In most educational institutions, teacher should use technology to facilitate learning. They should also act as change agents to enhance adoption of technology in teaching. However, the use of technology by teachers in teaching has been surprisingly low in all over the world (Teo, 2009). Therefore, it is necessary for researchers to determine factors that influence the use of technology for teaching among teachers.
Several studies have identified various factors that influence the use of technology for instructional purposes among teachers. Generally, factors that influence the use of technology among teachers are both internal and external factors. In addition, there are also issues that can concern teachers and students attitudes towards technology applications in lessons.
However, some researchers have argued that environmental factors also have significant impacts on the use technology, but these factors have improved over the years. Currently, the challenge involves how to address personal factors like “teachers’ belief systems and their impacts on adoption of technology” (Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010).
One major influence on teachers’ use of technology is the computer self-efficacy. How teachers perceive and judge themselves with regard to technology are significant predictors whether teachers would adopt technology or not (Teo, 2009). Therefore, belief systems among teachers are critical factors that influence the use technology in the classroom.
Teachers have diverse abilities on the use technology and application of technology in teaching. This articles on the relationship between teaching belief (traditional and constructivist) and use of technology for instructions by teachers.
Traditional belief systems
Ertmer and colleagues stressed that many teachers possess limited understanding and experience about how technology should integrate into “various educational aspects to facilitate teaching and learning regardless of their qualifications” (Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010). As a result, many teachers often referred to their existing belief systems and earlier experiences whenever they wanted to use technology in their lessons.
Most researchers have also noted that belief systems of teachers have significant influences on technology integration in learning. Therefore, educators and school administrators must account for belief systems of their teachers before introducing technology in learning and teaching.
There are teachers who hold a belief system that the traditional approach is the best method of teaching. Such teachers depend on the “use of direct instruction most of the time, want students to focus on the textbook, act as the sole provider of knowledge, and discourage students’ participation in the teaching process” (Teo, 2009). Teachers are conservative professionals, who may not be willing to adopt change quickly.
In most cases, teachers use traditional methods of teaching and attempt to avoid any new initiatives. The belief systems that teachers have regarding the use technology usually make the situation complex. For instance, many teachers believe that technology can facilitate their works and help them accomplish such tasks efficiently.
However, some teachers are not willing to use technology in their classrooms for different reasons (Goktas, Yildirim and Yildirim, 2009). Some researchers have noted that such reasons differ, but they include the lack of “relevant knowledge, low self-efficacy, and existing belief systems” (Teo, 2009).
Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich note that teacher belief systems consist of “a myriad of interacting, intersecting, and overlapping beliefs” (Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010). Such belief systems predicted the possible behaviours and outcomes when teachers used technology in their classrooms.
On this note, some researchers have shown that traditional beliefs had “a negative impact on integrated use of computers in classrooms” (Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010).
Other scholars have studied pre-service teachers who acquired student-centred beliefs in their teacher education programmes and noted that such teachers abandoned student-centred beliefs for traditional belief systems whenever they faced classroom difficulties (Irving, 2009).
Based on the importance of teacher beliefs, many researchers have studied the role of such belief systems in technology integration in learning and teaching. For instance, they noted that teachers must acknowledge that technology can help them achieve learning objectives effectively. Teachers must also recognise that the use of technology will not interfere with other educational goals.
In addition, teachers must have the ability and resources needed in order to make technology effective. Some researchers also noted that teachers were not willing to embrace technology in learning because some of the belief systems contradicted and were consistent with their own beliefs, experiences, and practices.
Teacher belief systems also influence factors that teachers considered important. There are factors that are close to core beliefs of teachers (Friedrich and Hron, 2011). As a result, if the use of technology is among core belief of a teacher, then he is mostly likely to adopt it in his lessons.
On the contrary, other researchers have shown that teacher beliefs are not the only critical factors that influence technology integration. In some instances, teachers had conflicting beliefs about the use of technology in teaching and learning.
Such factors may also result in inconsistency between the technology use in teaching and actual implemented technology practices. In this manner, researchers should account for contextual issues concerning school policies, cultures, availability of adequate resources, training for teachers, and model integration practices.
Constructivist belief system
Studies have shown that teacher who willingly adopted technology into their teaching lessons were those who had constructivist teaching styles. On this regard, further studies have highlighted the relation between student-centred beliefs in instruction and the adoption of technology by teachers in their lessons.
This relation between the use of technology and constructivist pedagogy suggests that teachers who have maintained constructivist approach to learning see technology has an effective tool for enhancing classroom learning.
Some scholars note that incorporation of technology into learning has not been effective. This has happened because teachers who possess the required skills in technology tend to apply such skills to promote their own belief systems with regard to learning and teaching. Consequently, any attempt to integrate technology in learning should address the belief systems of teachers.
This will allow for effective integration. On the same note, some researchers have noted that the use of technology in teaching should complement constructivist teaching (Al-Zaidiyeen et al., 2010). Thus, exposure to student-centred learning is necessary prior to adoption of technology in classroom settings.
Generally, teacher beliefs relate to their practices and experiences. However, some of the teacher beliefs only enhance resistance to change (Akkan, 2012). In addition, there are also conflicting beliefs and incompatible beliefs about integration of technology in education. In order to integrate technology effectively in pedagogy, teachers must also account for their belief systems in teaching.
However, it is a complex task for teachers to change their belief systems since most of them will resist any attempts to change (Irving, 2009). In addition to resistance to change, contextual factors within the school may also create favourable or unfavourable conditions for adoption of technology. Thus, any researcher should account for contextual factors in schools (Selwyn, 2010).
Teo concluded that overall results indicated that teachers with relatively “strong constructivist beliefs and had strong traditional beliefs reported, a higher frequency of computer use” (Teo, 2009). Results also identified the relationship between the use of technology in teaching and belief profiles of teachers.
Past studies have indicated that integrating technology in learning can promote student learning through involving learners in “higher-order thinking, self-regulated learning, and collaborative or cooperative learning” (Ertmer and Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010).
Thus, teachers should embrace constructivist-teaching method in order to foster effective learning among students (DiGironimo, 2011). Thus, educators should focus on transforming teacher beliefs and methods of teaching through training.
The use of technology in classroom has gained momentum in the recently. However, a number of factors influence effective integration of technology in teaching and learning. Some of these are teaching beliefs among teachers.
Generally, teachers who hold traditional beliefs tend to apply traditional approaches to learning or low-level integration of technology in learning. On the other hand, teachers with constructivist beliefs adopted high-level or student-centred technology use.
Available studies show that technology integration in learning and teaching differ based on individual teacher beliefs and teacher perception of technology in a classroom setting. Thus, understanding teacher beliefs and contextual factors can result in effective integration of technology in learning and teaching.
Therefore, usages of technology in teaching and learning vary from teacher to teacher based on his or her experiences, practices, and preferences. Other studies note that pre-service teachers with the student-centred approach may revert to a traditional approach when classroom situations become challenging.
Akkan, Y. (2012). Virtual or Physical: In-service and Pre-Service Teacher’s Beliefs and Preferences on Manipulatives. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education- TOJDE, 13(4).
Al-Zaidiyeen, N., Mei, L., and Fook, F. (2010). Teachers’ Attitudes and Levels of Technology Use in Classrooms: The Case of Jordan Schools. International Education Studies, 3(2), 211-219.
DiGironimo, N. (2011). What is Technology? Investigating Student Conceptions about the Nature of Technology. International Journal of Science Education, 33(10), 1337-1352.
Ertmer, P., and Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. (2010). Teacher Technology Change: How Knowledge, Confidence, Beliefs, and Culture Intersect. JRTE, 42(3), 255–284.
Friedrich, A. F. and Hron, A. (2011). Factors affecting teachers’ student-centered classroom computer use. Educational Media International, 48(4), 273-285.
Goktas, Y., Yildirim, S., and Yildirim, Z. (2009). Main Barriers and Possible Enablers of ICTs Integration into Pre-service Teacher Education Programs. Educational Technology & Society, 12 (1), 193–204.
Irving, K. (2009). Preservice Science Teachers’ Use of Educational Technology in Student Teaching. Journal of Computers in Mathematics and Science Teaching, 28(1), 45-70.
Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26 , 65-73.
Teo, T. (2009). Examining the relationship between student teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs and their intended uses of technology for teaching: A structural fquation modelling approach. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 8(4), 1-10.