will uncover different aspects related to teachers training programmes. This is assumed to help in assessing how teachers participation in training can be increased.
This section discusses numerous literatures from many researchers who have conducted researches or written reports related to the topic under study. The review generates an overview of both face to face and distance training, and which of both approaches could improve teachers’ attitudes towards participation in training programmes. The review will cover three main topics including low participation in training programmes (especially limited plans to continue to get further training); weaknesses of face-to-face training and the strength of IT boosted distance training.
2.1 Low Participation in Training Programmes
Teacher participation in training programs is an issue that has been studied globally. However, it is critical to note that the participation varies from one region to another. In many institutions, the participation of teachers in training programs has been dependent on the type of program, teachers’ schedule and the motivation among teachers (Northrup, 1997). However, a low level of participation has been identified in teacher training programs globally. The low participation is however dependent on the issues and factors affecting each region respectively. Jakku-Sihvonen & Rusanen (1999) in a report published by OPEPRO argued that initial and continuing training needs among the teachers has challenged teacher participation in training programs. They asserted that teachers have faced a huge challenge in participating in training because of the changing training needs.
The regular change in curricula and other teaching strategies has challenged efforts to train teachers and improve their efficiency. Lack of teacher involvement in the development of training programs has also been identified as leading to low participation. Dora (2010) asserted in her study that teacher participation in school decision making has decreased over the years. Therefore, it has been a huge challenge in coming up with training programs that suit the teacher’s needs. As a result, the desire of teachers to engage in training programs is low, leading to low participation. She also recommends that to improve participation, involvement of teachers in decision making, particularly in curricula development, is critical.
From another perspective Alsharari (2010) argued that increased participation in training programs was only for the purpose of gaining promotion, thereby weakening the level of participation expected of them, and reducing the desire for the optimum utilization of training. As a result of low participation, many institutions have identified the need to motivate teachers into participation. Motivation is however dependent on the different forms of training including the face-to-face training and distance training.
Among the major reasons that can help explain why many teachers have been discouraged to enrol in the training programs is the high teacher qualifications (Muhammad, 1999). A report from gives a few examples of the low participation in training programs. The report attributes this drop to a number of issues including the just discussed issue of raising the qualifications. The ADP report also noted that drop in new admissions was a negative indication of the emerging crisis in the supply of qualified teachers. It was also noted that the new trend was looming across many regions with prospects of low desire to join training programs in the future.
Another major issue is lack of motivation among teachers to participate in training. Eliezer & Coleman (2005) looked at lack of motivation as being a major factor among the teachers that can help explain why they do not participate in training. As noted, in most cases, a major reason why many people participate in any form of training is to gain more skills along with a hope of promotion in the workplace.
With this not the case in the training profession, the value of training is therefore not acknowledged, which is a major reason for the low enrolment in training programs. Moreover, (Al-askar, 1994, p.103) cited in Alsharari (2010) argued that “some trainers lack the capability for delivering skills to others, or transferring information and delivering it to the trainees in a non-complex manner, and frequently there is no follow-up of trainees or evaluation of their performance after training". As a result, this has discouraged most of the teachers who would have had the will to enrol for training and improve their standards. Therefore, it is important to use incentives, such as effective supervision and professional recognition in motivating teachers to participate in training.
2.2 Face-To-Face Training
Face to face training has been used across the globe over the years. Most of the institutions across the Arab world have followed this traditional system of training. This has been in use across many countries particularly in an effort to improve the efficiency of teachers in their teaching roles. A case example is Lebanon, where the primary delivery educational model has been traditional (Nasser and Abouchedid, 2000). Face-to-face training in this case has been adopted within the country in order to establish high quality among the teachers. Face-to-face training within the institutions involves recruiting trainers who engage the teachers in training within a room (Naomi, John & Michele, 2000). The teachers enjoy similar services, which they are used to offering to students in their teaching roles.
Traditional methods of training have been popular in facilitating active learning. Benson et al. (2005) noted that, there is no better way of training effectively than using the face-to-face training because it establishes a good relationship between the trainer and the trainee. Benson et al. (2005) also noted that face-to-face training is popular because it enhances active learning and better memorization. From the analysis of human behaviour, scientists have viewed that memorization is a cognitive attribute normally established through active learning. Thus, physical interaction is regarded as essential in learning and fostering memory in any form of training. Naomi, John, & Michele (2000) emphasized that lack of physical interactions leads to isolation of learners, who in turn are not motivated into practicing and playing their roles effectively.
There is also a huge argument from Ronald (2002) who argued that face to face training has been excellent in enhancing the completion rate. Conversely, physical classrooms are regarded as great places of learning because they enable faster learning. Solimeno et al. (2008) conducted a study comparing distance learning and face to face training and came up with the argument that the element of referrals and questions is very critical in face-to-face learning.
In face to face, the trainers are able to provide ample guidance to learners within the class and without delay. From another perspective, Solimeno et al. (2008) also came up with the argument that traditional approaches of training are ideal because they integrate body language.
As with the earlier argument by cognitive behaviourists, it is clear that body language enhances learning a great deal. For instance, Delfino & Persico (2007) established facial and hand gestures as ideal in the learning process because they cultivate a high level of concentration and develop memory. From the physical interaction in learning, important cues can be derived, which are essential in effective learning. From this perspective, it is arguable that in some of the teacher’s training courses, there are a number that require physical practice and this can only be facilitated by the trainer when in face-to-face communication with the trainee. The approach of physical training is effective in that the method helps in deepening individual skills and knowledge, which may be hard to achieve in other forms of training other than face-to-face training.
Though they are discussed above as effective for facilitating teacher’s training, face to face training is also faced with huge limitations. Qiyun & Huay (2007) argued that especially in the modern days, where technology has advanced drastically, the traditional methods are becoming obsolete and of not much help to teachers. Therefore, it is forcing major institutions to conform to the new developments and shift from the traditional approaches.
Over the past four decades, the global world has been exposed to great scrutiny, especially on the issue of education. Teacher’s training has also experienced drastic changes. However, the change has been observed as positive because it is ideal in improving the quality of education across countries and boosting development. A report by the UNDP noted that most Arab countries are the highest spenders of GDP on education ( However, according to the Arab Human Development Report, the levels of education and training are still low in achievements within the Arab countries, especially compared to other developing countries. The report reveals that there is an increased illiteracy level among the adults while there is a huge gap of knowledge among the elites (Hassan 2005). In particular, the main gap noticed within the educational field is among the teachers who facilitated education in institutions across the region. Face to face training has been noted as leading to the lowering levels of education.
A huge limitation of the traditional approaches is inconvenient timing for learners (Connie & Wing, 2007). In training teachers through face-to-face communication, it is apparent that a lot of time is required in order to ensure that everyone learns effectively and can use the skills appropriately in their teaching roles (Wuensch et al., 2008). However, it is apparent that getting teachers and engaging them in face-to-face training is difficult and challenging.
This may be because of the busy schedule in institutions of learning. As Li (2009) noted, in the modern day, teachers are faced with huge burdens especially when playing their roles. This is because of the extensive curricula that have been introduced in schools. The huge numbers of students has also been a huge challenge for teachers in their efforts to secure some free time that they can use in acquiring training. In fact, Nasser and Abouchedid (2000) emphasized that in the modern day, huge numbers are being experienced in schools, which occupies most of the teachers’ time and they can hardly make it for training. Therefore, it is a huge limitation to dwell in traditional approaches of training based on issues of absenteeism and lateness. The teachers find it difficult to multi-task from class work to training. In a study on teachers’ engagement in training, Parisot (1997) argued that the majority of the participants who were teachers within the institution argued that they are challenged and find it difficult to participate in training. Additionally, Muirhead (2000) found that most teachers had both time management problems and stress because of their heavy workloads. Muirhead (2000) also argued that teacher’s absence from school for attending face to face training programs could increase such problems for other teachers. Therefore it is apparent that the busy schedule challenges the traditional training methods in their facilitation for teachers in schools.
Another huge limitation of the traditional methods is the quality of training. In a study by Northrup (1997), perceptions from numerous faculty members developed the argument that in most cases, the new curriculum introduced in schools is technology oriented. Therefore, face to face training without the involvement of technology is challenged. He emphasized that learning in schools is being facilitated through new technologies. Therefore, it is illogical to train teachers using the traditional methods. Clark (1993) emphasized that, though the training is effective, the practical aspect of it and the integration of technology lacks in traditional methods, which makes it ineffective. Additionally, Connie and Wing (2007) found that face to face training methods didn’t fit more than half of their sample of teachers. These teachers preferred to participate in online training programs rather than face to face since online training is linked with the use of technology.
Face to face training was also found to have other problems. Alfozan (1989) found in a study in Saudi Arabia, that face to face training programs did not pay sufficient attention to the actual needs of the teachers. This led Alfozan to suggest the need to use other training styles that would pay more attention to teachers needs and cover what is required by them. Gartman et al. (2005) also found that wide geographical distances were big barriers facing teachers who had to attend face to face training programs. Thus, they suggested the use of distance training as an alternative approach that could help encourage teachers participate in training. This was also supported by Cereijo (2006) who found that learners who lived far away from campus preferred online training courses than traditional face to face courses. In Saudi Arabia, Alsharari (2010) found that face-to-face training suffers from a big number of limitations including the insufficient number of courses and the far distance of the centres in which training programs take place.
These among other major limitations are challenging in the process of facilitating effective teachers’ training. Therefore, there have been arguments across the globe as to the introduction of new methods of teachers’ training that would consider all these factors and establish effective training. Major scholars have also conducted researches on the same issue, which has been looking into other methods of training including distance training.
They hypothesize that the introduction of distance training is an advancement of traditional methods of training. However, it is important to note that traditional methods of training cannot be totally absented from teachers’ training. This is because they are still valuable and support other methods of training to establish a high level of effectiveness in training of teachers.
2.3 Use of Distance Learning in Teacher’s Training
Teachers’ professional development in skill constitutes major challenges when traditional methods are applied as discussed above. They may be effective in a number of ways, but the changes in the education system poses as a huge challenge. Particularly the introduction of new technologies and their application in the education system, these are the main challenging issues for institutions that still practice the traditional methods of training teachers (Granger & Benke, 1998). As a result, numerous institutions have resulted to distance training as a solution for teachers’ training. These efforts by the institutions are enhanced to provide sufficient resources for teachers and meet the career-long professional needs. It has been viewed in a study by Robinson (1997) that even with resources readily available in institutions of learning that teachers can use in training, getting out of classes has been the main problem. The teachers would love much to attend traditional workshops and learn but they in fact face serious barriers such as busy schedule they have to undergo each day in school.
Therefore, the emergence of technologies has been a positive indication that teachers have a great opportunity of training (Johnson, 2000). This has been a powerful tool for facilitating distance learning, which makes teacher empowerment revolutionary. For once, Hui et al. (2008) noted that the integration of technology in training of teachers is a good starting point for professional growth among the teachers. From their study, they argued that the approach facilitates distance learning, which offers tremendous potential for teachers to learn. Cook (2003) presented the teachers’ perceptions who argued that they are highly motivated by the new introduction of training methods based on flexibility and simplicity. Chiefly, distance training evolves with time and is dependent on issues such as technological advances (Johnson, 2000). As Granger & Benke (1998) noted, distance learning was introduced to ease the efforts of teachers who sought training after classes.
The method has become popular across the globe especially in learning institutions due to its flexibility. Statistics from the Arab world reveal that distance training has taken over teachers’ training in countries such as Saudi-Arabia, Lebanon and other countries across the Middle East (AHDR 2003). From a broad definition of distance training Michael (2007) referred to it as communication and learning that is facilitated outside the learning institutions in places such as homes. He also supports the idea that distance training can be supported via electronic means. Other scholars have specifically looked into distance training as delivery of education and training via networked interactivity. Gibson (1998) argued that distance training integrates other knowledge collection and distribution technologies in an effort to facilitate effective training.
The definitions therefore are coined in new technologies such as electronic means and computers, which have been integrated to facilitate effective training. The main idea of distance training is creating and delivering knowledge online, which comes in the form of education, training, information, or communication (Berge, Muilenburg, & Haneghan, 2002). Therefore, it is clear that training of teachers also revolves around these definitions in its application within institutions.
It is critical to note that Internet and web technology are also part of distance training especially when using distance training (Granger & Benke, 1998). Baomin (2009) define e-learning as the use of digital technologies and the internet in creating experiences that can effectively train individuals on particular issues. Information and communication technologies have therefore come of age in order to establish better training in distance learning. In fact, Olcott & Wright (1995) argued that the more new technologies are being advanced in the education field, the better and easier distance training is facilitated within institutions of learning. Learning performance and efficiency are therefore subject to the new technologies and the mode of training adopted within the institutions.
2.4 IT Boosted Distance Learning: benefits and limitations
With the understanding that face-to-face training has a number of weaknesses it is important to discuss the strengths of IT boosted distance learning, which has been applied as a solution to effective training. From vast literature, there is a broad argument that IT boosted distance training motivates teachers -to participate in training- in a broad way and it is also advantageous as compared to the traditional approaches (Connie & Wing, 2007). Betts (1998) argued that participants in online training programs had positive perceptions and attitudes towards the use of distance training as an educational tool. Connie and Wing (2007) found that the majority of teachers in their sample preferred online training courses and learned more when using online courses.
Additionally, In two different studies, Abouchedid and Eid (2004) and Alasmari (2005) found that teachers had positive attitudes and perceptions towards the use of distance training for educational. Li (2009) also found that with the use of distance training learners participate in the learning process more actively. Lee (2001) also found that both the motivation and commitment of teachers towards distance learning were generally strong.
Demand in the education field across regions particularly for professional development has been a motivating factor for teachers to participate in distance training. Therefore, an analysis by Qiyun & Huay (2007) establishes the argument that face-to-face training does not motivate teachers to participate in training based on the concept that they do not have time. In distance training, the teachers are at liberty to learn and acquire the appropriate knowledge at their own convenience (Qiyun & Huay, 2007).
In this case, the main issue has been convenient and stress free training. Based on the fact that distance training can be facilitated from home, teachers feel appreciated and given the freedom of training from their homes. The teachers are relieved of the multi-tasking aspect which leaves them worn-out and fatigued within schools. According to the perceptions of teachers as presented in the work of Northrup (1997), teachers asserted that other than finishing classes and being forced to attend workshops for training as the case with face-to-face training, the teachers are at liberty of going home, relaxing and later engaging in some form of training. Gartman et al. (2005), found that teachers preferred distance education since it saved a lot of their time and effort, where they had to spend a lot of time and effort in transportation from the school to the training centre and vice versa.
Another study by Clark (1993) revealed that out of the participants that were studied, the majority argued that they value distance training due to its high element of convenience. Other findings from the same study established the argument that a majority of the teachers were highly receptive of the new approaches of distance training. Solimeno, Mebane, Tomai and Francescato (2008) and Muirhead (2000) argued that online learning could be used to provide innovative educational opportunities for teachers who suffer from time management problems and stress due to heavy workloads.
Chiefly, distance training, which has been the main approach in distance learning, has also been popular for its support of professional growth. From numerous studies, it has been clear that one major reason why teachers engage in a form of training is prospects of growth in their career. Therefore, for any method that would ascertain growth within the profession and more exposure, the teachers develop positive attitude and reception to the same (Northrup, 1997). Al-asmari (2005) found that most of the teachers considered distance training as a huge library for obtaining different types of information and a tool for research based learning. Additionally, Al-Abdulmenem (2000), found that all the participants in his study agreed that distance training can help them much in increasing their knowledge and learning skills. A study by Parisot (1997) revealed that information and communication technologies (ICTs) have been advanced in teachers’ training to help teachers meet many of their expectations. Mostly, they have been of huge value in providing productivity tools, building connections with colleagues, access to information, collaboration opportunities, among other huge benefits. The new technologies do not only train teachers in their courses but also opens them into other world of opportunities. This is therefore a highly motivating factor for teachers to engage in a higher level of training. These opportunities are the most important as they advance professional growth among the teachers besides provide a high level of training.
Distance learning as facilitated through e-learning in training teachers has also been valued due to other motivational aspects such as computer-assisted instructions (Cooper, 2001). It is clear from major studies that most of the teachers enjoy e-learning because they can easily follow instructions as per the computer dictates. Therefore, it becomes quite easy and enjoyable to use computers in facilitating learning.
Therefore, distance learning for teachers becomes enjoyable and it motivates them into learning even more. Connie & Wing (2007) argued that as opposed to traditional face-to-face training, the teachers enjoy more when they are independently training on a particular issue or practices. It was also clear from their works that in most cases, individuals are more daring and they are motivated to try out particular practices when alone and not observed.
However, even with the IT boosted distance learning having major strengths, it is also clear that there are a number of weaknesses on this approach of training. Therefore, it is important to discuss the limitations of using distance learning in providing training for teachers. With the discussion on distance training, it has been established that it is one of the most effective methods among many in training teachers within learning institutions. However, distance training also comes with major limitations, which mitigate its effectiveness in training teachers (Berge & Muilenburg, 2001). Therefore, even with approaches identified as effective, there is a need to develop a better approach which will handle the limitations that engulf these practices.
Technology is advancing at an alarming rate and it is being applied across diverse areas in human operations. It is clear that even teachers in their training also need necessary hardware for distance training and this is what has been challenging to secure (Cook 2003). Such hardware including computers, printers and other accessories are important and distance training particularly through e-learning cannot be facilitated without their availability.
Availability of the hardware and other resources to facilitate distance training is a big challenge for teachers. From a study by Nasser and Abouchedid (2000), they noted that economic hindrances across Lebanon were a major reason why many teachers have not been able to purchase computer hardware that is relevant to facilitate distance training. Therefore, the teachers can only secure the hardware from the school which does not support distance learning. From another study by Betts (1998), it was clear that distance learning has been challenged by traditional training approaches based on the fact that the teachers do not have the right hardware from their homes to facilitate learning.
From another perspective, Olcott & Wright (1995) mentioned that inadequacy or lack of hardware that is relevant for supporting distance training is a major reason why some institutions are not willing to engage in distance training. The institutions prefer the traditional approaches of training based on the fact that they are cheaper and convenient for the teachers. Berge, Muilenburg, & Haneghan (2002) looked into the issue of inadequate resources to facilitate distance learning as a barrier to effective training. With reference to America, research revealed that the government purchased ICT hardware for colleges and set aside a huge budget for the following year (Clark, 1993).
However, the main challenge was that they could not be able to support teachers and provide the appropriate hardware for their homes. Ideally, Lee (2001) argued that participating in distance training requires that a learner accesses networked computers. Therefore, without adequate access, distance learning is challenged and cannot succeed. From the report by ICT at a glance Malaysia (2003), it was evident that the reason why distance learning succeeded massively across the country for teachers was the huge number of computers across the country, which increased the level of access.
The report revealed that from the World Bank data, there were over 3 million computers in Malaysia over year 2003 and this served a population of about 24 million. Therefore, it was clear that at least 8 people would access a computer and this was a favourable number compared to other countries including Middle East countries where access to a computer is challenging.
Other major limitations of distance learning include access to the Internet. Roy (1996) cited in Wong (2007) argue that slow connection may affect providing answers for their instructor during an online discussion session. While e-learning is supposed to be a multimedia-rich learning environment, the limited access to the internet may hinder the transfer information and downloading materials may take a longer time. On the other hand, in a study by Al-Asmari (2005) conducted on English teachers in Saudi Arabia it was found that slow internet connection was one of the major factors limiting access to the internet, and thereby limiting the use of distance training effectively.
Among other limitations of distance learning as an effective method of training are personal issues. Wong (2007) argued that in most cases, individuals do not have the right skills to facilitate distance training. In facilitating distance training, IT skills are critical for enabling easy use of computers and other resources. Wong (2007) argued that e-learning training is essential for individuals prior to their enrolment to online training programs.
According to Al-Asmari (2005) one of the teachers barriers to use the internet for instruction purposes is that teachers do not have the appropriate skills and cannot use computers and other hardware. Therefore, these individuals find it difficult to engage in distance learning and they prefer the traditional methods in their training. Long et al. (2008) found that there was a negative relationship between computer unease and motivation to attend online training courses. In addition, Carr (1999) cited in Wong (2007) asserted that the lack of IT skills is one of the limitations in distance training. Hamid (2002) also argue that poor or lack of computer and internet skills could cause disappointment to learners as a result of the uncomfortable learning environment and isolation from other colleagues. Abouchedid and Eid (2004) found that daily users of the computer held more favourable attitudes towards e-learning compared to those who used the computer occasionally. Delfino & Persico (2007) also found that inadequate skills lower the motivation of individuals who have a strong desire to use distance learning in their training. This is because lack of technical skills frustrates distance learners and they fail to concentrate on appropriate training. The unconventional distance training environment is also a challenge where there is an isolation from others meaning that it is not desirable for many teachers. They develop fear over distance leaner and therefore lower their motivation to accept its implementation within the learning institutions.
It is also clear from other scholarly works that distance learning is challenged by issues of self-discipline and attitudes. Long et al. (2008) argue that "dropout rates are one the biggest problems faced by organizations that offer online training". Therefore, individuals require self-discipline when participating in distance learning. Clark (1993) argued that particularly because distance learning does not involve monitoring, most of the teachers find themselves doing other things when they should be taking part in training.
Therefore, they fail on their part to take part in the training, which lessens the effectiveness of distance learning in delivering efficient training among the teachers. From Berge & Muilenburg (2001) perspective, initiating self-discipline to complete assignments is a big challenge in distance learning because majority of the people work or study best under supervision. Therefore, the success rate of teachers using distance learning in their training is lower compared to the teachers who use the traditional methods.
On the same note, it is arguable that the success of distance learning as a method of facilitating training is subject to the abilities of learners to focus. It is also dependent on their level of motivation to engage in the training. This has been revealed in a study by Qiyun & Huay (2007) who found out that the dropout rate of learners who engaged in distance learning was higher than those who were using the traditional methods in their training.
This was ascribed to the fact that distance learners did not access encouragement and support from trainers who better provided such support to the students in their face-to-face communication. Frankola (2001) argues that increasing dropout rate of trainees in distance learning is as a result of several reasons such as lack of motivation, technology issues, lack of trainees support and poorly designed online courses.
Therefore, it was clear from major scholarly argument that even with the effectiveness of distance training as a strategy in teachers’ training, there are also major limitations that engulf the practice. Some of the limitations identified include technological limitations, inadequate resources including computer hardware and lack of the appropriate skills. With such limitations, it is therefore critical to note that in implementing distance training, any institution needs to establish a good approach that will handle these limitations and implement an effective strategy for distance learning.
2.5 Conclusion:
The aim of this review of literature was to find out the influence of distance training on raising the desire of teachers to participate in training programmes. It specifically explored teachers viewpoints regarding the potentials distance training has that make it more favourable and encouraging as opposed to those of the traditional face-to-face approach. The research, in the process, uncovered different aspects related to teachers training programmes. This then was correlated to assess how teachers participation in training can be increased.
This section discussed numerous literatures from major researchers who have conducted researches or written reports related to the topic under study. The review generates an overview of both face to face and distance training and which of both approaches may have a positive influence on teachers’ attitudes towards training. The review covered three main topics including low participation in training programmes (especially limited plans to continue to get further training); weaknesses of face-to-face training and the strength of IT boosted distance learning.
The literature reviewed finds out that a huge limitation of the traditional approaches is lack of time. This is because of the busy schedule in institutions of learning especially with the advancement of new curricula. On another note, the quality of training is not ideal especially in the modern day where technology has chipped in the classrooms. Though the training is effective, the practical aspect of it and the integration of technology lacks in traditional methods, which makes it ineffective.
The review establishes that distance training is essential and develops a higher motivation among the teachers who engage in training. Distance training has been noted as evolving over time and is dependent on issues such as technological advances. It is therefore clear that ICTs have been advanced in teachers’ training to help teachers meet many of their expectations. In addition, in distance training teachers are at liberty to learn and acquire the appropriate knowledge at their own convenience.
On another note, it is identified that distance learning as facilitated through e-learning in training teachers has also been valued due to other motivational aspects such as computer-assisted instructions. It is clear from major studies that most of the teachers enjoy e-learning because they can easily follow instructions as per the computer dictates.
However, the approach also has major limitations including technological and personal. For technological limitations, the review finds that teachers cannot effectively engage in distance training without necessary equipments. On another note, it is reviewed that personal issues such as inadequate ICT skills challenge effective training. Lack of or inadequate technical skills frustrate distance learners and they fail to concentrate on appropriate training. Another major limitation is self discipline. Without self discipline, it has been identified that distance training cannot be implemented and used successfully. Therefore, it was clear from major scholarly argument that even with the effectiveness of distance training as a strategy in teachers’ training, there are also major limitations that engulf the practice.
3.1 Introduction
The methodology employed to enable the research to achieve the stated objectives will be presented in this chapter. It is necessary to choose, reflect upon, evaluate and justify the methods employed to conduct research (Wellington, 2006 at p.22). The research questions will be restated, as an introduction to the discussion of the research methodology and process. In addition, the methods used for data collection will be justified and the study sample presented. The structuring of the pilot study, selection of participants, questionnaire design and the use of semi-structured interviews will be explained.
3.2 Research questions
This research aims to provide some insight into the attitudes of teachers toward participating in training programmes. A number of recommendations which should help to improve teachers’ attitudes should result from the insights gained through the research. The researcher seeks to achieve this by answering the following research questions:
1- What is the relationship between using face-to-face training and teachers’ attitudes towards participation in training programmes?
2- What is the relationship between using distance training and teachers’ attitudes towards participation in training programmes?
3- What is the relationship between the computer skills of teachers and teachers’ attitudes towards distance training?
3.3 Research Methods
In the fields of social science it is recognised that two primary methods of research can prove to be most effective. The quantitative method is one in which research is formalised and structured, and numerically-based information is sought by the researcher, for primarily statistical analysis (Walonick, 2004). Well-designed questionnaires, which use systems such as the Lickert scale to quantify responses to questions, are examples of quantitative methods of research. Reponses to questionnaires can then be grouped, organised and structured, assigned numerical values, analysed statistically, and statistical trends and conclusions can be drawn from data.
Another method of research prevalent in the social science arena is qualitative. As implied by the term, this research is less reliant on numerical analysis. Communicated, recorded ideas and words from respondents are used by researchers to determine trends, and to draw conclusions. A less formal, though no less thoughtful, process is entered into to establish the responses, feelings, and responses of respondents, and the advantage of this research is that it relies on interaction between researcher and respondent. While non-quantified data results from interviews, for example, conclusions can still be drawn from meanings communicated by respondents (Walonick, 2004), and the amount of data available to the researcher based on relatively more intimate interaction with the subject, can be most useful.
3.4 Research design
The concept of research design suggests that a framework and structure for the collection and analysis of data must be established by the researcher (Bryman, 2008). Thus, an approach must be identified and developed and procedures adopted to undertake a particular study. According to the theory of research design, these approaches must emphasise the quality of the selected procedures to meet the definite research criteria (Kumar, 1996). Particularly in social science research, two research methods have proven to be of most use to researchers: the quantitative method and the qualitative method (Kvale, 1996). Quantitative research, as outlined above, serves more effectively to deal with the number-based data obtained from quantitative studies (Rudestam and Newton, 2007). In contrast, qualitative research is more suited to research attempting to establish people’s attitudes, feelings and perceptions.
As asserted by Borg and Gall (1996), qualitative and quantitative research can be effectively employed by educational researchers. It is necessary that the researcher identify valid reasons for the choice of a particular style of research – these reasons should form the basis for the decision as to which methodological approach is deemed to be appropriate (Wall, 2001). This study will benefit most from a combination of both research methods. The quantitative element will enable data gathered from the questionnaire to be interpreted and analysed; the qualitative element – from semi-structured interviews – will be necessary to form conclusions in support of or in contradiction of the quantitative results. The combination of approaches will enable the researcher to gain deeper insight and to interpret the data more thoroughly than would have been possible through statistical analysis alone.
3.5 The study sample
It was considered that the study sample should be drawn from a widely dispersed population, in the largest city of Saudi Arabia – Riyadh. This required that a multi-stage cluster sample be used. Thus, groupings of the units of the population to be sampled, rather than individuals within that sample, are considered the primary sampling unit. These subsequent groupings of the population units are referred to here as clusters (Bryman, 2008).
In order to meet the demands of the dominant culture and belief system, education in Saudi Arabia is segregated along gender lines. Accordingly, the difficulty of obtaining information from female teachers is based in a conception that female teachers ought not to interact too freely with males. As a consequence, the study sample was selected only from male teachers.
This research was thus limited in its scope, apart from the absence of female respondents. The number of participants while large gives the responses of urban teachers. Riyadh is geographically extensive, and logistically it was not possible to cover all fourteen educational bureaus within the city, given the time constraints on the research process. Therefore, two of the educational bureaus were selected: The North Educational Bureau and The South Educational Bureau. North and south educational bureaus were selected because the researcher wanted to make sure that there is a wide geographic dispersion between the two bureaus selected.
As explained, the logistical difficulty of covering a city as large as Riyadh was a barrier. However, the population of the study is comprised of all male teachers in Riyadh city in Saudi Arabia for the three educational stages of education: primary, intermediate and high schools.
280 questionnaires were distributed and 216 returned, enabling a response rate of 77% to be recorded. Two questionnaires were removed from the sample because they were incomplete. Therefore the actual size of the sample was 214 reducing the response rate to 76%. Identifiable characteristics of the study sample are shown in the table overleaf.
Table 3.1 Characteristics of the respondents
Educational bureau
Less than 35 years
35 to 40 years
More than 45 years
Marital status
Married with children
Less than 10 years
10-20 years
20-30 years
More than 30 years
Highest qualification
High Diploma
School sector
High School
Subjects taught
Islamic Sciences
Natural Sciences
Sports and Arts
Computer Science
All teachers in the sample were male, as noted. Table 3.1 shows that 92 of the teachers in the sample were less than 35 years in age (43 %), 92 of the teachers were between 35 and 45 years old and only 30 teachers had more than 45 years (14 %).122 of them were from the Southern Educational Bureau in Riyadh (57 %), whereas 92 of them were from the Northern Educational Bureau (43 %).
21 of the teachers in the sample were single (9.8%), whereas 193 were married (90.2%). Of the married teachers 173 had children (80.8%) whereas 41 of them did not (19.2%). Most of the teachers in the sample indicated that they had worked for less than 10 years (n= 83; 38.8%), whereas 97 teachers had worked between 10 and 20 years (45.3%), 31 for between 20 and 30 years (14.5%) and 3 had been teachers for more than 30 years (1.4%). With regard to the teachers qualifications, 11 had a diploma (5.1%) while the majority were qualified with a bachelor’s (n= 189; 88.3). Master’s Degrees were held by 9 teachers (4.2%), and 3 held a high diploma (1.4%). 0.9% of the sampled teachers (two) had achieved PhDs. Regarding the subjects taught by the teachers in the sample, Islamic Sciences were taught by 47 teachers (22%), Natural Sciences by 65 teachers (30.4%), and Literature by 79 (36.9%). 17 teachers gave instruction in Sports and Arts (7.9%) and 6 taught Computer Science (2.8%). Proportionally, 35% (or 75) of the teachers in the sample were employed in primary schools; a similar number worked in intermediate schools; and 64 worked in high schools (29.9%).
3.6 Data Collection
Two possibilities exist for the researcher – the collection of primary data, personally gathered, and secondary data, which is already existing data (Eriksson and Lundgren, 1999). The following section will discuss the use of both questionnaires and interviews in this study.
3.6.1 The Questionnaire
Kumar (2000) proposes that a questionnaire survey is the most usual method employed in gathering primary data. This is supported by Bell (1999), and Cohen et al. (2000) who suggest that questionnaires are a widely-used and useful method of gathering certain kinds of information, and, in fact, a significant instrument of research most effective for data collection and measurement. However, it is noted by these researchers, and others, that the quality of data is only in proportion to the quality of the questions which have been formulated by the researcher.
Questionnaires are a cost effective form of survey, easy to analyse, non-confrontational and a familiar format for participants to complete. They are a good way of obtaining data with reduced bias (Walonick, 2004). While questionnaires are a comparatively inexpensive way to discover the opinions of the study sample (May, 1993), they remain “a scientific tool” (Oppenheim, 1994, p.10) and the researcher must be sure that in their design, they meet the requirements of the specific aims and objectives of the study. The questionnaire is possibly the most widely used data source in educational research – as many as half the research studies conducted in this field employ questionnaires as part of the data collection process by some estimates (Whitney, 1972). Their greatest use in is situations where direct (person-to-person) contact with respondents not possible or necessary.
After considering the advantages and disadvantages of questionnaires it was decided that collecting data through responses to questionnaires would be suitable for this study for these reasons:
1-Questionnaires help gathering responses in a standardized manner, which makes them objective.
2- Collecting information using questionnaires is usually relatively rapid.
3- Questionnaires help the collection of data from large groups.
4- Questionnaires were useful to accommodate teachers’ busy schedules.
The questionnaire was built, informed by the various literature and studies related to this research. Five dimensions were included: Personal Information; Computer and Internet Skills; Teachers’ attitudes towards general training; Teachers’ attitudes towards face-to-face training; and Teachers’ attitudes towards distance training. Responses to 48 items were requested, linked to these areas of interest. In the responses to the questions, a 5-point Likert scale was used.
3.6.2 Development of the questionnaire and content
Two principal sources were used in the development of the questionnaire. One of these was the researchers own experience in the field of education in Riyadh as a teacher. The other was a review of the relevant literature. The questionnaire was developed with the aim of answering the research questions.
According to the aims of this study and after consideration of teacher training systems and the mechanism of training programmes in Saudi Arabia, and a consequent revisiting of the literature review, the structure of the questionnaire was established. The first section gathers general information about the respondent, such as age, marital status, number of years of experience, qualifications, subject, level of school (primary, Intermediate or high school) and attendance of training programmes. Computer and Internet skills of the respondents are assessed in a second section. Three basic areas separate the information gained from responses to the balance of the questions: teachers’ attitudes towards training in general; teachers attitudes towards participation in face-to-face training programmes; and teachers attitudes towards distance training programmes.
3.6.3 Validity of the questionnaire
It is essential that a questionnaire is “valid” (Smith 1991 cited in Kumar 1996) and the researcher must consider to what extent the questionnaire has measured what the researcher wanted to measure. To assess the validity of the questionnaire employed in this research, the researcher discussed it with an expert (his supervisor). Guidance was sought and received and for example, the clarity of the paragraphs and the language was improved in the development stage, some items were excluded or added, necessary adjustments to structure were made. Gay and Airasian (2003) suggest that in a good questionnaire for research in the educational and social fields the questions should be easy to understand. The researcher took this into consideration, too, when designing the 48 questions to be assessed using the Likert scale (see appendix I).
Furthermore, the questionnaire was originally developed in English. The researcher then translated the questions into Arabic, as the questionnaire would be delivered in the latter language. Verbal equivalence between the Arabic and English versions was checked through back-translation to ensure the compatibility of the meanings of the two versions. To ensure the greatest clarity possible, slight adjustments were made in the light of this examination.
3.6.4 The pilot study
The pilot study was conducted with 27 teachers. A snowball sampling method was used for this purpose. Thus an initial respondent is approached and then the primary respondent assists in identifying other respondents to the researcher who may be willing to participate in the study. Respondents may also help in contacting other respondents (Lewis-Beck, Bryman and Liao, 2011). The small-scale pilot study was carried out to ensure that the questions were clear and formulated to obtain the responses desired to enable the research questions to be addressed.
Subsequent to the Pilot Study, minor modifications were made where necessary. Initially, the questionnaire contained 47 items. One item was added to Part One: Demographic Information. Therefore the final questionnaire had 48 items.
Thus, the Pilot Study was deemed successful in meeting its objectives:
1- To discover if teachers had any problems in understanding instructions and individual items on the questionnaire.
2- To measure the time used to complete the questionnaire.
3- To delete irrelevant questions.
4- To reformulate any ambiguous questions.
3.6.5 Measurement Items
The questionnaire includes items to measure the following, as stated:
1- Teachers computer and Internet skills
2- Teachers’ attitudes toward training programmes generally
3- Teachers’ attitudes toward face-to-face training programmes
4- Teachers’ attitudes towards distance training programmes
Computer and internet skills were assessed using six items. Responses were given on a five-point Likert scale ranging from never (1) to very often (5). General training was assessed using 6 items. Responses were also given on a five-point Likert scale. Five of the items were reversed and responses ranged from strongly agree (1) to strongly disagree (5). Teachers’ attitudes towards face to face training were measured using 7 items. The 7 items were reversed and responses were given on a five-point Likert scale, ranging from strongly agree (1) to strongly disagree (5). Teachers’ attitudes towards distance training were assessed using 15 items. Responses were given on a five-point Likert scale, ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5).
While it was presumed that the reversal of some scale items scale would allow respondents to remain aware of their participation in the process, this was not necessary as the voluntary nature of the respondents does appear to have removed the reluctance they may have felt to complete more paperwork in their busy schedules. Their understanding of the scale – used widely in educational circles, generally – was advantageous, as few questions or objections to the format of the questionnaire merged from the follow-up interviews.
3.6.6 Questionnaire distribution
Three principal means to distribute a questionnaire: Mailing, Self- administration and Group administration, are identified by Al-Sabban (1990) and Cohen and Manion (1994). After due consideration, it was decided that the best method for this study was to have a letter from the Saudi Ministry of Education to introduce the author as a researcher and state the purpose of the research project. A letter was formulated by the Ministry, for the researcher to introduce himself to head teachers, and to ask for their assistance in facilitating the identification and cooperation of likely respondents.
The intention was to ensure the appropriate authority to be able to conduct research and thus to ensure the cooperation of school leaders and teachers. On reflection, a more effective method of gaining cooperation would be to approach schools for permission, and then to interact with teachers personally. While the instruction of head teachers to complete a survey may ensure that the surveys are completed, the busy schedules of teachers may also introduce negativity from them. A voluntary completion of the questionnaire designed may result in less threat of bias with teachers being negative about training programmes because they are irritated by the time spent being forced to complete a survey.
The researcher then contacted schools personally, introducing himself to head teachers. When head teachers agreed with the research project, they were happy to help him to distribute the questionnaires to the teachers. While the results do not bear this out, a bias may have resulted from this approach, as mentioned. The “top-down” approach could lead to some resentment of the process by respondents. At the cooperating schools, the questionnaires were distributed to the head teachers by the researcher himself. Included was a cover letter, explaining the purpose of the research. In this letter, confidentiality of respondents was guaranteed, and the identification of individuals made impossible by the lack of space on the questionnaire for names, designations etc.
Questionnaires were collected from head teachers by the researcher as per arrangement, and the data prepared for analysis.
3.6.7 Analysis of questionnaire data
Following the collection and organisation of the data, a one-way ANOVA test was conducted to compare responses to items of groups of teachers with different demographic characteristics (e.g. age, experience, educational qualification, etc.). The one way ANOVA test is also known as single classification ANOVA test. It is the most widely used technique to compare means of groups of measurement data (McDonald, 2009). The ANOVA test was conducted using the statistical package SPSS version 18.
3.7 The semi-structured Interviews
The researchers purpose in conducting interviews was to use them as an instrument to lend support to the questionnaire and help provide direct response opportunities to respondents, which would strengthen explanations of the study findings. Accordingly, semi-structured interviews were Read More
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