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Published in TURKEY
Wolff-Michael Roth, University of Victoria, Canada
Yang Changyong, Sauthwest China Normal University, China
Yavuz Akbulut, Anadolu University, Turkey
Yavuz Akpınar, Boğaziçi University, Turkey
Yusuf Levent Şahin, Anadolu University, Turkey
Zehra Altınay Gazi, Near East University, TRNC
Zülal Balpınar, Anadolu University, Turkey
Mehmet Duranlıoğlu, Anadolu University, Turkey
Mustafa Caner, Akdeniz University, Turkey
Administrative & Technical Staff
Elif Buğra Kuzu, Anadolu University, Turkey
Serkan Çankaya, Balıkesir University, Turkey
The Turkish Online Journal of Qualitative Inquiry (TOJQI) (ISSN 1309-6591) is published quarterly (January, April, July and October) a year at the www.tojqi.net.
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Technology Literacy According to Students: What is It, Where are We and What Should We Do for Parents and Children?
Ahmet Naci Çoklar Yusuf Levent Şahin
Evaluating a Graduate Program of English Language
İngiliz Dili Eğitimi Yüksek Lisans Programı Değerlendirmesi
Yeşim Keşli Dollar
Bahçeşehir University, Turkey
Aylin Tekiner Tolu
Bahçeşehir University, Turkey
Bahçeşehir University, Turkey
This study evaluated the MA-TEFL Program at a foundation university. It focuses on strengths and weaknesses of the program and how much the program satisfies and meets the needs of the graduate studentstending to work as teacher trainers.The data was collected from the students, the professors, the administrators, and the graduates through a survey, interviews, and document analysis of the curriculum, course syllabi and materials. Qualitative data analysis techniques were used to identify the strengths, weaknesses of the program, and the students’ needs. This study illuminated new student needs which were not taped into. To meet students’ needs better, this program will be modified and proposed to the Council of Higher Education.
Keywords:English language teaching; course evaluation; program evaluation; teacher education Özet
Bu çalışma bir vakıf üniversitesindeki İngilizce Öğretmenliği Yüksek Lisans programını değerlendirmeyi amaçlamaktadır. Çalışma, programıngüçlüvezayıfyönlerine odaklanarak lisansüstü öğrencilerinin programdan memnun olup olmadıklarını bulmayı hedeflemiştir.Bu çalışmada, öğrenciler, öğretim üyelerive program koordinatörü yer almışlardır. Dönem başında öğrencilere ve öğretim üyelerine programla ilgili düşüncelerini ölçen bir anket uygulanmıştır. Akademik yılın sonunda ise öğrenciler ders değerlendirmesi yapmışlardır. Ayrıca, ders materyalleri, ders izlenceleri, ölçme ve değerlendirmede kullanılan materyaller ve program müfredatı araştırmacılar tarafından incelenmiştir. Nitel araştırma teknikleri kullanılarak veriler analiz edilmiştir. Sonuç olarak, programın güçlü yönlerive geliştirilebilecek yönleri tespit edilmiştir ve öğrencilerin ihtiyaçlarını daha iyi karşılayacak yüksek lisans programının yeniden düzenlenmiş hali YÖK’ e sunulacaktır.
Anahtar sözcükler:İngiliz dili öğretimi; ders değerlendirmeleri; program değerlendirme; öğretmen eğitimi
Introduction The importance of systematic evaluation of teacher education programs has been stressed by many researchers. Language-teacher preparation supports the idea of evaluation of programs on a regular basis. Wallace (1991) suggests that teacher education programs need a clear philosophy, and the program content should reflect that philosophy. He also claims that curriculum should be balanced in terms of received and experiential knowledge, and also suggests that programs should support and contribute to the development of reflective practices. Freeman and Johnson (1998) mention that views of the knowledge-base of foreign-language teachers should be included together with the knowledge of the social context of learning (i.e. classrooms), because learning cannot be fully comprehensible without it. They also state that some programs may place too much emphasis on theoretical and teaching skills, but there should be a balance between them.
This present study aims at evaluating already existing MA-TEFL Program in the Graduate School of Educational Sciences at a foundation university. The study focuses on strengths and weaknesses of the program and how much the program satisfies and meets the needs of the MA-TEFL graduate students who tend to work as teacher trainers either at a K-12 school or a college. In order to evaluate the program, the data was collected from MA TEFL students, and their professors, administrators, and the program graduates through a survey, interviews, and document analysis of the curriculum, course syllabi and materials. It is important to get especially the students’ opinions about the program and identify their needs to be considered after the evaluation. Qualitative data analysis techniques were used to identify the strengths, weaknesses of the program, and the students’ needs. Overall, this research showed very significant results. In addition to many strengths of the program, this study illuminated new student needs which were not taped into. In order to meet students’ needs better and to prepare them for their future careers, a new version of the MA-TEFL program is being designed and will be proposed to the higher administration to be used in the following academic year.
Review of literature Program design and evaluation studies have mostly focused on identifying students’ language needs, feelings and attitudes towards preparatory or undergraduate programs (Baştürkmen & Al-Huneidi, 1996; Chan, 2001; Chia, Johnson, Chian & Olive, 1999; Edwards, 2000; Ekici, 2003; Erozan, 2005; Mutlu, 2004; Örs, 2006; Özkanal, 2009; Sarı, 2003). One of the major sources of problems in teaching programs is the mismatch between the properties of the given instruction and the characteristics, needs and wants of learners.
The design of language teaching programs is concerned with the selection, grading, and presentation of the target language forms via various teaching practices or techniques. There are different approaches and models of program design by developing different frameworks (Baştürkmen & Al-Huneidi, 1996; Chan, 2001; Chia, Johnson, Chian & Olive, 1999; Edwards, 2000; Ekici, 2003; Erozan, 2005; Mutlu, 2004; Örs, 2006; Özkanal, 2009; Sarı, 2003). These models focus on the following steps to be applied during the design of the program:
1. Needs analysis
2. Specifying Goals and Objectives of the Program
3. Development of Tests on the Basis of Program’s Goals and Objectives
4. Developing Materials
5. Language Teaching
6. Program Evaluation
According to Lynch (1996, p.2) program evaluation is “the systematic attempt to gather information in order to make judgments or decisions.” Brown (1995, p.218) describes program evaluation as “the systematic collection and analysis of all relevant information necessary to promote the improvement of a program and evaluate its effectiveness within the context of the particular institutions involved.” Henry and Roseberry (1999), for example, evaluated the teaching method and materials used in the writing course based on the process-genre approach at the University of Brunei Darussalam. In a parallel study, Tarnopolsky (2000) evaluated the process-genre approach in the writing course at the language program in Ukraine. The past and present situations in teaching writing and the reasons for avoiding teaching communicative writing skills in English courses in that country were considered.
There are various studies conducted in Turkey, which evaluated and modified the existing language teaching programs or language courses. For example, Toker (1999) evaluated the Preparatory School Program at Gaziantep University in terms of the students’ attitudes. In another study, Sarı (2003) investigated the English teaching program at Gülhane Military Medical Faculty and suggested a new program based on the Monitor Model. In another study, Erozan (2005) examined the language improvement courses, Oral Communication Skills I /II, Reading Skills I/II, Writing Skills I/II, Advanced Reading Skills, Advanced Writing Skills, and English Grammar I/II in the undergraduate curriculum of the Department of English Language Teaching (ELT) at Eastern Mediterranean University.
The research conducted by Muşlu (2007) aimed to find out the teachers’ view on the writing curriculum in terms of the materials, the process-genre approach, journal writing, portfolios, project work and the writing competition at Anadolu University School of Foreign Languages (AUSFL). In a different study, Karataş (2007) evaluated the syllabus of the English II instruction program applied in the Modern Languages Department, Yıldız Teknik University (YTU) School of Foreign Languages by using Stufflbeam’s (2001) context, input, process and product (CIPP) model.
As a different example, Yıldız (2004) aimed to investigate the Turkish Language Teaching Program for Foreigners at Minsk State Language University (MSLU) in Belarus. The purpose of the study was to identify the discrepancies between the current status and the desired outcomes of the Turkish program at MSLU. The study also tried to find out the aspects of the Turkish program that should be maintained, strengthened, added or deleted.
In terms of M.A.-TEFL or ELT M.A. program evaluations, there are a few studies conducted in Turkey. One research study done by Kırmızı and Sarıçoban (2013) found out the professional targets of M.A. ELT program students and the reasons influencing them to start with their M.A. ELT studies, and their motives that are influential in department selection. This study is one of the unique ones which specifically investigate the profile of graduate students who conduct their M.A. studies.
Similar to the present study, using Brown’s (1995) theoretical framework, Mede (2012) designed and evaluated a Language Preparatory Program at an English medium university. A pre and post-needs analysis questionnaires were given to the student teachers; and semi-structured interviews with instructors regarding the perceptions of the student teachers’ language needs were conducted. The findings of the study revealed that teacher education programs need to cover awareness raising training about the important steps of program design and evaluation. Mede’s study emphasized there should be collaboration among the program developers, the course instructors and the student teachers in order to increase program success.
In the light of the above mentioned research studies, it could be said that all of the language programs or language teacher education programs should be evaluated on a regular basis based on the needs of the students in these programs. In this respect, the present study would be a significant step to fulfill the gap in the field of ELT program evaluation in Turkey.
Method This study is a qualitative case study (Creswell, 1998). As the study was conducted in one university setting it is called within case study (Yıldırım & Simsek, 2011). It was conducted at an English language education graduate program which started in 2008. The program aims at increasing the language teaching quality in Turkey through supporting and providing any necessary help for the English teachers who have just started teaching or who are experienced teachers. During this graduate program, graduate students study about language teaching approaches, methods and techniques, teacher education issues, practical applications of the theories into the classroom and reflective practices in their teaching and learning. In addition, the graduate students become specialist in either of these fields: teacher education, professional development, language testing, material evaluation and development, use of technology in language teaching, bilingual education, teaching English to young learners, personal development and effective communication skills, and curriculum design in language teaching.
The number of current students in the program is 43; 36 students were graduated so far. There are 3 assistant professors of English Language Teaching and Second Language Acquisition, one assistant professor of English Language Teaching and Curriculum Design, one non-departmental assistant professor of Informational Technologies, and one non-departmental assistant professor of Measurement and Evaluation.
Participants Among the participants, 4 of them are femaleinstructors. Nineteen graduate students took the initial survey and 15 took the end-of-semester course and instructor evaluation surveys. Eighty percent was female and 20% was male. The graduate students were from different educational backgrounds: 8 of them had ELT B.A. degree; 5 of them had English Literature BA degree- one of them had an MBA and one of them had anM.A. in Educational Technology, 4 of the participants had a Translation BA degree, one had a Business Administration BA degree, and one had an American Culture and Literature BA degree. Average age of the graduate students was 30 (min age was 23 and max age was 46). This program has some international students as well: 2 students from Iran and 3 from Iraq, one from Russia, one from Azerbaijan, one from UK and one from the USA.
The majority of the participants were working at the time of the data collection procedure. Seven of them work at K-12 schools as an English teacher, 4 of them work at preparatory school at a university, 2 of them work at modern language department at a university, 1 of them is the director of translation department at an international government office, and 2 of them work at private English institutions.
Data collection The researchers formulated two online surveys in order to derive data about the program. At the beginning of the academic year, a survey was developed focusing on student perceptions, aims, demographic data, and ideas about the program, evaluation of the instructors, courses, materials, and assessment techniques. The survey consisted of 15 items some of which were open-ended and 4-point Likert scale. In addition, the instructors also took an online survey to evaluate the program, which had 7 open-ended items. In this survey, the instructors put the courses into order of importance which enabled the following term course arrangements. Towards the end of the fall semester, the researchers also conducted interviews with the graduate students and the program coordinator. The interviews were semi-formal and lasted approximately 20 minutes. All of the interviews were recorded and transcribed for data analysis. At the end of the academic year, students took course evaluation survey, consisting of 15 items: open-ended questions, 4-point Likert scale.
Results Analysis of the program evaluation In order to analyze the surveys and the interviews, content analysis was conducted. With the content analysis, it was aimed to explain the concepts and to come up with the categories. According to Yıldırım & Simsek (2011), via content analysis the researchers first conceptualize the data, then group these concepts into meaningful categories, and finally identify the themes to explain the data. To ensure the validity and reliability of the study data triangulation was applied. The first survey and second survey results were compared and contrasted with the interview data. The results of the initial survey were discussed below.
To begin with, students’ aims to apply for the M.A. TEFL Program varied: 74% aim topursue a Ph.D. degree and they want to study at this university; 50% aim to become more professional and learn theories; 10% want to be able to teach at college level and shift career to teaching; 5% target to become familiar with the latest information in the field and get better salary.
Overall satisfaction levels were identified as: 79% highly satisfied or satisfied with the program; 90% highly satisfied or satisfied with the courses; 87% highly satisfied or satisfied with the instructors; 69% highly satisfied or satisfied with the course materials; 78% highly satisfied or satisfied with the assessment.
The students and the instructors were asked to put the program courses in order according to the importance they attach to each of them. The list by the students is displayed in Table 1. The instructors’ list was similar to the students’.
Table 1. The List of the Program Courses According to Their Importance Level
Approaches, Methods and Techniques in ELT I
Second Language Acquisition
Curriculum Development for ESP
Research Methods in Education
Cross-Cultural Communication & Language Education
Personal Dev and Effective Communication Skills for Teachers
Approaches, Methods and Techniques in ELT II
Language Awareness and Analysis
ICT in Education
TEFL Theory into Practice
Course and Materials Evaluation and Development in ELT
TEFL and the Learner
The study explored students’ feelings before they started the program and how they felt at that time. According to the results, 50% of the participants have better or the same positive feeling and 50% of them stated that the program turned out to be very demanding. Some even added that they felt overwhelmed, anxious and insufficient. A sample quotation:
“The environment and classroom atmosphere were quite welcoming and warm which surprised me a lot as before the program I was expecting to be in a colder and more serious atmosphere during my studies. Our instructors played a great role during our orientation period and they tried to keep our motivation high during our studies.”
The difficulties encountered by the students were identified. Almost all students have difficulties in terms of time management, and they think that working full-time makes it hard to manage the balance between their academic and work life. The participants also think that workload of the courses is very demanding and they have difficulties to fulfill them. Students from Iraq and Iran do not want to take course at night because they do not have a job. Four of the participants complained about the group projects. They find it hard to schedule time to study together; therefore, they did not enjoy or manage working in groups successfully. Some participants also found travelling to campus very difficult since they were working full-time till 5 p.m., and then they had to arrive at the campus latest at 7 p.m. In addition, most of the participants found the learning management system of the university insufficient. They did not like the way it works and they complained that finding the information related with the courses sometimes got very confusing. Finally, couple of participants mentioned that in one of the courses they took, 40% on final exam created enormous stress over them. They thought that for the final exam the percentage should not be that high and participation should be more important than attendance.
As for the strengths of the program, participants selected the instructors as the most significant strength of the program. They describe instructors as knowledgeable, humane, welcoming, always ambitious and really willing. Next, the assignments were found to be noteworthy. Other strengths included syllabi, materials, and variety in course subjects. Moreover, participants also mentioned these weaknesses of the program: insufficient resources to guide the students with their tasks and assignments, too many assignments, unnecessary theoretical courses, issues with one non-departmental instructor, photocopied course materials, and the program website.
Although the majority of the students find the course variety sufficient, individual students suggested these courses: introduction to special needs students, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), American Sign Language (ASL), basic counseling techniques, managing expectations of parents, schools, and administration.
Course evaluation survey analysis The return rate to the course evaluation survey was almost 50% with 15 students voluntarily taking the online survey. Because of the limited number of students per course, the findings displayed here represent the overall answers of the participants rather than concerning a particular instructor or course. On the course evaluation survey item, 60% claimed that they did more work than just what was assigned in the syllabi. 73.3% of the students rated the level of their involvement in the activities of the courses they took as “Enthusiastically”; whereas, 20% were “Somewhat” and 6.6% was “Very involved.” As it is similar with the first survey data, 80% of the students expressed that they gained “A great deal” of practical knowledge and 20% expressed they gained “Some practical knowledge”. The majority of the participants selected “Strongly Agree” while evaluating the course components. The items and percentages of each component are displayed in Table 2.
Table 2. Course Evaluation
The course description in the syllabus accurately reflected the content of the course.
Expectations and course objectives were clearly outlined in the syllabus.
Reading assignments were of reasonable length and level.
Exams/Assignments covered important course materials and content.
Assignments were meaningful and useful.
Readings and activities were appropriate to meet the course objectives.
Overall, this course has stimulated my interest in this subject.
Table 3. Evaluation of the Instructors
The instructor demonstrated knowledge of course materials.
The instructor was prepared for class.
The instructor was available outside of class.
The instructor stimulated interest in the course.
The instructor treated students fairly and impartially.
The instructor was approachable.
Instructor evaluations were highly positive. The overall ratings of the instructors were 66.6% “Excellent” and 33.3% “Good”. Ninety three percent indicated that they would like to take another course with their instructor. Instructors’ knowledge, preparedness for each class, and other characteristics were rated as in Table 3.
Discussion and Conclusion Results indicate that the program strengths outweigh the weaknesses. The instructors’ being highly qualified and welcoming, practical and research oriented assignments, application of theory into practice are among the mostly mentioned strengths of the program. The students’ first impressions of the program and their current views of the program remain positive and the same. Only for few students, the program turned out to be more demanding than they expected. The basic difficulty of the students is related with the external factors: working full-time, not having enough time for class readings and assignments.
Based on the implications of the study, the institution assigned each student a mentor, and they guide the students according to their B.A. degree about which courses to be taken. In addition, ordering of course books will be done in advance because the students want to have original course books. The institution plans to improve the web site of the program especially to clarify the required and elective courses and for Graduation Project course: APA style guidelines, steps to complete the projects will be added; and the program will have 2 tracks: for ELT graduates and for non-ELT graduates; orientation for the new students at the beginning of each term will be held; at the end of each term, course evaluations will be done, and yearly program evaluation will also be carried out. Moreover, the institution will apply to start an M.A. program with thesis version.
As a conclusion, it has been stated that teacher education programs need to be evaluated on a regular basis in order to increase the quality of the education. The findings of this study show similarities with the other studies conducted in Turkey; for example, Kırmızı and Sarıçoban (2013) came up with a conclusion that the majority of M.A. students are willing to continue their further academic studies –Ph.D., and also those students want to improve their knowledge and skills in the field of language teaching. Another similarity lies in the fact that students’ choice of the program highly depends on the quality of the instructors.
As Brown (1995) explicates that the M.A.TEFL or ELT programs need to be evaluated according to the needs of the participants, goals and objectives of these programs specified in the light of these needs, testing and evaluation methods, materials used in the programs and teaching methodologies. The findings of this study can be transferred to similar settings with careful attention. The study is limited in that only voluntary students participated in the study, the same study should be conducted with new coming students to the program in the following years. Therefore, it could be stated that there is a need to conduct more research studies related to the program evaluation of graduate studies in Turkey, especially in the field of ELT, so that the quality of English Language teachers and teaching will improve.
Acknowledgement This paper is the revised and enriched version of the research presented at International Symposium, New Issues on Teacher Education 2013 (ISNITE 2013) in Ankara, Turkey.
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Development of Mobile Skill Teaching Software for Parents of Individuals with Intellectual Disability
Zihin Engelli Bireylerin Ebeveynlerinin Kullanımına Yönelik Mobil Beceri Öğretimi Yazılımının Geliştirilmesi
Anadolu University, Turkey
Anadolu University, Turkey
H. Ferhan Odabaşı
Anadolu University, Turkey
Suzan Duygu Erişti
Anadolu University, Turkey
Balıkesir University, Turkey
The purpose of this research is to develop a mobile skill teaching software, which will be used by parents to teach daily life skills to their children with intellectual disability. Design based research methodology was utilized for the study. With this purpose in mind, first of all a pilot software was developed based on the applied behavior analysis technique and in line with the related literature. Then as a sample group, 10 participants were determined. These participants used the software and tried to teach the daily living skills by using the software. Data were collected with semi-structured interviews and video recordings of skill teaching sessions. Based on the data analysis, new decisions were made about the software design and the software development process continued. The data collection and software development processes were performed in a circular process. In this study, the software development process was explained, and the software developed in this process was introduced. This research was supported by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey [110K545] and Anadolu University Scientific Research Projects [1101E016].
Bu araştırmanın amacı, zihin engelli bireylere günlük yaşam becerilerinin öğretiminde ebeveynlerin kullanımına yönelik mobil beceri öğretimi yazılımı geliştirmektir. Araştırmada tasarım tabanlı araştırma yöntemi kullanılmıştır. Araştırmanın amacı doğrultusunda öncelikle ilgili alanyazınla paralel olarak ve uygulamalı davranış analizi tekniği temel alınarak taslak yazılım geliştirilmiştir. Daha sonra örneklem olarak 10 katılımcı belirlenmiştir. Bu katılımcılar çocuklarına günlük yaşam becerilerinin öğretimine yönelik olarak taslak yazılımı kullanmışlar ve beceri öğretimi yapmaya çalışmışlardır. Araştırmanın verileri yarı yapılandırılmış görüşmeler ve beceri öğretimi seanslarının video kayıtlarından elde edilmiştir. Verilerin analizi sonucu elde edilen bilgiler doğrultusunda yazılımın tasarımına yönelik yeni kararlar alınmış ve yazılım geliştirme süreci devam etmiştir. Veri toplama ve yazılım geliştirilme süreçleri döngüsel olarak gerçekleştirilmiştir. Bu çalışmada yazılım geliştirme süreci açıklanmış ve geliştirilen yazılım tanıtılmıştır. Bu araştırma Türkiye Bilimsel ve Teknolojik Araştırma Kurumu [110K545] ve Anadolu Üniversitesi Bilimsel Araştırma Projeleri [1101E016] tarafından desteklenmiştir.
Introduction Health, care and educational services for individuals with disabilities are guaranteed by law in most of the countries all over the world. In Turkey, the social services act numbered 2828 determines the rights of individuals with disabilities who need special education. In the act, it is stated that all kinds of precautions are taken to make sure that individuals with disabilities become self-sufficient and productive in the society by rehabilitation and caring services and that if this is not possible they are put under continuous care.
One of the groups who need special education is the group of individuals with intellectual disability. Individuals with intellectual disability have deficits in the fields of academic, social, language and self-care (Diken, 2008). On the other hand, the life quality of individuals with intellectual disability can be increased with proper social aid and education. The main purpose of education of individuals with intellectual disability is to increase their quality of life by improving their independent living skills.
Along with basic academic skills, individuals with intellectual disability should also be supported for independent living skills. There are various classifications of independent living skills. One of the most known classifications was developed by Close, Sowers, Halpern, and Bourbeau (1985). According to this classification, independent living skills can be divided into four categories: basic skills needed for success, skills needed for adaptation, daily living skills and vocational skills.
Basic skills needed for success include skills like interpreting numeric information, reading, writing and communication. Skills needed for adaptation include skills like self-knowledge, personality and emotional adaptation. Daily living skills include skills like self-care, consumer, indoor and health care. Vocational skills include skills like readiness for job, vocational behaviors and social behaviors towards the job (Cavkaytar, 1998).
Learning daily living skills among other independent living skills has a critical importance because these skills significantly reduce the dependency of individuals with intellectual disability on other people (Wu, 2011). Besides transformation from school life to independent life can be stressful and chaotic. Therefore, at least at the end of this transformation process, individuals with intellectual disability are expected to learn common independent living skills, which are mostly daily living skills (Kyeong-Hwa & Turnbull, 2004).
There are studies suggesting that the quality of life and self-confidence of individuals with intellectual disability increase if daily living skills can be performed successfully (Gooden-Ledbetter, Cole, Maher, & Condeluci, 2007). It is obvious that employment of individuals with intellectual disability who can perform daily living skills independently can be easier than the employment of those who can not (Wistow & Schneider, 2003). Furthermore it is stated that lacking these skills brings about social isolation from the society for individuals with intellectual disability (Abbott & McConkey, 2006; McConkey, Walsh-Gallagher & Sinclair, 2005; Hall, 2010).
Individuals with intellectual disability need extra support to be able to learn new skills, even independent living skills. The behaviorist approach and the applied behavior analysis technique are commonly used for the education of individuals with intellectual disability (Cooper, Heron, & Heward, 2007; Schreck & Mazur, 2008; Welches & Pica, 2005; Brown, Percy, & Machalek, 2007; Keenan, Henderson, Kerr, & Dillenburger, 2006). Schreck and Mazur (2008) indicated that applied behavior analysis is scientifically proved to be an effective technique to teach skills to individuals with intellectual disability. As well as teaching new skills, applied behavior analysis can also be used to decrease and extinguish the problematic behaviors (Neidert, Iwata, & Dozier, 2005).
Because of lacking metacognitive skills, individuals with intellectual disability have difficulty to follow the order of the tasks in a skill and to estimate the next action to be taken. Therefore, the skill to be taught should be broken down into small units, and these units should be taught one by one. The task analysis used in applied behavior analysis is performed to divide the skill into small measurable tasks. Skills generally consist of a number of tasks. To perform the skill successfully, the individual should accomplish all the tasks of the skill fully in correct order (Tekin İftar, 2009).
There are three ways to perform task analysis:
Tasks can be produced and written by visualizing the skill in mind.
Tasks can be produced and written by performing the skill in person.
Tasks can be produced and written by observing someone who is good at the skill.
Visualizing the skill in mind does not need any equipment and environment but a little time. To perform more reliable task analysis and to decrease the possibility of missing out some steps, however, performing the skill in person should be used in the task analysis process (Varol, 2010).
In applied behavior analysis, clues are given to the student for a task in a skill, which she/he is not able to perform independently. Clues remind the student of what and how to do. In a teaching activity, three types of clues can be used: physical guidance, modeling and verbal clue.
Physical guidance is performed in a way that the teacher and the student perform the task together. the teacher helps the student physically by holding his or her hand. In physical guidance, the teacher also explains the task verbally. Modeling is performed in a way that a model performs the whole skill or a task while the student observes and tries to perform it. Also, in modeling, the model explains the task verbally. In verbal clue, the teacher explains the task verbally. It can be done by saying the task sentence directly like “flush the toilet” or by explaining the details of the task like “flush the toilet by pushing the button on the flush tank with your right thumb” (Varol, 2007).
When helping the student with clues, the clue types that help the student at minimumare preferred primarily. In other words, first of all, the verbal clue should be used. If the student could not perform with the verbal clue, the modeling clue should be used. If the student failed to perform with the modeling clue, the physical guidance clue should be used.
Besideshelping students with clues, students also should be reinforced for proper behaviors. Reinforcement is one of the important components of applied behavior analysis. Reinforcement is a case of giving feedback for the behavior performed by the student. Reinforcement increases the probability of the task to be performed in future. As an example, giving chocolate, giving toys, saying ‘bravo’ can be used as reinforcers in a skill teaching activity.
Parents of Individuals with Intellectual Disability Mothers and fathers are the most important people in the life of individuals with intellectual disability. Children with intellectual disability spend most of their time with parents. They learn many skills from their parents in preschool period (Özen, 2009). Being a parent brings about a lot of responsibilities, and being parents of children with intellectual disability brings about extra responsibilities of their children’s special needs (Schieve, Blumberg, Rice, Visser, & Boyle, 2007). As a result of this situation, the depression and anxiety levels of the parents of children with intellectual disability are higher than those of the parents of children without any disability (Benson, 2006; Schwichtenberg & Poehlmann, 2007; Sharpley, 1997; Baker-Ericzén, Brookman-Frazee, & Stahmer, 2005). In this context, support for parents and parent participation in the education of individuals with intellectual disability remain to be an important issue in literature (Cloth, 2006; Kim & Morningstar, 2005; Vaden-Kiernan & McManus, 2005).
Also, parents can help and support special education teachers because they know their children better than anyone in the way of strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, troubles and needs. Literature shows that parents are willing to contribute to the education of their children with intellectual disability (Hallahan, Lloyd, Kauffman, Weiss, & Martinez, 2004; Özen, 2009). Moreover, education is considered to be one of the most important variables, which improves the life quality of the whole family. Another factor to improve the life quality of children with intellectual disability can be the use of technology in their education.
In recent years, although most researchers state that some technology applications support students with intellectual disability to attend regularclasses in regularschools as well as help students to increase their academic performances, it could be stated that technology is not used in full capacity in special education (Parsons, Daniels, Porter, & Robertson, 2008; Woodward & Reith, 1997). The reason for this is that teachers are not well aware of instructional and supportive technologies; that the curriculum of special education is insufficient; and that teachers don’t get sufficient in-service training (Judge & Simms, 2009). Despite these negativities, it could be stated that these problematic situations can be overcome and that technology has a great potential to improve the life of individuals with intellectual disability and that of their families.
Educational technology used for the education of individuals with intellectual disability focuses mostly on video technology. There is a large amout of research in literature focusing on video technology for the education of individuals with intellectual disability. In addition, most of these studies focus on the video modeling technique, and they show that the video modeling technique can be used effectively in the education of individuals with intellectual disability (Bellini & Akullian, 2007; Shukla-Mehta, Miller, & Callahan, 2009; Charlop-Christy & Daneshvar, 2003; Hine & Wolery, 2006; Paterson & Arco, 2007; Ayres & Langone, 2008). Besides, Charlop-Christy, Le, and Freeman (2000) found that students learn faster and transfer the learned skills to different environments better by watching a video modeling than by a living model. The video modeling technique is easy to learn, takes little time and ensures that the instruction is in the same standard in every teaching session (Ayres & Langone, 2005).
Under the light of the above-reviewed literature, the purpose of this research is to develop mobile skill teaching software, which could be used by parents to teach daily life skills to their sons or daughters with intellectual disability by using the design based research methodology. The skill teaching module of this software is based on applied behavior analysis, and the multimedia to be used in skill teaching activities was developed based on the video modeling technique.
Method Design-based research methodology was used in this research. Design-based research is a research process used to develop a new application like educational software or to put forward new theories about learning and teaching (Cobb, 2001; Brown, 1992). Design-based research can contribute a lot to designing technology-aided environments thanks to its self-renewing design process and collaboration with participants. It focuses on designing the process and investigating the newly-designed things. Design-based research can be used effectively in such situations - where there is a designing process - as designing activities, instructional messages, curriculum and technology-aided learning environments (Kuzu, Cankaya, & Misirli, 2011). The possible implementation steps of the design-based research methodology can be as follows:
Definition of the problem
Developing a design based on the existing principles and theories
Planning data collection
Applying the design and collecting the data
Analyzing the data if the current design is thought to be effective and if there is no need to improve, then go to step 9
Making decisions and improving the design
Developing the improved design and go to step 4
Writing a research report
Participants The opening ceremony of Gokkusagi Café (Rainbow Café in English) was performed on the 1st of August in 2012 by the Eskisehir Tepebasi Municipality, Turkish Disability Association and Anadolu University. All the waiters in Gokkusagi Café are individuals with intellectual disability. The staff from Anadolu University provided training like waiter education, basic mathematics and so on. The Turkish Employment Institution paid the waiters, who took the training, 20 Turkish Liras on daily basis.
The family members of the waiters also attended the opening ceremony of Gokkusagi Café. After the opening speeches, the family members of the waiters were informed about this research, and ten volunteers were selected as a sample. The identities of the participants were kept confidential. Information about the participants and about the individuals with intellectual disability can be seen in Table 1.
Table 1. Participants and Individuals with Intellectual Disability
Individuals with Intellectual Disability
Data Collection and Analysis A semi-structured interview form was developed to collect data from the participants about the usability of the software. Following the experts’ views, the interview form was finalized. Besides, a consent form was prepared, and the participants were requested to sign it. The interviews were transcribed and analyzed using the Nvivo software.
Before working with the participants, pilot software was developed. After developing the pilot software, the application phase with the participants started in the circular process of the design-based research. There were there major stages in this process. Stage 1 involves starting the application phase, training them how to use tablet computers and the pilot software developed, and development of the software with the information gathered. Stage 2 involves collecting data with the interview form and development of the software with the information gathered. Stage 3 involves collecting data with the interview form and development of the software with the information gathered. There were three validity committee meetings in the process to make decisions about the design of the software on the 31st of August, 2012, 24th of September, 2012 and 6th of November, 2012. Decisions made in these meetings were put into effect immediately. The decisions made and the works performed are mentioned in detail in the related section below.
The Process Development of the Pilot Software
There were three meetings in this development process of the pilot software. According to the decisions made during the meetings, a storyboard of pilot software was prepared. Then, based on the storyboard, the pilot software was developed. In pilot software there are two kinds of users: parent and admin/consultant. There is only one login form for both types of users. If the user is defined as admin/consultant in the database, she/he is redirected to admin/consult section where she/he can manage users, skills and communicate with parents. If the user is defined as parent in the database, she/he is redirected to the parent section.
The parent section was developed with tablet computers in mind. This is a part of a research project funded by TUBITAK and Anadolu University. With this fund, five Samsung Galaxy Tab P1000 and 10 Apple iPad were bought. Five Apple iPad were delivered to the project staff, and the others were delivered to the participants.
The tablet computers were preferred because they became widespread in a short time, and the Ministry of Education announced that every student in every primary and secondary school will get a tablet computer for free from the Ministry of Education within the context of FATIH project (fatihprojesi.meb.gov.tr). In the spring term of the academic year of 2011-2012, a pilot study was conducted in 51 schools in 17 cities in Turkey. One of the researchers in this study worked in the evaluation team of the pilot study of Fatih Project.
Tablet computers are mobile and can be used in every kind of environment. For instance, consider the teaching activity of brushing the teeth. It would be hard to bring a desktop or laptop computer to the bathroom. With the use of a tablet computer, the teaching activity of brushing the teeth can be performed easily in a bathroom.
The name of the software was determined as Independent Living Education (Bagimsiz Yasam Egitimi in Turkish - BYE). The domain name of bye.anadolu.edu.tr and the file hosting service were provided by the Computer Center at Anadolu University.
In the meeting held on the 1st of June 1 in 2011, a decision was made about the visual design of software for the parent section that the menu items on the home page should be designed as big as possible and cover all the home page. After selecting a menu item on the home page, the sub-menu items should be on a separate page and be designed as big as well. Thus, the software can be used in a tablet computer easily. The size of a tablet computer screen generally ranges from 7 to 10 inches, which is smaller than A laptop and desktop computer screen.
The question regarding which skills should be added to the software was determined in the phase of the development of the pilot software. Eight self-care skills (flushing the toilet, washing hands, putting shoes, buttoning up clothes, drinking from a cup, eating with a spoon, washing hands and face and brushing teeth) and nine domestic skills (using telephone, watching TV, dish washing, making butter milk, making powdered drinks, removing dust, making up the bed, folding sweaters and placing them in a wardrobe and folding trousers and placing them in a wardrobe) were added to the pilot software.
Task analyses of the skills were conducted by three research assistants from Anadolu University. The tasks were produced and written by performing the skill in person as mentioned in the Introduction section. Since the target group for the research included adult individuals with intellectual disability, this situation was taken into consideration when performing task analysis. Besides, an adult as a model was used in video modeling records and narrations because it is known that if appearance of the model and the individual with intellectual disability resemble each other, the success of the instruction increases. All video modeling records for all the skills determined were performed and added to the software.
In addition, for all the skills, animations and illustrations were prepared. Two cartoon characters were designed as male and female. Animation is like video modeling, but tasks are performed by a cartoon character. Illustration is a key frame for each task from the animation.
After the pilot software developed, the circular process of the design-based research started with the participants using the software. On the 3rd of August in 2012, 10 SIM cards were bought to be used in Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab tablet computers. Besides, monthly Internet usage, which has 4GB-quota a month, was bought for each SIM card for four months.
The participants were asked whether they had used a tablet computer before. Except for Participant 4, all the other participants reported that they did not know how to use it. Tablet computer training meetings for Apple iPad and Samsung Galaxy Tab were planned. On the 4th of August in 2012, at 10:00, an Apple iPad training was given to five participants for about 2,5 hours. On the same day at 14:30, a Samsung Galaxy Tab training was given to five participants for about 2,5 hours. Following these trainings, tablet computers were given to the participants, and they were encouraged to use the tablet computers at home. the tablet computer training focused especially on the skills necessary for using the software. Briefly, these skills include opening and shutting down the tablet computer, sleeping and waking up the tablet computer, using A virtual keyboard and surfing on the Internet. A task analysis was performed for the skill of using the tablet computer, and it was ensured that all the participants performed each task in the task analysis successfully.
Following the tablet training sessions, the participants were asked to fill the form for determining the reinforcers. The rewards list in the software was updated according to the data gathered from the forms filled.
On the 11th of August in 2012, a second meeting was held with the participants. All the participants attended the meeting. At this meeting, first of all, the participants were reminded of the tablet computer use skill by performing the tasks of the task analysis of the skill. Then, a professor from the special education department gave a lecture to teach the skills to the individuals with intellectual disability by using the BYE software. Small handouts were prepared and given to the participants; the web address of bye.anadolu.edu.tr, username and password were written on them for the participants before the meeting. Thus, the participants used their own usernames and passwords at the meeting.
Some old participants had difficulty using tablet computers. Then, additional tablet computer training sessions were planned according to the participants’ demands (between the hours of 12:00 and 14:00 on Wednesday and Friday). Participant 4 attended two sessions and Participant 7 attended one session.
The participants should use the page “determining the skills which are not performed by the individual” to view the skills added to the software by experts and to select the skills to teach. The design of this page was reviewed. Instead of being able to select more than one skill at a time and clicking the save button, its design was changed. The participants can select only one skill at a time, and there is no save button any more. In the first version, there were check-boxes on the left of every skill name in the list. the participants were supposed to select the check-boxes for the skill to teach and then to click the save button. If a participant decided not to use a specific skill, then he or she was expected to deselect the check-box of the skill and to click the save button again. The design of this page was reconsidered and changed because it was assumed that there was no need to select more than one skill at a time. Seeing the selected skills more clearly is better for parents, and sometimes, parents can forget to click the save button. In this context, a big green check-mark sign was put on the left of the selected skill names, and add or remove buttons were put on the right of the skill names listed. If a parent wants to use the skill to teach, he or she should click the add button. If a parent decides not to use the skill to teach, he or she should click the remove button. If a parent selects and uses a skill in a teaching activity, then it will not be possible to remove the skill from the selected list any more. Besides, an explanation about how to use this page was put on the top of the page (These decisions were made in VCM –Validity Committee Meeting, 31.08.2012).
The participants should use the pages in the skill teaching module in order in the planning phase. In this context, the next and up buttons were placed at the bottom of every page in the skill teaching module. It was assumed that these buttons could speed up and ease the transition between pages (VCM, 31.08.2012).
The design of “multimedia demonstration dialog window” used both on the “skill details” page and on the “apply” page in the skill teaching module was changed. If a parent clicks on the video, picture, illustration or animation icons, then the “multimedia demonstration dialog window” opens and shows the multimedia demanded. There are previous, next and close buttons at the top of this window. The previous and next buttons are shown only if the multimedia belongs to the task of task analysis. The participant can switch to the multimedia of the next or previous tasks by using these buttons easily. The design of “multimedia demonstration dialog window” was reviewed and changed. If “multimedia demonstration dialog window” is open, the other part of the page was darkened and made out of use. Therefore, the parent has to close “multimedia demonstration dialog window” before using THE other parts of the page. It was assumed that the window would draw more attention to this design. The background color of “multimedia demonstration dialog window” was made dark gray, which is compatible with the overall design of BYE. The skill name or the task name was written as a header on the top of the “multimedia demonstration dialog window”. If the header text is longer than 50 characters, only 50 characters of it are shown. Besides, the text links of previous, next and close buttons were replaced with small images (VCM, 24.09.2012).
In skill teaching activities, rewards are used to reinforce the correct behavior. Parents should plan the rewards for every skill before the skill teaching activities in the software on the “planning rewards” page. The rewards list was updated according to the data gathered from the form for determining the reinforcers filled out by the parents. In the first version, there were two list boxes: one was on the left and the other was on the right. In the middle, there were delete and transfer buttons. The rewards list of the software was listed in the left list box. The participants were supposed to select the rewards on the left side and to click the transfer button in the middle. Following this, the selected rewards were supposed to be placed on the right list box. In the training session, the participants had difficulty using this design. After transferring the rewards from the left to the right, some of them asked where the save button was. Actually, there was no need for a save button, and transferring from the left to the right was enough to select the rewards to be used. Therefore, the design of the “planning rewards” page was reviewed and changed. There is now only one list box: “Rewards to be Used” at the bottom of the page. The participants should select the reward to be used from the dropdown list at the top of the list box and then to click the add button. Besides, picture support for the rewards was added. Users with the admin rights can add pictures for the rewards. It was assumed that showing a picture could increase the motivation of the individuals with intellectual disability (VCM, 24.09.2012).
The name of the “planning working hours” page was changed as “planning working hours, tools and places”. Therefore, the participants should also enter some extra information about the purpose of the skill teaching activity, the tools to be used and the place of the activity on this page. It was assumed that entering this new information could increase the the participants’ awareness of the skill teaching activity and that they could prepare themselves and the environment more consciously (VCM, 31.08.2012).
In the part of planning working hours, tools and places on the page, the dateTimePicker third-party component was used for the participants to select the date and time to add to the list. It was noticed in training sessions that this component was not easy to use with the touch screens of tablet computers. Therefore, a new component, which is easy to use with tablet computers, was searched over the Internet, and the mobiscroll component was found and tested to see whether it works smoothly on both Android and iOS devices. This third-party component was integrated into the software (VCM, 31.08.2012). In addition, it was arranged in a way that if the participant has set up a date time before, the component opens with the last date time. Thus, it is now more practical to set up date times.
Two systems were integrated into the software regarding how to send notification messages to the participants about the upcoming teaching activities planned previously. The first one is SMS notifications. A sufficient number of SMSs was bought from the Clickatell.com web site, and its API (Application Programming Interface) was integrated into the software. In addition, the cell phone number field was added to the users table in the database. If the participants enter their cell phone numbers in their profile pages, they will get SMS messages just ten minutes before the date time, which was previously set up by them in the “planning working hours, tools and places” page. The second system is e-mail notifications. Both Android and iOS devices have an e-mail application. If the user sets up an e-mail application, then it shows notifications on the device when an e-mail massage is received. Therefore, if participants enter their e-mail addresses on their profile page, they will get e-mail messages just ten minutes before the date time, which was previously set up by them in the “planning working hours, tools and places” page. In addition, in the tablet computer training session, the participants were showed how to use the e-mail application on devices. the participants who did not have an e-mail address already got an e-mail address from Gmail, and all of them set up the e-mail application on tablet computers (VCM, 31.08.2012).
The “View the plan” page was added to the skill teaching module of the software to allow the participants to view the overall plan they made and to print out the plan. It was assumed that viewing the overall plan could be helpful to recall the actions to be taken for the participant before the skill teaching activity. Some people may prefer a hard copy of the plan, so a print button was added to the bottom of the page. When the participant clicks on the print button, a printer-friendly version of the page opens (VCM, 24.09.2012).
In the first version of the “apply” page, there was an educational video that aimed at informing the participants about the preparations before teaching such as how to draw attention and giving instruction. This educational video was supposed to be watched before the teaching activity. These topics were covered in the content of the education module. Therefore, it was thought that there is no need to repeat this information again on the “apply” page and that it increases the complexity of the page. Thus, this educational video was removed. There are small icons representing the clue types: verbal clue, modeling and physical guidance on the “apply” page. Letters, which are the initial characters of the clue types in Turkish, were added to these icons. Therefore, the participants can recall the clue type from the letter easily (VCM, 31.08.2012).
Also, the visual design of all the pages was improved with the guidance of an associate professor from the Fine Arts Education Department. Most of the text fields are now in white boxes with round corners, and the visual design of all the pages was made consistent with each other (VCM, 31.08.2012).
In this part, five participants were interviewed with the semi-structured interview form. The findings obtained via the interviews are given under each question directed to the participants in the interview form.
Views about tablet computers. Four participants indicated that they could use tablet computers easily. Participant 3 said that “Firstly, I thought that it was difficult for me to get used to using a touch screen. However, I did not have difficulty working with tablet computers. Writing message is a little difficult, but it is not a problem”. The only participant who stated that she had difficulty using tablet computers was Participant 4. It could be stated that she experienced difficulty because she had no prior experience with normal computers. Actually, Participant 4 attended two extra sessions of tablet computer training, and she made a good progress in using tablet computers. Even so, Participant 4 seemed to be unconfident.
Four participants used Android-operated tablet computers with a 7-inch screen, and one used a iOS-operated tablet computer with a 9,7-inch screen. Parents who used 7-inch tablet computer indicated that they would have preferred 9,7-inch tablet computers.
All the parents except Participant 4 reported positive views about such features of tablet computers as touch screens, ease of use and surfing on the Internet. Moreover, Participant 2 indicated that using tablet computers is easier than using desktop or laptop computers.
Views about the general design of the software. All the participants stated that the design and color-match of the pages in the software were fine. Moreover, they indicated that the software was user-friendly and easy to use. They also stated that the software could be useful for The parents of individuals with intellectual disability. Thus, the participants could be said to demonstrate overall attitudes towards the software were positive.
Participant 2 stated that there should be a back button at the bottom of some pages: “we can use the back button in the tool bar, but it does not always come into mind; it would be better if there is a back button at the bottom.” Views about the education module of the software. All the participants stated that the audio presentations were more useful than a plain text in the education module. They preferred audio presentations instead of a plain text. Participant 2 indicated “reading long texts can be boring, and I do not read long texts whether on a tablet computer or on a computer.”
Views about the page “determining skills which are not performed by the individual” in the skill teaching module. All the participants pointed out that the page was user-friendly, easy to use and well-designed. the interviewer suggested putting a search box and a dropdown box of categories on top of the page, and all the parents believed there could be a search box or a dropdown box of categories on the top of the page. Participant 2 stated “I think it would be better with a category dropdown box, so we can select the category we want.” The interviewerstated that “skill name is a link to the skill details page, I think this link can be unnoticed, what do you think”. All the participants approached positively to the idea of putting “Show Details” buttons to the right of every skill name in the list.
Views about the page “determining the teaching order of skills” in the skill teaching module. All the participants indicated that the page was user-friendly, easy to use and well-designed. However, Participant 2 and Participant 3 stated that they did not realize that the arrows were supposed to be used to change the order of the skills at first glance. They suggested that it would be good to add an explanation at the top of the page. Participant 3 also suggested that there could be text boxes near the skill name in the list so that they could write the order of the skill. After the suggestion, she said that writing the numbers would be more difficult than clicking the arrows in tablet computers.
Views about the page “planning rewards” in the skill teaching module. All The participants indicated that the page was user-friendly, easy to use and well-designed. Participant 2 suggested, “If the reward that I want to use is not in the list, can I add my own rewards? It would be nice if we can add our own rewards to the list.” Views about the page “planning working hours, tools and places” in the skill teaching module. All the participants indicated that the page was user-friendly, easy to use and well-designed. The interviewer asked “Can this page be divided into two separate pages as planning hours and planning tools and places”. All of them stated that this page should be left as it is.
Participant 2 indicated that there is a saving problem on this page. If a user enters information into the text boxes and then clicks on a button except the save button, he or she will lose the information and have to write again all over. She said she experienced something like that. She suggested that the user be warned if he or she tries to leave the page without saving.
Views about the page “view the plan” in the skill teaching module. All the participants indicated that the page was user-friendly, easy to use and well-designed. They did not state any other views about the page.
Views about the page “apply” in THE skill teaching module. All the participants indicated that the page and multimedia contents were user-friendly, easy to use and well-designed. Participant 2 stated that “I filled the form on the page and then clicked the Next button; it did not warn me about saving the changes I made, and I lost the data. I think it should ask the user whether he or she wants to save the changes before leaving. Also, I think the save button should be in a different color, so we can realize it easily”
Views about the page “reports” in the skill teaching module. All the participants indicated that the page was user-friendly, easy to use and well-designed. They did not state any other views about the page.
Views about the profile module of the software. All THE participants indicated that the page was user-friendly, easy to use and well-designed. They also POINTED OUT that the content is enough for experts to have an idea about the user.
Views about the page “message box” in the communication module. All the participants indicated that this page was user-friendly, easy to use and well-designed.
Participant 3 suggested that it would be good if links with a blue underlined plain text were changed as standard gray buttons like the buttons in the Windows operating system.
Views about the page “experts” in the communicationmodule. All the participants indicated that this page was user-friendly, easy to use and well-designed. Participant 7 stated that “I don’t have any difficulty communicating with you, I have your numbers and I can call you anytime” Views about the page “forum” in the communicationmodule. All the participants indicated that this page was user-friendly, easy to use and well-designed. Participant 4 stated that she did not prefer to share anything but she could read the posts shared by others. Participant 7 stated that she was very eager to share information.
Views about the page “chat” in the communication module. All the participants indicated that this page was user-friendly, easy to use and well-designed. Participant 4 stated that she did not prefer to chat with other parents and that she could use this page only to chat with experts. Participant 3 and Participant 7 stated that they could chat with other people who they did not know. Participant 2 said that “this is a good tool but I don’t know if I will use it or not, I think the message box is enough for me”. Views about the help module of the software. All the participants indicated that this page was user-friendly, easy to use and well-designed. Participant 2 said that “in most software, there is not any content like that and you don’t know how to use, thus it is good.” All the participants indicated that it is good that all the contents were prepared as a presentation with narration.
The interview data were analyzed and evaluated, and the following decisions were made (VCM, 06.11.2012):
Adding the Up button to all the pages except the home page,
Adding the Previous and Next buttons to the sub-pages of the modules,
Preparing a presentation with narration for the content “Basics” of the education module,
Adding a category dropdown list and a search box on top of the “determining skills which are not performed by the individual” page,
Adding Show Details buttons to the right of every skill name in the list on the “determining skills which are not performed by the individual” page,
Adding a detailed explanation to the top of the page “determining the teaching order of skills” and putting dropdown lists containing numbers to the right of every skill name in the list, so that the participant can easily change the order by selecting a number from the list,
Giving the participants opportunity to be able to add their own custom rewards to the rewards list of the software,
Giving a warning message with a popup dialog box to the participants if they try to leave a page without saving the changes they made,
Changing the design of the save buttons to draw more attention,
Changing the design of all the buttons and links to look like standard gray buttons if possible,
Most of the changes above are about the visual design of the software. These changes were performed in a short time, and Stage 3 started.
Semi-structured interviews with ten participants were held again with the same semi-structured interview form. During these interviews, the interviewer mostly focused on the changes made in Stage 2. Therefore, the interviews took less time in this phase.
The interview data were analyzed, and all the participants indicated that all the pages of the software were user-friendly, easy to use and well-designed. Only participant 6 had a suggestion, and all the other participants did not have any suggestion regarding the design of the software. Participant 6 suggested that explanations of the multimedia and clue icons could be moved to the top of the page on the “apply” page of the skill teaching module so that the participants could see the meaning of the icons at first. And this suggestion was considered and the change was performed that when a user clicks on the title of Multimedia or Clue Types, a popup dialog windows opens and explans the meaning of the icons.
As the participants did not have any further demands regarding the design and content of the software, the design-based research process ended at this point.
Discussion Investments on special education and information and communication technologies are important factors in determining the development of countries. There is little research and investment on special education technology, and in Turkey, it is important to increase the amount of research in this field. The present study is thought to contribute to the literature of special education technology.
Although parents are the most important elements in the education of individuals with intellectual disability, it is known that they actually don’t have enough knowledge about how to support and teach their children at home (Cavkaytar, 1998). Research also shows that parents, who get training about how to teach their children at home, can teach skills to their children successfully (Cavkaytar, 1998). In this context, supporting THE parents of children with intellectual disability is a very important matter and should be a concern for research in Turkey.
In this research, a mobile skill teaching software, which is to be used by parents to teach daily life skills to their children with intellectual disability, was developed. Thanks to the design-based research methodology and the participants of this study, it was possible to develop the software, which is easy to use, well-designed and useful. The software used in the study was developed based on a theoretical background, applied behaviour analysis, which is scientifically proved to be an effective technique to teach skills to individuals with intellectual disability (Schreck & Mazur, 2008).
As a conclusion it could be stated that the participants’ attitudes towards the software developed were positive. They thought that the software developed is useful and can be used effectively by the parents of individuals with intellectual disability. As parents are willing to contribute to the education of their children with intellectual disability (Hallahan et al., 2004; Özen, 2009), it is important to support them with tools like the software used in this study, which they can use for their children.
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Technology Literacy According to Students: What is It, Where are We and What Should We Do for Parents and Children?
Öğrencilerin Gözüyle Teknoloji Okuryazarlığı: Nedir, Neredeyiz, Aile ve Çocuklar İçin Neler Yapmalı?
Ahmet Naci Coklar
Necmettin Erbakan University, Turkey
Yusuf Levent Şahin
Anadolu University, Turkey
Nowadays, there is a swift transformation in Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and all technological devices and tools affect our lives both on an individual and societal level with their innovations. Especially such technological devices as computers, mobile phones and tablet PCs require us to know how to use these technologies efficiently, therefore aiming to make their use and the lives of individuals and societies much easier. In this view, the concept of technology literacy comes to the prominence. In this study designed qualitatively, the opinions of 25 students from the Department of Computer Education and Instructional Technologies about the term ‘technological literacy’ are collected. A definition is made using these concepts while students define technological literacy as becoming aware and following, ability to use, problem solving and benefiting from its use in social life. In addition to that, students stated negative opinions about the society in which they live. They stated that there is an unconscious and purposeless or limited technology use even though the use of technology differs to a great extent in terms of age. Students also made a recommendation for parents and children to get education on technology, to acquire further information and to keep a close track on technology.
Keywords: Technology literacy; literacy; technology; society and technology; use of technology Özet
Günümüzde ICT’lerde hızlı bir dönüşüm yaşanmakta, yenilik olarak karşımıza çıkan teknolojik araçlar ve ürünler bireysel ve toplumsal olarak yaşamı etkilemektedir. Özellikle bilgisayar, cep telefonu, tablet PC gibi çoğu teknolojik araç, bu teknolojilerin etkin bilinmesini, kullanımını ve bu sayede bireylerin ve toplumun yaşamının kolaylaştırılmasını amaçlamaktadır. Bu kapsamda teknoloji okuryazarlığı kavramı ön plana çıkmaktadır. Bu araştırmada nitel olarak desenlenen bu araştırmada 25 bilgisayar öğretmenliği bölümü öğrencisinin görüşleri ile teknoloji okuryazarlığı kavramı ele alınmıştır. Öğrenciler teknoloji okuryazarlığını teknolojiden haberdar olma ve takip etme, kullanabilme, problem çözme ve sosyal yaşamda yararlanabilme boyutları ile değerlendirmiş, bu değerlendirmelerden yola çıkılarak da bir tanıma ulaşılmıştır. Ayrıca öğrencilerin, içinde yaşadıkları toplumu olumsuz biçimde değerlendirdiği sonucu dikkat çekmiştir. Daha çok bilinçsiz ve amaçsız ya da sınırlı düzeyde bir teknoloji kullanımının var olduğu, buna karşın yaşa göre kullanımın farklılaştığı değerlendirmesinde bulunmuşlardır. Öğrenciler ailelere ve çocuklara yönelik teknolojiler konusunda eğitim alma ve bilgilendirilmenin, ayrıca teknolojinin yakından takip edilmesinin önemini dile getirmişlerdir.
Anahtar Kelimeler: Teknoloji okuryazarlığı; okuryazarlık; teknoloji; teknoloji ve toplum; teknoloji kullanımı
Introduction The traditional definition of literacy, which introduces us the most efficient way of composing data, acquiring and delivering it to others starting from centuries before, includes the coding and decoding of expressions via using an alphabet (Longman 2003). According to this, people must know how to use coding in their expressions via using an alphabet and get meanings from these coded expressions in order to claim that they are traditionally literate.
When the term ‘literacy’ is examined out of its traditional meaning, Kress (2003) defined it as “the ability to use communicative images made meaningful by the society in an effective way.” This definition means that people benefit from communication images made meaningful by the society instead of alphabets. Potter (2005) emphasized that literacy has no certain alphabet and any phenomenon can easily replace the role of an alphabet, besides changing these phenomena in time.
The social change we experience, new technologies and applications we have both change the meaning of many terms and give us new terms every day. The term ‘literacy’ is also seen to be one of these most affected and diversified terms in this view. Hence, it is now possible to provide tens of types and definitions on literacy following the most up-to-date studies in the literature. It is often possible to see such terms as media literacy, cultural literacy, computer literacy, information literacy, science literacy and medical literacy in our present literature. Therefore, it would be pertinent to claim that technology literacy that we examine in our study has a wide framework in terms of its scope.
Before starting to examine the term ‘technology literacy’, it would be educatory to investigate the term ‘technology’ separately. Volti (2006) describes technology as ‘a system that uses knowledge and organization to produce objects and techniques for the attainment of specific roles’. According to Web (2003), the definition of technology changes in which context it is dealt with. For example, when technology is regarded as an object, it refers to tools, devices and machines, but when it is regarded as an activity, it refers to skills, methods and applications.
Depending on the term ‘technology’, the term ‘technology literacy’ may also be regarded in various contexts. Therefore, it is preferable to define it under general terms. For example, Hansen (2003) defines technology literacy as ‘an individual’s abilities to adopt, adapt, invent, and evaluate technology to positively affect his or her life, community and environment’. Eisenberg and Johnson (2002) suggest the definition as ‘the ability to use technology for making organizations, conducting research or solving problems’. An individual must know what technology is, how it is processed, how it shapes societies and how societies shape it in order to mention about technology literacy. An individual with technology literacy must be objective and comfortable when utilizing from technology and must regard the social effects of technology (ITEA, 2000).
According to the report published by International Technology Education Association (ITEA, 2000), technology literacy can be attained by the learners by the help of education. Of course, this situation requires that instructors must be more competent technology-literate individuals when compared to learners. However, nowadays a common presupposition is that learners start experiencing technology at a younger age every day, therefore becoming more efficient technology-literate individuals than their instructors. As seen, the need in this view and related presuppositions require investigating technology literacy with scientific research studies.
Literature review In the literature, it is possible to see several studies under such headlines as information literacy, computer literacy, digital literacy and Internet literacy, all of which can be evaluated under one common term ‘technology literacy’. However, it is seen that the studies that directly dealt with technology literacy are limited.
As a result of the study, conducted by Link and Marz (2006) with the data gathered from 1116 first-year students in Medical University of Vienna, the results indicated that large population of students had sufficient skills to use computers and Internet effectively. Moreover, it is also seen in the results that gender plays a significant role in technology literacy, but having a limited relation with it. Researchers stated that age and former use amounts of information technologies created distinct differences rather than gender.
Another important study on technology literacy is conducted by Judson (2010). Judson gathered data from 5000 fifth and sixth grade and 5000 seventh and eighth grade students and investigated whether an identifiable link existed between gains in technology literacy and achievement in the areas of reading, mathematics, and language arts. The results indicated that technology literacy contributed to both creating a specific trust into learning processes and led to new environments for further learning opportunities.
Alkali and Hamburger (2004) conducted a study in relation to technology to investigate photo-visual, reproduction, branching, information and socio-emotional skills of 60 participants between ages 17 and 40. As a result of this experimental study, the findings indicated that young participants are more successful in photo-visual and branching literacy tasks than older ones, but old participants are more successful in reproduction and information literacy tasks than young ones.
Another study on technology literacy was conducted by Hill and Heard (2010). In this study conducted with 5109 eighth-grade students, the students were involved in an education program acquired over a website called learning.com starting from the first day of that education year. As a result of the study, it is seen that the seventh-grade students who often used technology both at school and at home till the end of that year performed an achievement on expert level in technological applications.
It is believed that the studies on technology literacy, the important examples of which in the literature are stated above, did not have a sufficient amount of update and variety compared to the importance of this field. This study is conducted to investigate the viewpoints of candidate teachers of computer on technology literacy, who will be responsible from guiding technology in our near future to fulfill the needs in this view.
The Aim of the Research The main purpose of this study is to determine the opinions of students in the Department of CEIT on technology literacy. Questions below are tried to be answered in that sense:
What are the opinions of students on technology literacy?
How do the students evaluate the society in which they live in terms of technology literacy?
What recommendations do the students make for parents and children to increase technology literacy?
Method The research model, participants, data collection tools and data analysis method are indicated below.
Research Model This qualitative study is conducted to determine the opinions of students on technology literacy and designed in phenomenological method. Phenomenological method is a qualitative research method aiming to indicate experiences, perception and significance of individuals on a specific phenomenon (Yıldırım and Simsek, 2006).
Participants The participants involved 25 students (16 Male, 9 Female) between ages 19 and 22, taking an optional course named ‘Scientific Literacy’ in the Department of Computer Education and Instructional Technologies (CEIT) in a university in Turkey during 2013-2014 education year. Due to the fact that both they are candidate teachers and students in this department; all of them are believed to have a high awareness in terms of technology literacy.
Data Collection 25 students from the Department of CEIT, who selected the optional course of literacy, are interviewed in order to determine the opinions of candidate teachers in terms of technology literacy. A semi-structured interview form is prepared for this purpose by the researchers. Each student is interviewed for seven or eight minutes.
Data Analysis There are two different methods in qualitative data analysis, which are content analysis and descriptive analysis. Descriptive analysis is mostly preferred in studies with a theoretical background on a theoretical sense, but content analysis is used in studies with no clear theme in hand on a theoretical base (Yıldırım and Simsek, 2006; Yin, 1984). Content analysis method is used in this study as no framework is underlined on a theoretical base in terms of technology literacy. For content analysis, each step required for an accurate content analysis is closely followed from processing the data gathered from students into indexes, preparing codes from these indexes, organizing themes using these codes, describing these themes after organizing them and interpreting the findings according to these themes (Yıldırım and Simsek, 2006).
The important part of qualitative data analysis is the reliability of data. The analyses of two researchers are compared for the reliability of data in data coding, preparing themes using these codes and describing these themes. The inter-coder reliability of this study is calculated as 92% using the formula Consensus / (Dissensus + Consensus) * 100 by Miles and Huberman (1994).
Findings The findings related to the opinions of students on technology literacy, their evaluations of society in which they live in terms of technology literacy and their recommendations made for parents and children in order to increase technology literacy are given in titles below.
Opinions of students on technology literacy 25 students in the study are asked ‘What is technology literacy?’. 54 responses in total gathered from the students for this question are organized under five main themes (Table 1).
Table 1.Technology Literacy According to Students
Skills to benefit from technology
Being aware of technology
Following technological devices
Requirement of a social life
As seen in Table 1, students responded as a skill to benefit from technology for the term ‘technology literacy’ mostly (15 times – 27.7%). In other words, it indicates that technology must be usable for technology-literate individuals. For instance, a technology-literate individual should be able to use a mobile phone according to his/her needs. On the other hand, problem solving/productivity is stated in the second stage (13 times – 24.2%). For instance, a technology-literate individual should be able to use the Internet connection in his/her mobile phone to purchase a travel ticket. Being aware of technology (11 times – 20.4%) and following technological devices (9 times – 16.6%) are the other themes obtained. Here, knowing what can be done using a mobile phone and knowing which new features are added to the newest models of mobile phones by technology-literate individuals can be given as an example to other themes. Finally, the last theme is gathered as ‘requirement of a social life’ (6 times – 11.1%). In this view, such technologies as computers and mobile phones should be used by each individuals from doctors to teachers.
Examples for most-frequently obtained themes in students’ responses are indicated below:
‘Skills to benefit from technology’ theme
“The most accurate and beneficial use of technology in all parts of our lives.” (21 - M)
‘Problem Solving/Productivity’ theme
“…Creating new ideas for problematic areas and helping the solving process.” (20-F)
‘Being aware of / Knowing technology’ theme
“…The world is developing each day, therefore increasing the use of technological products. For me, technology literacy refers to what you can do using technology and knowing about them.” (19-M)
Literacy levels of society in which they live according to students Students are asked how they evaluate the society they live in in terms of the subgoals of this study. There are 28 items collected in total as a result of the responses given for this question and those expressions are organized under 4 main themes (Table 2).
Table 2. Literacy levels of society in which they live according to students
Only technical use and limited understanding
It is also remarkable that most of the students have negative opinions about the society in which they live in terms of technology literacy (Table 2). However, two of the students stated that there is sufficient development or still developing. It is seen that the students evaluated the society in which they live only as technical use and limited understanding (50%), purposeless and unconscious use (32.1%), intergenerational differences (10.7%) and developing/sufficient (7.2%) in terms of technology literacy.
Example expressions are given below including the themes organized in terms of students’ opinions about the society in which they live.
Only technical use and limited understanding
“… We have a settled technology today. However, most of us are not aware of what they can do even though they have all of this technology available to us. They only think on a one-dimensional viewpoint, disregarding how they can use it and what they can do with it.” (21-F)
Purposeless and unconscious use
“…People do not know that they can use technology in many areas and they can easily finish their work in a short time. There is an unconscious use.” (20-M)
“…Age is an important factor. For instance, an old man goes to a bank to pay his bills, but a young individual, who is much closer to technology, easily finishes his/her work using the Internet.” (20-M)
Recommendations for parents and children made by students to increase technology literacy Students are asked to make recommendations for parents and children to increase technology awareness and the findings obtained are given in Table 3.
Table 3. Recommendations for parents and children made by students to increase technology literacy
Following the technology under development
Acquisition of skills for conscious use
Acquisition of skills for making research
Acquisition of habit to follow technology
There are 31 recommendations in total under four main titles in terms of parents and 24 recommendations under three main titles in terms of children, made by 25 students who are trained on technology literacy.
When the recommendations for parents are examined, it is seen that they involve guiding children (51.6%), supervising children (22.6%), following the technology under development (16.1%) and training/getting information in this field (9.7%).
Example expressions are given below about the recommendations made by students in terms of parents.
“…Parents should never restrict children to reach technology and should find the necessary materials by themselves to assist them. They should use it together and they should guide them.” (22-M)
“…Parents should monitor their children when using technology. So, they can easily take precautions against any misuse or incomplete use.” (21-M)
Following the technology under development
“…I strongly recommend that individuals must continuously use the technology to make a positive contribution to their children.” (21-F)
The same students also made recommendations in order to increase the technology literacy levels of children, given respectively as acquisition of skills for conscious use (66.7), acquisition of skills for making research (25%) and acquisition of habit to follow technology (8.33%). The expressions stated by the students in terms of children are exemplified below.
Acquisition of skills for conscious use
“…They should relate them to their courses at school and increase their ability to use it in real life.” (22-M)
Acquisition of skills for making research
“…Children should learn such useful skills as how to use technological devices and tools and how to search the things for which they are curious” (20-F)
Acquisition of habit to follow technology
“…We should let children know how they can use the technology and to what extent it is useful for them.” (21-M)
Conclusions and Discussion The importance of technology use increased especially by the swift development of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) and the popularization of technological devices. Many actions such as being aware of technology, keeping a close track on the newest models, knowing how to use them effectively and solving our daily problems via these technologies have all become a routine in our lives. However, Altun (2005:11) states that a society which do not utilize from new technology in its daily life will eventually affect its own objectives about social life of its people and will come to a point not to realize this fact, instead of shaping it via responding the social objectives of these tools. All these issues are taken into consideration under the term ‘technology literacy’. The opinions of 25 candidate teachers of CEIT department are gathered in terms of technology literacy, which is believed to have a high level of technology literacy in this view and the results are given below.
Students bring such issues on technology literacy into the prominence respectively as skills to benefit from technology, problem solving/productivity, being aware of technology, following technological devices and requirement of a social life. Using the themes obtained from students’ expressions, technology literacy can be defined as “being aware of technology and following technological devices, using these technologies by all people within a society both effectively and productively to solve problems.”
It is possible to argue that there is an ICT-digital focused viewpoint in students’ opinions due to their department (CEIT). Becta (2010) defines digital literacy as “the combination of skills, knowledge and understanding that young people need to learn in order to participate fully and safely in an unceasingly digital world”, and states that digital literacy involves four dimensions, which are functional technology skills, critical thinking, collaborative skills and social awareness. These dimensions closely correspond to the opinions of students.
On the other hand, all these expressions point out the term ‘information literacy’, which also involves technology literacy in addition to many other literacy types. McClure (2001) stated that the intersecting point of all literacy types such as media literacy, network literacy, visual literacy, technological literacy and computer literacy, all of which resulted from technological advancement. Doyle (1994: 2-3) stated that an individual with information literacy should possess the above mentioned main characteristics besides the use of information technologies, reaching sources, organizing data for further applications, problem solving and social interaction dimensions. Therefore, the findings are in parallel to information technology, which is accepted as common ground for all literacy types.
Students, in general, made a negative evaluation about the society in which they live in terms of technology literacy. They especially stated that it is used under a technical or limited framework or used without conscious. When the data published by State Planning Organization (SPO) (2006:23) are examined, it is remarkable that the levels of utilizing from technological devices by the public are quite low. In the same framework with this plan, it is also remarkable that there are three recommendations made to increase these data, which are common (technological) access, higher motivation and focused competence (ability to use). The intergenerational differences are the outcome of digital transformation experienced nowadays. Prensky (2001) stated that there are two societies living together, one is defined as digital immigrants and the other as digital locals; adding that digital locals are more competent to use technology and new generation uses technology much better than its parents (digital immigrants). Therefore, age is an important factor in technology use and it is an important result that students underlined it as a distinctive element.
All recommendations made by the students for parents and children involve education and awareness raising activities in terms of positive use of technology. Becta (2010) emphasizes the importance of education to increase literacy. However, the findings indicating that technology literacy will be increased by the acquisition of research skills especially designed for students are also significant. Doyle (2004) also stated that literacy is increased by the development of research skills in his study where he dealt with literacy within the framework of information technology.
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Altun, A. (2005). Gelişen teknolojiler ve yeni okuryazarlıklar. Ankara: Anı Yayıncılık.
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